27 February, 2021

Paradox In Paradise

Paradox In Paradise

Andaman Eden is a tropical island. Palm-fronded beaches, mangroves, clear blue sea, magical sunsets. Paradise also throws up paradoxes. Like, the irony in Coleridge’s devil-and-the-deep-sea line from the Ancient Mariner could not be more stark for the 500,000 people living in the Andaman atoll—“Water, water, every where,/Nor any drop to drink.”

The island of Andaman—yes, the one that has Port Blair and Cellular ‘Kalapani’ Jail at its centerpiece, depends on rainwater, harvested and stored mainly in Dhanikhari reservoir, to feed its burgeoning population. The islanders say freshwater has been a luxury for them of late. Water rationing is commonplace and conservation is priority. But it has been unusually painful this year as the northeast monsoon betrayed the region, again. The seasonal rain-bearer replenishes Dhanikhari and smaller water bodies between November and March. Rainfall has been poor and all reservoirs are running low, so much so that the Union territory’s residents are getting only half-an-hour of water supply...

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