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Tsunami news : Artificial reef to boost tourism potential

KOVALAM: The multipurpose artificial reef installed off the beach here has emerged as an innovative form of coastal protection, helping to improve the tourist potential of the State.

The reef has demonstrated its potential to protect the severely eroding coast from the waves unleashed by the monsoon. Resort owners and hoteliers are excited at the prospect of an extended tourist season.

Installed between the lighthouse and the Edakkal rocks off the beach, the reef has been able to protect the beach by mimicking natural reef structures and working in concert with nature.

Being off-shore and submerged, there is no visual impact. Within months, the reef has been able to stabilise the famed beach and make it wider on the lighthouse side by cushioning the impact of the waves.

Erosion

“The resorts here have been active only for the first six months of the year till now. During the remaining half, the beaches face severe erosion. We hope that the soft reef will attract tourists throughout the year. Initially, the reef is found to have positive impact. The full extent of its impact will be known only in the next few months,” G. Sudhiesh Kumar, a hotelier, says. The project, funded under the Centre's tsunami rehabilitation programme, was executed by the New-Zealand-based Artificial Surfing Reef Ltd. under the supervision of the Harbour Engineering Department for Kerala Tourism.

Giant 28 geo-textile bags with a life of over 40 years and filled with sand are the building blocks of the reef. The crest of the 100-metre-long reef has been placed just below the low tide line.

It has been placed at a depth of 2 metres to 4 metres so that the reef will block breakers more than one-metre high, leaving only small waves to wash ashore.

Fish life blossoms as the reef provides a firm substrate on the sea-bed for colonization by marine species. But, the fisherfolk and the hoteliers are eagerly awaiting the catch to know the impact of the reef.