Raja Simhan T E

Chennai, Dec. 31

AS a consequence of last Sunday's tsunami, the Chennai Port Trust (ChPT) plans to create an artificial beach to protect the Chennai port from seaside from such natural disasters. The plan is to have the beach from left of Cooum River (next to Napier bridge in the heart of the city) right up to fishing harbour in North Chennai (around 10 km), according to Mr K. Suresh, Chairman, ChPT.

"Though tsunami is a rare occurrence, still we do not want to take a chance," he told Business Line.

Mr Suresh said two professors from the Indian Institute of Technology and another from the National Institute of Ocean Technology would undertake a feasibility study on creating the artificial beach. They would also suggest measures to improve communication network within the port and the need for an advance alarm system. The study would be completed in a couple of months, he said.

The artificial beach is planned before the east breakwater on the seaside, and it would be within the port's territory. Public would not have access to the beach.

Further, during the Tenth Plan, the ChPT plans to reclaim land adjacent to Cooum. The artificial beach and land reclamation would protect the port to a certain extent, and take the first beating from nature's fury.

"Our aim is to protect the port for the next 100 years," he said.

On communication network, Mr Suresh said an advance warning system is to be put in place in the port to provide alerts on occurrences such as tsunami, cyclones and storms. The system would also issue an alert even if there was a minor disturbance in the sea. There is such a forewarning system in place in countries such as Japan, which could be brought to Chennai, he said.

According to Mr Suresh, the study by the three professors would also include the extent of impact and damage from tsunami, and how could such damages be minimised in future. The study would also include the kind of structures the port should have to withstand such occurrences in future, he said.

The tsunami damaged port's infrastructure, including cranes, wharfs, moorings and some part of the ship channel. Initial estimates on loss for the port could be around Rs 10-15 crore, he said. The port suspended operations for two days.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated January 1, 2005)
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