Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Google Earth image of the area between Fort St. David and Cuddalore Town, showing the increasing pace of development in the area. from February 2009
India is currently going through huges changes, and must of course to strive to look after its rapidly increasing numbers of people. Cuddalore of course has its own specific challenges, and recovering from the Tsunamis had of course to be one of its leaders most important challenges in recent years.
Sometimes in the rush to solve short term issues can create longer term problems can come back to haunt a community.
Recently Google Earth has changed the images of the area surrounding Fort St David and to the north of Cuddalore town.
These two areas have until recently been low lying and open areas at the mouth of the Penny River.
As a historian, and one with very close links to this particular location, I can obviously be accused of having a vested interest in seeing this area left as little changed and developed as possible.
However, as a historian, and one engaged in writing a history of this fort, I cannot help but point out that this particular area has been left undeveloped until now for an extremely good reason.
The area is subject to extremely fierce floods arising from monsoon rains that occur far inland.
The levels of these flash floods obviously vary from year to year, but a great deal of evidence exists that some of these floods can be very damaging indeed.
With rainfall patterns changing globally, and with rainfall intensities increasing rapidly, any development in this flood plain must be at great risk of sudden inundation.
The fort throughout its working life had to be repaired because of flood damage, for year after year.
I fear that the temporary villages now clearly visible on these photos in the former flood plain areas are highly vunerable to flooding.
The area between Cuddalore and Fort Saint David in 2007 from Google Earth.
Tsunamis Relief Camps 2009
However perhaps of greater concern, because it is easy to understand that the local authorities had to act is the damage that is now happening to the site of Fort St. David itself where new houses are being build diretly on the edges of the site, and a large new bridge has been put in which suggests that more houses are likely to developed here in future.
Google Earth Image showing the new developments encroaching into the ruins of Fort St. Davids. 2009.
The same area around the fort in 2006, from Google Earth