India saw an unprecedented scale of devastation after 2004 Tsunami. Nearly 23,000 people died and lakhs were wounded and rendered homeless. Many villages in the coastal area got submerged in the water and some witnessed large scale erosion. Alarmed over the gradual erosion in coastal villages, Kerala government in 2007 requested IIT-Madras to devise a way to reclaim its eroding coastlines. The IIT team headed by Prof V Sundar of department ocean engineering has succeeded in reclaiming nearly 50km of lost beaches on Kerala’s coastline by applying modern scientific technology to age-old ‘Groin Fields’ process. So far, 25 eroded sites of two km each around 25 villages have been reclaimed.

“After the tsunami, the Kerala government wanted a master plan for 25 villages to check erosion on stretches of two km in each. After investigation, we proposed ‘Groin Fields’ which yielded positive results. It has succeeded in retaining sand and building of the beaches. Thus, we reclaimed the lost beaches,” Sundar told Times of India. Groin field has been a tried and tested measure used across the world to prevent coastal erosion. It was used in India in 1960s and was “completely forgotten”.

Groin Field is a long, narrow structure built out into the water from a beach to prevent erosion. What makes this method a stand out is that it can actually recover land lost to the sea, unlike sea walls which can only prevent further erosion. This method  require very precise calculations like quantity of sediments and direction of long-shore currents, reports Times of India.

The IIT team is using the same concept in North Chennai, south of Pulicat backwaters where a beach of the width of about 300 metres over a stretch of 3 km has been lost due to erosion.

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