ALAPPUZHA: The government has decided to construct groin fields along the coastline to check sea erosion rejecting the geo tube system that had proved its efficiency.
Charges of corruption have been levelled against officials in this move as the eco-friendly and economical geo tubes had helped in checking sea erosion at Neerkunnam in the past few seasons.
The use of sizeable rock pieces to construct seawalls had posed a threat to the environment earlier. The geo tubes were introduced on a trial basis in April 2016 in the hundred-metre coast at Neerkunnam. Impressed by the efficiency of the system, the Kerala Irrigation Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (KIIDC) submitted a proposal to the government to lay the tubes in Ponnani and Alappuzha areas.
A senior official of KIIDC told Deccan Chronicle that they had submitted a detailed project report (DPR) on June 9 last year after testing the performance of geosystem tubes in Alappuzha. But the government has now rejected the proposal and decided to construct 114 groin fields with the help of IIT Chennai along the coastline. The DPR will be submitted to the government soon, the official said.
PWD minister G. Sudhakaran and local legislator had supported laying of geo tubes instead of building rocky seawall last year.
Shaji alias Aniyan, member, Ambalappuzha north panchayat, alleged that the irrigation department officials were trying to indulge in corruption. In the last season, a couple of tubes were broken by continuous friction of rocks of the collapsed seawall. However, this technology can effectively address sea erosion if there is proper maintenance, he said.
Shinoymon, a local resident, pointed out that only Rs 60 lakh was spent for laying tubes in the entire100-metre stretch. For placing rocks over the same distance, over Rs 1 crore has to be spent, he said. "We suspect officials discourage the technology because it will not allow them to siphon off money every year in the name of laying rocks in the sea," he said.
As many as 16 groin fields laid down by irrigation department in Purakad panchayat spending Rs12 crore during the last government's term had gone down the drain, he alleged.
The groin fields constructed with hard rock pebbles having a length of 10-20 metres without connecting either directly or indirectly to the basement of existing seawall had been sucked away by the rough sea, he said and demanded a probe into the criminal wastage of public money.
Sreejamol, another resident, endorsed the tubes as they are environment-friendly, cost- effective and strong enough to withstand the waves. "We were surprised by the performance of the tubes during June-July last year. Though many surrounding places came under sea attack, no serious damage was done to our area," she added....