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Vizhinjam dredging: Seabed turns graveyard for mussels

  • Seabed has become a graveyard of mussels
  • Accretion of sand on reefs have destroyed habitat of various species including lobsters
  • As many as 18 families have lost livelihood
Vizhinjam dredging Seabed turns graveyard for mussels
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Much awaited Vizhinjam port proves to be an ecological disaster as latest evidence shows that the proved has caused more damage to rocky reefs in Kovalam than that was predicted earlier. Underwater photographs taken by divers as per the request of local fishermen proves that the seabed has become a graveyard of mussels. 

A study conducted by Kerala State Biodiversity Board (KSBB) has found that of the 33 near-inshore rocky reefs 11 have been fully covered in sand from dredging site. Te study was conducted between Kovalam and Mulloor. The accretion of sand from dredging has destroyed the natural habitat of hundreds of species including lobsters. 

Another study conducted by Friends of Marine Life, an NGO, found that three more reefs are partially covered in sand and are perishing fast. "Mussels are creatures that cannot move. It is through the opening between their shells that they absorb nutrients. During dredging powder from the rocks enter through the gap in the shelves leading to the death of mussels. The large scale destruction taking place underwater was not known earlier as it is not visible from the shore," Robert Panipilla of Friends of Marine Life said. 

The reefs are situated about 50 km from Kovalam towards Varkala and Enayam in Tamil Nadu. There are plans for a new port in Enayam as well. With the mass destruction, 18 families in Kovalam lost their livelihood. However, they are not considered eligible for compensation. 

Marine scientist and fisheries expert Sanjeeva Ghosh had earlier warned that the Adani Vizhinjam Port would impact the livelihood of the fishing community and marine ecosystem and had demanded core changes to the proposed project report. He had also warned that the project poses a serious setback to tourism. 

The project would lead to significant changes in the shoreline. The impact will be felt highly on the fishermen community, who are a highly marginalised community. It was also said that dredging, rock blasting, reclamation and sand mining could lead to changes in the direction of ocean tides and waves. 

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