Enough is Enough

“Not again!” Tony screamed as he stormed out of the hut half shaven, shampoo in his hair, and with a towel wrapped around his hips. “This is the most I’ve paid for a room in India and it’s the third time the water’s stopped running today,” I heard him hollering. By the time I went out, a group of other guests had joined in around him yelling up a storm.

“I shut it off. Not enough water. Tomorrow,” one of the hotel guys informed us. Our outrage quickly turned to disbelief when we realized that there simply wasn’t enough water, which once again turned to outrage when we realized that he was showing newly arriving guests to their hut. How could he accept new guests when he knew there wasn’t enough water?

Unbelievable, the Andamans are a thousand kilometers from the mainland, but they are still India, with many of the same problems. And, unfortunately, Havelock experiences a lot of them.

Although it is a very beautiful island, they are quickly overbuilding here. There are 36 beach hut resorts, mostly simple thatched palm huts, sitting side by side within quite a small area. And even since we arrived here, more have opened up. India puts so many restrictions on everything, why not on overdevelopment? I’d say, enough is enough! I don’t want to sound preachy, but it’s just hard to watch.

Beside the water shortages, power cuts are becoming more frequent as more beach huts are upgraded to air-conditioned luxury huts. And don’t even get me started on the 6 million plastic bottles a year that are either burnt or just discarded.

India develops without any understanding of how increasing population relates to water usage, waste disposal, electricity requirements, increasing traffic etc. This topic is further complicated when dealing with tourism. For Indians, piles of trash, open sewage, constant power outages, water cuts, traffic jams, and over-fishing to meet tourist demand are all part of daily life. For many hotel owners, it is hard to understand why guests would complain about a bonfire of burning plastic ten feet from your hut.

In the case of the Andamans, a remarkably pristine environment that has somehow survived into the 21st century, these issues are of fundamental importance. However, as the coasts of mainland India deteriorate, hoteliers are looking for new environments to exploit. There are moments when I wonder if we should post pictures of the beautiful beaches or jungle. Are we helping to destroy the Andamans with our blog? At this point the damage is limited and is still reversible. Unfortunately, the situation may soon change for the worse.

As of now, the Andamans are a dead end. The Indian government does not allow international flights in and out of the island chain. But there are talks about opening up a route going to Thailand via the Andamans. This will definitely be the end of Havelock and other accessible islands. If India is smart, it will prevent this from happening. But we all know, money talks. I can’t stand the thought of such incredibly beautiful islands being destroyed.

3 responses to “Enough is Enough”

  1. avatar greeneyes says:

    Now if I recall correctly, there was a time in Africa when you two had wondered off in the middle of nowhere and had no water.
    Using your feet and pressing on the mud area you were able to press out enough water to hold you over.

    However, I have been in your situation on islands in Thailand and Malaysia when the water or electricity was suddenly cut off for the day to conserve and it really is no fun.

    Too Many People, and too few resources.

  2. avatar laurelle says:

    It’s unfortunate, but understandable for businesspeople to wear blinders when it comes to environmental issues. They probably figure that they need to make a buck (or rupee) now while they’ve got a chance because the future is so uncertain.
    It’s okay. When the sea level rises and wipes out their beach-front businesses, their needs for drinking water will be greatly reduced.

  3. avatar Thomas says:

    Gosh, Laurelle, and I thought I was bitter… 🙂

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