July 8, 2008

Rising Sea Threatens Bapu’s Dandi

Hitarth Pandya & Melvyn Thomas

SURAT/BHAVNAGAR: Has global warming started wreaking havoc on Gujarat's winding coastline? A high tide in the Arabian Sea doesn't normally create panic.

But on Friday its rising waters threatened to drown Saifee Villa where Mahatma Gandhi had taken on the British by picking up a pinch of salt at Dandi. Besides, waters were not too far away from Iran Shah, where the Parsis have kept the Holy Fire at Udwada.

Seawater also entered some coastal villages of Surat and Bhavnagar. An alert has also been sounded at Alang, asking fishermen not to venture into the sea. In Bhavnagar, Katpur, Kotda and Jashwantpura villages saw seawaters entering their fields.

"The water has already reached near Dastoor Bag. One can see the water at the rear compound wall of Atash Behram. Generally this happens during the monsoon but this time, it has happened before the monsoon," said local resident Shukkar Tandel at Udwada.

At Dandi, the water reached the makeshift police chowky at the beach. "I had to warn tourists not to go too close to the water since it was deep. Had there been a marginal increase in the water level, it would have entered the village," said forest official PH Mahida at Dandi beach.

Magan Patel, sarpanch of Dabhari village in Surat, said: "A road separates our village from the sea but it was inundated on Friday. We had a similar situation in 1998 when seawaters had entered the village washing away the earthen embankments. This time too the embankment was washed away."

Manish Lodhari, secretary of National Fish Workers' Association said the sea along coastal Saurashtra was volatile.

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