India builds tsunami barrier

2005-01-14 13:30

Nagapattinam, India - India's worst tsunami-hit state, Tamil Nadu, said on Friday it had started planting trees along the coastline to act as a barrier against future tsunamis.

"The forest department has started planting trees such as casurina and coconut saplings along the coastline," said Shanta Seela Nair, heading the rehabilitation programme in Nagapattinam district, which suffered the most loss of life in Tamil Nadu.

"We've drawn up a massive forestation programme throughout the entire coastline to create a thick protective cover to people living along the coastal belt," she told reporters.

The coastal fishing community suffered the most from the December 26 tsunamis that pounded India's southern shoreline.

Nearly 8 000 people in Tamil Nadu died in the catastrophe out of India's overall toll of 10 672.

Over 5 700 people in the country are missing and feared dead, most of them in the far-flung Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

According to official figures over 6 000 of Tamil Nadu's dead were in the Nagapattinam district.

"Every family who has lost a relative has been told to adopt a tree and name it after their dead family member," Nair said. "The trees will be planted about 500 metres (yards) from the sea.

"We noticed in areas where the coast had trees the tsunamis' effect was far less," she said.

Nair said the government would pay women to take care of the trees.