Friday, June 29, 2007

we have documented in this blog, the proposed bauxite mining in vizag in andhra pradesh. this mining project will bastardize the entire environment and the people in name of generating 'wealth', 'jobs' and 'increased gdp'.

this blog posting is not about the effects of the mining which we are all well aware of. but below is a picture of a hill stream in proposed mining area. a picture can convey thousand words. how true!!!
which country would want to screw up pristine spots like this which provide life and livelihood to local people in name of development?

which country will trample its own environment and marginalised people and brutalise them in name of development.

which country destroys the very environmental laws that is there to give a balance between sustainability and development.


the answer to all of above will be india of course. where middle class, rich elite, policy owners and politicians are all chasing money without a iota of understanding of the crucial balance between sustainability and development.

welcome to india, incredible india or perhaps incredibly self destructive india!!!!

water, in india, is a huge issue. water for spoiled urbanites in india is a huge issue for the ecology of entire india. as all urban waterbodies of india turn into sewage and filth, for urban india it is the story of water, water everywhere but no water to drink. forget drinking you cannot even see the gory sight of urban water bodies in india.

now the beleaguered officers of bangalore is thinking of implementing water rationing. this is a very needed move. people in urban india think water is their birth right, when the fact that they abuse it at every turn in terms of wastage of water, zero rain water harvesting structures, ill planned development, maniac high rises coming up without any EIA to understand the environmental impact...the list can be endless.

when it comes to development, careful usage of resources is a must and when india's villages do not even have basic support in terms of water from the 'development' oriented government, whip must be cracked on the elite urbanities so that they spend water in a judicious manner.

in name of development, wastage of resources should be the first vagabond that needs to be nailed down. the sooner this nailing is done, the sooner it will be for the sustainable development of india.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

note from kalpavriksh below on the adivasi forest conflict in brt hills in karnataka.

forests are vital to india's ecological security. on those forests are also dependent many thousand people. a balance is needed between them for both of them to benefit. a balance that the government and policy makers need to be aware and facilitate by working with community leaders, expert ngo's on this area and distinguished forest officers.

but when the government is manically focused on fake development, how can above good things happen?

In May 2007, Kalpavriksh conducted a field investigation into incidences of forest fires and resulting tension between the Forest Department and Soliga adivasis in the Biligiri Rangaswamy Sanctuary, Karnataka. The investigation revealed that most crucial issue facing the Sanctuary and the adivasis was the ban on collection of non-timber forest produce (NTFP), which has traditionally been a significant source of livelihood for several thousand Soligas. The ban has caused widespread suffering, and also backfired on conservation itself. Urgent steps are needed to resolve the situation, and to move towards healthier collaboration between the Forest Department and the Soligas, aided by NGOs that have been working in the Sanctuary for many years. The investigation report gives details of the findings, and a set of recommendations for the state government, the Soliga Sangha, and NGOs.

The full report at kalpavriksh website gives the entire story.

(br hills in karnataka. a vital area for biodiversity and also a place in which depend several thousands of soliga adivasi tribals. a balance of true development is needed to facilitate sustainable growth of people and ecosystem. but with coffee planting and illegal mining amongst other issues, this place is facing troubled times)

note from river research center, thrissur, kerala on the athirapally issue.

the madness - of fake dam building that is illegal on environmental rules and laws, unsustainable on ecology and hence the project, brutal on the river dependent people - continues.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: River Research Centre Kerala
Date: Jun 27, 2007 1:22 AM
Subject: Urgent : Athirappilly HEP, Kerala

Dear Friend,

The Expert Committee Meeting on River Valley and Hydro Electric Projects on the 22nd June 2007 is understood to have finally recommended Environmental Clearance to the proposed 163MW Athirappilly Hydro Electric Project in Kerala for a third time based on the Report of the Expert Committee's visit to the project area in April 2007. The project is pending Final Clearance with the Secretary, MoEF.

As you are all aware, the people in the river valley and all concerned who realise the ecological value for long term conservation of this sensitive region in the Western Ghats 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. The River Valley Committee had visited the project area in April and was witness to the fact that not even a single person in the river valley has raised a voice in favour of the project. Inspite of that, the River Valley Committee Site Visit Report has recommended Environmental Clearance to the project with not even a single word in the entire report mentioning anything about the possible environmental impacts!

The new Secretary, MoEF has to be briefed about the long history of the just struggle of the people in the river valley and the gross violations involved before she takes the final decision. Our humble request to you, who has been supporting this campaign and struggle, is to please send the following urgent emails and Fax messages to the following address without delay,


Smt.Meena Gupta


Ministry of Environment and Forests

Room No.401

Paryavaran Bhavan,

CGO Complex

Lodhi Road

New Delhi- 110003

+ 91-11-2436 1896, 2436 0721

FAX of MoEF: 011- 24362827 & 24360678

Dear Madam,

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

With deep distress, it is understood that the highest office of the MoEF has decided to grant Environmental Clearance to the proposed Athirappilly HEP in Kerala for a third time. I may humbly repeat that this is a project which has been rejected environmental clearance granted twice earlier in 1998 and 2005 by the High Court of Kerala in 2001 and 2006 respectively on the grounds of procedural violations and inadequacy of the EIA Assessment. Two EIA Assessments and two High Court ordered Public Hearings later; the project has been proven economically unviable and a threat to the environment especially to the low altitude riparian forests, unique to Kerala Western Ghats, the only habitat where the four hornbill species are found together, especially the only breeding habitat of the globally threatened Malabar Pied Hornbill, exceptionally high fish diversity area ( 104 sp with 5 sp new to science) and very rich elephant habitat ( 2.0 / and the remaining viable elephant migratory route , high avian diversity area (185 sp) to name a few. People in the valley and experts in the field of hydrology have been consistently questioning the Kerala State Electricity Board regarding the false and fabricated stream flow data used to prove the technical feasibility of the project to which they have been maintaining guarded silence. This guarded silence was repeated at the River Valley Committee Sitting in April.

Hence it is my humble request to you madam,

  1. To please take time to look into the past history of the project and the reasons for it being rejected both by the people and the High Court before arriving at any decision.
  2. Allow the affected people to present their case before the MoEF which has been their consistent request to the River Valley Committee and the MoEF all these years given the contentious issues raised by the project
  3. Revoke the Forest Clearance granted way back in 1998 given the biodiversity significance of the area

Expecting a positive response in this regard,

Yours Sincerely


Copy to: Sri. T.K.A. Nair, Principal Secretary to Prime Minister

Fax: 011-23017475

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

if you ask any booming indian (shall we call so since full of india is supposedly booming, as per our policy makers, politicians and sections of media) where does he get fruits/vegetables/milk, etc the conversation might go like this.

reasonable indian: sir, why did you come to the grocery shop
booming indian (parking his small car that runs big on oil and on substandard emission control norms): -tilting his ray ban- well, i came to buy groceries, fresh fruits, vegetables, milk, etc

ri: do you know where all those comes
bi: -closing his car which is being subsidized year after year by our honorable FM Chidamabaram- yaar, it comes from super markets

ri: do you know where the supermarkets gets those
bi: - shuffling his ipod - super markets gets those from their, well, lands

ri: whose lands are those
bi: -answering a phone call in his new nokia flip phone which has no mining or recycle fees- i don't know whose land are those, but i guess supermarkets have huge land nah.. to grow 7-up, pepsi, 7-up ad shows grow vegetables nah...

bi: got to go man, gonna catch up a movie after this shopping as he stuffs the groceries in heavy plastic bags
ri: sits down helplessly....

i would bet this would be the conversation with majority of hip-hop urban indians who are benefiting big time from india's skewed development.

coming to the main point, one important thing in the above is the loss of connection to the land and on the land a loss of connection to biodiversity. diversity of vegetables, seeds, cultivating mechanisms, etc

deccan herald in one of its recent article correctly sums it up as below
Uttara Kannada, known for its biodiversity and traditional recipes, has changed its pace in the last few decades. As easy-to-cook market vegetables entered the kitchen shelves, diverse home-grown recipes took a backseat.

taking seed, vegetable, fruit cultivation onto village level by village people for village consumption (along with post village consumption onto rural markets) is the idea of the collective. a model that is driven ground up and not top bottom by corporates. a model that can be sustained and beneficial and people driven.

maraimalai nagar, in outskirts of chennai, is an emerging township. as existing chennai stretches itself thin, people who want affordable housing, land plots, less commute time are zooming in on maraimalai nagar (MRN)

but one thing is common in MRN when compared to the main chennai. that is the slamming of crucial water bodies with sewage and filth. that sewage and filth in rivers, lakes, waterbodies, etc flies in the face of 'great indian culture which tens of thousands of years old'. that sewage and filth is the reason why chennai's urban water bodies are in pitiable state. that sewage and filth is the reason why chennai's water needs will NEVER be satisfied even though you link the dirty ganga with the polluted cauvery and onto chennai!!!

that sewage and filth, which is the epitome of the skewed and fake development that is happening all over india. a development that chases only money and abuses all other things most notably the very environment in which long standing sustainable growth can be achieved.

(Untreated sewage from the oxidation pond being directly let into the Ninnakkarai Lake in Maraimalai Nagar. picture and caption courtsey - hindu)

Monday, June 25, 2007

india, an emerging urban chaotic superpower (!!), lives in its villages. thus spake gandhi, the founder of the nation. a nation that is driving itself to craziness kicking out all the ideals for which the founder stood for.

but this blog posting is not about gandhiji. it is about how india's villages (where majority of india's population lives in an extremely dependent manner on the environment) is getting brutalised every year during rainy season.

every year, year after year, there has been rainfall ranging from moderate to extreme. every year, year after year, money is thrown around and reaches the villagers affected by flood (of course after eaten by politicians and their crony contractors), but the plight of poor villagers being affected by flood is unchanged.

no effort has been taken to spare the thought as to why floods happen, what can be done to minimise flood, how communities can be organised and grouped and flood preparations made, how the sleepy meteorological department of india can be whipped into action into giving more accurate weather forecast, how rivers, dams and other water bodies can be maintained and safeguarded to minimize floods....

instead of how the tag line for the rest of year seems to be 'india is booming, shining and if 'small' things like floods happen, we will worry about it during flood time and give funds for the affected'.

with zero planning and zero effort, india's village die an extra death during flood seasons and the booming india does not care a hoot on the situation.

below is a press release from sandrp giving a direct link between excessive water storage in pre-monsoon and the flood during monsoon. but who cares when dams are political instruments that can be abused rather than tools that has to be used carefully.

June 25, 2007 PRESS RELEASE

High Water Storage in Reservoirs before the monsoon

Warning for repetition of 2006 flood disasters?

Even as the nation awaits the arrival of monsoon (parts of India already drenched), a number of large water reservoirs in the country have significant water storages, which go upto 87% of their storage capacities. As per the Central Water Commission records updated on June 16, 2007, of the 76 large reservoirs monitored by CWC, 41 reservoirs had water filled upto more than 20% of its capacity, when ideally, the storage level should be 10% or less. In case of 20 reservoirs, the water level was over a third of the reservoir storage capacity. This situation could be dangerous as it could help create flood damages in the monsoon.

Existence of so much water stored just before the monsoon is difficult to justify in most cases. Particularly when such storages are seen in drought prone areas like Vidarbha ( Maharashtra), Gujarat and Rajasthan and also flood prone basins like the Mahanadi.

Vidarbha For example, reservoirs like Upper Painganga (44% of its 964 Million Cubic Meters capacity reservoir full on June 16), Kamthi Khairi (88%), Upper Wardha (33%) and Arunawati (28%), are all in drought prone Vidarbha region, where one of the reasons cited for farmer suicides is lack of adequate irrigation facilities. The Prime Minister's much celebrated Vidarbha package is mostly constituted of additional resources of large irrigation projects in this region.

Gujarat Similarly in Gujarat's drought prone north Gujarat region, Kadana dam (54%) & Panam dam (38%) on Mahi River and Dharoi dam (38% full) & Jakham dam (in Rajasthan, 23%) on Sabarmati River had such high water storages. Ukai dam on Tapi River in South Gujarat, that brought unprecedented floods in Surat and other downstream areas last year, had 29% water storage at the end of May '07, though the level had been brought down to 18% by June 15. Here it may be recalled that Ukai, Sabarmati and Mahi RIvers brought disastrous floods in Gujarat last year.

Rajasthan In neighbouring Rajasthan, in Chambal basin, Gandhi Sagar had 35% and Rana Pratap Sagar 87% storage capacity full as reported by CWC on June 16. The Chambal basin also experienced floods in 2006 and such high storages before monsoon could increase the risk of repetition of such floods this year.

Mahanadi In the flood prone Mahanadi, the Gangrel Dam (41%) and Hansdeo Bango (27%), both in Chhattisgarh and Hirakud dam (42%) in Orissa had unjustifiably high water storage in these big reservoirs. This is bound to increase the possibilities of high flood damages in this basin in 2007 monsoon.

Large Dams and the 2006 floods Significantly, the storage levels are significantly high in the river basins like Tapi, Mahi, Sabarmati, Chambal, Krishna and Godavari. These basins faced disastrous flood damages in 2006, mostly even before half the monsoon season was over. In case of most of the flood damages in these basins in 2006, the sudden release of high magnitude water flows was one of the most important reasons for the flood damages and better management of reservoir storages could have lead to avoidance of many of these floods. Many of the reservoirs in these basins had significantly high water storage level before the 2006 monsoon, a similar situation now prevails in 2007. No action has yet been taken against those responsible for the wrong reservoir operation in 2006, which brought catastrophic floods.

The current storage position of reservoirs in these river basins seems to suggest that events of 2006 could be repeated this year if adequate prior precaution is not taken. International weather forecasts have already suggested that the western & southern India (where most of these reservoirs with high water storage are situated) are likely to have above average monsoon with some intense bouts of rain. If these forecasts come true, then the high water level in these reservoirs could help increase the possibility of destructive floods in the river basins mentioned above.

India urgently needs a transparent, accountable reservoir policy and reservoir operation rules with legal force. Failure of such measures could prove very costly for the people and the economy.

Himanshu Thakkar (

South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers & People ( Delhi

(Ph: 2748 4655, 9968242798)

a small event in tamilnadu highlights how lacklasadical the policy/rules/monitoring/error corrections can be when it comes to wind power generation.

tamilnadu with its wind farm base is #1 in india and probably among top 15 in the world in terms of wind power generation. but with policies of india skewed towards coal and hydel dams (in which the contractors and big corporations rake in the moolah), wind has been a power cousin.

tneb (tamilnadu electricity board), it seems, had a downfall of 1000mw in demand and as such tneb conveniently shut off its wind power generation. shutting down a coal power plant might not be easy. agreed. but instead of shutting down wind power, tneb should have pro-actively forecast supply/demand scenario and made sure hydel and coal pumping stations can be slowed down gradually allowing wind to take priority based on demand/supply equations.

and even better, wind power can be exclusively fed onto companies that do not require massive power to run every second. for instance software companies, residential homes in cool places, recreation areas, etc thereby putting wind power in a continuous working mode. alternatively coal can be toned down and wind taken over during low demand periods. another scenario will be to put in place agreements with power hungry (and of course power wasteful) states like maharastra and supply them the power.

wind power is cleaner and greener when compared to dirty coal and dangerous nuclear power. all efforts should be taken to maintain full usage of the wind power.

true development means working with true and clean technology and also respecting that technology and putting it to optimum use.

(wind farms in tamilnadu. with abundant wind from western ghats passages, tamilnadu ranks #1 in india and among the top in the world. more scientific and green policies to tap wind power needs to be encouraged and dependence on dirty coal power plants need to be cut down)

Sunday, June 24, 2007

kerala, and its beauty, its elegance, its nature, its people, its wonderful culture, its environment, etc has been chronicled in this blog for some time.

like any other state in india, kerala has its unique issues and challenges. migration of talented youth is one among them. youth leave kerala because of lack of employment.

a decade back, entire india had employment issues. but as states like tamilnadu, karnataka, maharastra embraced the new generation industries employment from new generation industries such as software or agro tech or post food processing or services verticals like banking/banking back office, etc picked up adding value to the state.

kerala has been a late comer to this area. but one area where kerala is probably not a laggard in inviting polluting industries, the industries which slam the people and environment.

kanjikode in palakkad district in kerala is one such place. where fake development or 'developedment' has run amock. where policy, legal and political process have gone repeatedly in favour of environmental abusers rather than the other way around. where immigrant labour, who could have soaked in kerala's thriving tourism or cultural industries instead work in squalor conditions.

when kerala ignores places like kanjikode, eloor, plachimada, athirapally, pathrakadavu etc, india's soul dies. if kerala - with its unique culture, its amazing environment, its path breaking place in land rights, human rights and education - pollutes and destroy's its environment not only kerla is hurt but india's soul is stabbed.

Friday, June 22, 2007

next time if you see a tamilian who complains about water what will you sing.

water, water no more
because all our waters died
died, died and died
our rivers are dead
dead, dead and dead
because we dont care

as tamilnadu fights everyday for water from karnataka, from its rural areas, for its urban areas, etc, one thing that is certain. their own rivers are dying a mighty death and nobody cares. not the politicians, not the IT guy, not the policy makers, not the urban wallah and not the common people.

when it comes to water though, everybody sits up. because all tamilians want water. but dont ask them where it will come from. because they have no clue and they have no answer and oh yeah they dont care.

so only you have policy makers of tamilnadu talking coolly about river linking in south india (and india) for political purpose and killing their own rivers like bhavani.

let's look at the plight of river bhavani in below 2 para's. if this is the state of river bhavani, i am afraid to say, tamilians don't deserve water.

Along the track, bordering the river, the residents and shopkeepers have dumped garbage, which has almost everything in it from hen feathers to rotten jack fruit to lorry spare parts.
Not to be mentioned are human wastes. For 100 m or so the waste lines, the track and the entire area stinks.

(the sad state of river bhavani with massive effulents, sewage, garbage dump, etc. not a pretty way to manage water starved tamilnadu)

we all know the legend wangari maathai. she is a legend because she did a simple thing in an extraordinary manner and this simple thing revived kenya's soul.

what's the simple thing.

was it like our beloved ratan tata making a simple phone call to the PM and asking for forests to be ripped open so that his corporate can benefit?

was it a simple thing like our Chief ministers becoming middlemen for displacing tens of thousands of marginalised people in name of SEZ?

was it a simple thing like our media newspapers right gung ho about a booming india and ignoring the environment and rural india?

was it a simple thing like our MoEF which well, simply sleeps?

no. maathai planted trees, lots of them, tens of thousands of them all over Kenya and rejunvenated kenya via her green belt movement which has planted and cared for over 30 million tree. india, with its own base of urban and rural tree activists and/or expertise from maathai replicated this and made sure india also benefits from wangrai maathi as she says below in her 2 quotes.

I used to say to the women, ‘If we say we are too poor to take care of the environment then it will only get worse. We have to turn it around and push the poverty back. Planting trees breaks the cycle: when we can give ourselves food, firewood, and help to nurture soil for planting and clean water, then we begin to roll poverty back.”

Maathai asserts that poverty and environmental degradation are locked in a vicious cycle that can only be broken when the environment is attended to. 'Poverty leads directly to environmental degradation, because poor people do not think of the future and will cut down the last tree if necessary. But environmental degradation will also lead to poverty, because when you have no soil you have no grasses, no trees and no water: you cannot really help yourself.

alas, trees has no part to play in our hip hop suave gas guzzling car driven urban india and hence have no part to play in our policy makers vision also.

we need not look at wonderful maathai. if we look internally in our villages we can find lot of simple, committed people greening their own places. veluswamy of sulur village in coimbatore district is a classic example and he has planted thousands of trees.

tell that to our policy makers and they will laugh. tell them about a car or a polluting factory their eyes will gleam as the latter means 'developed' india.

if you talk about green trees, clean air and unpolluted water, then these have no meanings in 'modern' india.

developed indeed we are in money, degraded indeed we are in our environment.

(He has so far planted more than a thousand saplings, dipping into his pension funds. Helping Velusamy is 72-year-old Palani Gounder, a former coolie, who creates beds for the saplings, waters them, and does everything he can to make Velusamy’s task easier.)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

the already abused, misused and 'developed', coastal regulation zone (crz) act is facing more assault. the government via its swaminathan committee report is proposing something called coastal management zone (cmz) law.

c'mon. we all know it. don't we. the idea is to rip upon the coast, diluting the 500 meter no-development from coast law, allowing new ports bypassing eia and public hearings, allowing for massive hotel resorts near the coast, massive aqua farms on top of the already illegal aqua farms, land reclamation for various 'development' purpose thereby cutting of the coast to poor fishermen and in process destroying the coast by waste, sewage and what not....

rightly various fishermen and environmental community has protested this cmz law. development of the coast, is not development if it goes the corporate way. but as sunita narain puts it when ratan tata wants manmohan to be accountable for 'development', development is indeed 'corporatement'. a ment wherein a few in the corporates make big bucks at the cost of law, rules, environment and poor people.

(lovely and stunning cherai beach of god's own country. coastal areas of india are like a jewel and needs to be protected and sustained for the benefit of tourism and local communities that depend on the sea for their livelihood)

tiger is an amazing animal, the top predator for a forest based ecosystem to be healthy. that tiger, once was abundant in india, but of late has been plummeting in numbers and gene pools.

threats to tiger are many. encroachments into the forests, easy poaching, under staffed, under paid and under beleaguered cared forest staffers, etc. add to this mix, the threat of development and a spineless ministry of environment and forests (moef) who are primary custodians of tiger population.

development, wherein forests are being ripped open for mining, dams, etc. now for past several years, we can add a careless attitude of top honchos of moef and this careless attitude and ill conceived plans threaten to push tiger into the oblivion. shekar dattari, well known wildlife film maker and activist chronicles it in his op-ed page.

when gdp is the mantra, tiger has no place in it. neither does the forests it inhabits and neither does the rivers that originate from the forests.

Alas tigers like machali (the majestic tiger of ranthambore pictured on the right) have no place in 'development'Look out

Monday, June 18, 2007

what's the link between cricket, sunil gavaskar, industrialists/policy makers and development.

let's see cricket and gavaskar first. cricket is a religion in india. let there be no questions on that. we all agree. sunil gavaskar was/is a great test batsman. we all agree. we should also note that gavaskar was HUGE failure in one day cricket.

but the time has changed and now cricket as played by srilanka, australia, south africa (and probably by upcoming teams such as ireland) is fast, furious and very competitive.

now gavaskar, in his past several years with bcci, has held important posts in various capacities as consultant, administrator, selector, etc.

but for a small patch during wright/ganguly era, india's cricket has hit downhill. no vibrant local cricket, no new ideas to encourage fresh talent, no back turning batsman, a dad's army now in full control of massive politics in indian team, etc - are some of the ills plaguing india's cricket.

with gavaskar, India's cricket has sunk into deep depths. Bedi calls correctly, gavaskar as a power without accountability.

now let's take a look at our industrialists. with india splurging on industries based on chemicals, textiles, leather, granites, steel&iron, sponge iron, mining, etc - all red tag industries, india industrialists, like gavaskar are running amok with power without accountability.

power without accountability for environment, local communities and environmental laws and regulations.

indeed india's cricket is proceeding on fake growth, a growth driven by autocrats and manipulators like gavaskar, just like the brutal industrialists who twist everything in order to achieve what they want at the cost of environment and people.

this blog has been attempting to cover the proposed india-america nuclear deal on a small scale basis. but i guess, this deal -one of the biggest tragedies that can face marginalised communities, poor fishermen, coastal hamlets, etc- got to get a bad publicity big time, so that electricity and fake development crazy urban india, realize the dangers of this dangerous development.

in a illuminating article in tehelka, praful bidwai and mv ramana has written a very easy to understand story on the disaster, lies, deception, cheating, etc that is unfolding in koodamkulam in name of fake development.

so far india's development is toxic, polluting, destructive, displacing, etc to millions and millions of people. with more nuclear plants on the anvil, thanks to the short sighted policy of 2 greatest democracies india and america, india's development is poised to take a dangerous turn.

(the proposed nuclear reactor in koodamkulam. with more such plants on coastal areas, india is posed for a toxic and radioactive path which the western countries have increasingly shunned. picture courtesy hindu.)

Sunday, June 17, 2007

let's take a small case of how western countries care for their environment.

let's take the golden state, the land of the opportunity, the land of the free, the land of the brilliant silicon valley and dazzling and dreamy hollywood.

mercury news ran a news story on the 'disaster called development' happening in china. i reproduce couple of lines from the story.

when the autocratic china does not care a hoot about its environment which is posing direct threat to hundreds of millions of its own citizens, in distant california, the people/policy makers/politicians etc are already concerned from pollution angle and global warming angle.

China's pollution drift is "not an immediate major concern" in terms of public health for the state's major cities, he said, because California's coastal areas are protected on most days by the so-called marine layer of air, which acts as a shield against pollution at higher altitudes. But VanCuren said the state is now closely tracking the pollution from Asia because "it will drive up the cost of air pollution control."

california with its brilliant coastline, mesmerizing redwoods, amazing rivers is a state that is in the firing line of global warming and china's pollution. and california is concerned. this, is what i call, environmental sensitivity juxtaposed with true development. this is what india needs to follow.

let's cut to shreds the crap talk telling environmental balance will affect 'development. yeah, environmental balance will affect the 'development' of the rich, but not the true development of the poor.

Friday, June 15, 2007

what this blog tells, the villagers of india tell; what this blog stands for, the villagers of india stand for; what this blog advocates, the marginalised people of india advocate.

the mantra should be: no destruction of environment in name of fake 'development'. using the recently passed rti act, villagers of tamilnadu are clearly seeing they will displaced, brutalised and finally slapped with wilful pollution by textile units.

2 lines from the report is illuminating:
The villagers wanted the Government to not ‘throw red carpet’ to industrialists at the cost of ‘destroying the livelihood and lives’ of villagers.

textile units, we all know, will create hell in the places where they are located. whether it is hell or sustainable development, that is question facing india.

the choice is in front of us to make a cleaner, greener future for our children. increasingly the choice is being abused by a section of urban india in name of fake 'development'.

pressure is a four letter word. not exactly. pressure is actually 8 letter word. whatever the count is, pressure is the only thing that works on indian industries when it comes to environmental sensitivity.

consider this. wipro group of companies is the one of the richest in the world making its chairman one of the richest person in the world and in turn making out many hundred (and probably thousands) millionaires within the company and outside.

what should a company like wipro be doing with their environmental policy. they should put in place a rigorous and stringent policy for environmental friendliness right from the computers they make and the buildings they occupy.

but it took huge amount of pressure from greenpeace that ran a stinking campaign on wipro including in front of wipro offices to make wipro act apart from running a stunning email/internet campaign. and act did wipro. one of the reasons wipro might have acted is not to keep india clean but perhaps to safeguard their image as they are a software behemoth and western companies might not want to deal with a software company that is not showing any environmental concern.

even now most of indian computer and software companies have no idea whatsoever on recycling of e-waste, a looming problem in india.

whatever might be the reason, wipro is a classic case wherein new age companies need a stinking campaign to make sure they stay clean. wipro could have done without any of these as they are the richest company in the world and putting a few percentages in environmental friendliness will not hurt premji's bottom line anyway.

and not only that being green, staying green and living green and doing business green indeed will add to bottom line of wipro eventually as more and more see the beneifts of using green products. wipro can be the leader in this or they can be a laggard who wakes only based on pressure. the choice is upon them.

it is sad to note that even learned and educated management gurus of wipro need to be pressurised on the benefits of going green.

(greenpeace infront of wipro office's during their campaign against wipro using environmentally damaging parts/process in the wipro computers)

Thursday, June 14, 2007

let' take a slight peek on how nri's, their funding, ngo's and 'development' gel together.

and let's not talk about 'abstraction' here. abstraction is a favourite word for half baked software architects of indian origin work in clueless american software companies. and we dont want to be favourites of anybody!!

let's talk about specifics. after all the objectives of this blog is specifics of how fake 'development' policies is screwing environment and marginalized people of india.

let's focus on aidindia a little bit. a group of people, who on and above their personal work, are doing amazing work with naramada struggle, athirapally struggle, bhopal campaign, coke issue in mehdiganj and other things like tribal education, tribal welfare, nrega, rti, etc.

now lets shift our lens to one of the god's of aidindia, balaji sampath. to be honest, he is a wonderful individual who could (coulda, shoulda, woulda) made millions of dollars if he had wanted to considering his IIT and PhD backgrounds, but who chose to do path breaking work in educating poor children of rural areas via aid chennai education initiative.

no questions on that. this blog entry is not about balaji sampath wonderful things, which is not in question at all.

but then what it is?

lets shift our lens a little bit more and bring another huge education based ngo pratham into the picture.

pratham corporate 'donors' reads like who's who of india's industries. nothing wrong with that. anybody can get any money from anybody. after all it is a money driven world. no questions about that.

but some of them are real obnoxious in the way they treat environment, marginalized villagers, tribals, farmers, and the environment.

for instance grasim bastardized river chaliyar in kerala until kicked out. in 1999, cseindia, the respected ngo, gave them a one leaf award. worst of all grasim, till day have not compensated correctly, the poor people who got hit by their willful pollution.

let's take another instance, reliance. reliance is a huge corporation. no questions on that. they can fund anybody on that. no questions on that too. but reliance track record is nothing to crow about. from dahanu to orissa ports to sez's (raigad, navi mumbai, etc) their story is maniac growth at all costs. growth without a human face.

hindalco repeatedly has caused grave damage via mining in orissa and also involved in kashipur, orissa threatening many hundreds and perhaps thousands of helpless tribals with displacement.

let's take icici onto account. they are the new success story of 'booming' india. agreed. but their track record aint great too when it comes to funding projects that directly bastardize the environment.

icici has been involved in working extensively with vedanta, a notorious company that cares a damn about tribals, their land, forests and wildlife.

now let's focus our lenses on balaji sampath, aidindia and pratham.

why pratham which supposedly works for the upliftment of poor people hand in hand with companies that bastardize the various crucial pillars namely the land, water, tribals, forests, wildlife, etc.

why is balaji sampath hand in hand with pratham, whether be it on pratham board or getting pratham award.

why aidindia can't see the obvious connection or the disconnection between aid's avowed work with forests, tribals and the balaji's sampath work with pratham and hence access to the funds from the very corporate policies and actions that aidindia is opposing.

the connection stinks. stinks nasty. stinks obnoxiously. stinks with eyes and nose closed. corporate sponsors who care a damn about basic environmental and human laws --> pratham accessing their funds (i assume the funding is huge considering the huge corporatism of these companies) --> balaji sampath working extensively with pratham directly and also with corporates like icici pretty aware of this murky funding and talking about sustainability at same breath--> aidindia which opposes corporatism if the corporates go haywire, sleeping on all these, probably ignoring the feeble voices that asks these questions.

when it comes to development, hard questions need to be asked. whether it is the govt, industries or ngo's, everybody is answerable.

(balaji sampath and their wonderful aid chennai team doing great work in education and other initiatives. but are they sleeping with the enemy with eyes wide open, as this blog points out. are they feeding one hand and slapping with the other hand??)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

a small news report on endosulfan echoed loud though. endosulfan is an unmitigated tragedy of how pesticide use has been abused in india and how companies that make and sell toxic pesticide make a killing at cost of innocent villagers lives.

the hindu news report although allocating only a couple of lines shows clearly that endosulfan is a festering problem in kasargod district of kerala along with spreading its tentacles illegally in neighbouring states.

one thing that is certain when corporations runs the developmental model in unrestrained or poorly regulated manner, the end disaster is faced by poor rural indians and the benefits fully goes to the corporations.

endosulfan issue of kasargod, kerala, is a continuing example of how lax india has been in monitoring the dangerous cocktails of pesticides that circulate throughout india.

(Eight-month-old Sainaba suffers from hydocephalus. A minimum of a dozen Kasaragod villages have thousands of poor villagers of all age groups suffering from various incurable ailments as a result of endosulfan spraying on cashew plantations)

imagine a scene, in real life (and not in movie), wherein several thousands people run helter skelter on a monster chasing them.

well in this case it is around 10,000 villagers running scared on a proposed industrialisation move by our friendly polluty, environmentally screwy SIPCOT.

near erode, already hit by massive pollution due to easy and wilful effluent discharge, these villagers are now at the mercy of 'industries'.

gone are the days when bad guys were looking real bad in physique as well as in dialogue. nowadays bad guys are the industries and industrialists who make tons of money and who talk suave english and who does not care a hoot towards clean production or community or environmental regulations.

when development is the monster, nice english talking suave educated industrialists are the monster drivers.

Monday, June 11, 2007

finally there is some good news on the noyyal river, the much abused and misused river of water starved (and water unaware and water abused) state of tamilnadu.

hindu report says that around five hundred members of the committee, using the money obtained from a court direction, have removed encroachments, bushes and polluted sludge from the riverbed and in the 53-km stretch downstream, from Orathapalayam Dam to the confluence of the river with Cauvery, the committee has completed 50 km.

this is an awesome feet. farmers are the most benefited when the river is healthy and most affected when river is abused. abused by industries, abused by urban area people to draw massive water via hundred of kilometers of pipelines, abused by sewage from local towns and semi urban areas.

more such local initiatives are needed, fired by local people, powered by local people and all these should be facilitated by government.

only when local people have a stake, responsibility and say in their own resources, will the natural ecosystems in their locality be stable, clean and provide maximum benefits and real development for the region.

and these local efforts will not show up in gdp growth or hundreds of crores bank reserves or add to the finance minister positive newsreport. but these real down to earth indicators is a crucial driver of real development of rural india, where 700 million live.

one simple image can show a thousand things that a big article can't. that's what the picture in hindu does.

a mountain range with sustainable forests, water sources including a beautiful waterfall, tribals living off all these environmental pillars - this is a situation across most of rural/tribal india.

now throw in big mining companies, screwed up policies aided and abetted by vested interests in govt, politicians acting as middlemen for rich industries rather than as protectors and benefactors of marginalised people - now this is development.

as the picture points out, we need a policy/mindset/approach change towards development of marginalised people. a development that can take these people along growth and NOT a development that brutalises them.

(KATIKI WATERFALL in the vicinity of Borra caves near Vizag under the knife of brutal development.)

Sunday, June 10, 2007

why this blog?

to answer this question, we need to ask further more questions.

why take an opposite, but necessary, view on development? why point out 'negative' facets on the movement of development? why not point out the 'benefits' of development?

why need to establish a balance between real growth and fake development? why be concerned about environment, when india can become easily urbanised like america and plunge forward into 'global' world? why should we care about forests, rivers, wetlands, grasslands, air quality, tribals, marginalised people who depend on vital environmental parameters, etc when all of us can enjoy the 'benefits' of development by means of access to more capital (money)?

many more questions spring up when i asked myself "why this blog"?

many thousands questions would be crossing cseindia everyday as they pioneer india's environmental balance and awareness.

the thought provoking leader page article from cseindia answers their own questions and india's vital questions. questions regarding correct growth and real development.

couple of days back, greenpeace india published a study on the impact of a port in dhamra, orissa. as per greenpeace, it said that the port project would cause irreversible environmental damage.

there seems to be serious issues with the eia already done for the port. two big names of indian industry, tata steel and l&t are planning to build the multi hundred crore rupees port.

most importantly the port area has good presence of the endangered olive ridley turtles. and also there is bound to be heavy impact on massive dredging for the port, continuous presence of loading/unloading of iron, etc.

tata steel, like many of india's illustrious industries wish washed the report saying they will consider all the points of the report.

wish washing is the hall mark of indian industries. when they want to hide truth, when they want to hide environmental disasters in the making, when they want to hide their falsifications, nobody in the world can beat india's industries. and all these things are done under the garb of 'development'.
( Proposed Dhamra Port threatens the olive ridley turtle. in front of development, nothing except money matters in india)

Thursday, June 07, 2007

what happens when an environment minister gets well crazy...or shall we call it non-environmental?

that's what happened when ganesh naik, honorable minister of environment of maharastra.

“If a law creates obstacles in a country's progress, then it should be scrapped,” he said at a public meeting. Here’s what Naik's bizarre plan entails: convert all mangroves into buildings, encroach the sea and landfill it and build huge mansions, scrap all laws that are there to protect the coasts in favour of 'development'.

if his words are made 'decent' it will read exactly what our prime minister, finance minister, industrialists say which is "development is good as it brings money, lots of money. damn with the environment and the people who depend on those."

ibnlive calls these plans bizarre. we should call these plans as dangerous. dangerous for ecosystem and dangerous for the people of mumbai.

(the vital thane creek in mumabi. assaulted with sewage, pollution and garbage it fights valiantly as mumbai's lungs to keep the ecosystem stable, water table levels optimum and filtering the filth thrown on it)

medha patkar's comment about kerala is definitely valuable in the context in which she said.

kerala, is indeed the soul of anybody who had been born there or works there or visits there.

an enchanting place with amazing culture, it mesmerizes anybody easily.

with its 100% literacy rates, strong political knowledge, women's empowerment, health care systems that is far better off - kerala offers many strong points.

kerala too has issues. lack of sustainable industries, a immigrating workforce that has sucked kerala's youth to work outside, happening and looming environmental disasters - all are huge issues too.

but for the modern crazy day work-work-work life, kerala indeed is the soothing medicine.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

what's the link between you clutching the fancy cola aluminum can the the villagers near vizag in AP.

but, let us step back. when you clutch the cola (either pepsi or coke or any other manufacturer), it is cool, aint' it.

particularly in india, clutching the can is more affluent than drinking from a glass bottle.

having a coke can in one hand, having bluetooth in the ear and driving a polluting pre- euro III car is the way urban india is enjoying and of course 'developing'.

and let's come back. what's the link between the poor villagers desperate attempt to survival and the coke can.

because by mining the villagers land, by brutally throwing them out, by making them more poorer and worst without land and looting the meagre compensation that are offered, bauxite is mined. this bauxite takes the final form of can.

in brazil and in china to a certain extent, there is a belated realisation that mining is proving brutal and screwing up entire ecology. in india, the tell tale proof is all over the place as the cseindia presentation below shows.

in the villages near vizag, the gory dance of development has just started. will it continue its death march over innocent villagers land and life. only the can holding urban folk can determine at the end. if he relinquishes his lavish lifestyle and sticks to a lifestyle that is environmentally friendly, the pressure on the vizag villagers can be reduced by putting more pressure on policy makers to adopt environmentally friendly policies.

till then many such mindless mining cases will continue in name of fake development.

the ghats, western ghats, that is is a lovely place.

stretching from maharastra all the way down to tamilnadu, few places in the world can match several hundred spots that form a necklace in western ghats.

big tourist spots such as ooty, kodaikanal, londovala and big cities such as pune are all part of the western ghats eco system.

80% of tamilnadu rivers originate from the ghats, giving politicians ample fry to fish, rather than to protect.

the same ghats, is under tremendous pressure to give more and more to development and get more and more destroyed and unsustainable because of that.

from many numerous dams in kerala, karantaka, to fancy projects like tourism resorts bang in middle of forests, to illegal forest felling, to encroachment, to put more more and more faster highways right through the forests, to have more and more mining (legal and illegal), to have more dangerous coal power plants in its rivers, the western ghats is slowly losing its core.

there is no move by the policy makers to push for protection for the ghats as a whole. rather piece meal approach is followed in ghats 'maintenance' that too after tremendous pressure from the beleaguered forest department and the ngo's.

in protecting the ghats, lies the protection of india. in its true nourishment lies india's true development.

below are sample of 2 pictures from ameen ahmed's awesome flickr collection of western ghats.
(Sharavathy River valley beyond Jog falls, Shimoga District, Western Ghats, south western India.)
(A stream flows through a rainforest near Abbi Falls in south-western India's Western Ghats. Abbi falls is located near Madikeri in Karnataka state's Kodagu District.)

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

to say that a locality/place/village/town/semi urban area/big cities are several important parameters spanning several vital verticals(education, health, law&order, zero corruption, free press, clean and safe drinking water and air, etc)

one important component for all the above verticals is water. sunita narain calls water as a definition for a difference in development. she writes more on this angle in her latest editorial.

her last para sums it up eloquently:
In the dingy dairy of Laporiya I learnt this: last year, after nine years of persistent drought, when it rained less than 300 mm, the village of 300 households sold milk worth Rs 17.5 lakh. It was a valuable lesson.

(As india today gropes with a water crisis we continue polluting our water sources. The river sabarmati, whose bank Gandhi setup his ashram and continued his fight for freedom is today but a murky mass of sewarage even as the much hyped Sabarmati river front development project continues. )

Monday, June 04, 2007

the chief minister of tamilnadu mr.kalaignar karunanidhi is a very elderly statesmen. probably one of the most experience administrator in entire india, he is also a very well known tamil writer, poet and critic.

but when it comes to water issues, he is like a fish out of it. he has time and again, stressed on linking rivers without even thinking twice on the environmental and human catraspohe it can create.

worst of all, he has been hugely negligent on the rivers of tamilnadu itself. river banks of tamilnadu is where tamil civilisation started and tamil language developed.

but as cauvery shows, if you give water to tamilnadu, there is 100% chance it will be abused. urban area rivers such as cooum or adayar river or majestic rivers such as noyyal, cauvery, bhavani, all face abuse, rape and destruction in hands of tamilnadu.

when it comes to good things, it will be better for a respected leader like the CM to restrict himself to tamil language. tamil language that is now being spoken in tamilnadu, that is, because the rivers and its banks that originated the tamil langauge itself is dying though.

india, an emerging superpower (as per the development mongers), is on a high with nuclear talk.

with america-india bhai bhai relations, india thinks that having nuclear plants in tens of numbers (perhaps hundreds of numbers) it can bring light to the entire nation. india's policy makers have conveniently brushed aside the fact that same nuclear technology has been rejected by communities across america, so that not a new nuclear plant has been built for past nearly 25 years.

in india, the same policy makers assume (or shall we call it brushed aside), the fact that the local communities on whose land the nuclear power plants can come, will oppose the plant.

so conveniently, dallying megawatt mangoes, development rumours and gdp inflated points, these policy makers, nuclear authorities of govt departments, are bulldozing ahead with america india bhai bhai talk.

hindu had a detailed report on the public hearing on the koodankulam nuclear power project, the project that is coming up russian support.

as expected local people seems to be agitated and rallying against the power plant.

one thing is sure, if america india bhai bhai nuclear accord is signed we will see protests on much larger scale all over rural coastal india against the fake development. a development wherein a section of society benefits from the electricity generated from the dangerous impacts of nuclear plants to millions of coastal people.

tomorrow, june 5, is world environment day. ho-hum....

in west, the marketing guys have tweaked most of days into mother's day, father's day, daughter's day, son's day, sunny day, winter day, pet dog day, etc and for each one of these massive ad campaign is launched to promote merchandise.

in india, traditional holidays such as deepavali, pongal, navratri, ganesh chathurthi, etc is being used by ad guru's to push merchandise.

but during environment day is the poor cousin of all the days. a day which nobody care's to take note.

hindu did though with the below telling photo and caption.

it is pretty clear, when it comes to development, environment is a thing to be abused and not the one to be nourished and celebrated.

(Tomorrow is universally observed as 'World Enviroment Day'. Let us hope that in the new millennium, there will be more concern for conservation than in the past. A view of the polluted Adyar river between Guindy and Saidapet, in Chennai)

Friday, June 01, 2007

vembanad lake is a huge lake/backwater/wetland combo in kerala. the famous cochin port is located on the lake on the place where river periyar meets with arabian sea.

vembanad lake, a very vital piece of inland water system of central kerala, lake can mesmerize you if you visit cochin.

apart from its breathtaking beauty, it also serves as very vital system for fishermen, farmers, common people (in terms of drinking water, water table levels, etc). it also caters to tourism in a big way.

a community reserve was proposed, which includes the heronry (breeding grounds for heron, largest of Kerala) in the KTDC Tourist complex, Pathiramanal Island and the lake part inbetween the KTDC and Pathiramanal Island. around four Panchayaths also agreed to protect this area as a community reserve.

out of vembanad lake of 200 sq km, just 3 sq km was proposed to be declared as community reserve. 1.5% that is(hindu puts this even down @ 0.27%). among many individuals/groups, kottayam nature society was one of the force behind this conservation measure.

the idea of conservation reserve is to enable, local people belonging to local panchayats to benefit from the lake and also manage the lake sustainbly.

but the bill was rejected by kerala cabinet. the main lobby being led by tourism ministry and other related ministries.

this case shows how difficult it is to get protection for a very tiny but crucial segment but at the same time tens of thousands of acres are being forced out and handed over on a plate to big time industrialists in name of 'development'.
(proposed conservation area in vembanad lake, central kerala)