Visakhapatnam: The popular Rushikonda beach in Vizag has suffered serious damages due to unprecedented urbanisation in its vicinity in the past three decades. The ecological devastation can be seen through a series of satellite images.

Rushikonda has emerged as one of the most crowded beaches in Vizag city and it has been attracting the tourists from parts of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Odisha and West Bengal and also from Russia, USA, Germany and few other countries around the year.

Satellite images from 1984 to 2018 show the disappearing green cover near the seafront.

Major educational institutes such as GITAM University, GITAM Medical College, Gayatri Engineering College and some resorts, hotels, convention halls and a number of apartments have come up in this part of this city.

G Srinivas, a social activist and a Rushikonda resident for the past 20 years, said some hills and trees were cleared to make way for IT centres and resorts near the beach.

The Andhra Pradesh government, which is supposed to enforce coastal regulation zone (CRZ) norms and ensure that no permanent structures come up within 500 meters of the high tide line, appears to have clearly failed in its duties.

Many permanent structures have come up at Rushikonda by blatantly flouting the rules, said members of the Indian National Trust for Archeological and Cultural Heritage (INTACH).

“Three decades ago, the entire area was a jungle. People feared to visit Rushikonda after sunset. But now Rushikonda has turned into a concrete jungle, thanks to the mushrooming resorts, hotels and IT establishments. It is one of the most expensive locations in the city,” said J Balaji, a noted builder in Vizag city.

AP Tourism department officials said they spent over Rs 7.3 crore to clean the beach and equip it with several amenities. “Rushikonda beach will be the first beach in Andhra Pradesh which is poised to get the popular ‘Blue Flag’ certification from the Denmark-based Foundation for Environmental Education,” said an official.

Majority of the government and private land in and around Rushikonda were encroached by TDP and Congress leaders, alleged CPM leader B Lokanadham of Vizag. Rushikonda is one of the finest beaches in the East Coast.

Lokanadham said, “We have been appealing the district administration to protect the lands at Rushikonda and also preserve the existing greenery and crackdown the illegal structures. But, our pleas have been fallen on deaf ears.”

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