Three city beaches to get a makeover
The proposal for the makeover of the three beaches in Madh Island was cleared by the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) in a meeting, held on March 8, minutes of which were recently released. The environmentalists, however, are upset with the proposal to construct protection walls at these beaches as they believe this will only cause more damage to the beaches and the sand there.
Mumbai: Three beaches in the western part of the city — Erangal Beach, Silver Beach and Daanapani Beach — will be beautified by the Maharashtra Maritime Board (MMB). The proposal for the makeover of the three beaches in Madh Island was cleared by the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) in a meeting, held on March 8, minutes of which were recently released.
The environmentalists, however, are upset with the proposal to construct protection walls at these beaches as they believe this will only cause more damage to the beaches and the sand there.
MMB officials presented the proposal on Erangal Beach before the MCZMA officials. The proposed project consists of construction of a protection wall and development of public amenities by the MMB.
Erangal Beach suffers from erosion, which gets severe during heavy rainfall and makes the beach inaccessible. Also, there are no amenities around the beach for visitors.
Therefore, the MMB has proposed a safety wall and development of amenities for visitors. The proposed project is expected to help reduce erosion, conserve the beach and boost local tourism. The MMB officials presented that the wall is proposed for the protection of a nearby coastal stretch on which villagers have built their houses. The Central Water Power Research Station has suggested the design of the protection wall.
The Environment Impact Assessment report states that construction activities like material storage shall be carried out beyond the CRZ area to ensure minimum disturbance to soil quality. Some amount of soil will be cleared and levelled as required, but care will be taken to maintain the land level.
The MMB has been asked to ensure that anti-sea erosion bund is on the landward side of the high tide line of the coastline and at the high-water level. Also, the beach area should not be reduced due to the bund.
MCZMA has also told the MMB that the proposed bund should not occupy the beach area on the seaward side.
At Silver Beach in Madh Island, the MMB has proposed that along with the anti-sea erosion bund, amenities for visitors should be constructed.
The minutes said strong currents cause soil erosion at Silver Beach, which makes it dangerous and affects its tourism value. Therefore, the MMB has proposed the anti-sea erosion bund along with provision of recreational facilities to visitors.
The project involves construction of an anti-sea erosion bund of 500 meters length and 22 meters width at the base. Beautification and development of tourist amenities will include a wall and steps, garden beach for seating, sanitary facilities, garden for senior citizens and children play area, entrance and parking, food plaza, lawns, public toilets, open gym, UCR wall, steps and garden bench and solar powered street lights, said the minutes.
Similar beautification will be done at Danapani Beach by the MMB. The proposal involves construction of a safety wall as an erosion control measure for the beach along with development of basic public amenities such as a walking track, cobble stone pathway, bio toilets, solar lights, horticulture garden and this will be spread over 560 meters.
D Stalin, environmentalist of NGO Vanashakti, said, “The MMB is destroying the beaches. Beaches are natural areas that must be kept free from construction and for the enjoyment of the common citizens. But MMB makes roads and dumps tetrapods on beaches thereby hastening erosion.
“The anti-erosion wall is only a cosmetic term to hide the real damage proposed to be brought on the beach. Destroying beaches has become a money-spinning exercise. Where are the erosion studies that were done before embarking on this exercise? Why is that not put in public domain? “The environment watchdog MCZMA is a toothless rubber stamp body which bends over backwards to clear blatantly illegal constructions in CRZ,” said Stalin.
Nandakumar Pawar, environmentalist, said, “Any kind of construction, embankments on the beaches are essentially mindless ideas. Under the guise anti-sea erosion bunds, under the guise of beautification, concrete walls are being constructed (recently at Aksa beach) the clearance/ permission has not been granted to MMB for any construction of concrete walls into the ecological sensitive area.
“Sandy beaches are natural sponges, which works as water soaking, water absorbing element and an essence of natural beauty of the shores and beaches. It also works as flood control mechanism.
“We are already into global warming and climate change scenario where the sea level is constantly raising. No man-made structures can withstand the fury of nature. We observe these kinds of natural disasters all over the world. Instead of construction of anti-erosion bunds, priority of the MMB should be protection of sands on the beaches.
“People visit these places to enjoy the beauty of sand. Both, MCZMA and MMB, need to understand the significance of these intertidal, natural protection and should not indulge in reckless spending of public funds, which will cause permanent damage to the natural beauty of the beaches and result in hardship to the citizens.”