In a few months’ time, there will be no rocks to prevent you from walking on the beach near the promenade in Puducherry, as sand will replace the rocks which line the promenade.
"When I was a young boy, we used to run to the water and go swimming in the sea. Beaches are where people come to relax in the evenings after work, and they are also a critical source of livelihood for coastal communities. Beach restoration has been one of our dreams” said the Puducherry Chief Minister A. Nayaranasamy to The Hindu.
As part of the Shoreline Management Plan for Puducherry, The Ministry of Earth Sciences, National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) and the Puducherry government have designed a project which will construct a four-metre high 'nearshore wedge reef' to serve as a barrier against soil erosion and to help the movement of sand naturally to the north.
When the harbour was built in the late 1980s, it blocked the front of the beach, and ever since, people have found it difficult to access the beach easily. The north side of the harbour started eroding and led to the sand getting stuck around it. So, this project is aimed at reducing the sediment losses and curbing soil erosion.
"A pilot project of artificial nearshore has been taken up by NIOT in close association with the Pondy government with funding from Ministry of Earth Sciences for an amount of 26 crore. The rest of the components such as beach nourishment and southern reef will be taken up by Pondy govt with their own funding" said Mullai Vendhan, a scientist from NIOT, speaking to The News Minute.
"We have been pushing this idea for the past 15 years. It is only in the recent past that the government decided to do something about it and now the beach is finally going to be brought back" said Aurofilio Schiavina, co-founder of PondyCan (Pondy Citizen's Action Network) - an organization which works towards preserving and enhancing the environment. PondyCan has been actively involved in initiating and facilitating the beach restoration project.
Based on the evaluation, two components have been identified: beach restoration and shoreline stabilisation. As part of beach restoration, the sand which is stuck in and around the harbour will be removed, while a submerged reef will be built as part of the stabilisation process.
Pondicherry Public Works Department is supervising the project while the dredging is being undertaken by the Dredging Corporation of India.
The implementation began in March, and the project is expected to be completed by June-July of this year.