Oct 15th, 2009 by Tilak
For Blog Action Day-15th October 2009
To the organizers of the Blog Action Day,
Thank you very much for selecting such a relevant topic and also inviting a lesser mortal like me to participate in this mega event.
It has been long since I have written in my blogs page, but I am unable to resist to your invitation to write about climate change on the Blog Action Day.
The day I received your invitation in the first week of October 2009, the local newspaper was flooded with the news of a recent earthquake and tsunami in the region. Tsunami batters Pacific islands, Sumatra quake toll crosses 500 and Fear of unspent strain beneath South Asia. The third topic summarised the underlying cause of the massive upheavals taking place on the Earth surface and at times under the sea in the region. I am sure many such events are taking place in the world in the recent times causing concern not only to the scientists and intellectuals but even to the average people like me. Has such events increased in number lately or is it just that the media has become more active and conscious about ecology and environment. But the fact remains, that a time has come, to increase the awareness about the damage we are doing to the environment sometimes consciously and on other occasion inadvertently. We must note the effect, the changes taking place and try our best to reduce the damage and if possible to take some corrective measures.
In this respect I would like to take this opportunity to share my experience with you and your readers about a phenomenon taking place in the Indian subcontinent which I am trying to follow and record to my best ability.
I got an opportunity to explore Andaman and Nicobar Islands, a rather remote area of the Indian Territory in the Bay of Bengal. The natural beauty of the twin archipelagos was breathtaking, the anthropological wealth mind boggling and finally, the richness and the diversity of flora and fauna of the region was unfathomable. Incidentally, many islands of the twin archipelagoes were occupied for long for various purposes by the European community and the Japanese (during Second World War) till as late as the middle of the twentieth century. The history of the place is also thus quite interesting. I was flabbergasted by the overall experience of my stay there.
A massive tsunami caused havoc in the region on the morning hours of 26th Decenber 2004. Over two hundred thousand people perished in the subcontinent in eleven countries. Nicobar Islands my dream destination, was devastated by the catastrophe. As the population of the remote district was comparatively less, loss of over ten thousand human lives in the entire archipelago attracted less attention of the world in comparison to the total loss of lives in the event in other zones.
I was astounded by the wrath of Nature which I noticed in The Nicobar Islands during my visits to the archipelago following tsunami. Due to a possible tilt in the ocean plate many areas of several islands were submerged. Sea had engulfed vast areas of some islands. As almost all the inhabited islands had flat terrain with little elevation they easily got inundated by the submersion of the land.
Majority of the villages were located right on the coast causing high percentage of loss of lives as huge waves washed the localities with unprecedented fury. The people were not aware of such events and have never heard of such a phenomenon excepting in the religious and mythological stories. Majority of the villages on the coast were devastated and the resultant social changes following the event was unimaginable.
The islands of the region particularly the Nicobar group were protected by the coral reefs around them which had grown around the islands for many hundred years. Only gentle waves reached the shores because of the natural barrier. Giant waves of tsunami had uprooted the coral reefs and thrown huge chunks on the interior of the islands thus exposing the soft coast to the sea. Giant monsoon waves are now easily approaching the coast causing erosion of the islands.
I would like to share with you few photographs of the archipelagoes which I have managed to capture during my visits.
Grub Island situated in the Mahathma Gandhi Marine National Park has remained intact but has lost much of its spectacular sandy beaches. In fact, the gradual change in the topography of the beach of the island during the post-tsunami period has provided a good opportunity to study the continuing readjustment of the Ocean plate. One half of the circular beach all around the island was lost immediately after tsunami (see photograph JulÃ¢â‚¬â„¢05) due to a significant tilt of the Ocean plate. However, the serial photograph captured in MarÃ¢â‚¬â„¢07 shows that the shape of the beach has changed further and has now become tongue-shaped, possibly due to a reduction in the tilt of the Ocean plate and further submersion of the island.
The southern end of the Car Nicobar Island, during pre-tsunami period, extended well into the sea. As is evident from the post-tsunami photograph, the sea has engulfed this extended end to a great degree blunting the tip. The giant Tsunami waves on that fateful day caused some changes, while at a later date, gradual soil erosion has caused further changes in the shape. The coastal greenery has been completely washed away by the giant Tsunami waves. However, the dense mixed jungle at the centre of the island has remained unaffected. The sea waves, post tsunami are larger and causing extensive soil erosion.
Car Nicobar Island used to have a protective coral reef ring all around during the pre-tsunami period. The strength of the sea waves would abate while crossing the reef and only gentle waves would reach the shore. As the corals got completely uprooted and thrown on the land by the giant waves of Tsunami, the seashore now lies completely exposed. Uninterrupted huge monsoon waves are now hitting the coastline with tremendous fury causing unbelievable erosion of the coastline everyday. Kakana beach, which used to have gentle waves due to coral reefs, is now being battered by giant waves.
I hope you have enjoyed this presentation.
I am publishing books describing the natural wealth of the archipelagoes and the effect of tsunami in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. I would like to share my entire experience and photographs with the readers. I would be grateful for suggestions and guidance in this respect from your viewers in my endeavour.