Tag Archives: Tamil Nadu

CoastalCare.org Features Article on Pondicherry/Tamil Nadu Coastal Erosion

Coastal Care, a non-profit foundation dedicated to defending the beaches and shorelines of our shared planet, has a feature (along with photos) on the erosion along the Pondicherry/Tamil Nadu coastline.

The story can be seen here:  http://coastalcare.org/2010/08/pondicherry-tamil-nadu-south-india/

Coastal Care highlights similar problems with beach erosion in other parts of the world.

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India’s Dying Beaches: Chennai Expressway – NDTV Report

The Tamil Nadu government’s solution to the 900 new cars hitting the streets of Chennai every day is to erect an elevated expressway along three beaches, one of which is a protected natural area.

The text of the report is below:

Sanjay Pinto
Tuesday, June 09, 2009, (Chennai)

If the Tamil Nadu government has its way, Chennai could have an elevated corridor from the Light House to the East Coast Road. It would be a 7.4 km, six-lane bridge coming up along three beaches in Chennai.

The model made by an NGO is a rough indication of what the world’s second longest beach — the Marina would look like, once the elevated corridor comes up.

But it’s a nightmare for environmentalists that has come to light through this final feasibility report of Tamil Nadu’s Highways department which NDTV has a copy of.

The Highways Department says the Rs 1000 crore project aims to decongest peak hour traffic because every day, at least 900 new vehicles hit the city’s roads.

But experts feel there are better ways of de-congesting the city like removing encroachments and improving the public transport system.

And environmentalists fear the expressway will pollute the beaches, displace fishing communities and endanger sensitive ecological zones.

“The Adyar creek is a protected area and has migratory birds and mangroves, which will be completely destroyed. It will also permanently destroy the nesting grounds of the endangered Olive Ridley Turtles,” said Swetha Narayan, coordinator, Save Chennai Beaches.

But with various citizens groups and environmentalists already up in arms, the project is bound to be mired in litigation even before it takes off.

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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

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Erosion of Puducherry-Villupuram Coastline: Why a ‘Hard’ Solution for a ‘Soft’ Problem?

Excerpts from a letter to Pondy Citizens’ Action Network (with copies to relevant Central, Puducherry and Tamil Nadu government officials) by Commander John Jacob Puthur, Charge Hydrographer, FIS, FCA, FGS, Indian Navy (Retired), dated 10 February 2009, in which he:

Questions the “authorities” on the reasons for taking ‘hard’ solutions to tackle coastal erosion:

Apparently, your long struggle to put in place an eco-friendly ‘soft’ solution to tackle coastal erosion seems to have had little impact on those in authority. The experts and those in authority seem determined for a ‘hard’ solution in the guise of a groyne-field. What exactly is their motivation to construct the groyne-field? Is it that they have failed to see the truth or they simply don’t want to see the truth?

It’s obvious that the people concerned are not ignorant, so there is hardly a need to explain the matters afresh. Nevertheless, I shall explain Puducherry’s coastal erosion problem as briefly as possible, in an everyday language. You may find that useful to make things clear to the common citizens likely to be affected—the non-specialist stakeholders…

So what is this truth about coastal erosion affecting the Puducherry-Villupuram Coast? And how can we get the experts to see that, and so get them to adopt the correct approach to tackle the problem of coastal erosion?

There is an old Chinese saying though—”You cannot wake up a man who is only pretending to sleep.” Therefore, getting them to see the truth, when they are pretending to not to see it, is definitely going to be a difficult affair. That does not mean that you must give up easily.

Explains the problems of coastal erosion in layperson’s terms:

Let see what this truth they are refusing to see. First let us be clear—erosion is not natural to the coast, any coast. If it was natural such a coast would never exist. However, the movement of sediments, sand, along the coast, along most coasts, particularly along the East Coast of India, is natural. The Puducherry-Villupuram Coast forms a tiny segment of this long East Coast of India. Sand moves along this coast from south to north during the Southwest Monsoon—from April to September. Then during the Northeast Monsoon—from October to February—the sand movement is reversed, and it moves from north to south.

What causes the sand to move along the coast? Even this has been established to certainty. The waves crashing on the coast at steep angle pushes the sand along the length of the coast. During the Southwest Monsoon, the waves meet the coast at a sharp angle from the south; hence the sand is pushed along from south to north. The wave direction almost reverses during the Northeast Monsoon, with the waves meeting the coast at a steep angle from the north, consequently, the sand moves from north to south. Millions of tons of sand are thus moved either way, every year.

The wave action during the Southwest Monsoon is more intense and lasts much longer than that during the Northeast Monsoon. Therefore, the amount to sand moved from south to north is much more. So we can say, annually there is a net movement of sand from south to north. You don’t need to be an expert to understand this. It is not easy to physically observe this movement of sand taking place on a normal shoreline. This movement of sand however becomes apparent when someone manages to interrupt the movement.

What happens when this movement of sand along the coast is interrupted? Before I attempt to answer that let me share with you what can cause such an interruption. The sandy coast is ‘soft’ and so highly dynamic—prone to movement. Anything ‘hard’ erected on this ‘soft’ coast will interrupt the movement of sand—jetty, wharf, pier, breakwater, seawall, groyne, groyne field, and even large ship beached (sometimes they use beached ship as a breakwater, for example, at Vishakhapatanam). When any such a ‘hard’ structure comes up on the coast, sand begins to accumulate on its upstream, which in the case of our coast will be to the south of the structure. This then would result starvation of sand downstream of the structure, that is, north of the structure, along this coast. To make good this starvation of sand for onward movement along the coast, the waves, which continue to the lash the coast, begin to erode the coast. The process of coastal erosion is as simple as that.

Gives the history of the recognition of the issue of coastal erosion on the East coast of India:

This truth became known for the first time along the East Coast at Chennai, some two hundred odd years ago. A small wharf was built on the coast, off the Fort St. George, probably to receive the Governor General’s Yacht. Soon the sand began to accumulate on the southern side of this wharf—the birth of the now famous Marina Beach. At the same time, on its northern side, the coast began to erode. In a few years time, the eroded stretch became an indentation on the coast, which was otherwise straight as an arrow for miles and miles. This shoreline indentation went on to become the Major Port of Chennai. Nevertheless, the accumulation of sand to the south still continues. The Marina Beach getting wider every day. Just as the accumulation of sand on the south of Chennai Port is continuous, so is the erosion to the north. And so, beyond Chennai Port, yet another indentation began to form, which in due course became the Fisheries Harbour, hoping it will bring to an end the erosion. Erosion hasn’t yet stopped. The erosion continues northward, taking away precious coastal landscape. Who is going to pay for this environmental disaster? Is anybody doing anything about it? That is not the only example of coastal erosion due to ‘hard’ structures on the coast.

Gives other examples of erosion along the Eastern coastline:

The Ennore Port has repeated the same story. The coast north of Ennore Port is now steadily eroding. Kakinada is yet another example, where to the north of Port, nearly two kilometres of the shoreline has already been lost due to erosion. Vishakhapatanam Port is the next example, where erosion to the north of the port is to some extent controlled by a ‘soft’ solution—sand-bypassing. I understand that it is the Vishakhapatanam Port that is footing the bill. So we may look at this as precedence in your favour. Further north, the Paradip Port is causing relentless erosion north of it. More new ports fast coming up along this coast will only compound the problem. As yet no one has arrived at a port design that wouldn’t cause erosion. The experts in question must surely be acquainted with these examples of coastal erosion.

Gives the history of erosion along the Pondicherry coast:

Erosion along the Pondicherry coast began long ago, when the first pier was constructed. And when that pier was wrecked in a cyclone, a new one was built. So the erosion northward continued. Then the Pudhucherry Port was created further south. After the creation of the port, it became the main cause for the disruption of sand movement from south to north. The New Pier ceased to be the culprit any longer. In case of erosion, the culprit is easily caught. Wherever the sand is accumulating is the give away of the obstructing structure. We can now see sand accumulating south of the new port.
The sandy coast along the Beach Road gave way to an ugly seawall. (Then someone decided to drape the seawall with sand. That doesn’t make the coast any soft.) Despite this seawall, the erosion continued unabated further northward—north of hardened shoreline.

Tells us why groynes are not the solution:

A groyne or groyne field is not going be anything different, but only serve to harden up yet another section of the shoreline. So the erosion will spread further northward. There will be no end, until it reaches the next river mouth on the coast—the Palar River. Are we to go on building groyne-fields or seawalls all the way north, perhaps up to the mouth of Palar River? Is that the eventual solution that the experts are contemplating?

Questions “pliable” experts and vested interests:

Why are the experts not looking at the more eco-friendly ‘soft’ solution, but insisting on a ‘hard’ solution—the groyne-field? The case seems to be more a matter of self-interest, and of questionable integrity, at least, for some parties involved in the project process. Who are these individuals with vested interest in a groyne-field? The answer will become clear if you look at what goes into the construction of a groyne field. There is no complicated technology, specialised equipment, or even technical expertise involved in the construction of a groyne or groyne-field. All that you need is a huge quantity of rocks and boulders. Therefore a rock quarry must be involved. So the quarry owner(s) will be interested. Then, to transport the rocks and boulders from the quarry to the coast a large number of tipper-trucks will be needed. So the owners of the tipper-trucks will also have a serious stake in the project. Then of course, a large workforce of unskilled labour; at the quarry, in loading up, in transporting, and also at the work-site on the coast. Such a workforce is often resourced through powerful labour contractors—the vote-bank managers. These three vested interests are moneyed, and politically powerful; in fact, some of them may themselves be calling the shot seated on the seats of power. They have thus huge ‘illicit’ power and material resources even to engineer experts’ opinions. Without the help pliable experts it is hardly possible to get such projects through on file.

Don’t expect these arguments will in some way convince the already blinded Experts and the authorities led by them. The nexus of quarry owners, transporters and labour contractors simply cannot be wished away. A social action approach could do the trick, but it may not be easy task to convince the local fishing community, who may want a groyne-field to protect their own stretch of coast, unmindful of what may happen to the people further north, or even if the beauty of the coastal landscape is marred forever. These simple coastal folks mistakenly think that seawall or groyne, made of huge rock as and boulders, works just like a fortress wall on land. Getting them to see a seawall or a groyne as something potentially destructive, unlike a protective fortress wall on land, may not be easy.

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Latest Pondicherry Beach Erosion Presentation on the Web

The latest presentation on the erosion taking place along the Pondicherry and Tamil Nadu coastline is now available on the Internet through Slideshare.

For those of you who are not aware of the situation, Pondicherry has lost 8 kilometers of beach since the fishing harbour was built at the mouth of the Ariyankuppam river from 1986 to 1989.  And the problem has continued to shift northwards into Tamil Nadu, destroying homes, livelihoods and habitats.

Misguided and corrupt politicians and administrators have implemented hard measures, such as rock walls and groynes to try and stem the erosion.  These hard measures have exacerbated the erosion.  The only sustainable solution is to restore the natural movement of sand.

If any of you would like to help with this movement, please leave a comment with your contact information.

Let’s work together to get back our beach and restore our natural environment.

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Contempt of Court by Pondicherry Government

Truck dumping stones in Solainagar
Dumping rocks in Solainagar

On 22 January 2008, the Pondicherry government, in direct violation of the interim injunction against the construction of the groyne field in Pondicherry, resumed work on two of the eleven proposed groynes – one in Kuruchikuppam, just north of the old town of Pondicherry, and one in Solainagar, just before the Tamil Nadu border.

Earth mover working in Kuruchikuppam
Earth moving in Kuruchikuppam

Notices sent to the Chief Secretary of Pondicherry had no effect – work continued feverishly on 23 January 2008, at a rate of a truckload a minute being dumped on the groyne at Kuruchikuppam.

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Meeting on Restoration of Pondicherry and Tamil Nadu Coastline

 

A consultation meeting of scientists, technical experts, representatives from Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry administration and NGOs was organized in Auroville (Tamil Nadu) on Saturday, November 3rd, 2007. The meeting was jointly organized by Auroville Coastal-area Development Centre (ACDC) and Pondicherry Citizens Action Network (PondyCAN).

Introduction:

Since the late 1980s the coast along the town of Pondicherry and the neighboring areas of Villupuram district in Tamil Nadu to the north has been eroding. In the last decade, the erosion has worsened and continues to progress northwards. Ten kilometers of the beach has completely disappeared and as the erosion to the north continues, about 30 km of coastline in Pondicherry and Tamil Nadu has been affected.

More recently, the process of erosion has accelerated and many traditional fishing communities have not only lost their livelihoods but also their homes.

Conclusions from the Meeting:

It was unanimously agreed by the experts gathered at the meeting that the cause of the erosion is the fishing harbour that was built at Aryiankuppam in 1989, which interferes with the littoral drift that results in the net movement of 0.5 million cubic meters of sand northwards each year. Badly planned groynes, built to protect rapidly disappearing fishing communities, have accelerated the erosion.

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