A package of Rs 5,300 crore has been allocated for projects involving the conservation of coastal regions in the state in the maiden Budget of the second Pinarayi Vijayan government in Kerala. Finance Minister KN Balagopal presented the Budget in the state Legislative Assembly on June 4, Friday. During the presentation, he said that projects worth Rs 5,300 crore to conserve the coasts will be completed in five years. The stateās Finance Minister in his Budget speech said that the state has been shocked by cyclones Tauktae and Yass, which passed through Kerala during the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. "Sea erosion and rough seas plunged the lives in coastal areas into huge distress. A long-term solution needs to be formulated by scientifically understanding these natural phenomena. The package contains a two-pronged approach to coastal conservation and the improvement of infrastructure in coastal areas," Balagopal said in his maiden Budget.
He also said during the speech that despite major portions of the fragile coastal region in Kerala being protected by sea walls of different sizes, these walls are either damaged or in a weak condition in many places and have to be reconstructed. "The most fragile land within 40 to 75 meters from the sea will be protected using integrating tetrapods and diaphragm walls. Along with the immediate conservation of most fragile areas, bathymetric (study of underwater depth of ocean floors) and hydrographic (the measurement and description of the physical features of oceans, seas, coastal areas) studies will be conducted for finding out the technologies most suitable to the structure of the coastal area," the Finance Minister said.
Balagopal further added that for formulating the most suitable strategy for coastal conservation, the expertise of the Kerala Engineering Research Institute (KERI), Forest Research Institute (KFRI), National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT), Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Chennai, IIT Palakkad, engineering colleges and other institutions will be utilised. Also, extensive stakeholder consultations will be conducted with local communities before finalising designs. "For this, the views of community organisations working in coastal areas will be sought with the assistance of local self-government and the Fisheries Department. The coastal area conservation measures are formulated in such a way that they will suitably integrate new technologies like double layered tetrapods with anti-scour layer, mangroves, diaphragm walls with anti-scour layer, rolling barrier systems, geo-containers, and geo-tubes," he added. "The estimated expenditure of this project, which can be completed in five years, would be around Rs 5,300 crore. An amount of Rs 1,500 crore will be provided as financial assistance from the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board towards the first phase in July 2021," he said.