As far as public protests go, Puducherry, formerly Pondicherry, has generally been a backwater. But the government’s resolve to fast-track a deep-water port, upgrading the existing fair-weather port, has provoked a chorus of protests from citizens across the board—NGO members, fisherfolk, lawyers, politicians and farmers.
On March 27, 2007, the town saw its biggest protest in over two decades. A motley group of over 5,000 protestors marched from the old bus terminus to Raja Talkies in Anna Salai and burned photocopies of their ration cards. Later they courted arrest. For more than two hours the town came to a halt, with the protestors shouting: “Down with the new deep-water port. Let’s not create another man-made tsunami.”
It goes unsaid that in order to improve environmental governance, the roles of efficient and worthy Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) along with an equitable growth through proper Social Impact Assessment (SIA) are indispensable. They are not merely tools to assess possible impacts and suggest mitigation for the environmental and social issues, but processes, which if done well, can yield unexpectedly positive results in the form of sustainable and equitable growth.