Images of menacing waves pounding on the walls of a concrete house, worried faces of villagers, and an aerial shot of the eroding coastline are some of the first thought-provoking images that arrest the attention of viewers of the documentary, ‘India’s Disappearing Beaches – A Wake Up Call’, produced by Shekar Dattatri for citizen’s group Pondy CAN.
But what follows next in the 15-minute public service film is even more startling.
“Beaches on India’s coast are disappearing at an alarming rate. Houses that were built well away from the high tide line are being swept into the sea. This catastrophic disaster is a direct consequence of our reckless tinkering with the coastline. If we don’t act now, sandy beaches will soon become history along India’s coast.”
The first words of the film documenting the ‘staggering erosion’ along the coastline of Puducherry are a grim indicator of a possible future that stares at Visakhapatnam.
The city has in the past four to five years seen unprecedented incidences of coastal erosion that have raised alarms among government officials, stakeholders, fishing community, and environmentalists.
It is in this context that the documentary screened by Environmental Green Society at Visakha Public Library on Sunday gains prominence.
Using Puducherry as a case study, the film highlights how erosion is triggered by certain kinds of construction projects that hinder the natural patterns of sand movement along the coast.
A few years ago, Puducherry woke up to the reality that it had lost its attractive seafront because of not implementing the right mitigation measures such as a ‘sand bypass system’ and ‘beach nourishment’, after it built a harbour in 1986. The people lost their playground and more importantly, a city lost its critical ecosystem, which would protect its land and recharge its groundwater. And fishermen had lost their livelihood.
The film goes on to depict how erosion will affect the entire Indian coastline in the near future. Studies have shown that 40 per cent of India’s coastline is already subject to erosion. When a structure is built on the seashore or when a navigational channel is artificially dug with dredgers on the seabed, such as harbours, the natural movement of sand is disrupted. This man-made interference and disturbance result in erosion of the coast.
The case of the eroding coastline of Visakhapatnam is a similar one to consider.
Stressing on the significance of right mitigation measures, former Union Secretary and social activist E.A.S. Sarma said that the impact on the city beaches has been particularly alarming in the past four to five years.
“There was a time when there used to be an expanded stretch of beach opposite the Hawa Mahal. It is history now. And we may soon lose precious beaches along coastal AP if we do not act with a sustainable solution in mind,” he added.
If you do not want to head out of the city to enjoy beaches, take a look at the 15-minute documentary film in YouTube.