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Tetrapod fencing relief for locals affected by sea erosion in Kerala’s Chellanam

Posted on August 22, 2022

Every year in the coastal village of Kerala’s Ernakulam district Chellanam, monsoon rains wreak havoc with reports of sea incursion, erosion and property destruction becoming a norm.

This time around, it was different. Tetrapod seawall erected along the coast ensured the village’s safety from the monstrous waves.

It was a sight to behold for the villagers who had gathered in large numbers to see the waves retreating after hitting the tetrapods (three-legged huge concrete blocks placed on heavy rock stones),

Tetrapods is a word derived from four-legged vertebrate animals and are designed to protect the coast as they reflect and dissipate energy and force released by waves.

“Suffered enough, at one point we were even drained out of tears. But this time, we had enough relief. These walls are effectively protecting our shores,” said A Elizabeth, a resident of Bazaar area, one of the worst-affected areas during cyclone Ockhi and Tauktae. Z

“Thanks to these huge structures we can sleep peacefully in our home. Hope we do not have to sleep on barren wooden benches in relief camps anymore,” said Philomina, another relieved home maker.

“It is true 7.3km long tetrapod protection withstood angry waves. We want the whole shore in Kochi to be fenced like this. Otherwise, pressure will carve other areas,” said Chellanam panchayat president KL Joseph, a retired army official.

In February, chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan inaugurated 344 crore tetrapod project to save the fragile coastline of Chellanam.

The project will cover 10 kms of shoreline in two phases and has been designed on the basis of studies conducted by Chennai-based National Centre for Coastal Research and the work was awarded to Uralungal Labour Co-operative Society, a public construction work firm.

About 20,250 tetrapods and 3.5lakh metric tonne of granite blocks were used to complete the first phase of 7.2km.

Chellanam, a densely-populated fishing village with just around 10,000 families, on the outskirts of Kochi, sandwiched between Arabian Sea and Vembanad backwaters, has been witnessing fierce sea erosion for more than two decades. Villagers say pressure on seacoast and expansion of port and transshipment terminals added to their woes.

“We need all 17-km shoreline along Kochi to be fenced to get full effect of sea walls. “At the same time unscientific sea encroachment should also be contained,” said T A Dalfin, convenor of the West Kochi coastal protection samiti. He said these pods are new to Chellanam and they will have to wait and watch whether they will provide lasting safety.

State industry minister P Rajeev, who visited the village last week, said the project will be completed by April 2023.

“Nearly 40% of the work has been completed. We will also put enough groynes and geo bags to make the wall strong,” he said.

Several expert committee reports suggest 590-long coastline of Kerala, one of the densely-populated areas in the country, is exposed to rogue waves and massive erosion.

According to a report tabled in Parliament by the ministry of earth sciences, last year 41% per cent of coastline in Kerala is under varying degrees of coastal erosion.

A study by the National Centre for Earth Science Studies points out coastal development in the form of rapid urbanisation, tourism, pollution and unscientific shoreline protection procedures led to the surrent state.

Another study conducted by the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) in 2018 said major oceans will have more plastic than fish by 2050. It also said seas near Maharashtra, Kerala and Andaman Nicobar Islands are among most-polluted stretches in the world.


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