Wednesday, February 28, 2007

it happens only india.

it happens only when those fake development mongers want to push fake development in india

it happens only when private companies ruthlessly bribe and corrupt government officials and politicians and bulldoze fake development projects in name of growth and progress.

how else can we justify the whopping 40% loss in transmission and distribution of electricity in india.

only in ruined war ravaged nations this kind of figures can be seen. truly senstivie countries like america has t&d loss of less than 5%.

but hey it is india and here only words matter and what does not matter is the true picture.

the true picture wherein resources are conserved, wastes cut out and environment and people mattered.

the budget 2007 is out and PC did not give the usual whopping 16% excise tax cut. instead he slapped (little slowly) though the 1% tax to fund education programs.

how about 1% for environmental impact that the cars create. how about using more gradual discentives on cars so that our urban areas can breathe again. how about huge tax benefits for using public transport, how about more benefits for going green in urban areas.

even if the car taxes come to couple of percentage points, the car guys can easily pass on the cost to the consumer who invaribaly are the neo rich segment of india benefiting from india's 'developedment'.

as usual our auto guys expressed disappointment. but devil may care less. cars are the classic symbols nowadays in india, to pamper to the new rich. you have got the multi lakh innovas, city, etc driving by huge numbers.

time has to come to tell the cars guys, that they have pay the share in causing road congestion and pollution and like the hindu aritcle says let's give the urban roads back to people and let's start with the neo rich car guys.

for cars do not represent india's development, it is clean air, clean drinking water, good quality education, viable and sexy public transport, good health systems that define the nation in which there are a billion people to be taken care for and the least among them are miniscule car guys who occupy majority of the roads and gobble up huge public resources.

Monday, February 26, 2007

kali river, runs in karnataka. its length is around 184 kms and it is a wild (perhaps the most wildest in india) river.

it travels steep valleys, it nourishes and get nourished by the majestic western ghats forests, it provides drinking water, tourism opportunites via white water rafting.

this river is also hugely abused. by pollution, by unsustainable and bulldozed dam building, by 'developmental' activities.

a major threat apart from dams is the heavy pollution from west coast paper mills at dandeli. from the article it is a sad story to see hundreds of villages living nearby the river NOT using the river water.
They noted that though there are hundreds of villages by the side of the river, the villagers do not drink its water. Mr. Hegde said he is not against the factories, which have given employment to over 10,000 people. His only demand is that the factories should treat the effluents before releasing them into the river.

now the west coast paper mills want to expand its capacity. in first place it is committing gross environmental and human violation by wilful pollution and on top of that they are expanding further.

needless to say when it comes to development, mindless is the correct word.
(the polluted kali river @ dandeli. hundreds of villages living in the kali river valley do NOT
use the water for anything as it is dangerously polluted)

(the majestic kali river. one of the wildest rivers of india, it is now a caged animal with its
flow cut off by unsustainable dams and abused by wilful pollution by mega industries)

the study report on udupi is out and as expected the local protest committee has rejected the proposed udupi coal power plant due to its severe impact on pollution. this blog has been tracking the udupi issue for quite some time.

comparing an eco sensitive region like coastal karnataka with raichur will be preposterous each having different climates/river ecology/forest ecology/etc. on top of that raichur is already having issues with respect to coal power that is easily swept under the carpet by the policy makers and media.

the urgent need of this hour is to go on massive and mandatory solar/wind power facilites coupled with massive cutting of the 40% or so t&d losses and massive conservation across all sections of the society.

it is wrong on part of the urban elites to think that electricity is a privilege to be wasted. cases like udupi show that electricity has huge costs and each and every indian has to play a careful part in using electricity.

also an interesting q&a between the protest committee chairman and local students on the coal power plant in a seminar on environment protection.

“When Nagarjuna Power Corporation is ready to sell power at Rs 2.20 per unit, why do you oppose it?”

It was the question raised by one Zunera, a student of Vidyaniketan Public School. The occasion was the contact programme on ‘Environment Protection: Why we do not want Nagarjuna?’ organised jointly by Jana Jagruthi Samithi, Nandikur, and Nagarika Seva Trust, Guruvayanakere at Kaup.

It was the turn of the Vice President of Nandikur Jana Jagruthi Samithi Dr Y N Shetty to reply queries. Dr Shetty said, as per the Power Purchase Agreement, Nagarjuna sells power to the government at Rs 2.20. But the government will have to charge not less than Rs 4.50 to the consumer by adding surcharge, tax etc.

“Cheaper power is good for all. But not at the cost of our life. We cannot welcome an industry, which is hazardous. Moreover, even the arrack merchants try to convince the people that their product is cheap and good for health. But one will come to know its ill effects only after consuming it,” Shetty replied.

“If the coal based project affects the environment of Udupi, how it is not affecting Raichur?” asked another student Anurag. “We have Western Ghats here, whereas Raichur have got dry land. Inspite of that there is still lot of problem in Raichur,” replied Shetty. “Western Ghats are there even in Maharashtra, why they are not opposing?” Joylin shot her question.

“Who said they are not. They are fighting it tooth and nail against the Dahanu Power Project of Reliance group, he replied.

“But the NPCL will bring lots of job opportunities. Why shall we oppose?” asked Ashwini. Shetty replied, as many as 8000 coolies will get a job; that too only for 42 months.

At the most two thermal engineers from the district may get a job. Just for such a small job offer they cannot throw their life to danger.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

the move by tamilnadu government to make auto's switch to CNG(compressed natural gas) is a momentus one. with tens of thousands of autos running non stop in chennai, auto's have become one of the sources of vehicular air pollution.

by making a switch to CNG, chennai's air will be much cleaner.

but the tamilnadu government should not stop with auto's. when the overworked auto drivers, who mostly get fleeced by the auto owners to make more money, are pushed correctly to go to CNG, the richer elite of chennai should also be done the same.

chennai should adopt much stricter air quality control norms for cars than prescribed by indian government. this can be on the lines of california which has superior air quality norms than rest of america. for households having car value of more than 3 lakhs (via one or more cars), air tax should be collected and the money used in equipping the air control stations, research and development, etc so that air pollution can be combated more aggressively.

also the government should push for increased public usage by declaring no 2-wheeler, no-cars, no-vehicles zones and also making the public transport much more attractive.

because when it comes to true development, how we live is also important on equal terms as how much money we have. like anil agarwal said, "time has come for us to demand ecological security just like we demand economic security".

kerala, with its enchanting backwaters, forests, coastal regions, magnificient culture, is always a huge destination for people who are looking for a 'life' away from their normal routines.

one of the good things of kerala, is that, local people also travel widely within kerala to see nature spots and you cannot miss school children who can found in all tourist spots soaking up the atmosphere.

but the innocent school kids of ernakulam would have hardly imagined their fate would have been sealed when they were on excursion in a boat in periyar river near Thattekadu Bird Sanctuary.

there are many reasons for the tragedy. lax policing of boat operators, huge number of passengers on the boat sometimes 3 to 5 times the limit, no proper training for boat operators, etc stand in the forefront.

in that list, also stands the huge sand mining in periyar river that has left the river very deep in many places thereby unfit for boating. not only the river gets killed by massive sand mining, it is also extremely unsafe going in boats to those sudden huge deep pits where sand has been mined.

if atleast now, the kerala govt, wakes up to the hazard of illegal, unsustainable massive sand mining, future tragedies like this can be avoided.

hindu hits the nail when it says,
Without enforcing safety norms at all levels, tourism initiatives would prove counterproductive in the long run.

and in that safety norm also involves preservation of environment, because in a tourism country like kerala, eco preservation goes hand in hand with increased tourism and also increased safety.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

2 articles that tell the impact of indiscriminate SEZ planning on dalits.

one is the hindu article and other is the article written by anita ratnam of samvada.

when it comes to abuse or misuse of natural resources, forcible land acquistion, skewed agricultural policies, massive construction projects (dams, mines, etc) that is totally fake and unsustainable, the major people who bear the brunt are the tribals and dalits.

but hey, when it comes to development of india, these 2 segments dont matter at all. right.

after all gdp growth of india is driven by corporates that thrive on the environmental pillars of india such as land, water, forests, river and abuse and misuse them thereby inflating balance sheets and the gdp.

and the same gdp is not driven by people who depend on these crucial pillars of environment and can benefit/grow/prosper by sustainable and proper use of these resources.

out of 2 river issues that is hot news in tamilnadu are palar and cauvery. the heavily abused palar river is in news because of andhra government plan to build a dam for irrigation purpose whereas cauvery is in news because of tribunal award.

but what is not in news is the abuse of both of these rivers on tamilnadu side.

infact the situation in palar @ kancheepuram is very alarming due to illegal and unsustainable sand mining. from the hindu report,
Sand was dug out from 25 to 30 feet depth at several points against the government stipulated 3-foot norm.

cauvery, as usual, is getting slammed due to dyeing/textile wastage pollution @ erode. mere taking bath in cauvery across several kilometers in erode will make sure you go to an emergency ward.

when it comes to development, our rivers, are just a pawn. a pawn for being abused, fought over and dismissed.
(gleeful dyeing is being done on river cauvery @ erode. cauvery in this stretch is dead)
(palar river faces huge assault and death at several places in tamilnadu due to tanneries/leather industry pollution, massive illegal sand mining, indiscriminate usage of ground water close to river bed)

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Urgent Fax/Email to MoEF on Athirapally hydro electric project

The Expert Committee for River Valley and Hydroelectric Projects, slated to meet on the 21st and 22nd February 2007 has taken up the proposed Athirappilly HEP in Kerala on its agenda for ‘reconsideration’. As you are all aware, we have been consistently trying to convey to the MoEF and the River Valley Expert Committee that the project is technically and economically unviable and would create irreparable loss to an eco sensitive area in the Western Ghats. Two High Court Judgments and Two Public Hearings later, the public opposition to the project is still growing.

Meanwhile, the KSEB has managed to gain ‘Recommendation for Environmental Clearance’ for the project for a third time on the 15th November 2006 RV Committee meeting. The recommendation has been given based on a flawed and manipulated EIA by WAPCOS and a tampered PH report. The Committee is just waiting for clarifications from the KSEB to give the final clearance.

Our humble request to you, who has been supporting this campaign and struggle for the last six years is to please send the following urgent emails and Fax messages to the following addresses,

FAX of MoEF: 011- 24362827 & 24360678




Expert Committee for River Valley and Hydro Electric Projects

Room No.403

Paryavaran Bhawan

CGO Complex

New Delhi-110003



Member Secretary

Expert Committee for River Valley and Hydro Electric Projects

Paryavaran Bhawan


Lodhi Road

New Delhi-110003

Dear Sir,

Sub: Environmental Clearance to proposed Athirappilly HEP in Kerala reg.

We understand that the meeting of the expert committee on river valley projects scheduled on the 21st and 22nd of February 2007 will be considering the controversial Athirappilly HEP in Kerala for final Environmental Clearance. It is understood that the application for clearance has been made based on a flawed and manipulated EIA by WAPCOS and a tampered PH report. There is a longstanding struggle going on in Kerala against the proposed project. We also understand that the affected people have been requesting for a sitting with the committee for presenting their case.

At this critical juncture, we would humbly request you sir, to halt the Final Clearance to the project, given the just demand of the people in the Chalakudy river valley. We also request you to consider the following;

  1. Heed to the genuine appeal of the affected people and make a site visit to the project area to assess the ground reality.
  2. Allow the affected people to present their case before the River Valley Committee

Expecting a positive response in this regard,

Yours Sincerely


here are 2 contrasting sides of india's 'development'.

one side is where corporates chase away tribals by ruthless force in order to acquire (using force most of the times) the land they live on.

on the other side is where corporates 'work' with the government to give benefit to tribals.

the first story is regarding the proposed mining in Sabbavaram in Visakhapatnam district of andhra pradesh. in the later instance is in the tribal areas so as to generate electricity for tribals using sustainable schemes such as micro hydel and solar power.

now herein lies the tragedy. the government is the middle man in both cases. in the first case, it is cahoots with the industries by loaning out police to quell the local protests against mining and in later case it is cahoots with the industry for the work (giving electricity via sustainable options) that it is supposed to do.

when it comes regarding 'development', the government is blind, because as middleman it does not care in working with the local communities as it intends to work with money minting corporates.

Monday, February 19, 2007

let's face the truth. cricket without india is like body without its head. indian companies and sponsors pump in huge amount of money making billionaries out of cricketers and most importantly making the board of cricket control of india (bcci) one of the richest sporting organisation in the world.

never mind, india's cricket stadium are in bad shape, never mind india's aspiring first class cricketers are paid a pittiance and never mind the pot bellied bcci officials who enjoy all perks without even played a first class game.

and to add to this never mind the ground staff who upkeep the ground for every international match india pays. they are improperly attired, very badly protected (from chemicals they spray on the grass), have zero work related equipments except the centuries old broom, dont have shoes when they work, dont have gloves when they do the hard work...the list is endless..

but when it comes to cricket, just like 'development' in india, the lower level staff does not matter at all. they are yet another body count in the process of making huge money for the executives.

(i took the above snapshot from youtube of the 4th odi between india and srilanka played in feb 2007. you can clearly see how badly the staff is equipped when doing the ground job)

please find hindu's coverage of the cycle rally by cuddalore (tamilnadu) sipcot local community environmental monitors.

rampant pollution is what most of red tag industries bring. and coupled with this, almost zero regulation/monitoring/polluting control/error correction mechanisms/community involvement/etc make sure that disease and not jobs reign in places where these industries are located. sipcot area in cuddalore is a classic example of this.

if somebody asks you how without industries jobs will be created, you have the answer from the article.
"They say they will bring new jobs, but all they bring is new diseases," he said, pointing out that cholera, tuberculosis and asthma were now rampant in the region.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

i am off to a small break and will resume posting back on feb 20.

till then, happying reading....

one of the important 'development' in india is how it treats its sewage. or perhaps how india does NOT treat its sewage. or perhaps how india does not acknowledge it is NOT treating sewage correctly even though each civic body involved tom toms that sewage is being treated properly.

most of the sewage end up polluting our rivers and in turn reaches coastal areas. untreated sewage and wilful industrial pollution are proving to be a double whammy for our coastal areas. from the link,
Untreated domestic sewage, as much as and perhaps even more than treated industrial effluents, is irreversibly sullying the coast, according to a recent study done by the project directorate of the Integrated Coastal and Marine Area Management under the Ministry of Earth Sciences. If this continues any further, the situation may get out of control within the next five years, the study warns.

now add aquaculture waste - from aquaculture farms which are already screwing up the environment - to the mix, you have a potent 'development' of india's coasts. with no planning whatsoever on sewage treatment or policies, india's coastal areas will be in a very bad shape in coming years.

but who cares. after all we flush our thoughts and jump on the 'developedment' bandwagaon right.

(the first picture shows sewage cooly passing through Bangalore city. the second picture shows people making customary visit to yamuna behind taj, although yamuna here is dirty and full of sewage. pics copyright of respective individuals @ flickr)

sanyo is planning to unveil a 'green tv'. it says the energy efficient tv will consume 20% less than normal tv's but also cost 20-25% more.

this is welcome news. not only power consumption but also the manufacturing process, the materials for the tv, its recycling ability, its recycling ease, etc should also be increased dramatically.

and also products like these should be 'eco friendly' certified so that consumers can have a choice. energy star certification pertains only to electricity reduction whereas eco friendly certification can go much beyond energy savings. similarly sectors such as textiles, shoes, cars, materials for cars, aviation sector, etc should promote eco friendly labels and products.

there is a huge category to be tapped here. are the old 'non green' generation listening? or will it play the old card of 'quarterly earnings', 'keeping wall street happy', 'bulk executive pay work', 'loss of jobs if pushed to green slogan', etc!!!

sanyo is planning to unveil a 'green tv'. it says the energy efficient tv will consume 20% less than normal tv's but also cost 20-25% more.

this is welcome news. not only power consumption but also the manufacturing process, the materials for the tv, its recycling ability, its recycling ease, etc should also be increased dramatically.

and also products like these should be 'eco friendly' certified so that consumers can have a choice. energy star certification pertains only to electricity reduction whereas eco friendly certification can go much beyond energy savings. similarly sectors such as textiles, shoes, cars, materials for cars, aviation sector, etc should promote eco friendly labels and products.

there is a huge category to be tapped here. are the old 'non green' generation listening? or will it play the old card of 'quarterly earnings', 'keeping wall street happy', 'bulk executive pay work', 'loss of jobs if pushed to green slogan', etc!!!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

under the jnnurm (Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission) scheme, it seems, the urban areas that solicits funds have to have plans for bus transport in form of dedicated road lanes. bangalore, since does not have these kind of plans, can face issues getting the funds.

jnnurm scheme, per se, itself has been severly criticized as not accomplishable and one of the major weakness is that cities rushing to give some plan or diagrams or suggestions without even doing the basic feasibility studies or viability landscaping. the end result - huge amounts of money getting siphoned off in dummy schemes.

the approach should be atleast ground up, wherein important urban issues are identified, then solutions proposed and funds released and monitored with error correction mechanisms. instead this top down approach will breed contractor-politician nexus resulting in massive wastage of public money.

development, means it should address current problems and take care of those before diving into fancy concepts pumping huge amounts of money.

(above pictures of dinamalar newspaper shows the pathetic condition of pallavan transport corporation buses of chennai. the need of hour is to strengthen the public bus transport of urban areas with improved service, better pay for staff, timely service, good clean facilities in buses, internet based bus movement tracking and delivery of tickets, etc)

one more grim news came on the 'development' front. it seems the cabinet committee on economic affairs has given a go ahead for the uranium mining project in andhra pradesh (in the cheif minister mr.rajasekhar reddy's consituency).

if you are aware, there were wide spread protests against this uranium mining. local people have resoundingly rejected the project in a farce public hearing in the project area.

the problems in uranium mining in jadugoda is well known and the government and officaldom rarely acknowledge the uranium related issues in jadugoda so as not to 'blemish' our 'stellar 'nuclear weapons program and the 3% electricity the nuclear power plant generates (30 to 30% of electricity gets lost in tranmission and distribution losses though and nobody cares!!!). instead of going the conservation/solar/green building/cutting down t&d losses/wind power route, the government in name of development is planning to create more dangerously polluting jadugoda in rural areas, thereby bringing 'grave development' rather than a sustainable development.

when jadugoda weeps, the elite of india can rejoice - in the fact that new sources of electricity are being tapped to develop more at the cost of impoverished rural people and the environment in which they live.

(pictures from the buddha weeps in jadugoda film by film maker shriprakash)

Monday, February 12, 2007

a small diversion in this post. sreesanth has been selected to play for india in the 2007 world cup. as an unabashed kerala fan, this is great news and with entire kerala we ought to celeberate this.

of late, in kerala on environmental side, it has been doom and gloom. mullaperiyar is caught in an unwanted tussle, athirapally dam is being bulldozed, patharkadavu dam (in the pristine silent valley national park) is slowing rearing its head, its numerous river is getting slammed by illegal sand mining and pollution, the stunning island of eloor is dying a slow death, forest encroachment is a rising threat - the list is endless.

amidst this environmental gloom, any news is a good news for me when it comes to kerala.

let us raise 3 million (not 3) cheers for our kerala hero who is the first keralite to represent india in world cup and let the opposing batsmen run for cover when he delivers his seam-perfect-boomers at them.

the cycle rally from cuddalore to chennai - to highlight the pollution disaster in sipcot cuddalore area and to highlight the future 'development' threats of coal power plant, toxic pvc factory, dump for tirupur effulents, etc - culminated yesterday.

gone are the days when poverty was the greatest pollutant. now dangerous and wilfully polluting industries are dangerous because they are the one's that kill of fishing, agriculture, etc and create eco and social poverty via pollution.

(rally participants at elloits beach, chennai where the rally ended)
(nity - of sipcot cuddalore campaign via CEM - first in cycle from left along with rallyists)

prof. yunus, is a legend. a legend who pioneered a new and innovative concept of micro credit.
no doubt, that many of us can look at him for example and guidance.

but his recents comments during his tour of india on SEZ seems off tangent. let us look at some of his comments. he says and i quote,
"He emphasised, however, that the interests of the peasants ought to be protected as much as possible in the process of industrialisation."

yunus is okay with SEZ as long as peasants are compensated adequately. now that brings the question of 'compensation'. let us set aside SEZ for a momment and look at india's track record on compensation. india's track record on treatment of rural people, tribals, villagers due to displacement as a result of mining, dam building, factories is very very bad. in fact very very bad is a bad word. i should say, it is very very inhuman and degrading.

from narmada, bhopal industrial disaster, pollution impacted communites of cuddalore, eloor, etc, numerous mining ventures - all have resulted in massive displacement of people. in her path breaking article 'greater common good', arundathi roy dissects the gross negligence and abuse of these displaced people.

yunus for certainty should have known this track record before he can comment on a very sensitive subject. or yunus should have done a study on the way SEZ operates in a developing nation like china. latest indiatogether article dissects the SEZ concept to a great extent. sunita narain calls SEZ as "another india that is not ours". praveen jha, associate professor of jhu says about the failed EPZ (export processing zones - a concept similar to SEZ) as, "There is nothing about EPZs or free trade zones in India that should make us so enthusiastic about SEZs."

it would have been much better for yunus to know what's happening on SEZ front before he can comment. or perhaps he wanted to be in the good books of the sudden capitalists such as buddhadeb, sitaram yechury and brinda karat.

Friday, February 09, 2007

note from CEM (community environment monitors) on the cycle rally from cuddalore to chennai to highlight the unparalled industrial pollution in SIPCOT cuddalore area.

Dear Friends,

The cycle tour highlighting the environmental conditions in SIPCOT industrial easte Cuddalore was initiated in November 2006. It had to be suspended following a tragic incident that claimed the life of one youth campaigner, K. Gurubalan. The tour will resume on the 9th of February from the pond in Tindivanam where the incident occurred. The tour will hold awareness programs enroute in Tinidvanam, Chengalpattu, Kovalam and will reach Chennai on 11 Feb 2007.

On the 11th of Feb, to culminate the tour, a solidarity meeting and a cultural evening to welcome the participants will be held at Urur Kuppam temple square 4 pm onwards.

We would like to invite you to be a part of the program and show support to the struggle for justice and safe life in Cuddalore SIPCOT.

Date: 11 Feb 2007, Sunday

Time: 4:30 pm

Venue: Urur Kuppam temple square near Elliots beach, Besant Nagar

Special Guest: Kalai Rani

For more details and directions please contact:

Shweta Narayan 94440 24315

Dharmesh Shah 94444 16546



the statement of tamilnadu agriculture minister in the assembly yesterday told a sorry story. from his words,
Out of 39,200 irrigation tanks in Tamil Nadu, about 1,000 tanks have become totally defunct, resulting in the loss of about 50,000 hectares of tank-irrigated area, the Tamil Nadu Agriculture said.

not only tanks, but on the whole the entire ecosystem on which depend rural drinking water and agriculture water is in very bad shape. many crucial waterbodies like wetlands are being abused by sewage and industrial pollution, paddy fields are being indiscriminately reclaimed for construction, massive illegal sand mining is raping the rivers, encroachments into tanks and tank beds kill off the tanks in turn cutting out ground water charging...the list is endless.

as tamilnadu chases water from neighbouring states it has done a 200% poor job in taking care of its own water sources. not only that even the rivers (noyyal, bhavani, cauvery, many small rivers, urban rivers like adayar river, etc) that are in tamilnadu are in very bad polluted state.

as politicians jump on the gdp bandwagon in a blind manner, the end result is abuse of ecosystems in name of development. when most of village tanks, irrigation canals, anicuts, etc can be well maintained by govt closely working with panchayats, self help groups, local genuine ngo's, the government takes an opposite view bringing in contractors to do the job wherein the 'cut' goes to pocket books of well heeled people rather than benefiting the local ecosystem.

below you can see images of surodi watershed in maharastra which was handled by local villagers along with support from the local village level offices. watersheds like these can be a boom to rural india in terms of securing water security.

like sunita naraian said "Water will define if we remain poor or become rich" - 'rich' - that is genuinely rich for vast sections of society and not only for the gdp oriented sections of society.

(surodi watershed in maharastra - a vital source for several thousands local rural villagers)
(local people working to cleanup/spruce/stabilise/bund the surodi watershed in maharastra)
(another view of surodi watershed in maharastra)

Thursday, February 08, 2007

above is an interesting ad that i downloaded from IE epaper version today. it says in an tantalising line 'how the rich get richer'.

well, i dont know how, but i can tell what is the impact of the 'richness'.

1. the trash that is being generated due to consumption of this rich section ends up in our crucial wetlands. the rich, super rich and super duper rich pay a teeny tiny amount for garbage and trash gleefully without worrying about the consequences of their rich trash.

2. the water that is being piped to these rich people travel several hundred kilometers - via several villages that dont have a single water connection - from a river that is already badly abused by pollution. the rich have no time for important things such as rain water harvesting or maintenance of ponds/waterbodies in their area which can improve ground water table and eliminate the need for piped water.

3. the electricity they use to power up their huge tv's/fridges/electronics gadgets, etc come at a huge cost to coastal areas which are being increasingly slammed by polluting coal power plants. the rich dont care to set up solar power housing system or solar water systems in their house.

4. a significant portion of the electricity comes from hydel power which terms comes at enormous costs to our forests and rivers and wildlife. there is absolutely no tax that the rich pay to make sure that these vital ecosystems are protected.

5. the rich, most of them, travel in fancy cars for their work. the already congested small urban area roads get slammed further. the enormous cost of building, maintaining and keeping the roads safe is not being passed on to these car users, thereby keeping the rich car owners merry and happy.

6. the fancy residences and apartments they live in has absolutely no green concepts build into it thereby wasting enormous energy during building construction and while living.

7. poor farmers who already face a brutal assault, getting evicted in name of SEZ and around 50% among those SEZ are in IT and construction sectors thereby making already enriched sections more richer.

8. from ipod to cell phone to car to tv stand, etc coming from mining of india's forests for which no sort of accountability is present.

perhaps the ad should read "how the rich get richer without caring for the environment".

there was an amazing story in hindu that spot-billed pelican was seen in pallikarnai marshland. if you are aware, this marshland is one of the most abused wetlands in entire india with the urban elite gleefully dumping all their thrash in this vital ecosystem.

it is more amazing to see this endangered species visit in droves (200 as per hindu report). from the report,
A rough estimate by the naturalists reveal that nearly 200 spot-billed pelicans have migrated to the marshland to feed in the waters over the past month. Many of these birds have made a perch of the pylon of the high-tension cable in the area.

imagine what would happen if we dont dump trash, cap the landfill, tell the software companies to make sure they dont build on the marshland or block its corridor, put natural vegitation in place, etc. this place will be a site for the eyes with huge potential for sustainable eco tourism in which local unemployed youth can be tapped for training/employment.

only if we are able to see beyond short term maniac gdp gains and take a look at a longer term sustainable picture, we can bring in a model that can take care of our ecosystems and also take care of people who depend on those. (a spot biled pelican. one of the most endangered species of india with only around 2000 left)
(hindu picture showing the amazing birds in a power tower in pallikaranai marsh couple of days ago)

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

india's agriculture once had a lion's share of the gdp. this is natural as hundreds of millions of rural people depended on agriculture.

as india shifted to various industries including software, car manufacturing, iron&steel, red tag industrial sectors, etc the agriculture contribution to gdp has come down significantly such that it now contributes only around 20% of india's gdp.

but real development is not a question of gdp. politician turned cricket minister turned agriculture minister who seldom has time for agricultural issues, continous farmers suicides, high interest rates for agriculture (when compared to say low interest rates for luxury cars by nationalised banks - gotcha increase the gpd right!!!), massive inputs costs due to high usage of pesticidies, depleting water tables in rural areas due to lack of watershed management, etc has contributed to this sorry state.

my friend in tamilnadu puts it this way. "being a clerk in chennai is way more luxurious than being a small farmer". a whopping 80% of land holdings are small farmers (having less than 5 acres) in india and that brings some natural questions like,
a. what are the government schemes for this crucial small farmers
b. how are the free power/free water/etc kind of subsidies benefitting small farmers vis-a-vis large farmers who typically have greater than 25 acres or more.
c. what are the challenges faced by small farmers
d. how are small farmers doing in suicide belt states of maharastra, kerala, karnataka, etc
e. how can their livelihood be sustained by organic farming that has low costs in terms of lower inputs.
f. what are the benefits the agriculture labourer who work in these small farms.
g. what are the education/agri based livelihood/etc schemes for small farmers and agriculture labourers,
h. many more things to target this segment.

but for the government and policy makers are maniac on boosting gdp figures rather than true ground level indicators, understanding the small farmers and improving their productivity/yield/livelihood/income generation/etc hardly matters.

what's the commanlity between kargil in kashmir and Ambaragudda kargal forest region of kodachadri in sagur taluk of shimoga district.

one was bombed by non-indians and other is being bombed by indians. but the result is same - destruction. kargil is destruction by death and the kargal is destruction by 'developedment'.

the ambaragudda was mined secretly couple of years and faced stiff opposition from all sections of the society. but as per hindu report, now 'steps' are being taken to 'revive' the mining in this area.

when it comes to developedment, secrecy is the mantra. because if done openly in a transparent manner, most of the fake development like this illegal mining will never happen. and in this secrecy and abuse of laws lie the difference between true development and fake development.

(below are some of the breathtaking images of the forest region. all copy rights belong to the respective individuals of flickr.)

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

it seems that west bengal government is in talks with reliance to source CNG via pipeline so that CNG can be used for transportation thereby curbing air pollution.

laudable goal no doubt. of late the communist government is kiss-kissy with corporate conglomerates like tata's, reliance's, foriegn companies like salim group, etc. well, if it 'benefits' the state then there is nothing wrong in these interactions/engagement with industries.

but let me stop you right there. india's most successful CNG program is in delhi where cseindia with some upright officials from delhi government, pollution control board, etc transformed delhi's sick air into a somewhat decent air.

delhi's progress is very impressive. from india together profile of cse,
More than 1 lakh vehicles have been shifted to this clean fuel in five years. Yet another first is the switch-over by 10,000 buses to CNG, which has won the CSE global recognition, as Agarwal had served on the committee set up by the apex court.

but delhi's success was not achieved easily by cse and concerned officers. it took lot of time and effort. why won't the west bengal government first do a thorough study of its urban air pollution problem, then identify the potential things that can be done to clean up, chart a future course and then follow it up.

sourcing CNG is no doubt a good idea. but at the same time what is the point in allowing the 1 lakh monster car flooding all over india when it is for sure that the 1 lakh car will eat up literally all urban areas.

on one hand the west bengal (and other governments) want fancy 1 lakh car projects that will eat up all urban areas by congestion and pollution and on other hand they want CNG.

like anumita points out in above link, it seems GDP for the elite is the mantra, everything else, including health, environment, air, water, etc are non-entities. indeed we have a killer pact for development of india.
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.

in bangalore(karnataka), in erode(tamilnadu) and in palakkad(kerala) - we have a common thread.

no it is not about cauvery. but it is about chemicals and how we as a nation is handling this issue.

in bangalore, as hindu reports, it was able to easily obtain dangerous chemicals and this dangerous chemical is directly hitting women as acid attacks keep on increasing.

in erode, our tanneries and dyeing units that market for american companies such as wal mart, sears, JC Penny, target, etc cooly dump the sludge into the road that is frequently used by thousands of rural people. dumping these discarded chemical output is a huge illegal act which not only destroys the local enviornment but also cause serious respisratory issues for human beings espeically children.

in palakkad, the old monster endosulfan is again rearing its head. although banned in kerala, this dangerous pesticide can be found easily in tamilnadu side and the farmers take these and use it illegally to increase the farm output. endosulfan is a very dark chapter in india's agriculture.

guru of wpsi has extensive work done in this area and he has noticied, documented and brought to light the disaster of indiscriminate pesticide spraying in the palakad district.

worst still, the mangoes using endosulfan is gleefully consumed by indians and also exported to western countries who are blissfully unaware of the details.

when it comes to 'development', everybody is unaware of the real things, i guess.
(sludge dumped cooly on roadside in erode. picture copyright hindu newspaper)
(endosulfan mangaoes from palakkad district consumed gleefully by indians and westerners. picture copyright guru.)
(dead butterflies in Muthalamada. the butterflies and many other wild species succumb due to assault of pesticide cocktails used illegally. pic copyright of guru.)

Monday, February 05, 2007

when it comes to our urban rivers, one thing is certain. it cannot be called rivers but should be called sewage canals. for instance. yamuna @ delhi should be yamuna sewage, adayar river in chennai should be adayar-sewage, mithi in mumbai should be mithi river, mus @ hyderbad should be musi sewage... the list is endless...

but in this excreta pollution lies india's development. a development that benefits the elite (10 to 30% of india's cities) and destroys the environment. sunita narain hits the head when she says,
This is not a parody. But this water-excreta tale is not unique to Yamuna or Delhi. This is the political economy of defecation where the rich are subsidised in the name of the poor, where the environment is discounted in the name of progress. This is the real excreta we must understand.

cseindia has a video made on this. a snapshot of this can be seen at youtube.

when it comes to development, we have to ask strong questions. questions that can question the development and not questions that can answer development. in the water-excreta by questioning how our sewage system works we can get vital answers on how we develop as cities and hence as a country.

the verdict of the cauvery water disputes tribunal is out and looks like tamilnadu is happy and karnataka is not.

cauvery is one of the vital lifeline rivers of tamilnadu and cauvery (and also straddles kerala) with agriculture dependent heavily on cauvery water rather than with very low usage of local tanks/rain water harvesting/ponds/etc in the farming areas. naturally both karnataka and tamilnadu want lion share of the river.

but can courts/tribunals determine how water is being shared. i dont think so. this being an highly emotional issue, it should be sorted by a combination of factors like
a. continous interaction of cauvery basin farmers between the 2 states
b. monitoring of ever increasing command area between 2 states
c. sustainable farming practises
d. maintenance of local water sources like tanks/ponds which can store rain water as well as increase ground water table in the cauvery region of 2 states
e. techniques like rain water harvesting to boost ground water table.
f. sustainable crop patterns with reduced importance on water guzzlers like sugarcane.

let me repeat. this water issue between 2 states cannot be solved by court intrevention/tribunal awards. politicians of both sides should not use this issue as a vote bank or leadership-projection or victory-loss or my farmer vs your farmer or hunger fast opportunity, etc. not only the cauvery issue, any water issue (mullaperiyar, water issues between punjab and neighbouring states, etc) cannot be solved by courts as the ground level situation should be the one's to drive the solution.

only by involving the farmers on both sides and tapping the water judiciously can make sure this emotional issue does not play up. with bangalore and chennai being software hubs of the world, politicians on both sides should realise that this issue, if played up emotionally, can leave non-refundable scars on the vital economy (both agriculture and non-agriculture) on both states.

MIDS did a very good start by forming the cauvery family by involving farmers on both sides. we need more initatives like this to make sure mother cauvery is not only tapped for water but also preserved by preventing pollution, encroachments, etc. unless more initiatives like this is done and those initatives are driving the solutions from ground-up, we will be chasing the elusive goose called 'cauvery water solution'.

(below are some images of the majestic cauvery)

Sunday, February 04, 2007

frontline has carried a great story on tata's proposal to act on behalf of dow-union carbide to 'solve' the bhopal tragedy.

this flies in face of 'polluter pays' principle that is basic of any environmental law.

why does tata want to act as middlemen for the notorious dow-union carbide that has blatantly refused to own responsibility for the worst industrial diaster.

guess when it comes to development of india, tragedies like bhopal does not matter at all. for development is for big corporates and millionaries not for common man who cannot fit into the system.

friends of bhopal @ stanford university is screening a wonderful film on bhopal to highlight the unsolved tragedy. details are below.

Friday, February 02, 2007

india's tourism is a thriving one. although not on big scale like the american tourism or chinese tourism, india's tourism is vital for several million people who depend on it.

but does the tourism boom benefit the people who depend on the natural resources on which the tourism is being conducted. for example does local villagers in ranthambore benefit from the tiger toursim?

the answer is a big NO. because the hotel industry that has been setup by outsiders close to the ranthambore forests have bought corporate tourism in place thereby leaving villagers outside the benefit of tourism. when eco tourism, village based tourism, etc are need of the hour, huge impetus is given to corporate tourism resulting in mega bucks for the already billion rupees companies.

amidst this bleak scenario, couple of places like kerala has shown a different model. the poacher turned tourist guiedes of periyar tiger reserve is a classic example.
from the statement of tourism minster of kerala, 2 ideas stand out,

1. Efforts would also be made to ensure that people displaced by tourism projects find employment in the tourism sector.
2. Local communities must benefit from tourism, Mr Balakrishnan emphasised. In order to achieve this objective, the Kerala Government is taking steps to involve local self-Government institutions and self-help groups in tourism development, he explained. Projects like `my village, a tourism friendly village' are part of this effort, he added.
both of the above are brilliant ones, which will benefit the villagers on whose base tourism is being conducted.

in the words of Dr Harold Goodwin, Professor of Responsible Tourism Management, Leeds Metropolitan University of the UK, india needs responsible tourism - a tourism that is essentially about "better places for people to live in and better places for people to visit."

hindu businessline, ran a vivid article on the sand mining scenario in kerala. kerala, like most states of india, is witnessing a huge boom in construction and river sand is being quarried illegally, unsustainably and aggressively. the building companies (both big and small), consumers, government regulators have given sustainable green buildings a big good bye.

the effect of this is already proving detrimental to the water scenario of kerala and in coming years the situation wont be good unless strong action is taking on illegal sand mining.

many rivers such as periyar, pampa are already under huge pollution assault and massive sand mining like it is happening now will make these rivers die out leaving out only potholes.

when it comes to development, the sand mining case shows us that we have no clue on making development a sustainable one.

(the majestic pampa river now reduced to whimper in many places due to pollution and massive illegal sand mining)
(the pampa river @ pampa dogged by massive pollution from sewage and industries. picture copyright hindu businessline)

Thursday, February 01, 2007

what the government is conviently overlooking in tirupur pollution belt, the farmers are not. they have cautiously welcomed the government move to let the effluents via pipeline to the coastal area. but the president of erode district Farmers' association, S. Nallasamy, wonders if the fishermen would remain idle and watch the effluents being let into the sea.

this is exaclty the mode of development in india. shift problems, overlooking huge environmental disasters, pit one section against the other. for argument sake if the effluents are going to let off in say nagapattinam, will the fishermen who depend on healthy seas keep quiet.

and the president of the Lower Bhavani Project Ryots Association, C. Nallasamy, hits the nail, when he asks about international outcry on the effluents into sea water in such massive quantities as nearby countries and even faroff countries will see the run-off effects of pollution.

when the governement of tamilnadu wants to create several tirupur's via massive textile parks, even without having a basic working model on pollution and effluent control/treatment, no wonder coastal areas present an easy target.

(nagapattinam coastal seas. already the coastal areas of this district is under huge assault from shirmp farming . effluents from tirpur will be an unwanted development in this area)