It is a rather ordinary morning in January. The waves nibble away at the western coast in Maharashtra’s Ratnagiri district. Much of the coast is armoured with sea walls.
There is a bustling jetty at a distance, with ships waiting to transport people to a town in the adjacent district of Raigad. There is also a bridge, that has been in the making for the last eight years, to connect Raigad district to Mandangad tehsil in Ratnagiri. But the part-finished structure has been abandoned since the lockdown. The villagers do not know why, and see no point in pursuing the question.
The ordinariness of everyday life in these sea-facing villages of Velas and Bhankot do not hint at the larger shifts they have been witnessing or are part of. But some villagers are observant. Mohan Upadhay is one of them.
Upadhay is a nature lover and a conservationist. In the last two decades, he has documented, through pictures and writings, how the shoreline in his area has changed and how biodiversity has been impacted in the process. In the neighbouring Bhankot village, he told us, the sea has come inwards, a signal of rising sea levels, while in his village Velas, the tidal patterns have…