Chennai Shoreline Renourishment And Revitalisation Project Moves Forward, Neelankarai-Akkarai And Tiruvottiyur Beachfront Development To Be Prioritised

The Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) is set to begin work on the feasibility report and detailed project report (DPR) for Neelankarai -Akkarai and Tiruvottiyur beachfront development.

The two beachfront development projects are part of the ₹100-crore Chennai Shoreline Renourishment and Revitalisation Project, covering the 30-km stretch between the Marina and Kovalam.

The project was announced in April 2022. In July last year, the Tamil Nadu government agreed to establish a special purpose vehicle (SPV) to fund and execute the project. Chennai Shoreline Renourishment And Revitalisation Projects Limited was incorporated in April this year.

Under the Renourishment and Revitalisation of Chennai’s Shoreline project, the CMDA plans to o create a continuous coastline in the city, beachfront development, carry out works to protect ecologically sensitive areas, conservation of coastline, mitigation of effluent discharges and engagement of the local community.

The project also seeks to mitigate climate change-related challenges through environmental conservation and effective management.

Chennai city’s shoreline extends between Ennore Creek in the North and Kovalam in the South. Despite having a natural and long coastline, its access is discontinuous and fragmented into stretches, and the conservation of the coastline from a climate perspective still needs to be addressed.

Chennai Coastline

Marina Beach and Elliots Beach (Besant Nagar) are the most popular of these stretches, where most of the public gathers for recreation and leisure.

Other than these two beaches, there are approximately 20 other disconnected shorefronts which are neglected and decaying due to pollution and lack of infrastructure but may have the potential to transform into natural public spaces for the city.

As part of the beachfront development envisaged under the project, the beach stretches will house souvenir shops, play areas, rescue and medical facilities, landscaping and seating, beach promenades, musical fountains, seaside entertainment activities, and adventure and activity components, apart from cycle tracks.

The project also plans to connect the fragmented portions of beaches as esplanades exclusively for no- motorised transport, including cycling, using very light physical infrastructures and environment-friendly construction material for public use.

The city is also experiencing coastal erosion and accretion that can cause bad effects on the surroundings. According to a report in 2018 by the National Centre for Coastal Research, Chennai, a stretch of 3 km along the coast faces low erosion and approx. 7 km face low accretion.

The project also seeks to address pollution due to wastewater and other waste material discharging into the marine environment and the conservation of the natural marine environment.

The project has faced opposition from environmentalists and the fishing community.

Nityanand Jayaram, an environmentalist, criticised CMDA for lack of transparency on the project objectives.

“Usually, projects and plans will be first devised, and then, funding is sanctioned. But in this case, sanction has been made without any plan. This created fear among the fishing villages along the shoreline. They’re anxious that officials would conceive works without any concern whether the works are necessary or not,” he claimed.