Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Rajnagar, Apr 12:
For the first time in Odisha, construction of a geo-synthetic wall has begun near Pentha under Rajnagar block in Kendrapara district to minimise sea erosion due to high tides from the Bay of Bengal.
People in around 35 villages have been living in a state of fear as the sea has been aggressively encroaching into the land in the area. The coastline has eaten around 3 KM into the mainland in the last 15 years. In 2008, the beach had eroded around 800 meters into the catchment areas at Pentha, raising concerns among the district administration as well as the local populace.
Keeping this in view, the state government had announced to erect sea wall near Pentha in 2008 with a project cost of Rs 15 crore. The state government had taken the decision based on the report by oceanography experts from the Indian Institute of Technology in Chennai (IIT),Orissa State Disaster Management Authority (OSDMA) and Odisha Space Applications Centre (ORSAC).
However, the government decision had hit a roadblock after protests from environmentalists, who voiced concern that the concrete walls would be weakened after the sea waves hit against it. Besides, they said that the natural sand dunes act as speed breakers for the sea waves and the unnatural structures should not be constructed.
A year later, chief minister Naveen Patnaik visited Pentha and laid the foundation stone for construction of the geo-synthetic wall instead of the concrete sea wall with the World Band assistance.
Tenders were then invited for the construction of the 675-meter wall with a project cost of Rs 31.15 crores. The Pune-based Garware Wall Ropes Ltd (GWRL) was awarded the tender for the geo-synthetic wall. However, the construction was suspended due to design flaws and resumed after correction. As per the revised design, the walls will be erected for 505 meters instead of the pre-estimated 675 meters.
In the first stage, 40 geotubes having length of 20 meters and height of 7.4 meters have been placed inside the sea so far. In the 505-meter stretch, 221 geotubes would be fitted in the geo-synthetic wall so as to stop the sea waves from eroding the coastline.
The World Bank project funded under the Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) Programme has approved Rs 31.15 crore for the laying of geo-synthetic tubes. While 75 percent of the project cost will be borne by the World Bank, 15 and 10 percent will be spent by Central and state governments respectively.
This geo-synthetic tube wall project is the second geotube built in India after West Bengal, which was constructed in 2008 spread over an area of 1 KM.
Recently, the engineers of the water research department visited the site to inspect the progress of the work.