60% seawall proposals in Maharashtra rejected in two years
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60% seawall proposals in Maharashtra rejected in two years

Mumbai city news: Anti-sea erosion bunds are constructed to protect the shoreline from erosion. However, experts say they are only a temporary solution.

mumbai Updated: Jul 08, 2017 00:16 IST
Badri Chatterjee
Badri Chatterjee
Hindustan Times
Mumbai city news,Maharashtra coastline,anti-sea erosion bunds
The declining coastline at Dadar Chowpatty

The Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) has rejected more than 60% of proposals to construct bunds, which are meant to prevent the sea from eroding the land, and decided that they will try to not clear any in the future too. However, they have cleared most of such proposals in Mumbai.

These bunds, which are either cement walls or tetrapods, are meant to protect the shoreline from erosion but they are doing more harm than good, MCZMA officials told HT. They added that these bunds impact the tidal movement in a way that the strength of waves increases around them and this hastens erosion.

The coastline at Juhu beach in 2001.
The visibly declined coastline at Juhu beach in 2017.

“In the last two years, we have rejected more than 60% of such proposals filed by people who own property at beaches, most of them in the past six months, because they cause more damage than good,” said Satish Gavai, additional chief secretary, state environment department and chairman, MCZMA. “In the last meeting, we rejected all proposals related to construction of these sea walls.”

He said they have mostly approved proposals from Mumbai and rejected those in different parts of the state such as Alibaug, Kihim and many other coastal settlements. “Since there is a large population living close to the sea in Mumbai, it is very important to protect the coastline,” said Gavai.

Meanwhile, Watchdog Foundation, an NGO, unaware of MCZMA’s stand, complained to the civic body and state environment department on Thursday saying Mumbai has already lost 12 km of its shoreline to erosion, developmental and recreational activities owing to these bunds. The NGO attached satellite images from 2000 and 2017 to show the reducing shoreline at Girgaon Chowpatty, Dadar Chowpatty, Mahim, Juhu Chowpatty and Versova.

“We tabulated information collated from a number of reports from the environment ministry. The increasing pressure on the coastal zone owing to migration of population, spurt in development activities from industries, increase in discharge of waste effluents, municipal sewage and booming recreational activities, have affected the coastal environment of Mumbai and its suburban beaches,” said Godfrey Pimenta, trustee, Watchdog Foundation.

Pimenta said anti-sea erosion bunds can affect and alter the tidal movements. “We fear that construction of Coastal Road will aggravate this situation and we request the civic body and the state to conduct studies and understand the environmental impact of allowing the construction of these bunds.”

Meanwhile, MCZMA official too said they prefer a natural approach. “We have project proponents, who are mostly harbour engineers representing property owners, that they should consider natural options such as beach replenishment, plantation of mangroves and other coastal trees over bunds,” said Gavai.

Citizens, however, have started doing their bit to replenish beaches. For example, Versova residents planted 500 coconut trees near the beach’s southern end to develop a ‘coconut lagoon’.

The coastline at Mahin sea in 2001
The coastline at Mahim sea in 2017.


“Natural sand should be used for the wall rather than cement.If the waves hit cement, it may lead to fast erosion process than natural materials. Also, water will be displaced at another location, which will hasten erosion,” said Dr Baban Ingole, chief scientist and professor, National Institute of Oceanography.

“If the sea is not allowed take its natural course, it will enter the land to a much deeper extent on both ends of this wall and can lead to destruction of natural habitat and homes. Secondly, fishermen won’t have direct access to the sea. Lastly, sea turtles and crabs, who come to the beach or intertidal regions to lay eggs, will be cut off. It is a temporary solution and has a lifespan of five years,” said E Vivekanandan, consultant and scientist, Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute.

First Published: Jul 07, 2017 12:48 IST