While most of us have our eyes trained on terrestrial ecosystems, sandy beaches are quietly disappearing right under our noses. Until about a year ago, I was as blissfully unaware of this shocking fact as most people in India still are. But a 45-minute Powerpoint presentation and Q&A by Aurofilio Schiavina from the Pondy Citizens’ Action Network (PondyCAN) changed all that. PondyCAN has been meticulously documenting man-made erosion along India’s coastline, and its members have been at the forefront of opposing seawalls that are being slapped on like a Band-Aid on eroded beaches. Knowing that a Powerpoint can only reach a few dozen people at a time, we decided to make a short audio-visual that could be shared online, and shown to policy makers and stakeholders (in this case, anyone who needs or simply loves a beach). Photos contributed by a number of photographers enabled my colleague K.Ramnath Chandrasekhar and I to put the 15-minute film together. English and Tamil versions of the film are already online, and plans are afoot to have the film translated and dubbed into other Indian languages (any assistance would be welcome!). We believe that this is an issue that is relevant not just in India, but also in other countries that may be wittingly or inadvertently destroying their precious beaches in the mad rush for ‘development’. You can watch the film here.
One of the leading beach experts in the world, Dr. Orrin H. Pilkey, Professor Emeritus, Earth Sciences, Duke University, had this to say about the film: “Stunning- a wonderful presentation done in easy language understandable by all who are concerned with the future of India’s beaches”. Another expert, Dr. J. Andrew G. Cooper, Professor of Coastal Studies, University of Ulster, said “That is a really great video – the message is so clear. The message is appropriate in many other places too”.
Please help us spread the message by sharing the link with your networks. PondyCAN is seeking to establish contact with others working along the coast. Details are on their website.