Mangaluru: The time for removal of the sand and silt accumulated at Alivebagilu (the estuary at the confluence of the Nethravati and Gurupura rivers) is finally nearing. A massive dredging operation has been planned for lifting the silt, which has been a long-pending demand of fishermen and commercial ships in the region.
The dredging work is expected to begin after the end of the Monsoon season this year. The work on the 4-km stretch will be carried out under the Coastal Berth Scheme of the ambitious Sagar Mala Programme at an estimated cost of Rs 29 crores. The cost will be shared equally by the state and the union government.
Praveen Kumar, assistant engineer of the department of ports said that the tender process for the project is in progress and the work is expected to begin after the monsoon ends. The whole project will take around 2 years to complete, he added.
Silt naturally accumulates in the estuaries and needs to be removed regularly. The silt accumulated at the river mouth causes the sea bed to rise and pose danger to the ships. Several ships have accidentally grounded in recent years.
The project had to overcome several bottlenecks. A few years ago, the state government forwarded the work proposal from the Mangaluru port authorities to the central government. The Center has also given a green signal for the project about 2 years ago.
Despite getting the go-ahead, the project got delayed due to the roadblocks in the tender process. Only one party showed interest in the first tender called for the dredging works. There were no takers for the project as it was pandemic time when the tender was reissued next. In a few tenders, the parties had gone to court due to disagreements during the technical inspection stage. This dragged the tender process even further.
The tender has been called for the sixth time now and is expected to be completed soon.
Reuse of dredged sand
Usually, sand extracted from dredging was dumped 20 kilometers into the sea due to a paucity of storage space. About 40,000 cubic meters of sand is extracted in dredging carried out at Rs 1 crore. there are a few new ideas about utilizing the sand extracted.
As the coastline is experiencing sea erosion, there are discussions on whether the sand can be reused sea wall to prevent erosion at the Ullala-Someshwara stretch. There is no clarity yet on the feasibility and suitability of this idea.
The district administrations of Udupi and Dakshina Kannada have also sought permission from the government for using the dredged sand in government works in the district. So far, permission has not been granted.