Hit It Out! (10): Pointless Patchwork

By John B. Monteiro
Udupi Today Media Network


John B. Monteiro


Saturday, 28 April 2012: A tiger got mauled by a lion resulting in a large open wound on its body. It couldn’t bear to see the open wound. So, it carved out a part of its skin and patched the lion-inflicted wound. Then it realised there was a patch of freshly exposed flesh from where the skin was taken to graft on the original wound. It again covered up the second exposed flesh with yet another grafting of skin taken out from another part of its body. The process went on until the skin from the whole body was removed to graft on the latest exposed patch of flesh. Finally, a patch, the same size as the original wound, remained uncovered. Additionally, the lion’s body got infected all over under the grafted skin.



A similar charade goes on, year after year, with reference to sea-fronting properties in coastal Karnataka. Sea erosion is a natural phenomenon wherein the fury of the rising tidal waves gets tamed against a resisting body. If that body happens to be somebody's property, just bad luck. Such persons should relocate to safer spaces. If there is a coconut plantation on the shore-line and it can’t stand sea erosion just accept its fate and start afresh at a safer place as one would do in a known earthquake-prone zone.



Instead, year after year, as the monsoons set in, residents on seashore make a hue and cry for protection against sea erosion. What happens when you try to block waves at one point? The force resisted transfers itself to another point. It is a case of Peter being protected only to expose Paul. It is not unlike the case of the wounded tiger we noted above.


The vocal protests to all and sundry bring ministers and MLAs to the scene of erosion. Great promises of action are taken impromptu and dutifully covered by the media. Such media exposure justifies study trips by ministers and officials to France, Japan and Holland. Trip over, protective plans involving astronomical amounts are floated.



The basic question is: do sea-fronting property owners have a God-ordained fundamental right to live there? Can’t they be relocated elsewhere at a fraction of the cost involved in fanciful sea erosion control projects? Is there no cost benefit calculation in this matter? The multi-crores involved in such erosion control projects may be justified where the properties are sought to be protected is highly valuable and cannot be relocated – like the case of Marine Drive in Mumbai where tetrapods break the force of the waves on a limited stretch of bay-front. In coastal Karnataka we are out to sacrifice a million dollar horse to save a ten dollar saddle.



This question of controlling sea erosion and protecting properties has many angles and open to many views. What is yours? Hit It Out!


John B. Monteiro, author and journalist, is editor of his website www.welcometoreason.com (Interactive Cerebral Challenger) with provision for instant response. Try responding!




Philip Mudartha, Qatar

 The scientists have designed and will innovate technological solutions to deal with encroachment of landmass. Whether to execute those designs and where are socio-political decisions. Citizens, in exercising their sovereign rights, bestow on political leaders the power to make such decisions for them. The politicians are neither social scientists nor technologists, so they are guided by their own interests and that of their supporters. Business interests come in, invest in executing tenders based on government approved plans and schemes. It creates jobs, distributes wealth among the rich and poor alike, and keeps the economy going. Therefore, the war against Lord Varuna is still desirable, as in those days of King Parashurama. That is the cynical viewpoint. The realist view point is let the sea take what it wants, and let me take from the sea what I want. The pessimist view is run for your life to safer(?), assuming there are some, places. The optimists are called neo-con, they deny that they are not cause for sea encroachment and shall therefore not bear the costs of such encroachment prevention. I am in this neo-con category on this subject.

Ronald Sabi, Moodubelle

 Last picture says it all!! With money spent for sea erosion so far, we could have had permanent walls and beautiful sea shore from Kasaragod to Karwar like last picture!! But that would be the end of side cash and main cash for many...including politicians!!

Stephen Castelino, Udyavara / Dubai

 Removal of sand from the sea shore should be stopped because the sand bed is a kind of natural protection in sea shore. If we disturb the nature it will disturb us.

Stephen Castelino, Udyavara / Dubai

 The thing is that, the sea erosion and temporary remedy by construction of protection walls from rocks, keeps protests led by activists, the politicians and the contractors into business and keeps them busy. Everyone plays their role in the drama and wait for the next year for the poor residents of coastal area to raise their voice again by the next sea erosion.

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