Natural tsunami barrier


Naluvedapathy, a coastal village in Tamil Nadu emerged unscathed after the 2004 tsunami while all neighboring villages were severely affected.

This was because unlike other coastal areas in Tamil Nadu, Naluvedapathy is shielded by a kilometre-thick tree cover. On December 4, 2002, 300 farmers planted 80,244 Casuarina ( resembles pine tree) saplings in 24 hours, achieving a new Guinness World Record in the process forming what has been called “The Guinness Garden”.

This Guinness Record plantation was organised by Nagapattinam District Administration led by District Collector Sudeep Jain and Sub Collector S J Chiru. According to Sudeep Jain, “We planted trees for invoking rain gods as this area had faced drought for several years”. The saplings were spread over 20 hectacres next to the coast. On the 26th December 2004, tsunamis battered the coast of Tamil Nadu after an earthquake in Sumatra. However, out of 8,000 fatalities in the state, only one was from Naluvedapathy and most of the village remained unscathed. The trees, which were known to be strong wind barriers, served as barriers against the tsunamis and stopped a large amount of water from reaching the village.

The giant waves inundated dozens of thatched-roof houses in the village as they swept inland to a distance of a km from the shore. But the Casuarina trees had considerably weakened the waves and reduced the impact.

Sudeep Jain later mobilized his school (BITS Pilani) alumni and founded a Tsunami Rehabilation Trust named BITSunami to rehabilitate and develop this village along with neighbouring Pushpavanam village. BITSunami and District Administration led by then District Collector J Radhakrishnan once again went on a massive tree plantation spree planting 254,464 saplings on 2 Oct 2005 creating a new Guinness World Record.



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