August 2014

Near Kalpakkam, geotubes to check marauding sea

It has been a fortnight since they got into the boats. Rajendran and his fellow fishermen at Kadalur Periyakuppam are hopeful, however, and continue to mend the nets in their village south of Kalpakkam, gazing at the rough sea that causes rapid erosion on their shoreline.

Fearing that the boats will drift off, the fishermen have stayed away from the sea. "We have lost much of our beach to erosion," says Rajendran, pointing to the damaged fish landing centre developed by Tamil Nadu fisheries department. The fouracre site developed by govern ment has it all -from mending sheds, locker rooms, fish auction hall, electrical room, bank and office to sanitary complex for men and women. But the sea has ravished much of it.

More than 40% of the 1,000km long coastline in the state is erosion-prone. The state government typically uses groynes, or rubble-mounted sea walls, to check the encroaching sea. Scientists at the National Institute of Ocean Technology of the Union ministry of earth sciences say an alternative to groynes will help fishers here.

NIOT has proposed to lay a submerged dyke made with geotubes (large synthetic tubes) 1.76km long at a depth of 3.5m into the sea in Kadalur Periyakuppam. "This is the first of its kind in the state and can be replicated if successful," said NIOT director MA Atmanand. The tubes will be laid at a distance of 300 metres from the high tide line to minimize the eroding effect. Groynes, however, are concrete structures that protrude into the sea from the shore.They push the erosion effect to other locations depending upon the littoral drift.

What if a mega tsunami was generated in the Indian Ocean?

 A major Indian Ocean-wide tsunami alert and disaster preparedness exercise will take place next month, once again testing systems, communications, command and control structure, and how effective alerts are to arrange for a timely evacuation of people from the shorelines to higher ground.

Details obtained from IOC explain the exercise as follows:

IOWave14 will simulate Indian Ocean countries being put in a Tsunami Warning situation and require the National Tsunami Warning Centre (NTWC) and (optionally) the Disaster Management Organization (DMO) in each member state to implement their Standard Operating Procedures (SOP). The exercise will comprise two scenarios on successive days, one in the eastern Indian Ocean and the other in the north-western Indian Ocean.

The first scenario simulates a magnitude 9.1 earthquake south of Java, Indonesia, and the second scenario simulates a magnitude 9.0 earthquake in the Makran Trench south of Iran and Pakistan. Both scenarios will generate simulated tsunami waves traveling across the whole Indian Ocean basin. The South of Java scenario will commence at 0000 hours UTC on September 9, and the Makran Trench scenario will commence at 0600 hours UTC on September 10.

Scenario 1 starting at 0000 UTC on Tuesday, September 9, 2014: Magnitude 9.1 earthquake South of Java, Indonesia. The simulated tsunami will take approximately 10 hours to travel from its source to the coasts of Iran and Pakistan, and 12 hours to travel to the southern coast of South Africa.

Fishermen want coastal development halted

Seeking expeditious completion of the Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP), fishermen from seven hamlets in Chennai want the authorities to halt development projects along the coast till the plan is properly put in place.

While CRZ 2011 mandates completion of the CZMP by January 2013, the authorities had sought an extension of the deadline to January 2014. The new deadline was also missed, fishermen said at a consultative meeting organised by the National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management (NCSCM) on Friday.

Consultation called off
In November, the official public consultation on the CZMP for Chennai was called off after fishermen flagged grave flaws in the draft coastal zone map drawn up by the authorities.

The community wanted the authorities to work out a comprehensive plan detailing land use and housing needs before asking for their opinion.

The Coastal Zone Regulation notification of 2011 mandates all the States to put in place a CZMP to regulate development along the coast. It was also meant to ensure the traditional rights of fishermen.

At the Friday meeting held at Anna University, the fishermen argued that the officials at no point consulted them while formulating the plan.

In fact, after the November episode, the fishing hamlets themselves drew the necessary maps which could be integrated into the plan by the State Coastal Zone Management Authority.

“We have used scientific tools and put in all information in the maps,” said K. Saravanan, an activist. The delay in formulating the plan, he said, meant there was no check on the development along the coast. “Regulating development is one of the primary goals of the CZMP,” he pointed out.

40 per cent of Indian coast subjected to coastal erosion: Government

 NEW DELHI: The government today said a study has revealed that on an average around 40 per cent of Indian coast is subjected to coastal erosion. 

CRZ violations: HC orders notice to environnment, forest secys

 The Madras High Court has ordered notice to Environment and Forest secretaries of the Union and Tamil Nadu governments based on the Advocate Commissioner's report which said more than 60 buildings in Kanyakumari district were constructed violating the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) notification.

Besides these Secretaries, the court also ordered a notice to Tamil Nadu coastal zone management authority member- secretary, the Kanyakumari District Collector, the town panchayat executive officer and the environmental engineer.

The report was submitted in court by the Advocate Commissioner after the bench called for it on a PIL filed by one N Sivakumar who alleged violations in the constructions.

The petitioner said Kanyakumari has been classified as CRZ-II area and as per CRZ notification, buildings should not be erected on the seaward side of the existing road.

He alleged a person was constructing a building violating the norms and that he had sent a representation in vain to the officers concerned on May 7 to to stop the illegal construction.

He had sought a direction to the officials to stop the illegal construction.

The court appointed, by its interim order on May 21, R M Arunswaminathan as Advocate Commissioner and directed him to visit the spot to verify if there there were any violations or not.

The AC confirmed the violations and said there were many constructions in the coastal zone violating the legal provisions, the petitioner said.

Villages reel under sea erosion

 After the shoreline in north Chennai, it is the turn of the coastline along Mamallapuram to go through rapid changes in a short span of time. To prevent further sea erosion and reclaim the shrinking beach, the Water Resources Department proposes to build groynes on vulnerable stretches.

A team of ministers and officials recently inspected the stretch near the Shore temple and fishing hamlets of Mamallapuramkuppam and Devaneri along East Coast Road. The department plans to construct over 10 groynes — a collection of boulders laid perpendicular to the coastline at regular intervals — for a total stretch of 4 km.

Both the hamlets falling on the northern side of the Shore temple face the danger of seawater incursion. C. Balu, a resident of Devaneri, said: “The sea is moving closer to our hamlet every year. We have lost 30-50 feet of beach this year. The government must construct groynes to save our villages from getting washed away.”

Residents tried placing sand bags along the coastline in Mamallapuramkuppam. But the fierce waves washed them away, he added.

Villages on stretches further away also face the same problem. Manoharan, a fisherman of Nemmeli, said “the beach has shrunk by several metres over the past few years. We don’t have space to leave our boats.”

Officials of the WRD said the project, worth Rs. 40 crore, was devised based on a study made by the Institute of Hydraulics and Hydrology, Poondi and IIT-Madras and the demands of residents of fishing hamlets.

P.K. Suresh, a coastal engineering consultant, who was part of the study, said nearly 15 metres of shoreline to the north of the Shore temple had been eroded over the past two decades. During the southwest monsoon, the beach on the northern side gets eroded. Sand gets transported from south to north in the northeast monsoon. But, the reforming of beach depends on the intensity of the monsoon, he added.

Fishworkers plan coastal mapping

 The two-day executive committee of the National Fishworkers’ Forum (NFF), which concluded here on Sunday, resolved to take up mapping of coastal areas across the country to ensure strict implementation of the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) notification of 2011.

Expressing concern over the government’s inaction in mapping coastal zones and the increasing encroachments along the coast by industries, tourism and land sharks, the meeting decided that all member organisations of the NFF would carry out the mapping exercise in the coastal villages.

A press note quoting NFF chairperson M. Ilango and secretary T. Peter appealed to the State governments to abide by the CRZ norms to constitute district coastal zone committees with representatives of fishing communities as members. The meeting proposed a 90-day uniform monsoon trawling ban for Western coast States and separate but uniform 90-day ban for the Eastern coast States. It called upon the State and Central governments to address the concerns raised by the fishers about the Vizhinjam international seaport project.

The committee demanded a complete ban on Special Economic Zones in CRZ zones and a review of the existing SEZs in coastal areas in consultation with local fishing communities.

It observed that the Adani SEZ in Gujarat, Jindal SEZ in Maharashtra and Posco SEZ in Odisha were sanctioned in gross violation of the CRZ norms.

The meeting urged the government to stall all the proposals to establish ship breaking yards, in view of the hazardous nature of the industry and its adverse impact on fishing communities and regional ecology.

It called upon the Central government to secure the release of Indian fishers held in Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

The committee also called for a ban on purse seine fishing across the country.