Tag Archives: Pondy Citizens’ Action Network

Sunita Narain: Where are the beaches?

The Business Standard has published an article by Sunita Narain called:  “Where are the beaches?”  based on Ms. Narain’s visit to the eroded beaches along the coast of Pondicherry.  The text of the article, dated 9 May 2011, appears below:

We were on a beach, somewhere close to Puducherry. It was a surreal sight: half-smashed houses with fronts wide open, and people still living in them. The devastation was caused not by a sea storm or cyclone, but by the eroded beach. The sea had crept up to the village so there was no protection between the sea and the village.

Why was this happening, I asked. My guides were members of the Pondy Citizens’ Action Network (PondyCAN), which has worked tirelessly to draw the nation’s attention to beach erosion.

To understand this, we walked a little distance away from the devastated village. From the beach, I could see massive granite stones piled up to build a groyne stretching into the sea. This structure, constructed to protect villages from erosion, ends up protecting one village and destroying another, explained my guides.

But I could still not see the connection. How could one small structure like this change the coastal ecology? Civil engineer Probir Banerjee and marine engineer Aurofilio Schiavina explained that a beach is not just a lot of sand. “Beaches are rivers of sand” because each year sea waves transport huge quantities of sand from north to south and south to north. During the southwest monsoon, some 600,000 cubic metres of sand is moved towards the north. Also, during the three months of the northeast monsoon (when winds are fierce), as much as 100,000 cubic metres of sand gets transported towards the south across the eastern coasts of the country.

So beaches are living creatures – winds and waves bring sand in one season and take it away in another. My teachers further explained marine science: “Then, think of the groyne as a dam in a river which will block the movement of sand, not water.” In this case, the groyne has stopped the movement of sand to the beach ahead. Thus, the beach does not grow and when the wind changes, the monsoon gets fierce, and the sea moves in. There is no beach to protect the land beyond.

The lesson did not finish yet. Our next stop was the Puducherry harbour, with a breakwater making its way into the sea to protect boats. This structure, which was built in 1986, marked the beginning of devastating changes at the coast. Once the harbour was built, it first changed the beach closest to it – the beach along the city of Puducherry.

“I played on the beach as a child,” said V Narayanasamy, member of Parliament from Puducherry and minister of state in the Prime Minister’s Office. “What beach?” I asked. All I could see for miles were black granite stones piled along the ocean promenade. By then it was evening. People had gathered to enjoy the beach and the sunset. But there was neither sand nor beach – only rocks.

All this had been lost in living memory in 15 to 20 years. People had lost their playground. More importantly, a city had lost its critical ecosystem, which would protect its land and recharge its groundwater. And fishermen had lost their livelihood.

But this is just the beginning, explained Mr Banerjee. This structure, small by modern standards of harbours or ports, has spun an entire chain of changes in the beach along the coast. The groyne that we saw earlier was built because the length of the coast stretching 10 to 20 km was now destablised. We could see piles of sand accumulated before the harbour, blocking way to regenerate the beaches. Now every beach needs a groyne and every groyne adds to the problem of the next beach.

Ports are interventions in the natural ecology of coasts. But we neither understand the impact nor worry about dealing with the damage. A few years ago, Puducherry woke up to the reality that its harbour required to be rebuilt and contracts and concessions were awarded to transform it into a massive port (some 20 million tonnes annually). The citizens’ group, which was against the project, went to the court. But the developer – who, strangely, had no experience in ports, and built shops and malls – is not letting go. This is a sweet deal, which brings real estate benefits since the port concession package comes with cheap city land for cost recovery.

In this stretch of some 600 km, you can count seven ports that exist and another three are proposed. This is when each existing port is not used to capacity and is still being upgraded big time. Then why are we building more ports? Is this development? Or land grab?

Interestingly, there is an absence of policy on siting and the number of ports in the country. The Central government knows only about “major” ports and leaves the rest – permission to locate and build other ports – to state governments. There is no distinction between a major port and a state port. It is just a matter of how many one can fit into the coast as fast, and as profitably, as possible. Nobody, therefore, knows how many ports are being built. Nobody cares about the cumulative impact on rivers of sand.

Surely, this cannot be called development. Can it?

sunita@cseindia.org

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Environment Ministry’s Pre-draft CRZ Notification 2010 Rejected by Fishermen, Environmentalists

“Commitments broken, hopes betrayed”

Greenpeace India reports on the rejection of the pre-draft CRZ Notification 2010 by fisherfolk and enviornmentalists in this article below (also found on their website):

The National Coastal Protection Campaign (NCPC), a collective comprising of a broad range of fishworker groups including the National Fishworkers Forum (NFF), fishworker support organisations and environmental groups jointly rejected the Ministry of Environment’s ‘pre-draft’ CRZ 2010 notification for being anti-people, anti-environment and pro-industry (1). Most of the concerns and issues raised during the public consultation process undertaken by Minister Jairam Ramesh between August 2009 and March 2010 have been ignored in the ‘pre-draft’, despite assurances from the Minister that these would be taken on board.

“The ‘pre-draft’ is doubly disappointing as we had high hopes that Mr. Ramesh would ensure a much improved legal regime that would better regulate destructive development on the coast, and protect the livelihoods of traditional fishers”, said V.Vivekanandan, Convenor, NCPC. “The contents of this pre-draft are extremely disappointing as it is grossly inadequate to control the rampant industrialization on the Indian coastline. It also fails to address the dwelling and livelihood rights of the fishing community, providing only token concessions”

Notably, many of the recommendations contained in the “Final Frontier Report”, submitted by the MS Swaminathan committee in 2009, have been completely ignored (2). On the issue of port development, the Swaminathan committee had recommended a moratorium on new ports until their cumulative impacts were studied (3). However, the pre-draft makes no effort to control the growth of ports through a zoning system that keeps port developments at least 25 km. away from the most critical habitats (CRZ 1 areas), as suggested by many.

“The issue of the carrying capacity of the coastline with reference to developmental projects is completely missing. The proliferation of mega ports near CRZ1 and other ecologically sensitive areas has been a matter of controversy for some time now, from Dhamra on the eastern coast, to Mundra and Tadri on the west. Not only does the pre-draft ignore this burning issue, it is opening up coastal areas to further unsustainable development,” said Sanjiv Gopal, Oceans Campaign Manager, Greenpeace India.

There are currently over 300 ports proposed along the coast of mainland India, of which over 200 are notified (4). This would translate to roughly a port every 20-25 km! Besides its own impact, port development is invariably accompanied by other industries, power plants, railway lines, highways, hotels, SEZs, residential complexes, etc. that can have multiple detrimental impacts on the coast. The premise for port expansion on this scale also needs to be questioned given that all major ports are currently under-utilised and operating below capacity.

“There has been a consistent demand to recognise the rights of fishing communities in management and protection of the coasts. This requires a fundamental shift from providing concessions to recognising the rights of fishing communities” said Matanhy Saldanha, Chairperson, National Fishworkers Forum and former Minister for Tourism, Government of Goa. “We are calling on the Ministry to incorporate the specific inputs that have been provided to them by groups such as the NCPC and the National Fishworkers’ Forum, and come out with a notification that strengthens, not dilutes, the protection of India’s coasts and the communities that depend on them,” he concluded.

Notes to Editors:
(1)The NCPC is a platform of fishworker organizations, environmental and conservation groups who are concerned about coastal and marine issues. Its membership is broad based and includes the National Fishworkers Forum, South Indian Federation of Fishermen Societies, Tamilnadu – Pondicherry Fisherpeople’s Federation, International Collective in Support of Fishworkers, Kalpavriksh Environmental Action Group, Greenpeace India, World Wide Fund for Nature, Conservation Action Trust, Centre for Education and Communication, Pondy Citizen’s Action Network, Dakshin Foundation and TRINet, amongst others. Refer to http://greenpeace.in/turtle/docs/letters-to-moef-on-crz-proposals for Greenpeace and NCPC’s submission to the MoEF.

(2)In July 2008, the MoEF issued a draft notification under sub section (1) and clause (v) of sub-section (2) of section 3 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 (29 of 1986) inviting suggestions and objections from the public. In response, the MoEF received large number of suggestions and objections on this draft notification, which was examined by a committee under the Chairmanship of Prof. M. S.Swaminathan. This committee after examination of the comments received submitted the Report titled Final Frontier”. This Report recommended to let the draft Coastal Management Zone Notification, 2008 lapse and to strengthen the CRZ Notification, 1991. The MoEF accepted the recommendations of this Report and let the draft CMZ Notification, 2008 lapse and undertook public consultations with fishermen and coastal communities and other civil society representatives, across the eight coastal states, between August 2009 and March 2010. These consultations were organized by Centre of Environmental Education (CEE), who submitted the Report of the consultation process in 25th March, 2010

(3)Refer to http://envfor.nic.in/mef/cmz_report.pdf “page 20 – Introduce regulations to manage the proliferation of ports along the coasts, with possible impacts on the coastline, by considering cumulative impacts of these developments.”

(4)The Working Group Report on Shipping and Inland Water Transport for the Eleventh Five Year Plan – http://planningcommission.gov.in/aboutus/committee/wrkgrp11/wg11_ship.pdf

5 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Article in The Hindu: “Integrated coastal management plan sought “

Date:05/05/2009
Staff Reporter

Concern at impact of harbours and ports on coastal ecology

PUDUCHERRY: Concerned about the impact of harbours and ports on the coastal ecology and livelihood resources, members of fishing communities from Puducherry, Karaikal and Tamil Nadu and environment activists emphasised the need for formulating and implementing an integrated coastal management plan taking into account the well-being of the coastal environment and its communities and an effective monitoring programme for the coastal environment, before State governments allowed construction of ports and commercial harbours.

A consultation on the government policies on ports and harbours and its impact on coastal ecology, livelihood resources and fishing communities was organised by Coastal Action Network (CAN) and Pondy Citizens’ Action Network (PondyCAN) on Monday.

Speakers at the consultation said the construction of ports and harbours in the coastal zone had extensive impact on the coastal environment, leading to degradation. This affected the livelihood of families in the coastal communities.

Sudarshan Rodriguez from Dakshin Foundation said there were 199 notified ports, of which 12 were major ports and 187 minor ports. The Central government, in the 11th Five Year Plan, identified 331 ports for development on the mainland, roughly one port for every 20 km.

He said there was poor science and planning in coastal management, development and environment planning and environmental de-regulation of coastal management and environmental impact assessment laws. Many port projects were coupled with Special Economic Zone, rail and highway corridors, he added

Another speaker Gandhimathi of CAN said river courses were affected due to the Karaikal port. Ports affected groundwater, contaminated water sediments, coastal and land ecology and caused beach erosion.

The consultation noted that harbours in Chennai, Ennore, Puducherry, Cuddalore, Karaikal and Nagapattinam have caused damage to the coastline in the form of coastal erosion, salt water intrusion, damage to agriculture and ecology, increased vulnerability to natural calamities.

Consolidating the recommendations put forward during the meet, the participants submitted a resolution that State governments should take appropriate action not to allow construction of ports and commercial harbours unless – coastal areas, which were already damaged due to man-made interventions, have been identified and studied, restored to its pristine and undisturbed condition.

With coastal communities not being consulted for developments along the coastline, the resolutions stressed the need to accept and accord the land rights of fishing and coastal community through a legitimate means and process. A consultative process to take in the views and requirements of all sections of the coastal communities was necessary.

The Coastal Regulation Zone notification related to coastal environment should be implemented properly, the members insisted.

© Copyright 2000 – 2008 The Hindu

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Benefit Dinner to Save Pondicherry and Auroville Beach – 14 March 2009 at 7pm

Save Puducherry and Auroville Beach

Pierre Elouard and Satsanga are hosting a benefit dinner to “Save Puducherry and Auroville Beach” on Saturday, March 14 at 7pm at the Satsanga Annex at 54 Labourdonnais Street in Pondicherry.

In addition to dinner, there will be an introductory talk by Probir Banerjee, President of Pondy Citizens’ Action Network (PondyCAN!) about PondyCAN!’s activities to bring back the beach, a short film:  “Save Our Beach”,  music (fusion, classical Brazilian, reggae) and giant puppets!

Tickets are Rs. 600.  Please join us if you are in Pondicherry.  If you cannot attend, do consider a donation for PondyCAN! activities to Save Our Beach.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized