Three years on, project to build shore protection walls using geotextile tubes remains on paper

The coastal village of Chellanam is edgy at the prospects of having to face the rough seas and high tidal waves post COVID-19 even as a three-year-old promise to build shore protection walls using geotextile tubes remains on paper. The village has, however, seen some action as decongestion of some of the key stormwater canals has gotten under way this week.

The delay in fulfilling the promise to build seawalls after the December 2017 Okhi cyclone has triggered a slew of protests. The latest to join the fray is Chellanam Janakeeya Vedhi, which says that the authorities are not waking up to the reality of the coastal village.

Joseph Arakkal, general convener, said that memoranda had been sent to the Chief Minister as well as the Minister for Irrigation and other authorities concerned about the coming rainy season and the woes it will bring for the people of Chellanam.

“At least, a kilometre of the seawall has been destroyed. There are smaller such stretches from Fort Kochi to Chellanam south end. This is causing a lot of worry,” he said.

The Janakeeya Vedhi also enlisted the help of writers like M.K. Sanoo, Meena Kandasamy and Kureepuzha Sreekumar, who are among the signatories to a petition sent to the State government pleading for immediate action to build the seawall using geotextile tubes. The petition pointed out that about 2,500 families would face the wrath of the rough seas, and that the work must be expedited.

Mr. Joseph said that the government had promised to complete the work by April 2018. However, nearly three years have passed now. During the period, he said, several rounds of inauguration of the work had been done by different authorities, including the Fisheries Minister and the local MLA.

Jinson Veluthamannungal of Paschima Kochi Theera Samrakshana Samithi said that nothing appeared to be moving forward. He said that work to decongest and desilt the Uppathakkadthodu, a major canal that drains stormwater into the sea, had been started and expressed hope that some relief would be brought by the work while the answer would still evade people regarding the possibility of flooding of homes in high tidal waves once the rain begins.

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