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Tsunami swallowed India's southern tip
Subhra Priyadarshini in Campbell Bay | December 22, 2005 15:39 IST
India has lost precious strategic land to the tsunami forever as large stretches in its southernmost tip, about 120 km from the Indonesian shores, remain underwater even a year after the mammoth natural disaster.
An aerial tour of the region confirmed what the local administration and combined defence forces of the Andaman and Nicobar Command have not officially admitted till now.
Just 125 km away from the epicentre of the earthquake that jolted the Indian Ocean region on December 26, 2004, this was the first landmass hit by the waves in the northwest direction gulping about 20 km of land.
Water has not receded from the region till now and the landmass has gone down by about a couple of km under sea.
"It is for everyone to see. We lost huge areas elsewhere also. The tsunami has shrunk Campbell Bay too," is all a spokesperson of the Command will say.
Indira Point, the most prominent landmark at the southernmost tip of the Republic of India, is still submerged under water, with the famous red and white lighthouse, earlier on the shore, standing halfway in the sea.
Part of a huge stone bust of late prime minister Indira Gandhi, which was kept wrapped in polythene sheets and was to be installed at the tip, was retrieved from enormous amounts of tsunami debris recently, but it was broken waist down.
"This is where we were to have the bust. Here there was a very beautiful park named after Indira Gandhi," Commander Salil Mehta, met officer at the naval command said showing points on a stretch of azure sea as the four-seater Coast Guard Donear veers right on top of Indira Point.
And the blue-green stretch of water has created permanent patches across the nearly 45 sq km Great Nicobar group.
Assistant Commissioner of Campbell Bay Vivek Pandey said, "Villagers in Chingen say about eight kilometres north of Indira Point, waves as high as 24 metres hit in two stages and swept everything within reach. The water entered nearly 200 metres inside wherever it hit the landmass on the eastern coast."
That village is still under water and a severe monsoon has aggravated matters in the island that saw around 1400 casualties in tsunami.
Of the 35 km stretch of Campbell Bay, only about four kilometres are navigable, said Major Kailash Nagarajan, overseeing the rehabilitation process in the island.
"The rest is under water and approachable only by the sea route."
The seas, he said, have been generally rough through the year and the water levels had hardly gone down.
People in the island have fond memories of Indira Point.
Like P L D Ray, the 88-tear old editor of Andaman Wave, who was a veteran journalist when union minister H K L Bhagat visited in 1985 to rename the southernmost tip as Indira Point from Pygmalion Point, the name it had been conferred by Danish settlers.
"I remember how Rajiv Gandhi came visiting the islands shortly after Indira Gandhi's assassination and went right up to the tip of Campbell Bay.
"Later, we also attended a press meet of Bhagat at the Raj Niwas in Port Blair of October 18, 1985 when he finally declared the renaming," he says.