Mamallapuram’s eroding shoreline to be reclaimed

The eroding shoreline along Mamallapuram may be protected and reclaimed in a few years. A proposal to save the coastline, which remained on paper for five years, has been given a new lease of life.

The Water Resources Department has recently submitted a proposal estimated to cost ₹100 crore to reclaim parts of the shrinking shoreline to the south of the city. It is awaiting funds from the Central Water Commission. As a pilot project, the Department plans to restore the beach near the Shore Temple at Mamallapuram based on a study by the National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT).

The coastal area of Kancheepuram district is one of the worst-affected stretches of Tamil Nadu, apart from Villupuram, Kanniyakumari and Thiruvarur, notes a study on shoreline, released by the National Centre for Coastal Research, Ministry of Earth Sciences. Of the nearly 85-km-long shoreline falling in the Kancheepuram district, nearly 49 km is facing the threat of erosion.

Submerged groynes

The 2.2-km-long shoreline near the Shore Temple was chosen for the project as there is severe erosion in the stretch. Fishermen in the neighbouring areas complain of lack of space even to berth their boats.

Officials said instead of groynes, which is a collection of boulders laid perpendicular to the coastline, the project would have submerged groynes laid as suggested by NIOT. Geosynthetic tubes made of woven/non-woven polypropylene fabrics will be used for the construction of submerged groynes. These tubes will be filled with sand and submerged at a depth of nearly 4-min the sea bed and for a length of about 120 m.

Sources in NIOT said the geosynthetic tubes were environment-friendly and aided in quicker beach formation.

The Shore Temple, that is jutting into the shore, has obstructed sand-accretion and has sand accumulating behind the temple. A similar project implemented in Kadalur Periakuppam near Puducherry has helped fishermen rebuild their livelihood.

NIOT has also suggested that the beach could be nourished with sand dredged from waterways, including the Palar river mouth, along with submerged groynes. The WRD plans to provide submerged groynes at an interval of 200 m.

“We expect that the beach will be formed in one or two years and the impact will be felt up to a distance of half-a-kilometre. The project will be finished in a year once the funds are in,” said an official.

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