Saturday, December 30, 2006

hindu property plus is doing an amazing job in stressing green way of building techniques and showing examples of those buildings week after week.

one such article is the green building of mr.a.r.shivakumar, senior fellow at karnataka state council for science and technology. below images shows him in his home with high ceiling having natural vents to allow sunlight into his home.

(picture courtsey and copyright 'the hindu')

there was another article regarding sandmining in kerala.

sand mining is needed to get sand for construction purpose. but in all states of india, rivers are being excessively, illegally and unsustainably thereby causing destruction and death of the river itself. when sand is taken in excess there can be many outcomes such as,
1. flash fast floods that can consume nearby villages since excess mining of sand leaves the river very turbulent as its bed has disappeared.
2. fish hatching will be almost zero as fish needs sand at a decent depth to lay eggs. this will severly hit fishermen who are already marginalised.
3. river ability to retain water will vanish as the river does not have a sand bed to flow on smoothly.
4. nearby villages will see a dip in their water table as the river water runs off fast.
5. excessive lorries taking sand will destroy the peace and quiet of the neighbouring villages. but who cares. when the focus is on development at any cost, rivers are just a pawn in the piece and the people who depend on these river are nothing but low life people who can be discarded in name of giving developedment to already developed people.

(picture courtsey and copyright 'the hindu'. sand mining via hands, small crowbars, etc is less harmful compared to massive equipments such as backhoe's, diggers, giant excavators being used illegally)

mercury news business section today screamed about how cisco and A's are working together to produce a world class stadium with modern technology for baseball fans.

quoting from article,
"They will strategize about how to fill the park with Cisco's networking equipment that will let fans use the latest available technology, so that they can do everything from upgrading tickets on cell phones to watching instant replays on handhelds."
"When Chambers and Holland first talked about the deal, the treasurer slowly turned the conversation to his dream of the ballpark as a technology showcase -- a place where consumers could use Cisco technology."
"Most of the gadget possibilities are derived from products Cisco has already created, such as digital advertising displays and its high-definition ``telepresence'' video conference system, which can display games in restaurants and bars."

pretty amazing.

but i could not see a single word like 'envrionement friendly', 'green stadium', 'low erergy input stadium', 'pavillions made fully of recyclable materials', etc.

guess when it comes to green, mainstream tech companies have not stepped up. cisco and A's can set an example to the rest of the world how green business can do by buidling a super environment friendly stadium.

with around 50000 seats per match, around 20,000 cars coming in (since there bart is like easily 3 miles away), massive amounts of electricity for the technology in terms of servers, backup's, redundancy, etc - we are talking about a very energy intensive stadium.

if cisco and A's can build a modern green stadium, we can use that as an example to 'browbeat' other similar efforts to go green. alas....

Friday, December 29, 2006

couple of weeks back i was in lake tahoe, one of the largest freshwater lakes in entire america. (okay this post is not about developedment of india :) )

it is 22 miles long and 11 miles wide (it is miles and not a typo).

i probed the hotel guys, restaurants on on what sort of environmental care is being taken by these folks to safeguard the environment of tahoe because these guys directly depend on the health of the lake which has to be environmentally sound.

some of their remarks were,

"recycle??? oh yeah the county takes care of that" - subway person
"we mix garbage and no recycle bins are there. we pay extra money to the county to seperate the garbage and the reusables" - best western hotel manager where i was staying
"recycling??? should talk to the manager" - worker at the taj indian restaurant in tahoe.
"recycling...throw your stuff in the garbage can" - starbucks waitress
"recycling..oh yeah we have corporate programs for it" - raley's employee

one thing was clear. there seems to be very little awareness that tahoe is their lifeline and each and everybody is responsible for preservation of tahoe.
below are some pics of the majestic tahoe.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

karnataka forest minister, this week, was praising forest staff of karnataka in safeguarding the forests. and he adds as below:
The State Government, he said, would look into the salary difference among various posts and study the promotion issue. The Government would provide facilities to foresters and forest guards, the Minister added.

i suppose the minister does not know how the staff of even the best forests of karnataka are being treated.

kishen das of india bird's group has documented the forest anti poaching staff of bandipur. you can see how the vital anti poaching watchers of the bandipur forests are wearing slippers and are poorly dressed.

bandipur, and many such forests, are vital to india's water security. if the forest staff are treated poorly, the forests will suffer.

when forests are opened up for dams, mines, logging flouting all rules all over india in name of fake development, what else can we expect.

below are 2 images from his website that captures the water tap from which they drink water without any filtration leading to heavy lead content in the water and injurious to health and the forest watchers with almost zero proper forest clothing, shoes, equipments and the

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

finally some baby steps on the guidelines to make green buildings via energy conservation building code.

Initially, we plan to make compliance with ECBC voluntary. Butultimately, it will be made mandatory and building plans will not be passed by local authorities unless they comply with the code for energy efficiency," Mathur said. Target year for making it mandatory: 2009-10. The code will have a checklist of requirements like insulation levels in roofs and walls, performance requirements for windows and skylights, specifications on air condition, ventilation and water heating. "Although the additional cost is about 6-15%, the building pays for itself in a few years,'' said Mathur.

but with already lax monitoring/enforcement/input gathering/error correction/etc parameters for vital environmental laws and guidelines in india, how this program can prove successful is anybody's guess.

only when companies and residences in india do what adobe did to their towers in sanjose,
can building codes like these prove successful.

(adobe hq in san jose. all copyrights belong to adobe)
our residential/office/etc sections consume upto 40% electricity and even a couple of percentage points reduction in this can mean less number of coal power plants, less number of destructive dams and less number of fancy deals.

india cannot to afford to live like america. with a huge population, limited space, marginalised sections living off vital environmental verticals (fisherman of coastal areas, tribals of forests, farmers on their farmland, etc) india has to live in a green and sustainable way.

of late, there has been huge bhai-bhai syndrome over india america nuclear deal. government officials, elected politicians, etc of india has been gung-ho about the deal.

not only that it seems nri's and the affulent middle class of india also welcomes this deal.

but what has been missed is the fact that in america there has been no new nuclear plant for nearly 25 years. european union countries like belgium, netherlands, germany, uk, etc have been dismantling nuclear plants.

sunita naraian observes with 2 very valid points in her editorial and it is
  • It was in 2001 that his government released the national energy policy, which gave a go-ahead for nuclear reactor construction — after 25 years of abstinence. At that time it was widely reported how the powerful energy industry had ‘cashed’ in to the millions it had reportedly paid for the election campaign.
  • The problem was that after the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, people turned away from this deadly energy source. Investment dried up. By 2010, 70 per cent of the world’s 442 nuclear reactors would be ready for decommissioning. In fact, the sector was only alive because most countries were extending the life of older nuclear plants. By 2002, all reactors with a combined capacity of 360 gigawatt-electric provided just 16 per cent of the world’s energy — a share which had not grown since 1987 and was not expected to grow.
my question is: why is nri's and middle class jumping at this, when the fact is clearly showing that local communities of america does not want nuclear power. when the fact is that no new nuclear power plant has been commissioned in past 25 years. even after announcing the 2001 policy to encourage new nuclear plant, hardly there is any enthusiasm among governors of various states for the policy. why?

we should have asked questions on these. but have failed to do so. for in the pursuit of being a great power we have blindly ignored environmental issues, nuclear issues, nuclear mining issues, spent nuclear fuel storage issues, local communities protest issue, land acquisition issues, the fact that our power grid is obsolete and causing 30 to 40% t&d loss issues, etc.

in name of development, we have lost our minds. when countries like europe, america developed they also put in strict controls in place to protect communities and environment. this sorely is lacking in india.

i was googling for some information and news article regarding sponge iron industry of india hit my attention.

one such aritlce is from hindu businessline. the US based midrex says as follows.
Midrex said with 6.53 million tonnes production, India had become the world's largest producer of sponge iron. It recorded a 16.87 % increase in production from 5.59 m t to 6.53 m t in 2002.

then i goodived (google seearch for information from specific site :) ) into hindu businessline for sponge iron news.

then an article from downtoearth caught my attention. sponge iron industry in india is responsible for massive pollution, displacement, destruction of forests and not even one hindu businessline article had info about it.

guess, when it comes to business press of india, only money, GDP counts and all eyes are closed.
if respected hindu newspaper is like this, you can hardly imagine how bad other news media groups will behave.

and no wonder success of hazardous industries like sponge iron is being touted as 'development'.

below is a press release from a group that is campaigning against sponge iron industry.

People demand a right over their own environment
PRESS NOTE – 21st December 06, Nagpur
In a meeting held in Nagpur today different non-governmental organisations, autonomous peoples' movements and environmental experts came together to discuss and highlight the adverse social and environmental impacts of the growing Sponge Iron industries in the country. The groups resolved to launch a national campaign "SAVE LIVELIHOODS AND ENVIRONMENT from Sponge Iron Industry" to address the issue. Sponge iron is being produced increasingly in India for the production of steel. India is the largest producer of sponge iron in the world today, making more than 111 lakh tonnes of sponge iron per annum.

The Central Eastern belt of the country including the states of Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and West Bengal is the key region for the growth of this industry. Sponge iron factories are also present In Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and even Maharashtra. In fact, several units are present in and around Nagpur as well.

For almost five years now, large scale protests have come up in all these regions against these Sponge Iron plants. These are areas which, apart from being mineral rich, are also forest rich and dominated by tribal and forest dwelling communities dependent on subsistence agriculture for their survival.

The key issues of protest have been - air and water pollution impacting the environment and hence adversely affecting health, agricultural produce, water sources, and livestock grazing fields and the local livelihoods The situation is getting graver as companies continue to operate without pollution control devices, continue dumping hazardous wastes from the plant into forests, rivers and fields and continue setting up new plants and expanding old ones despite opposition from Gram sabhas and project affected communities.

The largest producer of Sponge Iron in India is Jindal Steel Private Limited (JSPL). A risk appraisal study conducted by Environmental Engineer Sagar Dhara in Raigarh District reveals that "there is a significant cancer risk and an elevated non-cancer toxic risk to a population of 1.9 lakhs in a 10 km radius around the JSPL sponge iron plant.

The study also concludes that "Similar cancer and non-cancer risk contours would exist for other sponge iron plants, which would be in direct correlation to their production and use of air pollution control devices. There would also be crop yield loss around the sponge iron plants." Sagar Dhara, pointing out the environmental hazards of these plants said "Sponge Iron plants release hazardous pollutants like cadmium, nickel, hexavalent chromium (most dangerous through air and water), arsenic, manganese, and copper. The heavy metals in these particulate matters are most dangerous and cause quick damage to fruit bearing trees, agricultural harvest and the human body especially the lungs".

Since an earlier study of a sponge iron plant in Orissa also indicated the existence of similar risk levels, the study has recommended that JSPL and other sponge iron plants should be closed forthwith by revocation of their Consent for Operations and other environmental consents. These plants may be opened only when it can be demonstrated that they can be operated without risk to human health, crop yield loss and other environmental injury. In January 2005 there had been a massive protest by 1000s of people in the Environment Clearance Public Hearing for the JSPL's expansion of the Sponge Iron Plant at Raigarh. Despite this the expansion received a clearance from the Ministry of Environment and Forests.

The Central Pollution Control Board has issued a set of draft guidelines and standards for Sponge Iron Plants to operate that would help prevent pollution. Chandrabhushan from the Centre for for Science and Environment and Deputy Editor Down To Earth said that "these standards are highly inadequate and will not address the issue of pollution from these plants" Members of local village and tribal communities from Sundergarh in Orissa and Raipur district in Chhattisgarh who attended the meeting put forth the fact that they have repeatedly raised issues of pollution with State Pollution Control Boards as well as at Environment clearance public hearings but have got no response from the government authorities or the Ministry of Environment and Forests.

Said senior activist Gautam Bandhopadhyaya at the press conference after the meeting in Nagpur "We have to look at this issue as a larger developmental issue where industry is being given priority over agriculture at any cost as is happening in Singur, West Bengal or with POSCO in Orissa or any other large project". The campaign is clearly demanding that if the industry cannot be made zero-risk then these plants should be stopped from operating and new plants should not be commissioned

Issued bySave Livelihoods and Environment from Sponge Iron Industry – Campaign

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

there was an amazing story in mercury news this morning.

it says clearly in the first 2 paras as follows.
California property owners are poised to gain yet another reason to go green.
In a decision closely watched by the solar industry, the California Public Utilities Commission recently signaled its intent to award the ownership of credits earned from renewable energy sources to the residential and commercial owners of such systems -- and not to the utility companies.

that's amazing indeed. it is simple as this. i have solar power roof and during sunny days the power meter starts turning back because the power roof feed the grid. now the utility gives some money back for turning the meter back. but this new rules might mean that the end customer whose roof is supplying electricity will be getting credits in cash.

okay then who pays this customer. those who want to go green will be doing so. again from article,
``There are some entities in the country, such as Whole Foods, who pride themselves on using green energy. They are buying these so they can say they are green and they are,'' Cinnamon said about the credits.

way to go california. when the federal govt is in deep slumber on renewables and global warming, california is showing ways of how to proceed correctly.

i was going thro the western ghats some time back and saw monster power lines. the below pictures are that of PUSHEP power lines. PUSHEP project had caused enormous destruction of the western ghats forests. from the linked article,
The Pykara Ultimate Stage Hydro Electric Project (PUSHEP) was yet another disaster. Apart from the expansion of the hydroelectric project in prime forestland, 7000 people were settled in Masinagudi and transported daily to PUSHEP across the elephant corridor. Companies like the Government Cordite Factory, Protein Products India and Needle Industries have also contributed to the degradation of the Nilgiris, by the conversion of forest to factories and the pollution of air, land and water. The consequent population pressure has created slums out of the beautiful hill stations of Ooty and Conoor.

when i saw these power lines bissecting pristine forests and tens of thousands of native shola trees felled for these lines, i can hardly imagine how much destruction the electricity that we take for granted is causing.

india, with its huge sun power, has to go solar so that few remaining eco systems can be left as it is

i am really surprised by the statement of tata chairman mr.ratan tata on the singur controversy.

as per him and i quote below,
"In his first substantive comments on the controversy in Singur, Ratan Tata has told NDTV that it's not just politics but also his business competitors who are encouraging the trouble in West Bengal."

why am i not surprised. governments all over india is using the old 1895 british land acquistion law all over india and are naturally facing protests including from environmentalists, ngo's, people's groups, etc.

when these group protest, the industry and govt brushed aside all of these with brute force. narmada, chattisgarh mining proposals, proposed coal power plants in coastal areas, sponge iron units all over india are mute examples of the industry+govt inept handling of real issues.

now tata is telling his competitors is fuelling the singur controversy. guess honda is involved since they are also planning a small car factory in india. ha haa...tata statement is the joke of 2006.

as a businessman, if i were in tata's shoes, i will have left singur long back thereby saving face of the embattled bengal CM and also making mamtaji a big heroine.

many governments can propose to give land to tata in a non controversial way. instead of thinking in business terms tata is surprisingly thinking on emotional terms.

but can tata stop their juggernaut?

(cartoon copyright of corpwatch)

Monday, December 25, 2006

what you see is NOT what you get. when it comes to development statistics as touted by india's officers, what you tell is NOT what is happening or what will be happening.

union minister of power mr.shinde famously said again that all rural households will be getting electricity.

wake up sir. please. india's tranmission and distribution loss is like 30 to 40%, india is chasing a nuclear utopia with america when america has not installed even a single new nuclear power plant in past several decades, coastal villages are protesting coal power plants due to the dangerous pollution it will cause, govt is sleeping on the huge solar power potential of india, green building standards are non exsistent, wind power is not being encouraged as it should be considering india's potential...the list of issues with power of india is endless.

and our minister tells of another developmental statistics which is blatantly wrong.

how wrong? it is a wrong between the east and west coast of america.

consider this. the narmada SSP project was being bulldozed on lakhs of tribals of gujarat and MP in name of water and electricity, there was no electricity whatsoever even after 50 years of independence in narmada villages. bilagoan is an example of this wherein an ngo installed a micro hydel plant.

you can see the project being done by villagers itself and was also washed away due to massive gujarat floods.

there are tens of thousands of villages like bilgoan that shinde does not talk and will not talk and there in lies the tragedy of developmental focus of the govt.

america is a great country. what america does today, the world does many years from now. (of course i am not going to talk about america's foreign policy :) ). by america, i meant american people and not american govt or its politicians :)

coming back, there was an article in san jose mercury news. as part of this article, a sub article titled environment and it ran as
"some companies remain reluctant to provide too much detail about the origins of their wood.
at a lowe's annual meeting in may, a shareholder proposed that the company issue an annual report on progress towards its environmental pledges.
the company board of directors disagreed saying lowe's does enough to publicise its practises. it unaniamously recommended a votre against the proposal."

c'mon, lowe. you can do better. by going green, by going open and by following certification process that is honest, by opening sections in your store that has products that are fetched sustainably and without environmental impact, by showing committment - you can sell more products than hiding behind english words.

if america, especially american mega companies goes honestly green, it can change the world. because america drives the world economics and hence the environment. by having environmentally friendly products/sections/etc in their stores american companies in various verticals like home goods, apparel, toys, etc can change how the world works.

will lowe wake up. will america, and its consumers - who are fanatic about low costs of products turning a blind eye to the impact that those low costs cause to the environment of developing world- wake up?

Sunday, December 24, 2006

i chanced upon an article in economic times regarding eco tourism with a comment from ramesh as follows:

Tiger Ramesh, CEO of Wilderness Resorts, says, "Eco-tourism is registering 35% growth annually in India. It is the fastest growing subset in the tourism industry and is set to become a Rs 1,000 crore industry soon."

mr.ramesh is obviously talking about the thriving tourism and not eco tourism. eco tourism, for me, is one which has to be done not with crores-of-rupee-profits in mind but with conservation of natural resources, participation of local people, benefits to forests and local people, involvement of strong regulatory mechanism so that in name of tourism core forest areas are not violated.

and not coincidentally, mr.ramesh is facing issues with his pet eco tourism project near bandipur.

and the central empowered committe has recently visited the place to see what's going on since the place where ramesh plans to put his resort is a vital elephant corridor also.

and funnily ramesh quotes as follows.
Subjective opinions of environmentalists and NGOs hampering the category

eco tourism is already running amok in places like ranthambore. rather than converting core and vital forests into eco tourist zones, in name of tourism dollars/rupees, the govt should work with environmentalists and renowned forest experts first to form a strong policy rather than with industry which will always want to open up even core forests in name of tourism.

below are 2 images of the single tusker of bandipur which i snapped when i went with the forest department conducted tour on the edges of bandipur.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

what will you do, if you are living in a rural area, and bulk pharma companies are proposing to setup factory near where you live/fish/do agriculture/etc.

you run scared for life. as it is happening in vizag right now.

patancheru is a classic example of industrilisation running amok and adding value to gdp and reducing value to life.

as per the vizag hindu report
They said the discharge of wastewater and effluents from the unit - Hetero Drugs - would adversely affect fisheries in the region and "40,000 fishermen in 20 villages would be affected."
Mr Ch. Rajeswara Rao, convener of the Committee, said the construction should be halted immediately and a proper public hearing conducted to ascertain and address the grievances of local fishermen.

who cares about 40,000 fishermen. all we care is whether the bulk drug units can earn foreign exchange for the govt and add value to gdp and then we will have economists like amartya giving shy pollution talks.

i was in eloor in dec 2005 and was shocked to see the destruction. eloor can give cancun a run for its money. with sun kissed beach island, the majestic (but dead) periyar, mangroves, kerala's laid back atmosphere all forming a great combination.

but due to wilful industrial pollution, eloor is now a ghost town where you cannot breathe freely, where you cannot drink water without fear of getting cancer and where you will see multi colored dangerous toxics all around.

let us not create more eloors in name of fake development. the above and below pictures show the pollution in eloor.

another stunning editorial from sunita narain.

when a heavily populated country's growth is being monitored by the number of cars sold, we forget the costs involved.

we seem to be modelling after the car nation america. america is a huge country with a fantastic road/freeway/intercity network. even in crowded area like bay area the roads are able to take up enormous load of vehicles. now add drivers discipline, safety norms on the road, strict policing - you have a comfortable driving scenario even though some of freeways are crowded.

now switch to india, where there is no road, urban greenery is being felled, massive pollution is threatening lives of urban dwellers, no road discipline, lax policing - you have nightmare urban living scenario.

as sunita has correctly pointed out, car drivers should bear the costs of the enormous wastage that they are creating. let us be under no illusion that car sales reflects the health of the economy and hence the health of the people. development does not mean that we have to live in polluted urban areas that resembles choked gas chambers.

thomas freidman is going green in a big way suddenly. i am seeing more green article from him rather than previous years.

development, says freidman, should be green. i would like him to be more assertive to also say reuse, reduce and recycle because development should also be sustainable and environment friendly.

in his above article he points out how texas is no.1 in america in terms of producing wind energy. in india side tamilnadu is the saudi arabia of wind. tamilnadu has over 50% of india's wind power.

wind power in tamilnadu and india needs massive thrust, support, encouragement and incentives. govt of india has announced massive 4000mw coal power plants each costing 15000 crore rupees. it should come out and also announce massive and feasible schemes for wind power with the aim of reaching 50000 mw by 2025.

below are some of the wind tower in the wind farms of udumulpet area of tamilnadu near coimbatore.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

the proposed athirapally hydel power project is in news again with the proposed hearing of the project by legislative panel has been postponed.

it seems even though detailed steps had been taken for the hearing, 'somehow' the hearing has been postponed.

all dirty tricks is being played by the project proponents in pushing this unsustainable project.
chalakudy river council, which has been in the forefront along with other ngo's, had collected 40,000 signatures to the CM of Kerala on dec 7 requesting him to stop the project.

on the23rd of december it will be the first anniversary of the indefinite Satyagraha launched by local people. you can see pictures of the last year satyagraha below. on the same day this year a large meeting will be held. many solidarity groups are being formed in different districts of Kerala to bring awareness to this fatal project.

whereas the majestic chalakudy river flows quietly. will it be further abused by one more massive unsustainable and ill planned dam?

india tourism department runs the incredible india ads all over internet, domestic and foreign tv's, print editions in time magazine, etc.

but if at all our tourism department is concerned with sustainable manner in which we can treat our rivers, forests, tribals, etc then it would have scored a true victory and attract a lot more tourists.

let me explain.

i was just browsing thro the time magazine (edition was couple of weeks old) and was surprised to see a full page glossy ad on incredible india which had a taj mahal front side with a gleaming yamuna nearby (!!!). fair enough for ad guys to pull this trick. the image is like the one below.

but in reality, the image of taj is very different as illustrated in the cnn ibn story. taj is more like below if you take a look around taj.

this is what i call 'developedment' - a fake manner in which india is being developed, projected, marketed and pushed ahead.

Monday, December 18, 2006

what will happen to you - assuming you live in a sprawling metropolis like chennai which faces huge drinking water issues - and you are involved in water bodies protection (lakes, temple tanks, etc).
you will get arrested on bogus charges!!!
yes, that's what happened to mr.s.p.narayanaswamy in chennai (picture courtesy 'the hindu').
water bodies of chennai is very crucial and mr.narayanaswamy was involved in protection of the Tirupananthaal Lake in Pammal along with other civic issues via exnora.
instead of applauding and working with committed individuals like mr.narayaswamay, the govt goes in the opposite direction and rightly invited the protests of concerned citizens. and very correctly exnora, in a letter to Chief Minister, said the arrest was a "black mark" on the administration and demanded his unconditional release.

we too demand an unconditional release via the email below.
subject: please release mr.narayanaswamy immediately
dear chief minister of tamilnadu dr.karunanidhi,
my name is xxx and i live in xxx.
i hereby bring your kind attention to the arrest of activist mr. narayaswamy as pointed out by hindu at
it is very clear that the administration has arrested him on very filmsy and bogus charges. we need more committed individuals like mr.narayaswamy who can work on issues pertaining to the urban water bodies of chennai.
we hereby demand and urge you to release mr.narayaswamy unconditionally and take action against the officials who were involved in this bogus arrest. democracy can sustain and nourish the society only by govt working with concerned individuals like mr.narayaswamy. as exnora has pointed out at hindu report at, unless your government recognise the work of committed individuals like mr.narayanaswamy in protecting the water bodies of chennai, all your efforts to bring in golden rule for tamilnadu will come for a naught.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

i rarely follow amartya sen. he has a fanatical following among economists, but i did not follow him because like lot of economists, he is divorced from the reality.

how come?

look at his latest statements are reported by hindu.

i quote from the above link,
But development cannot be divorced from ecological and environmental concerns as both are inter-related. Focussing on the quality of life could help generate a necessary understanding of not only development, but also of the nature of the environment.

"development cannot be divorced from ecological and environment concerns..". mr. sen are you sleeping like rip wan winkle. india's ecology and environment has been and is being destroyed in name of providing few jobs mostly in hazardous red tag industries and suddenly mr.sen raises a feeble voice on environmental concern.

let us take an example. cuddalore is a beautiful coastal town 200 kms south of tamilnadu. there is an area called SIPCOT which has hazardous industries that make a killing in profit but seldom care about pollution. you can catch the pollution issues in sipcot blog.

now in name of providing jobs to roughly 1000 to 2000 labourers, a thriving agriculture and fishing has been destroyed by pollution. the uppanar river is a toxic hellspot polluted by sipcot industries.

how can learned people like amartya sen tell to balance jobs and environment when the industries wilfully pollute and does not even care a tiny little for environment. what amartya sen should have told is for industries to have enviornment safeguard as holy grail and not to violate enviornment rules and laws and adhere strictly to pollution norms.

but sadly amartya sen speaks like politican rather than an economist and we are looking at places like cuddalore becoming another bhopal.

like the legend anil agarwal of cseindia says below, we are sorry mr.sen. please grow up.
"Sorry to say this, Mr Sen, but I think the challenge we face is quite different than the simplistic one you have put forward. Amartya Sen made his mark by pointing out that people often die of hunger not due to a shortage of food but often because they lack ‘entitlements’. He therefore talks of welfare systems to create ‘social security safety nets’. The problem is this analysis can explore and explain ‘economic poverty’, a phenomenon Sen’s professional colleagues — namely, economists — love to study. It completely ignores what I would like to call ‘ecological poverty’. Why are economists unable to fathom it, including our ‘sensitive’ Nobel Prize winner?"

Friday, December 15, 2006

hindu wrote a very good editorial couple of days back on rain forest protection showing brazil govt example vis-a-vis indian context.

they had earlier written a brilliant editorial on athirapally hydel project.

western ghats forests are very crucial to entire india's river system. upto 80% of south india's rivers originate from western ghats. this alone is enough to protect it. but till now, the ghats has been looked upon as a commodity that can be tapped for mining, logging, massive unsustainable hydel dams, etc. will this change for the good of our generation and our future generations.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

there is a small but nice write up on "why the Rs 1-lakh tata car is not good for India".

this cheap car (cost wise very very cheap @ 1 lakh rupees) can be a disaster for india's already congested roads and pedestrians.

india is not america. i live in bay area and although the traffic is bad, it is uniform and there is huge traffic discipline.

in dec 2005, when i was in india after 4 years, i could barely cross the road in chennai and bangalore.

bangalore seems to be full of cars and 2 wheelers 24 * 7. now add to the mixture the small car and our roads and road side greenery will be choking for space and air.

in 2006 budget when the finance minister decreased the tax on cars, i shot of a protest email to finance ministry official asking them not to cut tax but increase tax on cars. that mail is below. what can i say when the 1 lakh car becomes a reality :((

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Mar 3, 2006 3:27 PM
Subject: Kind Attn Mr. P. Chidamabaran: Please withdraw the excise duty reduction on small cars ASAP
To:, ,,,
Cc: ,
Dear Mr. Chidambaram,
I am living in California for past 6 years and an Indian national.

This email is regarding the excise duty reduction that has been proposed in the budget.

To say the least, I am thoroughly disappointed in you slashing the excise duty on small cars from 24 to 16 percent.

Your intention may be noble but the effects can be disastrous for our already chocked city and urban area roads. If you visit Chennai or Bangalore (not in the air conditioned Government luxury car) by foot you will notice that you cannot even breathe the air that is dangerously polluted.

These cities are choking to death as 2 wheelers and cars occupy the entire space. Your measure will now fuel a small car revolution that will invade our already chocked city and urban areas. This will mean less walking space for pedestrians, huge increase in congestion, dangerous increase in air pollution and more traffic accidents as new vehicles fight for space.

I strongly urge you to withdraw this excise duty ASAP. I strongly request you to consider the following proposals.
1. Usage tax for each and every car that runs in our city roads or urban areas.
2. Mandatory smog and pollution clearance for vehicles over 6 years old (like they do in California, USA)
3. Tax rebate for hybrid cars (like they do in California, USA) so that the hybrid technology can take off like they have done in California.
4. Tax rebate for using Government services like public buses, metros, etc to encourage increased usage of this.
5. Parking tax for new buildings that come up in center of the urban areas.
6. Clean air tax for families that own more than 1 car.

If you notice private vehicles take over 90% of road space and in return contribute nothing. It is a criminal waste to see most of the cars having a single occupant and in turn occupying a huge space on our strained city roads.

I also want to bring to your 2 recent articles on this. They are,

Please act fast so that our children and grand children can at least breathe safely in our city and urban areas.

for any country to grow sustainably and truly, its regulatory authority is very important. in case of india, the chief among them is moef.

in 2005/2006, moef revised the vital eia notification in a brutal manner benefiting the already compliance-carefree industries. you can read the eia shredding at the 2 articles Draft EIA notification favours industry over environment ; Cover story on EIA by DTE

moef is going one step ahead in this mania by putting a new system of monitoring the projects for compliance once eia is isssued.

my question is: very rarely has eia been followed correctly by moef and industry. there have been huge violations in approving eia. and now even the eia has been loosened and further loosening will be done by moef by their new announcement.

there is a famous saying, "what will the crop do, when the fence itself eats the crop". with respect to moef this is very true.

below is some of the pictures from the moef chalo protest done by ngo's and community activitst in nov 2005 in moef office to protest against indiscriminate flouting of eia norms and also total non involvement of ngo's and communities in the new eia norm formation.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

i read an article in today's hindu presents a sorry picture of the trees trunk-cut in marine drive in cochin.

when i was in dec 2005 in cochin and suburbs, greenery in roads was almost absent (to put it mildly). it was a surprise to see that a kerala that is (or was it 'was') proud of greenery has no vital urban greenery.

below are some pictures from i had taken in cochin and suburbs (like alwaye). infact streets of alwaye has been wiped out clean of trees.

urban greenery is an important part of any urban area. india, by 2025, will have like 500 million people living in urban areas and it is very vital these greenery be nourished and preserved. singapore is a classic example wherein each and every inch of the small place is green carpeted.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

there was a post in hindu, couple of days back, regarding the japanese bank (japanese bank of industrial cooperation - jbic) being happy about the rate of afforestation happening in tamilnadu.

i dont know whether there are good studies on the huge tons of money being poured into afforestation in tamilnadu.
in karnataka, cised, had published extensive studies on the work done by jbic and most of them have come out very negative and they also had launched a campaign against jbic mode of funding and how funding works.

looks like jbic is having a whale of time in afforetation jaunts in india.

the above are some pictures of nilgris, which has been rampaged by cultivation, tea planataion and settlments. it seems only 2% of nilgris (of several thousands square kilometers) is still having native forests species of western ghats.

Monday, December 11, 2006

sethu project was conceived amidst severe protests from local people and fishermen. It has a murky past and was executed in a murky way.

now after several months of the project, the fishermen are asking, 'well, you have digged the channel. can you please show where is it'.

"Till today the channel is not there. That's what we claim because fishermen have personally visited the area and if they have dug something of 12 metre it should be there. It's not there and the Sethusamudram Corporation is also not willing to show," said Jesurathinam, convenor, Coastal Action Network.

oh..oh so where's the channel.

"The undercurrents are very strong, so even when they dig the sand it comes back to the same spot," said Sivasankar, fisherman.

'The channel is getting ready and will be shown open only upon completion' says the project proponents.

well, if work has been going on successfully for past several months, shouldn't the fishermen and the public be taken into confidence because they are the one who are directly impacted by the channel. is the channel some sort of building project which can be masked and hidden from public till 'grand opening'.
(p.s: picture courtsey: dinamalar)

Sunday, December 10, 2006

i read with horror tavleen singh article on singur. with zero facts, zero arguments, she just thrashes arundathi roy and environmentalists.

of late, articles in indian express has a definite tilt towards pro industry lobbies. no wonder its premier editor is also doing the same.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Dec 10, 2006 12:11 PMSubject: re: CPM gets taste of its own medicine in singur
To:, tavleen.singh@expressindia.comCc:

dear tavleen,
i read your article titled "CPM gets taste of its own medicine in singur" in indianexpress.

you mention that when india moves away from being 70% dependent on agriculture we would have kicked off poverty.

i am assuming that you are telling rural people who depend on agriculture to give way for industries so that they can work in industries and earn better income thereby kicking off poverty.

i think you are wrong. let me give a few examples, where people have given way (usually by mindless 1895 land acquisition act and by brutal force) to industries and are getting royally screwed.

india's industry can be broadly classified into a couple of tiers. one is the high paying urban software jobs (with the huge benefit of high and decent paying service jobs that caters to software industry). the next tier is the dangerous and hazardous and wilfuly polluting industries (that countries like america, britan, etc have kicked out) like chemicals, leather, bulk low cost pharma, sponge iron units, etc that dot our rural landscape.

in cuddalore, where tens of thousands of once decent doing people are now even struggling to breathe amidst the polluting chemical units that employ only a couple of thousands people but destroying agriculture, fishing, etc by easy pollution.

look at patencheru, in outskirt of hyderabad, once a thrirving community of farmers and fishermen and now a choking hell.

look at the beautiful island of eloor, than can give cancun a run for its money for tourism. now it is a dead place with massive industrial pollution that employs a very few people and that too migrant labourers and that too working in hazardous conditions.

look at south gujarat, look at fertile terai region of uttranchal, look at the 'great' sponge iron industry, look at massive tirupur pollution that feeds mill owners but screws up farmers and fishermen.... the list is endless...

you write, "if our environmental its are not another tedious bunch of mindless activists"....

mindless and polluting industrialisation (that's the one india is paving way to) is not an answer to poverty.

in singur it may be a car industry, but across thousands of singurs across india, it is cuddalore's, eloor's, patancheru's, etc.

i think you should rewrite it as "if our journalists are only half as learned as environmentalists, we would have not have fake journalism like the recent one's that you and indian express are doing".

Friday, December 08, 2006

cfl (compact flourscent lamps) are a great way to save energy. it seems conventional glass bulbs waste 90% of energy by heat wheras cfl's use only 20% of the energy that a conventional glass bulbs use.
greenpeace poster caught my eye on the cfl importance.
more cfl
no more coal
- should be the mantra of india.

sandrp june 2006 report says if all glass bulbs are replaced by cfl, it will save a whopping 5000mw per year, which is kind of more than 2.5 times the energy use of entire state of kerala.

will our public and policy makers listen?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

adobe, the famous software maker, has cemented its unique place among software companies (and other industries also). they have gone one step ahead in greening their building.

as per the merc report,
Most eco-friendly structures are built ``green,'' but Adobe decided to turn its three existing towers downtown -- ranging in age from three to 10 years and totaling almost 1 million square feet of offices and 940,000 square feet of garage space -- into an environmentally friendly campus.

going green is not only cool, earth friendly, environmentally safe but also can be a money saver.
Adobe spent $1.2 million to retrofit the three buildings, constructed in 1996, 1998 and 2003. To date, the company has received $350,000 in rebates from Pacific Gas & Electric, the state and the city. And the annual savings in reduced energy and water usage is $1 million.
``The simple payback is 10 1/2 months and the return on investment is 115 percent,'' said George Denise, of Cushman & Wakefield, who manages Adobe's properties.

will our own legends wipro's, tcs's, infosys, etc emulate and overtake adobe. india is a country where true development is the need of the hour and by reducing energy usage thro environmentally friendly buildings, india can avoid building polluting coal power plants, destructive hydel plants and thereby preserve our crucial ecology for our future generations.

the proposed, ill defined, fake and destructive athirapally hydel power project is back in the
news again with the project proponents pushing it through all backdoor and illegal means possible.
i have attached a couple of pictures of the stunning chalakudy river and the athirapally waterfalls. if this damaging dam comes up, millions of years old of western ghats ecosystem will be submerged and destroyed.

dam location in the pristine and stunning Chalakudy river - will it be preserved amidst the dam building madness that has engulfed india??

the stunning athirapally water falls on the chalakudy river - will it be there for our children??

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

jharkhand and orissa are widely forested state with rich mineral deposits and a significant tribal population.

this makes it a easy pick for industries to poach on forest areas for mines as well as shoo away tribals.

2 recent stories in ndtv captures the plight in orissa and jharkhand vividly.
"The entire adivasi belt is packed with plants like TISCO, TELCO, BOKARO, apart from dams and mines. When the plants were set up, the expectation was that jobs would follow. Instead, outsiders came and grabbed the permanent jobs. Tribals fell by the wayside. Now it will be worse. Fewer jobs are available as everything is automated. Tribals simply don't have the skills for technical jobs," he says.

and weirdly it carries a report of how a few joined software consultancy TCS. when there is significant displacement due to forced mining, a few jobs can hardly be the compensation.

now throw in a thrid mineral rich state chattisgarh with good forest and tribal population, then these 3 states are under huge assault by govt machinery, industries and mafia all acting in unision for the rich minerals and forest value.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

it was shocking to see how the fertile terai region is turned into a damp squib by so called industrialisation.

i dont understand why on earth do you want to convert fertile region of india into pollution hotspots.

take a look at this
“Terai lands are some of the most fertile not only in the state but in the country. And in less than three years, nearly 2,225 ha of land have been occupied in the terai by industrial giants,” says Rajiv Lochan Shah, a social activist based in Uttaranchal.

also there is fake promise of employment. take a look at this.
The state industrial policy lays a high rhetorical priority on improving standards of living and providing employment to all under a 10-year scheme. The problem is that local people are not getting jobs in the new factories. “According to an employment office at Rudrapur, in the last two years only 136 local people have been employed in the new industries (see table: Job crunch),” says Rajiv Lochan Shah.In many cases, land is obtained with false assurances of employment. Villagers of Kashipur were conned in this way when the India Glycols factory bought land from them. Today, the factory employs 579 people. Of the 244 executives and 64 trainees and apprentices none are from the area. Of the junior staff (271) only 30 per cent are local people. “Fissiparous tendencies cannot be ruled out in the near future if such a system persists,” warns Rawat.

for india's growth industries are important but not the polluting third-world cheap one's. growth can also be bought by organic farming, horticulture, tourism, services and rural people intensive industries such as food processing.

is there anybody to listen to this downtoearth story on uttranchal?

Friday, December 01, 2006

there was a timely and a very interesting article, again on hindu, regarding the need to save power.

it says correctly as follows:
Studies indicate that households consume more than 40 percent of the total energy generated. Most equipment and devices at home consume energy. But rarely are we aware as to how much energy they consume and how it can be reduced.

we all complain about electricity. but seldom do we know the enormous cost of environmental disasters that our hydel, coal and nuclear power plants bring upon poor villagers and crucial ecosystems.

save electricity should be our mantra, if our future generations have an iota of chance to see india's coastlines, rivers, forests, etc in somewhat decent form.

i read a very interesting and useful article on saving oil by stopping the car engine.

but for india, i think we need to follow singapore model wherein the car owners will be,
1. charged a very small fee every year for environmental control
2. charged a nominal road use tax, because most of the times it is 1 per per car occuyping huge road space in the already narrow roads of india.
3. non-public transport usage fee, using which public transport drivers and conductors can be paid more which in turn will result in more efficient service.
4. many other steps that is unique to india.

cars are very much needed. but during peak hours (7 to 10 am;4 to 7 am) we need to bring car drivers under control and then only will our roads and air breathe clean and green.