Wednesday, January 31, 2007

a california assemblyman lloyd levine (D-Van Nuys) is proposing to ban the traditional incandescent bulbs, a 125 year old technology and replace them with compact fluorescent light bulbs.

kudos to this brilliant idea. the old traditional lamps suck out energy wasting enormous amount of energy. from the above link, the most efficient compact fluorescent bulbs use 75 percent less electricity than incandescent, which translates into less smog and fewer greenhouse gases released by power plants.

california electricity consumption is around 45000 mw and by this several hundred (and possibly several thousands) megawatts can be saved.

in india too the situation is the same. if all of india can turn into CFL then the energy saved will be 5000mw a whopping 5% of india's electricity resulting in annual savings of upto 25000 crore (with 5 crore rupees per mw).

will the development mongers listen and follow california example. will terms like sustainable, green, energy efficiency, etc be part of the growth model or will these be scroned upon benefting only the scroners?

last week there was a bizzare discoloration of river periyar even in downstream areas such as alwayae and onto eloor.

everybody suspected the ususal pollution from the polluting units at eloor. but it turns out the culprit is the opening of shutters in Kallarkutty dam due to which the sediments from the dam polluted the periyar.

periyar river gives drinking water to several lakhs and lakhs of people in ernakulam district and beyond. but the river has been repeatedly abused.

this also brings out the fact the 'temples of modern india' - the dams, are ill maintained with the concerned authorities having very little clue on the sediments that get formed.

when it comes to development of india, the crucial rivers such as periyar are just a footnote that can be sewaged, polluted, abused and destroyed, for the rivers do not participate in the 10% growth figure or increased gdp count.

(majestic river periyar at outskirts of alwayae. the pumping station in alwayae, i guess pumps out polluted water from all kinds of things such as sediments, eloor pollution, etc)
(majestic river periyar in alwayae at sunset. using the majesticity of periyar a viable eco tourism can be created with communities having a stake in the tourism reveune and upkeep of the river)

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

hindu report asked a question as below:
What can Chennai possibly learn from Gotheborg, a port city in Scandinavia and the second largest of Sweden?

after reading the report, the question should be "What can India possibly learn from Gotheborg...."

and the mayor of gotheborg hit the nail when he says,
" Environmental issues, he said, should not be taken as being against development. "It is no longer environment versus growth. All development work must be inclusive of environmental concerns." "

tell the above to a section of india's press... tell the above to india's ministry of environment and forests... tell the above to our finance ministry... tell the above to india's elite... tell the above to india's industralists...

and all of them will laugh..and laugh loud. for in india.. it is 'development to elite at any cost' that matters.

but one of the statements (below) of gotheborg officials rings loud and will ring even louder if we dont listen:
"You can learn from our mistakes. It cost us dear."

when it comes to development in india, one thing that a crucial ministry like moef make sure is that they have ex-bureaucrats, politicians and engineers in their expert committees so that projects concerning mining, dams, etc can be cleared smoothly.

in end of 2006, when CEC recommendend distinguished names in field of forests like Belinda Wright (WPSI), Bittu Sahgal (Sanctuary Asia), Shyam Chainani (Bombay Environment Action Group), P K Manohar (a lawyer who has filed cases related to forest issues), Claude Alvares (Goa Foundation), S C Sharma (a retired forest officer), P K Sen (presently with Ranthambhore Foundation), Pranay Waghray (Wildlife Activist) and V R Chitrapoo (also a retired forest officer), moef did not like it.

it is obvious. all across india forests are cleared for mega projects like massive mining, dams, logging, etc. and moef wants to make sure these names above do not get into the forest advisory committee, which FAC advises the MoEF on whether the forest land should be allowed to be diverted, and if yes, then under what conditions and restrictions.

when the motivation is to clear projects at any cost to achieve the 10% growth magic mark, it is better to have your own men rather than having real experts who can point out the fallacies of this mindless developedment.

Monday, January 29, 2007

when it comes to development, western developed countries, at least are ahead of the game to take care of its own people and environmental safety.

let us take mercury as an example. most western countries require that ALL mercury be thrown out by 2011 in products except for florescent lamps.

a gram of mercury can pollute a 10 hectare lake and the notorious mercury pollution in kodaikanal by hindustan lever is a classic example of mercury pollution in india.

as the ndtv report points out, india's regulators are sleeping over mercury. with no regulations and monitoring, mercury is easily available in india showing a poisonous edge to india's development.

when it comes to true development, environmental regulation that takes care of human health is of paramount importance. but when it comes to 10% growth mania, mercury is more important than environment and humans.

(greenpeace activists and locals protesting outside hindustan lever in kodaikanal in early 2000's)

hindu property plus ran a good article regarding sustainable buildings. from the article,
Buildings use 40% of the worlds' total energy, 25% of wood harvested and 16% of clean water. Air quality inside buildings is 2 -5 times worse than that outside and people spend 90% of their time indoors.

india is in crying need for sustainable green buildings. even if a section of the industry/society/builder show leadership it can change the way india looks at buildings. even if a software group shows that it can build green buildings and save large amounts of energy, it can start a new revolution.

will indian companies, builders and government show leadership in building green sustainable buildings that can be a huge boom to environment and humans.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

tamil nadu government is finally coming out with a 'great' proposal to tacke the tirupur pollution menace.

it seems they are planning to lay pipeline from tirupur onto a coastal area (the coastal area in all probablity is cuddalore. the area with its obnoxious sipcot area is being earmarked for further polluting units that can increase the gdp and of course 'develop' india).

from the hindu link,
Wrapping up the discussion on the motion of thanks to the Governor's address, the Chief Minister said one option was to lay pipelines to let out effluents from dyeing and bleaching units in Tirupur. Unlike areas in Maharashtra and Gujarat, Tirupur was not close to a coastal belt. Considering the distance to be covered, the cost was estimated at Rs. 700 crore approximately.

why bother about clean technologies, why bother about accountability, why bother about multinationals who want products at cheaper prices to satisfy the cheap-goods-mongering consumers, why bother about clean up, why bother about compensation to several thousands farmers who have lost several thousands acres due to toxic tirupur pollution, why bother about putting cleaner process to tackle pollution. just throw the toxic effulents through a pipeline onto coastal area(cuddalore) and forget about the whole thing.

very nice. when it comes to development of india, we hear no evil, we smell no evil and wee want to see no pollution also.
(a map showing dyeing units all along noyyal river. effulents from these plants will be routed to coastal area)
(polluted noyyal river probably on its last legs. noyyal river was once cradle of tamil civilisation)

when it comes to development in india, one thing is for sure. fudging of facts.

lies masked as facts, bulldozed on everybody including the people and the press. the classic case for this lies is narmada SSP project. last week, the chief minister of gujarat went gaga over the narmada dam by symbolically pouring the last concrete. the government took huge advertisements in newspaper telling that 1450mw electricity generated by the dam will be used for development of india propelling it further.

hydro electricity is a very controversial topic in india. india is a top dam building country in the league of america, china and brazil. but seldom have impact, usefuless, functioning of dams been studied by india to understand how we can plan for future cases.

the ngo PSS (parayavaran suraksha samiti) of gujarat has correctly pointed out the wrong facts of the government 1450mw lies. and they pointed out the lies and i reproduce from the link,
Prajapati argued that 1450 MW power and irrigation of 20.5 lakh hectares of land together is not achievable. “The government is assuming that there would be enough water to run the turbines at their full capacity, all day, every day. This is a misuse of science, as installed capacity is defined as maximum possible power or rated power, and everyone knows that the average power actually generated is always less than the maximum installed,” said Prajapati.

As per SSP planning documents and the government’s own reports, firm power or reliable, continuous power from SSP is only 439 MW, pointed out Prajapati. “On completion of the Narmada canal network of SSP and upstream dams, firm power reduces to a mere 50 MW as water will be diverted for irrigation rather than for electricity generation,” said the PSS activist.

when it comes to development in india, please add lies, false facts and bulldozed figures in the mix.
(a family hanging out in their submerging hut in narmada basin due to raising water. even now several tens of thousands of people have not been rehabilitated properly)

(activists including medha patkar protesting the submergence of villagers in narmada basin)

Friday, January 26, 2007

as the singur controversy rages (and eventually ebb as the state uses its might to push developedment), one crucial aspect forgotten is the dramatic effect the small car (the one's tata's are planning to build @ rs.1 lakh a pop) on road usage, air pollution, parking usage, congestion, etc in already dangerously polluted cities of india.

anumita roychowdry, associate director of cseindia captures this vividly in below article. i reproduce it in full.

Policy Police
Small cars – big dilemmas
by Anumita Roychowdhury


The farmers of Singur in West Bengal are desperate to save their land from transforming into an assembly line for cars of Tata Motors priced at one lakh rupees (US$2222). While the state’s left front government is eager to oblige with cheap land deal, the Union government is ready with more tax cuts to shorten the fuse and set off explosion in car sales. In promising unconditional support our regulators forgot to ask about the product itself, -- an unusually cheap micro car – whose impact will reverberate much beyond Singur.

Our regulators do not ask uneasy questions. It is not necessary for them to know how ultra low cost cars will explode car sales in cities and towns, when at 8 per cent GDP growth, buying power is getting bullish by the day. They do not want to weigh up the impact of easy ownership and usage of cars on pollution and congestion even though air pollution has crossed critical levels in more than half of the 90 cities under surveillance. Our GDP is not adjusted to reflect the congestion and public health cost of motorisation which in other countries have shown to be significantly high. Billion cars for billion people is the new deal – a killer pact.

No one has authentic information about the micro car except what the media is reporting with a few occasional statements from the car merchants. The jigsaw when pieced together shows a 30 horse power engine, perhaps in the range of 700 cc engine displacement, capable of carrying four to five people. Market speculates - can it be on diesel? Tata already has a commercial Ace pick up model with IDI diesel engine in the size range of 700 cc! Even a hint of micro diesel car should put all on the alert to prevent it.

Indian car industry argues that availability of local engineering skills and material, indigenous manufacturing base are an opportunity to develop affordable cars that also meet emissions standards. If Indian industry does not do this the Chinese will. So build volumes at the lower end, at lesser margin and still remain profitable, is the industry axiom.

But the regulators have the responsibility to ask and people the right to know, where to place these micro cars in the overall paradigm shift in technology and mobility. The sales of these cars will gather momentum and scale and begin to dominate pollution inventory in our cities very soon.

The concern is not the size. Small cars and downsizing have begun to find favour for fuel efficiency in an increasingly energy insecure world, squirming under warming effect of heat trapping gases. The root of scepticism is the abnormally low price and what it can afford in terms of performance, durability and safety. And the potential effect of the cheap cars on congestion and pollution. Slated to hit the market in 2008, these cars will jam cities much before Euro IV standards are in place. Their rank may swell with more players planning models priced somewhere between a high end two-wheeler and the current entry level car of 800 cc to capitalise on the emerging market.

Fuel efficient micro cars are not unusual and have seen niche growth in Europe and Japan. The Euro IV 698 cc Smart cars for instance, come in snazzy style with three-cylinder turbo engine, electronic multipoint fuel injection, electronic accelerator, three-way catalytic converter, and other fancy features. But technical features of low cost Indian micro cars are not known though small compact petrol models in 800 to 1200 cc range are expected to see improved MPFI fuel delivery, advanced closed loop system with three way catalytic converter, electronically controlled EGR in some models among others. Diesel compact cars upto 1500 cc will move to CRDI along with other improved features. But the nature of technology shifts and costs have added another dimension to the debate.

If the car industry is racing to the bottom to compete on costs, regulators will have to hold them responsible and enforce strong in-use compliance measures so that emissions remain low through out vehicles’ life and not just when it is new. But no one dares to demand cutting edge regulations for in-use compliance management that can push industry to avoid serious compromises while addressing tradeoffs between cost and quality. This is the forbidden area in policy discussions. Emissions warranty with recall is unheard of in India. In-use measures are dismally minimal. Also remember the way industry resisted legal mandate for on-board diagnostic control that self diagnose problems in emissions control system. OBD system will come in Indian Euro IV models only to generate data – its enforcement will be put off until 2013!

Desperate strategies to cut costs and build new customer base is easy in India because public policy does not target to recover the full costs of owning and using a car. The cost of using up urban space for parking and roads, cost of pollution and health damage, social impacts are not reflected in the taxes and road pricing. Despite enjoying hidden subsidy, the car industry is continuously externalising the true costs of its products while minimising tax contribution. If fiscal brakes are not applied to check the car boom micro cars will only complicate the technology and mobility transition. The uniquely placed micro cars when mass produced in India, will erode the fuel economy advantage of two-wheeler fleet, and counteract the energy and pollution benefits of bus transport planned under the Urban Renewable Mission.

Imagine the aftermath in Left front’s very own Kolkata in the catchment of the Singur project. There is no road space left for more cars except where the tram lines are being ripped off, and rickshaws are being pulled out. Alarming level of PM 2.5, heavy with diesel PM (share rising upto 61 percent) is snuffing life out of the city. The Left Front government, marching to the market, cannot even implement its own decisions to cut vehicular pollution let alone acknowledge the pollution dilemmas of industrial growth. If ignored, pollution can adversely affect investment climate. Take a leaf from Hong Kong’s experience where a growing number of foreign executives and companies are leaving the city despite having air quality much cleaner than Kolkata.

Micro cars will need micro management of pollution and mobility in cities. If neglected air pollution and congestion can cost any city its competitive edge and destroy it.

when it comes to development, the most common approach is 'shock and awe' theory propagated by the state with active behind the back work from huge corporations that obviously benefit from such mega super duper project.

seldom are community owned development researched, funded, monitored and scaled up by the government. we will profile 2 such small initiatives that were in the news last week.

sustainable development for india has to cover its several hundred million people who live on rural areas dependent on agriculture, rivers, forests, etc and these 2 examples can show case how important they can be in true development of india.

1. one is the green foundation's success in agriculture. using traditional organic farming methods this 'little england', is now prospering using community initatives. the first para says it all,
"In the olden days, if the rains failed one year, we used to migrate to the nearby towns and cities in search of jobs, as coolies. Our children used to be malnourished and fall sick often. Today, we never go anywhere. We are occupied throughout the year and we have enough to eat and keep ourselves healthy, besides even creating funds for emergencies".

2. the second is the meenvalam mini hydel project (of capacity 3mw) in palakad district. this project is an initiative of the panchayat along with other institutions like irtc.

like the downtoearth report points out there is a huge scope for wind and mini hydel power by empowering the panchayats and working with them to satisfy the power needs for that locality. from the link,
The State Planning Board reckons that one of the greatest achievements of people’s planning in the state was the installation of small hydel power projects by the panchayats with active participation of the beneficiaries. The development reports of various gram panchayats in the Idukki District identified 135 energy sources in the region, out of which 74 are hydel power sources and 61 wind power sources.

most of the shock and awe development projects are mostly to satisfy the needs of urban elite who benefit most out of the projects rather than from marginalised people who bear the brunt of these monster projects.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

sarang, the cultural festival of IIT Chennai has started. will this year sarang which kicked off today be green. well the jury is still out.

the dean of students is making the right noise and as per hindu report,
"Professor V.G. Idichandy, Dean of Students, said students were keen to make it a `green' Saarang this year through environment-friendly initiatives. "The students are keen to conserve the bio-diversity of the campus. There would be separate bins marking bio-degradable and bio non-degradable waste and all participants will be asked to segregate the waste before disposing them."

last year sarang had created a huge amount of thrash that shocked environmentalists and common people alike. also sarang had literally turned into corporate-rang which its huge space for corporates.

will this year be any different? will IITians who are future corporate leaders set an example by being environment friendly?

india's 'development' is being SLAPPED. for those who question questionable industries, dangerous pollution, false industrial propaganda, displacement of people and destruction of environment, the only way you can make them come into the 'development' bandwagaon is via SLAPPING.

in the above link sunita narain wrote about SLAPP in a telling editorial. it seems SLAPP is widely used in western world to gag public protests against questionable practises by industries. in india, with SLAPP, the industry is taking the same route.

the latest in SLAPP is the 1 crore defamation suit filed by Chemplast Sanmar Ltd against SIPCOT Area Community Environmental Monitors.

i had written about the stinging iptindia report on malco and chemplast and i guess the pressure from the people protesting against dangerous toxic pollution is getting onto the bosses who instead of working with the communities in a transparent manner is taking the opposite direction of SLAPPING.

well, if 10% india's growth has to be achieved via section 144, SLAPPING, etc - you bet India will do it. because 10% growth - a growth that will make sure the wealthy gets more wealthier at cost of environment and environment dependent people - is way more important than any other thing.

(polluted uppanar river which has taken a huge hit by dangerous toxic pollution from sipcot cuddalore industries)
(panel members visiting the uppanar river in sept 2006 as part of their site visit)
(public hearing in process in cuddalore in sept 2006. the full report can be obtained from sipcot cuddalore website)

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

kodungaiyur is one of the two dump yards where the Corporation of chennai dumps nearly 3,200 tonnes of garbage every day. The 400-acre spread in Kodungaiyur is its biggest facility.

seldom do the urban elites who thrash joyfully are aware of the huge damage they are causing to air and ground water to several tens of thousands of people who live near this toxic dump. the community environment monitors (cem) study shows dangerous toxic levels near the dump.

latest air samples from the dump was taken couple of days back to be sent to america for further testing to determine the toxicity levels.

this dump affects and screws up directly the health of 5000 rag pickers and nearly 2 lakh residents who breathe this toxic air. from the above hindu report,
Dharmesh Shah, a member of the CEM, said that with 5,000 people dependent on picking garbage and recycling them to earn a living, a viable solution was needed to solve the problem of pollution affecting two lakh residents around the dump.

as india rushes to be the next america, it has convienently forgotten that in america environmental controls are so strict that you cannot be having kodungaiyur near san francisco city or near tampa bay and even if it is located several tens of miles farther, strict monitoring, input correction, air sampling, etc is done to make sure the dump is a controlled facility.

as india's urban elite fancy themselves to make india compete with america, they seldom are aware that their thrash culture will first thrash their own backyards -and make breathing fresh air a dream- before we can stand up to be the 'next america' (toxic haze from kodungaiyur dump in chennai. picture copyright hindu)

as we speak (or blog) the singur mess continues.

couple of weeks back brinda karat, the cpi(m) politburo member who is very vocal on tribal, farmers, dam displacement kind of crucial issues wrote a very interesting article titled "Singur: just the facts, please"

joya mitra gave a very well written rejoinder in the next issue of downtoearth magazine, the #1 environmental+people magazine, probably in the world.

from joya's rejoinder looks like brinda karat is also trying to mislead the public.

industries are vital. industries that do not pollute the environment, industries that do not drive the maniac profit juggernaut, industries that works with local communities on the issues vis-a-vis the industry and the community, industries that use sustainable and efficient use of energy, industries that respect farmers land are all vital.

but from tata's singur fiasco, it looks like tata is not that industry.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

the construction boom of india is really going places. this time it is going right onto kerala's beaches. with complete absence of green building standards, sustainable building mandatory codes, regulation and monitoring of monster apartments in urban areas - our natural resouces like rivers and now beaches are being plundered for sand, which is a vital commodity in building construction.

in trivandrum, as per hindu report, residents are up in arms against this illegal mining. and the harmful effects of this illegal, unsustainable sand mining is aptly summed up in the report as follows:
local residents say that the large-scale removal of sand has left the remaining portions of the beach pockmarked with deep pits, creating a hazard for residents and unwary visitors. Scientists feel that sand-extraction could be a major factor behind the unprecedented erosion along the Thiruvananthapuram coast last year. Dozens of houses were washed away by strong tidal action and the seawall was damaged at several places. Hundreds of coconut trees were also uprooted by waves.

only if we build the words " sustainable", "mandatory green building standards" in the construction frenzy that is sweeping india, we will have a tiny chance of saving our precious natural resources.
(residents protesting illegal sand mining in trivandrum's coast. copyright hindu)

vembanad lake is the largest lake in kerla state in india. it is probably one of the largest lakes of india and asia. wikipedia says it covers an area of 200 sq kms and several rivers flow into the lake onto arabian sea.

this lake has one of the most beautiful relaxing scenario's you could ever imagine.

and this vital lake also offers immense bird watching potential. mr.sreekumar, president of kottayam nature club says that there is a healthy increase in bird population in the area, which had increased to over 28,000 from 11,000-odd sighted last year.

the tourist potential of the bird watching can be best summarised in the words of BHNS director mr.rehmani:
At the national level, it was estimated that only six per cent of the potential was realised in the Bird Tourism sector. Compare this with the 40-billion dollar bird tourism industry in the U.S.," he said.

but this lake is also under huge abuse right from cochin and through out its length. several hectic constructions are going on, lake water is getting dangerously polluted and dredging and reclaiming of the lake is happening at break neck pace.

if properly safeguarded, this lake can be a huge boom in terms of real eco tourism involving villagers, panchayats, small hotel operators, etc wherein tourist money can beneift all sections of the society.

as india chases it high tech dreams, sustainable eco tourism that benefits lower rungs of the society can be a huge value addition for sustainable development.

(welcome to vembanad @ cochin)
(dredging in vembanad. indiscriminate dredging can be seen throughout the lake)
(this is how the banks of the lake should like. with greenery and pleasant views)
(but this is how the banks of the lake looks like. massive construction very very close to the banks will definitely doom the lake as well as the building)

Monday, January 22, 2007

india population is a very young one. some estimates put india's average age at 26.

the new india, is obviously, career minded. i would love to take a easy bet saying that 90% of india's urban students would
(a) have never seen a forest
(b) would have never seen a river and its majestic flows during monsoon
(c) would have never visited polluted areas where india's development impact is punched upon and where our pride of industries like leather, chemical, sponge iron, etc factories are located.
(d) would have never seen a animal (say a deer or an elephant) in the wild
(e) would have never been to a village where that village is heavily dependent on its natural surroundings.

amidst this bleak scenario wherein the youth have been ultra urbanised, sanctuary asia, year after year, is doing a great thing by rewarding those who work and dedicate their lives for protecting india's nature.

this year, many deserving names are in the list inlcuding praveen bhargav who worked in the pioneering kudremukh mining issue.

let us take a moment of our career-chasing, money-chasing, ipod-chasing, next-car-chasing, etc busy life and salute these true soldiers who are workign day in and day out to make our life rich and luxurious.

india's nuclear power plants produce a very small (approx 3%) electricity needs. and those power plants are located near crowded metros (trombay in mumbai, kalpakkam in chennai, etc).

one of india's nuclear mining sites is jadugoda, which is a remote village in tribal hinterland of orissa. jadugoda has its huge issues which gets easily masked in front of 'great achievements' like the nuclear bomb test, indo-america nuclear deal, etc.

on dec 24, 2006, as the website, points out, one of the pipes carrying radioactive wastes from the uranium mill to a storage dam had burst, discharging highly toxic wastes into a nearby creek. When released into the environment in such a hazardous manner, the radioactive wastes are deadly to the people living in the surrounding area as well as their land and water.

the website also gives you shocking pictures of how ill equipped workers are cleaning dangerous radioactive waste and how villagers using the same contaminated water for bathing and cleaning purpose.

needless to say this radioactive development is the last thing india wants. (People using the radioactive contaminated water for bathing and cleaning)

(Cleaning the tailings with whats looks like civilan clothes)

Friday, January 19, 2007

western ghats, as we all, know is the majestic and the crucial mountain forest ranges of india.

among the various threats (usually called 'development') is small and medium scale illegal mining.

these mining areas are within forests are close to forests and ranges from 1 acre to 100 acre. this is illegal since forest areas cannot be mined.

in belgaum district of karnataka, illegal mining has been going on unabated. as per hindu report,
Addressing presspersons here on Friday president of the committee S.R. Hiremath, A.S. Salanki of JVA and former Lieutenant Colonel Ravindra Saini alleged that illegal mining and other criminal activities were going on unabated in the Mahadayi and Malaprabha river valleys in Khanapur taluk of Belgaum district. Mr. Hiremath alleged that illegal mining was slowly being extended into the forest area.


and whichever concerned individuals or ngo, tries to stop the illegal mining are threatened with dire consequences. again from the report,
Recently a team of the committee, which had gone to Nerse village in Khanapur taluk to get information on illegal mining was threatened and detained for few hours. Apart from taking action against criminal elements, what is required was a comprehensive programme to prevent Western Ghats falling into the hands of persons who don't realise the importance of it.

note that the illegally mined sand and the forests trees are exported to western countries (via usually china) to be made into nice furniture and kitchen stones.in name of growth, exports and development, i guess, we are leaving 'no stones unturned'

below are pictures of western ghats from ameen. all copyright belong to ameen.
(one of western ghats mountain ranges. nearly 80% of south india's river comes from the ghats)
(bhadra river orginates from ghats and was slammed by pollution from kudremukh mining)

india's IT boom has a great future with it. once in a land where genuine opportunities were missing, the IT revolution is bringing huge opportunites.

but i have not seen one IT company (whether it is big companies such as Satyam, Infosys, Cognizant, TCS, etc or biggies such as google india, yahoo india, etc or small startup's which are thriving in india by hundreds perhaps thousands) talk about green buildings, sustainable power usage, electricity saving measures.

these huge companies server thousands of american clients and hence has huge data centers for their server hardware. this will cost huge amounts of power since the data has to be maintained 24*7.

mercury news profiled an article regarding energy usage by american data centers, the one's that are run by google, yahoo, etc. from the report:
The scope of energy consumption by data centers is a little difficult to measure, but it is undeniably surging. An average data center of 50,000 square feet uses enough power to operate 2,500 homes. Large server farms built by Google, Yahoo and Microsoft in Washington and Oregon consume huge amounts of hydroelectric power.

in northern california alone, the local utility provider pg&e reports as follows:
Bay Area utility Pacific Gas & Electric estimates that data centers in Northern and Central California use 400 to 500 megawatts, or enough energy to power at least 300,000 homes.

costwise google engineer luiz andre barraso warns correctly as,
A Google engineer, Luiz Andre Barroso, warned about a year ago that if the energy performance of servers and other equipment does not improve, the cost of running them could far exceed the price of the hardware.

but american companies are starting to address this issue. sun, intel, AMD, etc are working on to bring up low power generating chips and servers.

will our IT giants listen. will they care a small bit in environment of india by going for energy efficient servers.

because even if its development of India due to IT boom, by going green, can mean sustainable development.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

pbs is airing china-inside series for past couple of weeks divided into several episodes based on freedom, environment, women, etc.

yesterday was the environment episode.

i am a china novice. but from the documentary, it looks like 'developedment' is pretty aggressive in china.

nearly 2/3rd of river water is unfit for human use. massive dams that are being built to ferry dirty water, water and air pollution where its industries are located, etc are taking a toll on environment.

when india's politicans, policy makers, industrialists, software gurus are speaking, they seldom mention about this environmental abuse in china. they won't for the simple fact that india is following in same polluted direction.

we all know how bad agriculture in india is doing. indiatogether has a good series on this. as p.sainath, the rural affairs editor of hindu says, "it is easier to get a 4% loan on a new mercedes benz rather than getting a 10% loan for farming".

pongal, mainly celebrated extensively by farming community, is a festival that reflects the tradition of agriculture.

but the farmers of erode sum it up as follows:
They say that since the last decade Pongal, also called *Uzhavar Tirunal*(Farmers' day), has come to bear very little meaning to them, courtesy pollution, falling prices, labour shortage and other factors. In short, agriculture is no longer remunerative.

and sadly the huge and unchecked pollution in their area is one of the main reason for this and as the hindu report sums it up:
Take for example the plight of 30,000 farmers in the 50,000-acre Noyyal ayacut. They say Pongal holds very little significance because they suffer the ignominy of buying rice to stew pongal. "Unlike in the not-so-distant past when we prided in preparing pongal using produce from our lands, today we are forced to buy rice grown elsewhere," rues V. K. Ganesan, president, Noyyal Farmers' Association. These farmers, affected by the discharge of untreated effluents into Noyyal, are now keeping their fingers crossed expecting a favourable verdict from the Madras High Court where they have filed a case. In no way different from them in their share of woes are farmers in Kalingarayan ayacut.


very sad to hear. only in name of development if we can add value to agriculture, agricultural products, organically farmed products, agri based rural industries that dont destroy the environment - then that day can be termed as true development.

because nearly 300 million people depend on agriculture and to replace agriculture with low cost manufacturing (the is the pet word of the infosys titan mr.murthy) it will call for huge efforts that can wreck havoc on environment, because all over the world 'low cost manufacturing' means "low spending on environmental safeguards" and "low spending on worker safety" resulting in destruction of ecology and ecology dependent people
,

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

we all know about water crisis in india's cities. chennai, mumbai, bangalore and you name it the water crisis will be there at various level.

chennai is especially prone to severe water crisis and the reason for these are simple.
1. all waterbodies of chennai are under huge abuse with sewage, litter, encroachments, etc
2. concrete jungles in various sections of the city has made the place into a concrete platform with no possibility of rain water going down for rain water harvesting.
3. the emerging affulence of the people makes them think that they can buy 'mineral' water by giving many.

let's take the sewage of point 1. cooum is one of the major rivers of urban chennai. but nobody calls it a river. they call it 'saakadai' - meaning 'sewage tank'.

the reason for this sewage is simple. failed or improper treatment plants, govt apathy, etc.

but there is another reason also which is the failure of the elite of chennai who flush their toilets.

pradip saha has captured this in his film. when the toilets we use flush huge amounts of water to dispose very little human shit, the result is overloading of crucial urban bodies such as cooum. add to that the water load from kitchen, bathroom, etc and what you have is little sewage + massive water = massive polluted river like cooum.

there is a urgent need to develop green or eco san toilets. and the responsibility for this lies with us, the elite and not with the government or the poor people who we often blame for our water woes.


(above are some images of cooum, the river of chennai)

here, finally, here comes the news that the government of india's, primeminister's office (PMO) has applied brakes on the SEZ monster.

let's take a quick look at some of the points.

1. india has no rehab policy at all for those who get displaced by dams/mining projects/factories/etc
2. various agencies/states use the old 1895 (yes that's 1895 and no typo) land acquisition law that british formed, to acquire land mostly in forced manner.
3. the new SEZ policy was issued without proper consultations of the communities/NGO's/environmental experts/financial experts/etc and lo and behold all companies started to jump on to it. who would want to miss the party that comes at zero land cost, no taxes, no monitoring, no environmental norms, etc.
4. china, that started SEZ did in a phased manner with a handful of SEZ's. but commerce ministry established SEZ like crazy.
5. there was a real threat that huge lands near urban center's (mumbai, chennai, etc) would be swallowed by real estate giants in name of IT/real estate/biotech SEZ's with the governments playing middle men role of acquiring land by force.

like sunita narain of CSE says, SEZ's will create another india that is not ours.

before any more crazy ideas is being promulgated, let the govt think about its consequences which can benefit only the elite and not the marginalised. SEZ as a concept has to be thought, colloborated and executed on a different level rather than bulldozing in name of development.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

here we go again. again as usual. again a politician talking about renewables. again obviously no followups will happen.

this time it is the respected minister of external affairs talking about renewables. in case you wonder why external minister should talk about renewable energy, i guess, he is concerned about the energy security of india so dependent on foreign oil/natural gas/coal sources and this can in turn lead to economic and external instabilities if there are huge fluctuations in energy market.

and the minister says and i quote,
"Mr. Mukherjee said efforts were being made to develop new, alternative and renewable low cost energy sources. Wind, solar, geo-thermal, biomass, hydrogen, and nuclear energy sources were at various stages of development. All these steps were essential to ensure that the economy, growing at an impressive rate of 8-9 per cent annually, achieved the target of a double-digit growth rate within five years."

the minister says hydrogen, nuclear, biomass, geo-thermal (apart from solar and wind) are under various of stages of development.

hello......

even in devleoped countries like america there is huge resistance for nuclear energy. hydrogen has proven to be a non-starter. biomass is under pressure from oil lobby always.

why can't the minister talk about reduced and green consumption. why can't the minister talk about reducing india's t&d losses (which is like 30 to 40%) and bringing it to level of america (where it is like 3 to 4%). why can't the minister talk about green buildings as way of being sustainable....

alas when it comes to development, whether it is the finance ministry or external affairs ministry, every body is a blinded horse running amok.

Kalingarayan canal in erode district of tamilnadu will be 725 years old. hindu had an amazing small writeup on this.

but the sad part is that in name of development, indiscriminate at that, this canal has been polluted and soon might be a dead canal.

just like the kuzhikandan creek which has been slammed by pollution, kalingarayan canal is also under huge assault.

if you want to see the 'colors of development' you can see either canals as you are sure to see blue, yellow, red, etc - toxic col
(effulents being let into Kalingarayan canal. picture copyright hindu)

Monday, January 15, 2007

when you try to build a home, we will be majorly concerned about one crucial input. the sand. we ask specific questions like,
a. is the sand of highest quality.
b. "do you know where it is mined, meaning which river", we to the building contractor
c. is the river sand taken during recent mining or is it old.

but seldom do we realise that the sand hunger for us, is virtually destroying our crucial rivers. hindu had a small but nice article on this.

sand is crucial for construction, but if the same is mined indiscriminately, unsustainably in crucial rivers, then it not only destroys the rivers but also in future the river's ability to produce clean sand gets diminished drastically.

we as consumers need to ask ourselves this basic question of whether we want to be the destroyer of rivers. we should aggressively seek out alternatives. one such alternative caught my eyesight. she uses a lot of local resources especially mud to architect and construct her buildings.

unless we are the harbingers of change, the change we wish to see will not happen.



(river periyar in kerala which is under huge assault due to indiscriminate sand mining.)

here is an update on the hubli ankola western ghats line.

this railway line that is nearly about 200 kms long will destroy around 1000 hectares of pristine evergreen western ghats forests.

from the link,
Mr. Velu clarified that the issue of giving clearance to Hubli-Ankola railway line was before the Supreme Court's Empowerment Committee. Asked why the work had been stopped when the Empowerment Committee had not given a stay, the Minister said the work in forest areas could not be undertaken unless a clearance was obtained from the committee.

On why the work on the project in the non-forest area had also been stopped, Trilok Nath Perti, General Manager of South Western Railway, clarified that unless the entire project got the clearance, even work in non-forest areas could not be continued.

this railway line mainly to carry the iron ore from the eastern side of karnataka (in bellary district where illegal mining is rampant) onto the ports for export to china.

this railway line will serve the purpose of plundering bellary and in 20/30 years when the indiscriminate mining depletes everything the railway line will stand mute testimony of the destruction it has wrought upon the ghats.

in name of development we count the dollar/rupee amounts of iron ore exports but not the huge environmental, social and human costs of it.

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Saturday, January 13, 2007

"india is on an severe growth path", "india is next america", "india's economic boom will lead it from developing to developed country", "india has unparalled hydel, mining resources which can propel its development"

these are the routine statements from those who bulldoze destructive projects, dams, polluting red tag industries -in name of development- on environment and people who depend on the environment for their life and livelihood.

the secretary of union ministry of power, tells that full potential of india's hydel capacity is 1.50 lakh mw and we should harness it fully.

narmada struggle, the ongoing struggle in athirapally, gundya, dandeli, tipaimukh dam in north east, many dam projects in sikkim and himachal pradesh are all against proposed dams which will screw up the livelihood of people (tribals especially) and destroy the forest ecology.
most of these projects are unsustainable and bulldozed via fake EIA, fake public hearings etc and are pushed ruthlessly.

dandeli hydel dam exemplifies this fake development. there are huge questions on this project and it will destroy one of the few river rafting spots in entire india apart from screwing up forest ecology, all in name of a meagre 18mw.

moef has rightly (and perhaps one of the very few instances in which moef has thought correctly) denied permission to the dam.

the struggles against ill conceived and fake hydel dams show how skewed and fake the real development in india is happening.

(the chalakudy river location on which the athirapally dam is being proposed. will the river withstand another assasult on it)

there is a unique conference called "waste not asia" being organised in trivandrum from jan 15 to jan 18, 2007.

in name of developedment when the pillars of regulation and monitoring in india (moef, pollution control boards, etc) are sleeping, it is wonderful to see ngo's taking a lead in this.

the objectives give a nice overview of the purpose of the meet.

-b

WASTE NOT ASIA 2007
India
January 15-18, 2007
At Mascot Hotel, Thiruvananthapuram


Objectives:
1. To deepen understanding on emerging waste issues in the era of globalization and the associated environmental health and justice issues.
2. To foster critical awareness on e-waste issues as well as build skills in response to these toxic threats.
3. To gain knowledge and get updates on different approaches towards Zero waste like application of
alternative "technologies", implementation of relevant policies and other systems to address the problem.
4. To provide a venue to discuss common strategies and develop action points on how to achieve Zero Waste
in Asia.
** DRAFT PROGRAM (as on January 9, 2007)**
January 14, 2007, Sunday
AM/PM Arrival at the International Airport
12:00-18:30 Travel/check-in / Exhibit preparations
18:30-19:30 Free time
19:30-21:30 Dinner & Welcome
Introduction of participants (local and overseas)
DAY 1 January 15, 2007, Monday
07:00-08:00 Breakfast
08:30-09:30 OPENING CEREMONY
- Welcome remarks from Thanal and GAIA
- Greetings from Kerala Tourism
Secretary Tourism
Director Kerala Tourism
- Inauguration by Shri C Jayan Babu , Worshipful Mayor of Trivandrum
(awaiting confirmation)
Lighting lamp
- Felicitation by Shri Cheriyan Philip Chairman KTDC (awaiting confirmation)
09:30-09:50
“Stopping Dumps, Landfills and Other Non-Solutions through Clean
Production”
Nityanand Jayaraman
09:50 -10:00 OPEN FORUM
10:00- 10:20
10:20- 10:30
“Waste-to-Energy” and Other Incinerators in Disguise: Undermining Zero
Waste, Inflaming Climate Change”
Monica Wilson, GAIA
OPEN FORUM
10:30 -10:45 Networking BREAK
10:45-11:05
11:05-11:15
“Climate Change: Waste Management & Non Renewable Options”
Gopal Krishna, GAIA
OPEN FORUM
11:15-11:35 Waste Trade Globalization: The Case against Japan’s Greater Plan to
Liberalize Hazardous Waste Trade in Asia
Richard Gutierrez, Basel Action Network
11:35- 12:00 OPEN FORUM / HOUSEKEEPING ANNOUNCEMENT
12:00- 13:00 Lunch
13:00-13:20 PART II: Celebrating Successes for Environmental Health, Social Justice
and Sustainable Communities
Zero Waste Kovalam, Thanal, India
13:20- 13:50 Broga/Semenyih No Incinerator Protem Action Committee or Consumers’
Association of Penang, Malaysia (MSW incinerator)
13:50- 14:10 Ecowaste Coalition , Philippines (Mixed Waste Dump)
14:10 – 14:30 Korea Zero Waste Movement Network, South Korea (Clean Production/EPR)
14:30- 15:00
OPEN FORUM
15:00 – 15:15 Networking Break
15:15- 16:45 Action Breakout Sessions:
A. On Dumps and Landfills
B. On CDM and Climate Change
C. On Free-Trade Agreements and Hazardous Waste Liberalization
D. Other Topics
16:45-16:55 Report Back on Dumps and Landfills
16:55- 17:05 Report Back on CDM and Climate Change
17:05- 17:15 Report Back on Trade Agreements and Hazardous Waste Liberalization
17:15 –17:45 Open Forum
17:45- 18:00 Synthesis/ Announcements
DAY 2 January 16, 2007, Tuesday
STUDY TOUR:
TOUR A Zero Waste Kovalam and
08:30 – 15:00
TOUR B E-Waste Tour
17:00 – 19:30
Clean Kerala Evening and Dinner
- Address by Hon. Minister for Home, vigilance and Tourism, Shri.
Kodiyeri Balakrishnan (awaiting confirmation)
- Address by Hon. Minister for Local Self Government Shri, Paloli
Mohammed Kutty. (awaiting confirmation)
- Presentation on Kerala Tourism and sharing the Zerowaste Kovalam
experience – Dr. V. Venu I.A.S., Secretary, Kerala Tourism and
Commissioner of Excise (awaiting confirmation)
- Presentation on Clean Kerala Mission by Prof.(Dr.) Salim, Director,
Clean Kerala Mission. (awaiting confirmation)
- Presentation on Kudumbasree Mission by Ms. Sharada Muraleedharan,
Secretary (Culture) and Director, Kudumbasree Mission. (awaiting
confirmation)
19:30 – 21:30 Networking/Planning/Skillsharing Meetings
A. Skillshare on Promoting Zero Waste Community Plans and Programs
Team leaders: T.K. Ramkumar, Exnora-India,
Sheryl Stivens, Waste Busters Canterbury Trust-New Zealand
B. Skillshare on Enhancing Media and Communication Strategies
Team leaders: Nity, The Other Media-India,
Rei Panaligan, Ecowaste Coalition-Philippines)
C. Other meetings
DAY 3 January 17, 2007, Wednesday
07:00-08:30
Breakfast
08:30-10:00 Overview of Electronics (hands-on training on the worker and health hazards of
each stage of the electronics lifecycle) Aditi Vaidya & Ted Smith, SVTC
10:00-10:25
10:25-10:40
Film Showing: Digital Dump or Exporting Harm (Richard Gutierrez, BAN)
BREAK
10:40-12:00 PANEL PRESENTATION: Toxics in E-Waste and Ways to Address Health
Hazards - E-Toxics: Health, Labor Rights and Environmental
Justice Issues
 Current issues on e-waste trade and Basel Convention, Richard
Gutierrez, BAN
 Labor rights, safety, and health rights of production and recycling
workers, Sanjiv Pandita, AMRC
 Global & US Campaign , Ted Smith, SVTC
 Greenpeace Global Campaign on E-Waste, Beau Baconguis,
Greenpeace Southeast Asia
 Prison labor and Cleaner Production in the US, Aditi Vaidya
12:00- 12:30
OPEN FORUM on Panel Presentation
Identify challenges and what issues folks would like to strategize around
Aditi Vaidya & Ted Smith
Felicitation by Sri Binoy Viswam , Minister for Forests and Housing
12:30-13:00 BREAK-OUT GROUPS
13:00-14:00 Lunch Break
14:00- 15:00 Continuation of Break-out groups
REPORT BACKS (break-out depending on issues or regionally)
15:00-16:00 Campaigning on E-Waste - to exchange experiences of successful
campaign experience in greening the electronics industry
A. Case Study I: Greenpeace India - Calls on Wipro to "Apply Thought"
and Wins
B. Case Study II: AMRC – Tools for Campaigning
C. Case Study III: BAN - International Trade and Hard Drive Investigation
D. Case Study IV: SVTC – Computer Takeback Campaign and Corporate
Campaign (Dell and Apple)
16:00 – 18:00 Break-out Session
Campaigning on Electronics- to exchange experiences of successful campaign
experience in greening the electronics industry - to obtain
skills on waste trade research - to encourage participants to explore
campaigns and activities on e-waste
18:00-18:30 Skillshare Conclusion
Synthesis, Open Letter to the Electronics Industry (w/top concerns and change
we want to see and key points) from Reportbacks
19:30 Solidarity Night
DAY 4 January 18, 2007, Thursday
07:30-08:30 Breakfast
09:00-09:30 RECAP/Instructions
09:30-09:40 PANEL PRESENTATION: Clean Production and Extended Producer
Responsibility : Creating Safe Work Opportunities for the Formal and
Informal Recycling Sectors ( presentation of research findings and
recommendations on wastepickers’ issues and aspirations in Cambodia, India
and the Philippines)
CHINTAN, India
09:40-09:50 CSARO, Cambodia
09:50-10:00 Ecowaste, Philippines
10:05-10:15 Stree Mukhti, Mumbai, India
10:15-10:35 OPEN FORUM
10:35-10:50 Networking Break
10:50-12:20 Group Skillshare: Ecological Approaches, Systems and Technologies for
Preventing and Managing Wastes
A. Municipal Solid Waste
B. Healthcare Waste
D. Hazardous Waste
12:20 – 01:45 Lunch Break
13:45-15:45 Synthesis of WNA Campaign Themes and Actions Points
Announcements
Evaluation
Closing

Friday, January 12, 2007

thomas friedman suddenly got a charm for coal. 'green' coal at that and he says if we dont get green coal, we will be wearing biknis and shorts in january in new york and of course dead marine life and rotting corpse in submerged islands all over the world. there is a small but fitting reply to friedman article.

let's put friedman theory to practicality in india. as per the dte article regarding the proposed coal power plant in the eco senstive udupi region in coastal karnataka:
“The plant will not use local river water. A seven-kilometre pipeline will bring Arabian Sea water to the plant; another pipeline will discharge the plant’s hot water into the sea,” he assures. “We will comply with the state government’s emission norms."

the above quotes are from nagarjuna power corporation limited (NPCL) project
director. well we liked his statement although the reality all over india shows otherwise.
but we also like the idea of the protestors in udupi. i quote from article which is as per State Convener of the Swadeshi Jagran Manch B.M. Kumaraswamy, who is involved in the udupi protests:
He said that supporters of the project had said that it would use state-of-the-art technology to reduce pollution and it would not have any harmful effects. Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy too had said that the people had to learn to sacrifice for the sake of development. But if all these arguments were true, then there should be no problem in relocating the plant to a place near Bangalore instead, he said.

exactly. let's point out the following.
1. the coal power plant is super safe as per the project proponents.
2. all environmental safeguards have been taken as per the project proponents.
3. the fly ash, smoke, etc will be carefully handled as per the project
proponents.
4. people have to sacrifice for 'developedment' as per the project proponents

if all above is true, then why can't the power plant be put right outside bangalore. coal can be sourced via railway line to bangalore. the fly ash can be trapped and fed into brick manufacturing the super heated water can be trapped and cooled and supplied to companies and residences in bangalore for their toilet usage, gardening. by this way, those who enjoy the fruits of the coal power plant can also live close to it.

sarcasm apart, only if the coal power plant be located be close to metro areas will the urban elite of those metros know the enormous costs - pollution, degradation of environment, air/water getting screwed up, coal traffic - of bringing electricity.

(dharna by protestors in udupi. picture copyright hindu)

Thursday, January 11, 2007

the forests right bill has been widely debated between various sections including the environmentalists, wildlifers, tribal ngo's, tribals, etc.

i am no expert in this complicated issue. but ashish kothari's article in frontline is a nice balanced article.

as he rightly says as below:
Finally, let us remember that if conservationists and human rights advocates do not join forces, both interests will be defeated by powerful corporate and commercial interests that are on the upsurge owing to the mad rush to achieve a 10 per cent rate of growth. Even as the government gives forest rights to Adivasis, it is opening up Adivasi and other forest areas in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa and elsewhere for mining, industries and the like.

forests, rivers and other natural pillars are very crucial for corporates so that they can slam these crucial resources for their own gains in a unsustainable and brutal manner. this is happening in india right now in name of developement.

as the author points out if conservationists and tribal rights activists join hands in conservation (of forests) and livelihood (of tribals) angle then the result will be a huge plus for both of them. if these 2 crucial sections fight each other, the result will be not be good for either of them.
(athirapally forests are crucial watersheds for chalakudy river in kerala)

(kadar tribal home in athirapally forests.)

(the majestic nilgris with tea plantations in foreground and settlements in background. less than 5% of natural shola forests remain in nilgris with the rest tapped indiscriminately in name of development)

india's IT led boom is even scaling more peaks. with IT touted to touch nearly 100 billion or so by 2010, the growth of IT has to spread from Tier1 cities (such as chennai, bangalore, pune) onto tier 2 cities such as madurai, coimbatore, thrissur, kozhikode, mysore, vijayawada, etc.
madurai seems to be especially picking up.

but already madura, a place that bought culture, language and tradition to tamilians, is under huge assualt due to unplanned urbanisation

numerous tanks have disappeared by buildings and alarming vaigai is getting more and more polluted. if IT comes into madurai it will bring its own crowd. for madurai to manage this crowd sustainably it has to maintain its natural pillars including the crucial vaigai rivers in a healthy condition.

any development that can be sustained depends hugely on water needs and that water needs can be easily satisified if the local water bodies like vaigai are nourished properly.


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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

what does governments in india do when faced with protests over destructive projects. very simple. buy time. twist facts. talk about the 'need of development' and finally brutalise the people and push the project.

the karnataka govt is at first step. it has suspended (for one week) the nagarjuna thermal project. meanwhile, the legislators of the region will go on a study tour(!!) to simhadri thermal power plant in vizag.

okay. how is the situation in simhadri. not so good as per hindu articles. the local villagers seems to have taken a huge hit by pollution and worst they have not even been compensated for their lands that was acquired. the fly ash ponds are overflowing and the dirt and soot and heated water from the plant in simhadri has killed the fish in the nearby sea region.

when it comes to developedment, one thing is clear: do all tricks of the trade and fool the people.

below is the picture from flickr which shows the majestic yangztee river taking a direct hit from the pollution of the coal fire plant in background. as per the report, you can hardly spot any fish in the river with water quality not even worth mentioning.

looks like we want to give this poisionous development to udupi area very soon.

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chennai auto fares have been revised. auto fares have been due for a revision for a long time as oil prices climbed but fares got stuck.

using this no-revision for many years, many auto drivers ran with no meters or hiked fare meters, fleecing of customers leading to an unhealthy situation between the customer and auto drivers.

the fare hike hopefully will bring auto drivers to stick to the fares, because it is in their benefit to have happy and affordable customers.

but did the tamilnadu govt also miss another trick,a big one at that. why is the govt not announcing any plans for CNG of auto's in chennai.

auto's in chennai is a major source of pollution and many other places like delhi, bangalore have been slowly but steadily moving to CNG.

because when it comes to our cities, development should not be measured by wealth alone, but also in health of its citizens especially vulnerable young children who are directly impacted by pollution.

below are the images in a CNG station in bangalore. although bangalore has CNG, govt has to step up and increase the number of stations, awareness and patronage making sure all auto's, govt buses, etc run on the cleaner CNG.



Tuesday, January 09, 2007

the communist govt of west bengal is in hot seat over its bungling in singur and nandigram. a party which professes left leanings and a balanced view of hot issues such as narmada and SEZ, finds itself in a soup right now.

but this blog post is not about communists, but it is about a capitalist.

the finance minister says as follows:
Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram on Tuesday said the sacred ties between the tiller and the land could not broken, and any attempt to do so was bound to face opposition. The remarks come close on the heels of the ongoing controversy over the acquisition of farmland for industrial purposes at Singur and Nandigram in West Bengal.

good statement i suppose. but what is happening in his own state of tamilnadu wherein agriculture is under severe assault in many places due to many reasons.

one such place is in erode. the hindu report says as
Acres of lush green fields, golden paddy awaiting sickle and scattered scarecrows overseeing vast areas - well, these may soon be images from the past in and around Erode district.
For, the area under cultivation is dropping fast and once-fertile lands are turning uncultivable, rue farmers, who blame untreated effluents from dyeing units and tanneries as the main culprits.
Take for example the Noyyal ayacut, which has 20,000 acres in Erode and Karur districts.
According to the ayacut president, V. K. Ganesan, almost all of the 20,000 acres is uncultivable, due to the discharge of effluents from dyeing units in and around Tirupur.


yes, that is 20,000 acres will soon be uncultivable due to pollution and our FM has not even uttered a word about it.

when it comes to economic policies that do not reflect mass rural populace, our FM is in forefront and no wonder he is satisifed by giving occassional politicial statements on the need for growth to be inclusive.

one small item in hindu caught my attention. it says that chemical industry is undergoing sea change to meet the challenges necessitated by the liberalisation and globalisation process.

ahem..ah...ah...ahem.....i am clearing my throat.

the only change or shall we say non-change that the chemical industries have not done is to keep themselves dirty and pollute everything in their vicnity and beyond.

take the classic case of cuddalore wherein inspite of the local people monitoring, protests, etc they have not done anything at all to clean up.

the article says as follows:
The concern over the environment has been growing and no country would like to further its development agenda at the cost of damage to the environment, P.K. Mishra, Director (operation), Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd, Visakhapatnam, said.

there is one country that is willing to screw its rivers, agriculture, fishermen, coastal areas and rural poor and welcome the polluting chemical industry is.....you are right... you guessed it right.... is india.

well, when it comes to developedment, we are at forefront right?

(denny larson of global community monitor showing bucket technique for air pollution monitoring)
(local monitors in cuddalore analysing air samples for pollution levels)

(cauvery is facing huge pollution from chemical industries right at mettur where it meets tamilnadu)

*all images copyright of aidindia.

Monday, January 08, 2007

catch them young, if you want to mould them...

this is a famous saying in almost all the countries. that's the reason why corporates catch them young whether it is for TMX elmo or for cigratees or for placements, we are all caught young..

but cseindia is trying to catch people young for spreading green awareness via its green school program, a very crucial aspect for any kid if that kid is going to have a semblance of green in his/her life. sanctuaryasia has a similar program called kids for tigers.

it is great to see a school in the western ghats region at 2nd place. it is sad to see no schools from kerala in the list. hindu had a great article "green schools in greying world" by mr.krishna kumar, director ncert, india.

the following para's hits the nail on the wonderful article:
In sharp contrast to these green schools, which exemplify conscious parsimony in the use of natural resources, we now notice a growing number of wasteful schools, which flaunt air-conditioned classrooms and other symbols of an extravagant lifestyle.
Even as we proceed towards augmenting our access to nuclear energy in collaboration with the U.S., we are fast developing the mindset required to ignore environmental issues associated with nuclear energy.


gurukula botanical sanctuary has a program like this . their program is called school in forest to forest ecology
programs like cseindia's gsp, sanctuary asia's kids for tigers, gbs's programs like school in the forests are very vital so that the younger generation can atleast have a small angle into environment side amidst modern urban life of mobiles, laptops, huge tv's/fridges and of course pollution, traffic jams and undrinkable water.

some of the highlights of gbs are as follows:
1. biggest plant species of western ghats forests
2. biggest gene pool of endangered western ghats forests
3. around 3000 visitors visit every year with 80% being school children and all of them have free admission
4. several students and aspiring teachers do intern work.
5. they have rejunvated around 50 acres of western ghats forests and are workign with several forest department to make sure the national forests are in good health.

below are some images from gbs. all copyright belongs to gbs.

below are some images from the green school program award's ceremony. all copyrights belong to cse.

by all accounts appearing in hindu, karnataka is heading for a power shortage situation.

and the govt seems to be responding in several ways. some of the potential responses from the karnataka govt side are,

1. discuss buying additional power to bridge the gap.
2. enforce load shedding
3. brutally push future destructive projects in places like udupi, tadadi, gundia, etc

i have a question. bangalore is a major place where electricity is being consumed massively by affulent software people and software companies (apart from other sections of the bangalore society).

bangalore is also a place with balmy pleasant weather hardly calling for A/C or fans or coolers or heaters, etc.

why can't govt enforce mandatory power shedding every day throughout bangalore at specific times. important places like hospitals, elder care homes, kids schools, etc can be supplied 24*7 electricity. but most other places can be included in load shedding.

is it a human law that electricity has to be available 24*7*365*lifetime? can't bangaloreans cope up couple of hours of no-power? can't they save electricity by switching off their massive tv sets, powering down their computers, using extra blankets to sleep, etc.

the karnataka govt should go ahead and implement planned outage and educate their citizens the need to conserve power. the tough choice in front of the dy cm of karnataka is but an illusion as the 'consumers' can always consume less if that reduced consumption can help the environment and environment depenedent people.

because unlike america, india has to be careful with electricity because electricity to affulent indians comes at a huge environmental and social cost.

ok. here is the deal.

india's is a country that needs electricity for its growth. no questions about that.

but india is also a country that has millions of people who depend on their environment for their livelihood and life.

a classic case is udupi in coastal karnataka. udupi is a land endowed with rich natural resources on which depend farmers, fishermen and common people.

but for past several years successive governments and policy makers are trying to ram down a highly polluting 1000mw coal power plant and the locals have been fighting this tooth and nail for several years.

it looks like in the last of the year 2006, the govt seemed to have pressurised the local tahsildar to issue an order saying that all land has been acquired.

now the govt is bulldozing full speed ahead with the project.

the project which is a coal power plant seems to be rammed right onto the heads of the local people who fear that pollution from the coal power plant will destroy their local way of living.

ideally, the govt should not work as a middlemen trying to throw out one community and doing things done.

there are several alternatives possible in karnataka like wind power, cutting down on t&d losses, mandatory planned load shedding, mandatory solar water heaters, solar electrical system for residences and software companies in bangalore/other urban areas, etc.

but in name of fake development all the govt does is to act as a brutal middlemen for industries to setup hazardous factories, polluting coal power plants and acquring massive land in name of special economic zones.

the deal should be that the govt acts smartly to educate its wealthy, well to do bangaloreans and urbanites that development should not come at the cost of the pristine coastal areas of karnataka and the people who are enjoying the benefits of development should also come forward to make it sustainable.

it should be the deal to all people instead of smack-in-your-face slap for one section and bounty for other sections.

below are pictures of a protest rally held in august in udupi area. picture courtesy of uduipi police department blog.