Chennai Floods December  2015
Photo : Wikimedia Commons /  Destination8infinity
Chennai Floods December 2015 Photo : Wikimedia Commons / Destination8infinity

Development as disaster

Tamil Nadu’s coastline is seeing rapid changes that make it more vulnerable.

There are those who hope that human beings will learn from history. And there are others that know better. Then there are a few, like Sekar Harikrishnan, who do know better but are not prepared to let things be.

As a middle-aged fisherman, Sekar has lived long enough to see the dramatic transformation of the beaches near his native village of Injambakkam. The village is ten kilometres south of Chennai, off the East Coast Road that runs down Tamil Nadu's coast. When talking of his fast-urbanising village, Sekar is as moody as the horizon over a monsoon sea – remorseful one moment, angry another and resolute a minute later, as he speaks of how he intends to set things right. He has spent years fighting court battles to evict encroachers from the village's common lands, and developers who converted nearby water bodies into residential plots. His legal ventures to enforce manmade laws have not met with much success, but his faith in nature's law has shown more promise.

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Himal Southasian
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