Beaches along city outskirts like Kottivakkam and Palavakkam may disappear because of man made structures in the sea further south, an expert has warned. The latest threat, they say, are groynes laid like a breakwater in three places in Kovalam fishing village, by the state fisheries department. A visit to the place on Friday revealed that one groyne is near the Kovalam creek mouth and is being taken into the sea for about 200m. The other two are in Kovalam village, measuring 60m each. Three more would come up, an official said. A fisheries department source said the groynes are laid to break the waves to create a beach there for a fish landing center. Such manmade structures protruding into the Bay of Bengal are known to cause accretion on the southern side and erosion on the northern side. “These groynes are called `training walls’ which break the waves in this part, helping soil retention in this part. Then only the fish landing center can be created here,” said an official. The work began a month ago. The official said the work was taken up with the help of an IIT-M researcher. Coastal Resource Centre member Pooja Kumar said according to the Coastal Regulation Zone Notifi cation 2011, prior permission of the Coastal Zone Management Authority is mandatory before undertaking any work in the CRZ areas. The place where construction of these groynes are done fall in the CRZ IV (water body) and CRZ I (intertidal zone). “Such projects have to be discussed and researched thoroughly and clearances have to be obtained before starting work,” she said. “Tamil Nadu State Coastal Zone Management Authorit’s minutes do not reflect any discussion regarding construction of groynes in Kovalam. The absence of any government official, police personnel or contractor supervisor at the place of construction further strengthens the suspicion of this being an illegal activity,” she said. The state coastal zone management authority does not have a final coastal zone management plan, or a shoreline management plan. In the absence of such crucial plans, it is safe to assume that there has been no scientific application of mind before starting such a project, she said. Studies show that hard structures such as groynes increase the rate of sand recession as compared to natural shoreline recession. This means that the future of Chennai’s beaches now look bleak, as they all fall in the high-risk erosion zone. Erosion of the coastal stretch of Pondicherry and other areas to its north resulted in the construction of groynes that acts as a physical barrier to sand movement close to villages like Kottakuppam in Kancheepuram district. However, this exercise has proven disastrous for fishing villages further up as they have lost precious livelihood space to the sea. The same fate awaits the fishing hamlets and beaches on the northern side of Kovalam if this current trend continues, she warned.

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