Sea erosion prevention project in Ullal draws flak

The much touted Ullal sub project to prevent sea erosion during monsoon, taken up under the Sustainable Coastal Protection and Management Investment Programme (SCPMP) funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), has received criticisms from the fishermen community and local people, even before the work could begin.

Fishermen and residents of Ullal, not only allege that they were kept in dark about the project plan for all these years, but also say that the execution process of the project, as per the information available, is illogical. Mott MacDonald, the Consultant company has finalised the project and accordingly, the project comprises of four stages, namely construction of two huge offshore reefs, modification and re-alignment of existing two breakwaters in Alive, construction of four inshore berms and artificial nourishment of beach.

Contract awarded

As the contract for the work on berms has been awarded, and the ship carrying specially designed sand bags for the construction of berms is on its way to India from Germany, Hyderabad based construction company RDS Projects is likely to commence the work on berms by February end. Tenders have been floated for the construction of breakwaters at an estimated cost of Rs 45 crore, whereas only one tender was opened for the construction of reefs and the contractor is said to have quoted a lot more than the estimated amount. The department is planning to float a re-tender, according to sources.
Speaking to Deccan Herald, Euroconsult Mott MacDonald Project Manager Hans Pos said the work on construction of one out of the four berms will begin in February and will be completed before the next monsoon. The four berms are constructed at a cost of Rs 25 crore and each berm will comprise of 5,000 bags of sand with each bag weighing between one to 10 tons. Reefs are constructed 600 meters away from the seashore.

Objection

Fishermen have objected this as they claim construction of berm, before the construction of reef and restructuring of breakwaters, will not serve the purpose.

Bharath Kumar, representing fishermen community said that even if the berms are constructed first, they will not withstand the waves during monsoon and might just be washed away. Whereas, if the reef is constructed first, it will shape waves, thus the pressure on berms will be less. Breakwater should be realigned prior to the construction of berms, as it would push the sand towards south, thus bringing the equilibrium in the alignment of beach. “It appears as though they (the government and consultant) want to show that some work is done as people are agitated for the delay in implementing the much awaited project. With the tender process for breakwater and reefs facing delay,  they have reversed the project and are constructing berms first,” he said.

Realigning backwaters

According to the project report, North breakwater will be expanded towards 45 degree and the South breakwater will be cut shorter to allow an increase of sand moving towards Ullal. Summer Sands Beach Resort Managing Director Aloysius Albuquerque is of the opinion that, construction of berms without realigning breakwater is of no use. Sea erosion problem intensified in Ullal after the construction of two breakwaters. Therefore, it is the need of the hour to restructure the backwaters and set the loopholes right, so that sand is moved towards Ullal where berms are constructed to entrap sand. The department concerned has also not followed the specifications given by the Central Water and Power Research Station which had suggested for laying of groynes (wall) for protecting southern water, he complained. More importantly, the berms to be constructed are having the capacity to withstand waves of 3.5 meters height. “Waves in Ullal beach cross even seven meters during monsoon. We have experienced the high tide of Ullal and I am quite sure the berm constructed before monsoon will be washed away during monsoon, if the breakwater is not realigned and reefs are not constructed,” said Mogaveera Sangha President Sadananda Bangera. However, Project Manager Hans Pos refused to give any guarantee that the berms will withstand high tide upto seven meters. We are doing this on an experimental basis. Contractor will be responsible for the destruction of the berm within one year of the construction, he said.

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