Protest
Over the past two months, the residents of Chellanam coastal village have conducted three major protests but all in vain.

Worried about the havoc the coming monsoon season will cause to the coastal village of Chellanam in Kochi– that does not have a proper seawall – residents marched to the district Collectorate on Wednesday to press the authorities to resume the work of seawall construction.

The coastal hamlet of Chellanam is one of the regions in the district which faces severe problem of sea erosion, especially in the monsoon season. Severe damage to houses will be caused due to the displacement of land by waves and tides during this time.

Even after repeated protests by people living in the hamlet, stalled work of seawall construction is yet to resume. Over the past two months, the residents have conducted three major protests but all in vain.

With about three weeks left for the monsoon to hit the coast, the residents marched to Ernakulam district Collectorate to express their concern. “We have no option but to raise our voice as monsoon is just around the corner and our homes will be flooded because of sea erosion,” said TA Dalfine, convener of West Kochi Coastal Protection Forum.

The demand for construction of seawall intensified after Cyclone Ockhi disaster in 2017, which claimed the lives of two fishermen of the village. Though authorities promised to build a seawall, by the time work started, it was January 2019.

But the work of seawall construction using geotubes, made of stacks of natural or synthetic fibre tubes filled with sand, came to a standstill within weeks because of unavailability of sand.

Meanwhile, officials of the Irrigation Department which implements the project reiterated that the delay and halt in seawall construction was because of inefficiency of the contractor. “We have started termination procedures of the contractor and have also called emergency tender to complete the works before monsoon commences,”  K Radhakrishnan, executive engineer at the Irrigation Department, told TNM.

“By using the dredger from Chellanam harbour, works will be started on Thursday itself and we will complete the construction before monsoon,” he added.

The project, which costs Rs 8 crore, is aimed at laying geotube seawalls along the stretches of Velankanni Bazaar (300 metres from the sea), Vachakkal (100 metres from the sea), Companypady (300 metres from the sea) and Puthenthode Fishing Gap (110 metres), in Chellanam panchayat.

Work had earlier began in Velankanni Bazaar stretch of the panchayat, before it was stalled.

Read: With seawall construction stalled, Kerala coastal village residents protest