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December 2012

Eigth Anniversary of Tsunami Observed in TN, Puducherry

 Eight years ago this day a tragedy of a magnitude Tamil Nadu had seldom encountered struck its coast, when killer waves gobbled up human lives at will while leaving a trail of destruction whose scars remain even today.

Eight years after tsunami, village builds a memorial

 NAGAPPATTINAM: Akkaraipettai, a fishing hamletin Nagapattinam district, had lost over 400 of its residents when giant waves rolled over the village the day after Christmas eight years ago. The tsunami of December 26, 2004, left a trail of destruction along the Nagapattinam coastline, claiming over 6,000 lives.Every December 26,Akkaraipettai remembers the men, women and children, lost to the waveson thatfatefulday.

Beach beds keep turtles away in Morjim

PANAJI: The arrival of Olive Ridley turtles at Morjim and Mandrem has hit a low this season and turtle lovers fear the worst as deck beds have swamped both beaches and violations continue late into the night.

On Saturday, over 300 deck beds were seen laid out on Morjim beach, far in excess of the 90 permitted for nine shacks under the new state tourism policy. "The Morjim beach at Vithalwada looks like a slum with over 300 illegal deck beds, some of them thatched on poles," said a turtle lover.

Children of the tsunami

 As tragedy struck on December 26, 2004, hundreds of children lost their homes, parents and familiar way of life. How are they doing now? The writer visits Cuddalore, Nagapattinam and Kanyakumari to find out

Indumathi was 12 when the tsunami struck. Her mother urged her to run when the water rose. As she fled, her mother went to check if her father was safe. (He was, but she did not know it). Today, Indumathi lives in Tsunami Nagar in Thazhankuda, about 4 kms from the heart of Cuddalore, where NGOs constructed 500 new houses for fishermen on land provided by the Government. She recalls, “The second wave took amma away. I was sent to the Government hostel. Later, I moved in with my brother and sister-in-law. I studied at the Government Higher Secondary School.” She is doing an undergraduate course in Bio-Chemistry and wants to get a B.Tech degree later.

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Resistance to Pudukuppam fishing harbour project gains steam

 Even as the territorial administration tries to revive the Rs.10-crore fishing harbour project at Pudukuppam, environmental activists and farmers in Bahour have decided to intensify their protest against the fish landing facility if the government goes ahead with the scheme.

The project to provide fish landing facility on the Mullodai backwaters at Pudukuppam village by cutting open the sea mouth was first taken up by the Fisheries Department in 2009 by getting funds from the World Bank. Even as the Public Works Department was about to complete the work on constructing the jetty, environmental groups and farmers raised objection. Following intervention of the Lieutenant Governor, all work related to the harbour was stopped in 2010. The decision to revive the project came to light after the Fisheries Department convened a meeting of stakeholders on Wednesday to discuss the proposed project to “cut open of sea mouth to connect Mullodoi backwaters at Pudukuppam fishing village.” Several organisations under the banner Alliance for Good Governance (AGG) met the Deputy Collector (South), who was to chair the meeting, and informed him of their decision to stay away from the consultation process citing lack of clarity. Before boycotting the meeting, the AGG submitted a memorandum to the Deputy Collector

Now, Cabinet panel to fast-track mega projects

 Seeking to remove investment bottlenecks and promote growth, the government on Thursday decided to set up a Cabinet Committee on Investment (CCI) to accord single-window approval to mega projects of over Rs 1,000 crore. CCI will be headed by the Prime Minister.

“The proposal to set up the Cabinet Committee on Investment, headed by Prime Minister, to fast track mega projects of over Rs 1,000 crore was cleared,” official sources said after the meeting of the Cabinet.

There are over 100 projects, each involving investment of Rs 1,000 crore or more, which are held up. The high-powered panel for according speedy clearance to infrastructure projects was initially mooted by Finance Minister P Chidambaram. He had suggested that the body be called National Investment Board (NIB).

The Cabinet, however, renamed the proposed body as Cabinet Committee on Investment. The panel will have ministers in charge of infrastructure sectors as its members.

India deploys coastal tube defense against tidal surges

 PENTHA, India (AlertNet) - The blackened wood stumps of a breakwater stand forlornly on Pentha beach, symbols of failed attempts to lessen the effects of high tides and storm surges.

In the past two years alone, huge waves have destroyed two 7-metre high (23-feet) embankments and eroded 20 hectares (49 acres) of farmland in this village in Odisha state on India’s eastern coast, threatening homes and agricultural land.

As the region’s climate changes, what were six distinct seasons have become just two, summer and monsoon, said 48-year-old rice farmer Bhanu Senapati. Extreme weather, tidal surges and the increasing salt contamination of the land is making agriculture even harder.

“In saline soil, (rice) saplings can only survive up to eight days. If rain fails for even one week due to increasingly erratic monsoons, the soil dries out and a particular worm also cuts the roots,” Senapati said.

But the ruined breakwater on Pentha’s beach will soon give way to a new coastal defence system – a 675-metre geotextile tube (or geotube) embedded in the shore to form an embankment that will help protect the community and its neighbouring villages from erosion caused by shifting tides and storm surges.

According to a 2011 assessment by the Institute of Ocean Management at Chennai’s Anna University, more than a third of Odisha’s coastline is prone to erosion, and eight percent is vulnerable to severe erosion, including Gahirmatha beach, which is the world’s second largest nesting ground for the endangered Olive Ridley sea turtle.  

Sarat Chandra Tripathy, a 61-year old farmer and part-time priest in Pentha, has witnessed the dramatic effects of coastal erosion during his lifetime. He remembers walking to the coast from the village for annual religious ceremonies when he was a child.