For two decades, the Government of Pondicherry has watched as the town’s beautiful sand beach disappeared and fishing villages fell into the sea. Not until Beach Road, the town’s famous promenade, began subsiding did the government take action — and, naturally, it took the wrong action.
Rather than breaking the harbour which is causing the erosion, the governement began an expensive and futile program of “fortifying” the shoreline with heavy boulders. This battle cannot be won with rocks. Indeed, hard-structures like seawalls and groynes exacerbate and accelerate the devastation. The erosive force of the sea can only be passified by the restoration of the sandy beach, the crucial buffer between sea and land.
Continue reading ‘The Story of Pondicherry’s Eroding Coastline in a Single Image’
Published 1 October 2008
Environment , India , Politics & Policy , Service
Tags: Balamohan, beach, beaches, coast, corruption, democracy, development, Environment, erosion, government, Govind Singh Gurjar, Khairwal, Pondicherry, port, protest, Puducherry, rule of law, Thiru. V. Vaithilingam, Valsaraj
Yesterday was a good day for democracy in Pondicherry. The people took to the streets to protest a government which, time-and-again, deftly protects the private interests of its corrupt officials, disregards the public good, and holds itself to be above the law.
The issue concerns the ongoing battle over the illegal concession given to a private developer by former Chief Secretary Khairwal and Minister Valsaraj to build a huge port complex in the heart of this tiny heritage town, and the vast environmental, economic, and social devastation this development will cause.
Continue reading ‘The People Fight Back’
Published 23 February 2008
Art & Culture , Environment , India , Religion, Spiritualism & Other Make-Believe
Tags: beach, corruption, erosion, festival, Gods, groynes, Hinduism, Indian Ocean, Kuruchikuppam, Masi Magam, Pondichery, sea wall, Shiva, Vishnu
Yesterday marked the Masi Magam festival in Pondicherry, a celebration which allows the Hindu gods Vishnu and Shiva – or at least their temple-idol look-alikes, more numerous than ersatz Elvises at a Las Vegas convention – to stroll among the sea-side villages on hand- or ox-pulled carts and have a ritual dip in the waves.
It’s very festive, as all good festivals should be.
And very loud, as all good Indian festivals should be.
Continue reading ‘Gods Go for Beach Outing, Find Little Sand’