Tuesday, July 31, 2007

indian government last week managed to sign up the indo-usa nuclear deal in which india will get nuclear technology from america for the purpose of putting nuclear power generators.

hurray..what a deal. a deal that will generate tens of thousands of megawatts thereby erasing the track record of poor power generation (less than 3000 mw perhaps) in face of huge amounts of money poured.

wareahwah...what a deal. a deal that will make elite of urban india a nuclear elite so that american nuclear technology companies which has been rejected lock, stock and bareel will have a fresh market to sell their wares.

super-o-super...what a deal. a deal that will make each and every indian -urban elite indian that is- proud when the fact is that local marginalised communities of india where the nuclear power will be hazardous for their lives and livelihood.

the upcoming koodamkulam nuclear plant in south tamilnadu offers a grim remainder of the things to come for the rest of india where tens (and perhaps hundreds) of nuclear power is being proposed.

zero environmental impact assessment, bulldozed public hearings, local communities treated worst than dogs, hundreds of crores being pumped into power stations whose deadline keep on extended and much more are being played out in koddamkulam, south tamilnadu.

and the worst thing is that all the above is being done in name of 'development' of india. the very development that has to benefit the lower sections of the society is being turned upside down with the sole objective of achieving more comfort of the elite.

one of the trends for past several years, in name of development, is to make sure that the user group that will be 'benefited' by 'development' is cut off from the policies that determine the 'development'.

for instance, if environment impact notification is being propagated it will be open to industries, big business houses, world bank, etc but will be closed door for people's group, NGO's, etc.

one recent 'process' like this is the coastal zone management (czm) which is being planned to replace coastal regulation zone notification which has been in effect till 1991.

lot of industries, hotel lobbies, tourism giants, etc who want 'development' - of course their own development - wants this crucial act to be torn apart and the coast be opened for them so that they run amok with polluting industries, huge bungalows that cater to elite of india and the world - in name of tourism, cut off coastal access to traditional fishermen, communities, etc.

so a convenient way of formulating a new policy came into picture called czm and in this the very groups who are to be hit by czm are not even being part of in order to express their concerns/opinions/views etc.

so much for democracy in world's largest democracy, so much for development in whose name all these maniac things are being done.

Monday, July 30, 2007

athirapally project has been reportedly cleared by moef. this project which exemplifies all the things that is going wrong in india in name of development, is a hugely destructive project that is bound to rape the pristine western ghats forests of kerala.

and in spite of severe people protests, high court intervention, repeated petitions from chalakudy river council, the local ngo who is fighting this project the moef has deemed it good to give clearance when the project ought got to have rejected lock, stock and bareel.

development, is surely a four letter word. a bad four letter word at that. how else can we characterise this bad word when the policy makers and others violate basic human and environmental laws such as cases in athirapally.

jnnurm is a recent new scheme for urban india which is controversial also. urban india, which is chaotic and energy intensive apart from being insensitive to urban environment with zero awareness of rural areas, is a huge emerging area for india's policy makers in which they want 'development' to be more streamlined.

with upto 50% of india's population to live in urban india by 2020 or so, it is of utmost importance to make sure urban india is well planned, well zoned along with being intensive recycling, waste reducing, low energy intensive in all of its spectrum.

but this blog posting is not to bash jnnurm, but to show how poorly this issue might have been addressed in indian media.

indian express had an article on this scheme and stunningly they had a very misleading picture which was showing multi level flyovers zigzagging across water bodies and greenery and cars crisscrossing nicely.

this is hardly the urban india that india should pursue. good viable public transportation system, low energy transport, proper zoning so that travels (especially office commutes) can be reduced, etc should be the goals and the picture in the article should not be the one that a reputed(??) media newspaper should display.

well, if it is the key word 'development', anything sells.

(indian express article on jnnurm. totally misleading picture to paint an utopian urban dream for india??)

Friday, July 27, 2007

the ongoing environmental fiasco in sethu project has not been getting much attention in national media as much as ramar-sethu bridge should have.

but one more thing that has not got media attention is the viability of sethu project itself. a team from atree has done the financial viability of sethu project which raises lots of basic questions whether even the project can sustain in first place on its own economically.

we all know that environment is the first one to be screwed in name of 'development', but cases like sethu shows that even economics is flawed when such projects are bulldozed instead of being done openly and honestly.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

india's electricity situation has been well discussed amongst various sections of society including economists, power experts, news columnists, etc. more discussed has been the fact that how electricity is crucial for 'development of india', the elite urban india that is since this sectin is the most power guzzling section of india. even more discussed has been the fact that how can india get nuclear technology from america, the land which has abandoned nuclear power.

one factor that wont get discussed is the transmission and distribution (t&d) loss in india. whilst america's loss are low single digits (around 3 to 5%), india's loss is a whopping 30 to 40%. that's why cse's sunita narain asks what will we do with new power plants when it is a known fact that 40% of it is going to get lost due to t&d losses.

but there is a twist to this. how much electricity loss is a good loss. how a loss can be a good one. well, if we leave it our policy makers, all loss is a good loss.

that is what tamilnadu electricity board officers are telling. as per the honorable minister of electricity in tamilnadu and i quote "the power transmission loss ranged anywhere between 30 and 40 per cent, but Tamil Nadu accounted for just 18 per cent, a standing testimony to the power management techniques being adopted by the TNEB."

well 30 to 40% is ugly, but 18% is neat. pretty neat that 18% itself is a huge margin considering tamilnadu generates 8000mw and upto 2000mw (the capacity to feed almost entire kerala state) goes waste of it. 2000mw is a mind blowing figure. if 1mw costs approx 2 crores, then this is 4000 crore rupees going waste.

if the minister had told "we are in low single digits and we will make the t&d loss theortically zero, please be patient with us" , then it would have made sense.

but he cannot afford to say that. because when it comes to presenting rosy picture while presenting the 'development of the state', we need to twist facts and make even the losses good losses.

hemendra kothari, chairman of DSP merrill lynch Ltd is a well known figure in financial circles of India and abroad.

one other facet of this distinguished personality is that he is also a wildlife/forest champion. through his wildlife conservation trust (wct) he is doing good work in protecting tiger's in the forests of india.

it is indeed rare for corporate leaders to be wildlife or forest champion especially when they are bulldozing forests and wildlife in name of 'development'. it is heartening to see people like kothari from high positions talking about sorry state of affairs with respect to tigers and wildlife of india.

but some of hemendra kothari's interview comments in sanctuary asia magazine stuck a raw chord. let us take one of them. when the editor asks why MoEF is being all rules to favour a project that destructs wildlife and forests, pat comes below reply.

Q:That is the problem. Environmentalists say that the Ministry of Environment and Forests bends and even breaks laws to benefit businessmen with political contacts.
A: Then they can go to the courts. We are a democracy. Once a project is a fait accompli, why waste energy fighting it. If instead cooperation is achieved, the interests of wildlife will be better served.

so as per the honorable chairman of a big finance company, if somebody breaks law and MoEF allows it, then we have keep quiet and instead cooperation should be achieved. pardon me, if i dont understand his intention. but looks like we should not fight the project which has come up illegally violating eia and other environmental laws but we should 'save' our energy to achieve cooperation with perhaps the same company to plant more trees.

turning kothari's logic around, will he be okay if somebody cheats his company for 10 million dollars and he wont fight it in courts and outside but will be work with the individual to settle?

are we missing the forest for the trees. or, our corporate honcho's think we are dumb, dumber and dumbest.

hemendra kothari's initial comments spoil the interview and also the good work he has been doing. let him step openly out of corporate pedestal, come and mix with people, ngo's, bittu sahgal, etc and see the havoc that is being caused in name of indiscriminate and exclusive development.

i betcha he wont come. for that matter no corporate person will come. therein lies the tragedy for india's tribals, mountains, rivers, lakes, forests, wildlife, etc. when profits is the guiding principle of corporations and crucial government pillars -elected by people, paid by people tax- do 'wee willie winkie went through the town', death and destruction is what remains for india's ecosystem.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

i read a weird news today on LDA (lake development authority) plans in blore with respect to hebbal lake.

the idea of the government seems to be 'well, we dont have the capability/interest/enthu for maintaining this crucial lake, so let us outsource it'.

this outsourcing model should be, 'involve environmentalists for expert opinon, lets improve the lake health, maintain access to traditional users of the lake (fishermen for instance), charge public a fee so that they can pay for the maintenance lake' kind of thing.

but the model has been twisted and 'okay let us build a fancy hotel bang in front of the lake, cut off traditional users of the lake, drain the lake where ever possible to put construction, make the rich who can afford to pay, pay the money and enjoy, environment, average people, traditional users be damned.

for instance a restaurant in middle of the lake and other things pointed in the article is a crazy idea.
The Hebbal lake has been drained bone dry, but in a few months you could be sipping a cup of coffee with a few hundred other tourists in Lake View, a restaurant that floats at the centre of the 150-acre water body.

restaurant and fancy things in the lake bed is shocking to say the least. it will be numbing if blore expands this and other cities catches onto it dealing a death blow to already dying lake/water bodies in urban areas.

several crazy things are happening in india in name of development and hebbal lake is the first example of craziness wherein government is abdicating its responsibility and falling at the feet of private sector and throwing away public interest.

this is not ppp-public private participation. this is private profits at public cost.
(above: notice in hebbal. private profits at public interset. below: crucial hebbal lake, sacrfice in name of development?)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

there was a very good article in the hindu on the double whammy of sand mining in rivers and how it affects the shoreline of kerala. and it had a vivid picture of how airport road in trivandrum is on verge of being washed out by the sea in the absence of shoreline due to continuous sand mining on beaches and rivers.

kerala rivers are already taking a huge brunt of sand mining. sand that is mined in huge quantities illegally, unsustainably and in an unregulated manner will be a death knell for rivers, beaches and to the population that depend on those.

well, tell this to an urban elite who has plugged in 50 lakh rupees for a dingy apartment in bangalore or chennai. he will laugh and crib about interest rates rather than the death state of our rivers.

well, that's development for you. where most of the urban elite population has lost touch with mother rivers thereby having zero knowledge of the importance of environment of india.
(bharatpuzha aka nila river of kerala. dying and dead due to massive illegal sand mining, this river is a classic example of mismanagment of our wonderful natural resources. it is double sad that a socially active state like kerala is willingly abusing its own rivers. the picture shows lake bed being exposed fully even soon after monsoon due to massive sand mining that has sucked out river's capability to retain water during non monsoon months and sometimes even during monsoon months)

Monday, July 23, 2007

the policy makers of india did something intesting over past couple of years.

they felt that north east india need to have more revenue and rest of india needs to be more developed. so they proposed a slew of hydel dam projects with the objective of generating tons of electricity.

the idea on paper looks good. electricity, sustainably generated benefiting local people and true development is most welcome. but our indian policy makers, true to their track record, started bulldozing local communities, enviornment and environmental laws to push the hydel dam projects.

one such dam project is in teesta river in sikkim. the affected people have started a blog and the ibn video gives the story.

looks like sikkim is being kicked and dragged into 'devlopment'. development for the rest of india, so that urban india can splurge and enjoy; destruction for the local tribals, people and environment of sikkim.

long live 'development', long die environment and people of sikkim.

(teesta river in sikkim. an amazing river vital to the ecology of sikkim, is now being targetted for hydel dams that comes bulldozing people and enviornmental laws).

Friday, July 20, 2007

water, a crucial resource for a populus nation like india. as i have blogged on water a lot, the below invitation makes perfect sense to celebrate water, the essence and true indicator of sustainable development.


*************************************************************************** *********





Dear Friends,

We are pleased to invite you to the photo contest awards giving function and exhibition of priceless photographs on 'WATER' as the theme followed by the screening of documentary films, jointly organized by the media outreach program of Water Kerala Network, AVARD, Chalakudy River Protection Forum and Fotowide Magazine on the 21st July 2007 at VYAPARA BHAVAN, Chalakkudy at 10.30 a.m.

Water Kerala Network is an initiative of organizations and individuals working in the field of water. For the past two years member organizations and individuals of the Network have been working on various issues and themes related to water i.e. river basin level studies, water for children program, wetlands, watershed programs etc. An All Kerala Photo competition with 'WATER' as theme was organized by the Network during December.2006 The entry of 196 photographs by 69 photographers received were scrutinized by a noted Jury consisting of Prof. K.G.Sankara Pillai , Kavitha Balakrishnan and Dr.Unnikrishnan.

The Photo Contest Award winners are, Johnson Chirayil, Photographer Madhayamam, ( First Prize), Mohammad Safi, Malappuram (Second Prize), and five Consolation Prize winners Sachariah Ponkunnam, Kottayam, Mohanan Eloor,Udyogamandal,Mohan Kizhakkumpurathu,Kodungallur, Ramachandran,

Neeleshwaram, and Sreekumar, Alapra, KeralaKaumadi

Screening of two documentary films by P.Balan, well known Documentary Film Maker will also be a part of the function. The exhibition will continue till 5 p.m.

All are cordially invited.

********************************************************************************** ***************

K. Vinod Kumar, Coordinator, Water Kerala Network (9447077251)

K.Rajagopal, Media Person (9447131275)

Fr. Davis Kizhakumthala, Director, AVARD (9447080964)

Joy, Fotowide Magazine (9447023155)

S.P.Ravi, Convener, Chalakudy River protection Forum (9249898773)


10.30. a.m. to 1.00 p.m.

Welcome : K.Rajagopal

Presidential Address : Smt. Leena Davis.

President, Chalakudy Block Panchayath

Inauguration of Sri.V.K.Sreeraman

Photo Exhibition : Film Actor and Writer

Distribution of Sri. C.N.Karunakaran

Photo Contest Chairman, Kerala Lalitha Kala Academy


Keynote Sri. I Shanmughadas

Address : Noted Film Critic

Response : Respected Jury Members and

Award winners

Felicitation : Sri. Sundardass

Noted Film Director

Fr. Benny Benedict

Director, Chetana Film Institute, Palace Rd. Thrissur


Secretary, KUWJ


Documentary Film Maker, ANPU Media, Kochi

Fr. Davis Kizhakumthala

Director, AVARD, Chalakudy

Vote of Thanks : S.P.Ravi,

Convener, Chalakudy River Protection Forum

Film Show Silenced Witness – 12 mts

And (Produced with the help of British High Commission

Film Fellowship on Wild Life Crimes on Elephant)

Discussion Director: P.Balan

Eighteenth Elephant – 60 mts

(Wild Screen Panda Award popularly called 'Green

Oscar Award' Winning Film)

Director: P.Balan

the sorry state of 'development' in places where chemicals, cement, textiles are manufactured is well known in terms of pollution (air, water, river and coastal), lack of social accountability by the concerned companies, etc. relatively less known is the point that there is absolutely zero responsibility when it comes to transport these 'developments' resulting in extreme danger to people who gets exposed if something bad happens during the transport.

that is what exactly happened couple of days back when a lorry (with absolutely no protection mechanism, or safeguards or standards) carrying hydrocholric acid, a highly toxic form of chemical.

wikpipedia tells it in a few lines like below.
Hydrochloric acid in high concentrations forms acidic mists. Both the mist and the solution have a corrosive effect on human tissue, potentially damaging respiratory organs, eyes, skin and intestines.

but who cares about these in india. pollution control boards - that have been severly compromised by politicians and government t leaving them without tooth, pay's are poor, the officials are under pressure from one side or another to facilitate 'development' - across india do not know whether these kind of acids are even manufactured in their vicinity let alone transfer them correctly.

when it comes to 'development' of india, end to end, we have no clue on how sustainably we can manage and facilitate development.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

this week earthquake in japan bought out worst fears of safety vis-a-vis nuclear power plants. the quake in central japan near to Kashiwazaki city raised worst fear that the radioactive leak might be much larger than expected also.

but it begs the question again for india which is on a spree of plans to mine, build and transport nuclear power. if japan with its huge engineering might and scientific talent can build nuclear plants that are not safe, how can india with its minnow engineer status (except of course while writing application software or bug fixing for american companies!!!) and literally zero proven scientific talent in government circles build complex things as nuclear plants that too dime a dozen.

worst of all india does not even have proper seismic maps or monitoring stations regarding earthquake just like they did not/don't have tsunami warning stations.

if ever an earthquake has to strike india's cities in a big way, we are looking at the death of many hundreds of thousands of people and on top of that a catastrophic nuclear disasters due to earthquake will be a deathblow not only for india but for the world.

india, should pause on nuclear program, think genuinely on nuclear power generation, involve all sections of the society to form a blue print on nuclear power issue before jumping like a baby on seeing a candy when it comes to nuclear power.

will it? or will it only after a massive disaster strikes just like tsunami did?(the affected nuclear plant in kashiwazaki in central japan. if japan's nuclear safety itself in question due to earthquake, what about india)

Nandagudi is perhaps karnataka nandigram. how else can we explain, karnataka government foray suddenly into bangalore's outer in name of 'development', 'SEZ', 'growth', when the great metro bangalore itself is choking and on verge of urban decay.

a whopping amount of land, nearly 7000 acres, is being planned to be 'acquired' for SEZ in this area. that too for the fancy new term called 'multi product', in which they plan to put all industries like electronics, chemicals, textiles under one massive roof in the forcibly acquired land.

SEZ concept itelf has huge issues and even china is tempering its SEZ and has not got more than a handful of SEZ. but india, like most development parameters, is forging ahead with each state competing against itself for fancy SEZ.

when development is the name of the game, SEZ is the name of the villian...

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

i have blogged enough on how the eia (environment impact assessment) laws of india is beind dismantled brick by brick, big bricks at that, so that 'development' agenda of industries and pro-industry wallah's in the government(there are numerous among them) can be pushed easily bulldozing communities and environment.

an article in latest tehelka pages give a shocking summary of the another set of changes being proposed by MoEF. as the article states, eia has been weakened so badly it is like a AIDS patient on severe grip of HIV virus. i reproduce from the article
Today both the NEP and the eia notifications have been drafted to ensure that environment is subservient to economic pursuits. The idea is to fast track environment clearance for industrial, infrastructure and other development. Further monitoring, based on which clearance will be granted, will be done by project proponents themselves, with the concerned ministry having no role in it.

adding to the above 2 diluted laws, moef proposes more rapid and dangerous changes as described in the article (below para).
Among other things, this will mean the end of several committees set up under the Environment Protection Act (epa), such as those for the management of Ecologically Sensitive Areas (ESAS). The Act will also override the powers of the National Environment Appellate Authority (NEAA), set up in 1997 — the only authority before which environment clearances and No-Objection Certificates issued to development and industrial projects can presently be challenged.

it is truly mind numbing, that all environment laws are being NOT for environment but for development. then why have MoEF (ministry of environment and forests). better change it to MoID (ministry of industries and development) which can wreck havoc on india's fragile ecosystems with gay abandon.

downtoearth latest cover story in vedanta mining in niyamgiri hills in orissa is shocking and numbing. in what can be described as one of their best stories so far for past couple of years (since i became their avid reader), it puts out the brutal story of vedanta plc mining in niyamgiri hills circumventing all human and environmental laws.

vedanta, should not be called vedanta. instead its shareholders should rename it as violanta, since it has violated all possible things in niyamgiri hills threatening rivers, mountains, forests, wildlife and tribal people livelihood.

vedanta headed by once metal scrap dealer anil agarwal has still the same mentaility. he seems to be thrashing the ecosystem and the people who depend on the ecosystem with the same way he trashes scrap metals. and his british shareholders seem to agree very much considering there is zero share holder activism to curb his vagabond moves.

and as for as orissa and its america returned chief minister, nothing matters except money. that too a pittance of money as the dte report points out, the mining companies make a total killing leaving just pennies to state government in terms of royalties.

ah well, who cares. as long as the keyword 'development' is used, nothing matters.

(violanta's aka known as vedanta's mining plans in above picture from dte website. violations and brutalities galore from violanta's side on bulldozing brutal mining into the throats of environment and people)

(Dongaria Kondhs of niyamgiri hills. will they be casualities in the mind numbing game of brutal development that india is playing on its own marginalised people)

Monday, July 16, 2007

ndtv report on sethu(Sethusamudram) is an eye opener for those who have not opened their opened their eye to this disaster.

from an environment point of view, this very controversial project is a disaster, and from an economic point of view, this project seems to be a super disaster.

and mr.v.sundaram, first chairman of tuticorin port is damning. i reproduce it below.
'I was part of the team that assessed the project in the 1980s when I was chairman of the Tuticorin Port Trust. When I left, report was still pending. I expressed my dissent with the project. It is a corrupt project, it does not make nautical sense and it is purely driven on a political basis,'' said V Sundaram, First Chairman, Tuticorin Port.

when it comes to fake development we all know environment does not matter and is treat lowly than human waste. it seems when it comes to fake development, economics also is being rubbished and fake just to push the project ahead and make a killing out of various contractual works that can be done in the fake project.

the pradhan mantri and money mantri of a nation called 'utopia' met on the sidelines of an important 'development' conference. here is how the conversation went...

pradan mantri (pm): hello money mantri
money mantri (mm): hello pradan mantriji.

pm: all are nowadays talking about global warming. i hate that term. why are they bugging us with that considering that we have so many 'development' things to do.
mm: that's right pm sir. i also dont understand.

pm: which is the ministry to deal with these kind of issues
mm: hmmmm.... i don't know.. is it our commerce ministry?

pm: no..no... mr.commerce-ji is busy opening up utopia for SEZ and as such he is doing a wonderful job. the amount of people displaced is far less than the crores and crores of rupee these positive 'development' will bring.
mm: you hit it right sir. it is not commerce...is it some environment kind of thing.

pm: haann....you are the man. it belongs probably to our environment ministry.
mm: do we have a ministry for environment...

pm: i think so...although i don't know the ministry name or who is in charge. can you call anybody in your home state as your colleagues occupy lot of ministries.
mm (using mobile and calls a politician in his home state): do you know the ministry name or who is in charge of something called environment.

regional politician (rp): hm..... i don't know..but i do know that superstar latest film sivaji is a wonderful action film....
mm (little annoyed): i know that TOO...but that ministry is something to do with trees...

rp: gotcha...it is something called moef..ministry of environment and forests..usually they give this as a dog's bone..meaning just to fill up our quota of ministers and also other parties do not want this chota ministry.

mm (cuts the phone thanking rp): pm-ji..it is moef - ministry of environment and forests.
pm (shrinking his face): do we have a ministry like that...very interesting and mysterious....

mm (smiling sheepishly): for past several years, my friends in my home state are occupying the post since we need to fill our quota of ministers...nah...and also i remember something called environment impact assessment (eia) which was blocking lot of projects and i think that eia was handled by moef...last year with help of our friends in industries we diluted that eia and made sure 'development' goes on smoothly...but i did not know something called moef is handling all these...

pm: coming back to the point, tell me what do we do to alleviate global warming...
mm: hmm....i dont know...may be we can dilute eia more so that more industries can come and we can make more money. of course this will involve little impact on our forests, environment, rivers, tribals...but tell me whether anybody can do anything in the world without impacting a little..hee....heee....

pm (nods approvingly): haan..haan...money is important and seldom does people realise that. but you should notice that there is pressure building on global warming on us and we need a platform on which we can stand and attack those who tell utopia to fall in line on this.
mm (thinking deeply): warming...global...heat....cool...water...rain...trees...forests....haaan-ji got it. we can plant tons of trees all across utopia....coin a slogan called green utopia and on this platform we can stand and bash up everybody...

pm: green utopia...gotcha...amazing line....we will plant millions of trees, allocate hundreds of crores...call our mega industries to participate, we will also farmers to relocate, tribals to get lost from forests, our forest staff to collaborate more with industries so that more land can be freed and more trees can be planted.....amazing idea....
mm: brilliant follow-up sir. i will immediately work on this to allocate funds..once green utopia comes in picture we will add the total money on the benefit of trees to our gdp figure also sir...

mm: one more thing sir.. i think we have to suck up moef ministry and fold it into either money ministry or commerce ministry...that little ministry is sucking up lot of funds and i don't see greenery anywhere in chennai when i go or to my village....
pm: that will be our part 2 of global warming platform....

pm: we should also call our favourite president mr.bush-ji and tell him about this idea.
mm: brilliant sir. we will do that...so that he can also plant lot of coal plants...err....green plants and benefit like we are going to get benefitted....

parallely in india, honorable prime minister launched green india program to counter climate change.

Friday, July 13, 2007

it was shocking to read Lafarge story in cnn-ibn. based on fake EIA, the france based multinational has setup mine in a pristine forest area violating SC rulings and several forest law.

shocking will be the last word if you see the video. outrageous will be the meek word if you see the pristine forests being plundered for profits of a multinational. angry will be one of the words when you see a delhi based company Environment Resource Management Ltd (ERM) doing fake work in twisting EIA study and preparing a company friendly report.

well, when it comes to development, nothing matters. nothing matters except one thing. money. money for wealthy individuals in multinational company.

if the same company Lafarge has done such a wilful violation in say america or europe (or even in their own country france), the top management, wherein the buck stops, will be counting big time jail time.

alas it is india. where nobody cares when it comes to the magic word of 'development'.

as india surges forward with increased software growth, increased manufacturing, diluting EIA laws so that destructive projects can go smoothly aiding 'development', narmada dam issue still festers.

festering like a wound
that wont heal
wont heal because
we wont allow
our growth is shallow
peppered with wounds and blows
inflicted upon ourselves
the weakest amongst ourselves

Senior NBA activist Cittaroopa Palit was on an indefinite fast on its 37th day and she broke it off at that point to continue her struggle in the narmada villages

meanwhile central government and respective state governments are in deep slumber about rehabilitation of narmada dam impacted people running into tens of thousands.

narmada still festers like a sore wound that india inflicted upon its marginalised and weaker sections in name of 'development'.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

what will you call a thing that wipes out entire community of 12,000 tribal people?

what will you call when the neglected north east region of india is fed with full community displacement in places where monster dam projects are coming up.

what will you call something monstrous that does not even care that you exsist but wants 'development' for you and for the elite of india.

you guessed it right. it is called 'development' - development of elite of india and destruction of forests and tribals.

from indian express report: Idu Mishmi, a 12,000 strong community, fears a wipe out because of the proposed 3,000 MW Dibang multipurpose project. It is a hydropower-cum-flood moderation project in Arunachal Pradesh. "We are not against development. Who does not want development? But it cannot be at the cost of the very existence of our community," said Mite Lingi, general secretary of Idu Cultural and Literary Society, one of the several local organisations opposing the construction of the dam. He said the Idu Mishmi tribals have been taken for a ride due to their ignorance "because our people had neither heard of a dam nor how hydro-electric power is produced."

guess even remote areas of india are not spared from the dangerous 'development'.

( above-Idu Mishmi tribals are facing full community displacement as a result of a monster dam project that is being planned on dibang river-below, amidst environmental and human rights concerns)

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

the ridiculous and outrageous case against narmada bachao andolan was finally thrown out by Honorable supreme court of india.

v.k.saxena, of ahmadabad based ngo National Council for Civil Liberties (NCCL), who bought the case, alleged that the NBA through Ms. Patkar was acting at the behest of foreign powers and creating political instability in the country with funds received from abroad.

nothing can be more absurd than this. if medha indeed wanted to profit from political instability she wont be struggling with poor marginalised people and farmers in narmada basin for several years, she would not have put her life repeatedly in line by fasting, she would not have lived a life of penury.

medha patkar by her constant work against narmada dam illustrated how screwed up the dam project is and we all should be thankful for her in showing a path which we ought to take in order to maintain a good balance between environment and development.

this case also illustrates how certain people can run amok with our judicial system in name of development, fake development at that.

Monday, July 09, 2007

it is a known fact that various state government with active support from central government is proposing a slew of coal power plants, mainly in coastal areas and areas closer to forests and rivers with the obvious idea being the resulting massive pollution can be swept under the carpet (the sea or rivers in this case).

we had monitored tadadi coal power plant in this blog. close to this proposed power plant comes the proposed chamalapura thermal power project in Chamalapura village near mysore.

no wonder, once people living locally came to know about this project, they started protesting.

electricity is much needed in india. but the government and policy makers should take every step to conserve electricity, mandate and monitor strict green building codes, cut down on the massive transmission and electricity losses, make industry invest in captive renewable energy for themselves, push renewable energy at each and every household level.

these are tough choices but once swallowed will give long term return on investment in terms of lesser cost, cleaner environmental and healthier lifestyle. proposing and building coal power plants is the easiest one for the government and a destructive one for local people and environment.

indian movie industry is well known worldwide. bollywood, as they call it, churns out several hundred movies every year, most of them being masala type's wherein the hero is the supreme and he vanquishes everybody else.

india, on the other hand, has also a thriving documentary film makers who portray reality as it is. a.v.sudharkaran is one such. his latest film is Malamudiyum kalam (evening times if translated with my limited malayalam knowledge), in which he potrays the destruction that is happening to the environment of kerala.

he summarises the development that is happening in kerala rightly below.
“The type of development now taking place in Kerala is not in tune with the geography, population, and climate of the State. This is what I am trying to say through Malamudiyum kalam,” says Sudhakaran.

only if our consumerist middle class and politicians listen to these words, how different the situation can be.

Friday, July 06, 2007

international finance corporation (ifc), the private sector lending arm of world bank, is a major player in india's development. they finance in spite of known violations in environmental and social arena, lot of projects.

the latest funding from them is for west coast paper mills. this blog has documented the wilful pollution of west coast paper mills in the past. ifc, in spite of knowing the poor track record of west coast paper mills, is funding west coast paper mills.

interestingly hindu report says as below:
Part of the loan will fund the installation of a new chlorine-free fibre line to eliminate a major source of pollutants from pulping operations.

for a long time, local people, environmentalists and others have complained that west coast paper mills have been heavily polluting. instead of cleaning up and improving production process the mills has been on an expansion spree and hence pollution spree. now they are going to use part of the loan for a production improvement.

very interesting. a factory is polluting big time, no action is taken by anybody and then a lending institution comes along and says it is funding to reduce pollution. interesting logic wherein you can keep on polluting to being with and then pollute all the way through and then get money (part of the money perhaps) to reduce pollution.

full polluted development is perhaps more important than effective sustainable development, especially when it comes to indian factories.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

windmill is an emerging and a strong wave for future when it comes to renewable and green energy. increasingly western countries (and developing -and destroying!!!- countries) are turning to wind power.

with zero emissions, zero wastage, zero effulents, etc, etc wind power offers a green energy that is attractive for public utilities to mix and match their offering so that economic viability can be maintained.

but officials of karnataka and Karnataka Renewable Energy Development Ltd has taken an extreme step to go 'extreme and destrutive brown' i guess.

what else would explain opening up a forest area that too a protected national treasure in terms of bio diveristy to wind mills and that too to a company that is trampling upon communities for a coal power plant in coastal karnataka.

ms.manorama madhwaraj, congress MP from karnataka questions on this is the same question i have. hindu has captured this nicely and the summary is below.

To set up a windmill in hilly areas, a minimum of 50-metre long and wide concrete platforms were needed; The towers, generators and the machines with gearboxes would have to be lifted with the help of trawlers; To shift this, roads with a width of 10 to 12 metres had to be laid; The boulders and stones on the way would have to be blasted with dynamite; Apart from this, a substation building, permanent quarters for staff and guesthouses had to be built;Trees would have to be felled to draw high-tension wire to transmit 66 kV or 110 kV power.

looks like same case as athirapally wherein the lust for electricity has prompted officials to trample upon the pristine chalakudy ranges.

let's part with the summary that the MP has put so eloquently. "If the wind-power project were set up in plain lands, it could be called environmentally friendly. But if such projects were set up in the dense forests of the Western Ghats, then it is not environmentally friendly"

when maniac growth is the only mantra, nothing else stands in front of it. not even pure logic.

(the above 2 pictures are from altamont pass outside bayarea in california. these windmills have been under tremendous pressure from bird lovers and environmentalists because of the bird kills happening. and altamont pass is not even a forest. it is a hilly area in the middle of urban sprawl. imagine putting such power plants bang in middle of national forests in california!!!. imagine the same thing in india. in india, our urban elite and policy makers will gleefully call this merciless growth as 'development')

the group of ministers (GoM) meets when they have to take important decisions. as elected representatives of people and also as policy makers accountable to Constitution they are supposed to make informed decision considering all aspects into account, especially those marginalised people on whose support they were elect and to whom they are answerable.

but the GoM meeting on mining seems to be more concerned about gdp, increasing mining area, investments in mining rather than anything else. even the usual rhetoric on human face is missing. how else can you justify some of following statements.

Currently only five per cent of the total 18.5 lakh sq km of mineral wealth available is being mined and this is the main reason why the sector contributes only 2.8 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) which includes contribution from fuels.
so the objective is to mine, mine and more mine. of the areas where mineral wealth are present, crucial forests, mountain ranges, tribal and marginalised people are also present. what is the policy angle on these ecosystem and people. simply to kick these out so that mining contribution to gdp increases and only money matters and nothing else is?

While the worldwide investment in the sector is close to $5 billion in India it is only $2 billion. This has to change and we hope that the scenario improves once the new policy is adopted
has GoM ever studied how mining is done in other parts of the world. how other countries especially developed countries treat their own people and ecosystems when it comes to mining. when GoM just looks at money figure, fake developments get priority and push compared to genuine and sustainable investments.

Dr Reddy also announced that environment clearances for mining relating issues would be made simpler in consultation with the Ministry of Environment & Forests so that the mining sector receives a large number of investment proposals.
and as usual, the wounded and weak MoEF will be arm-twisted and made to fall in line to okay the maniac investments that is being planned in mining sector.

when maniac growth at all costs is the goal of the policy makers, development of people - especially marginalised and rural people who depend on ecosystems that mining brutalises- has been and will be the first casualty.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

jindal, we all know is a very patriotic guy and a shrewd businessman. he fought in several arenas so that indians can fly their own honorable national flag as per the wishes and in respect to the rules of the flag.

but the same jindal has become much more patriotic i guess. shall we say more greedy rather than patriotic. his Jindal Power limited (jpl) has been forced to Uproot Power Transmission Line in raigarh district of chhattisgarh

why so? wont india need electricity; wont india need to 'develop'; wont india's spoiled urbanies needs more and more electricity so that they can splurge and waste it more and more.

jindal power company has repeatedly violated the forest conservation act and that's the reason why they are forced to uproot the power transmission line they are laying in raigarh district.

in a major setback to Jindal 1000 MW Mega Project at Raigarh district of Chhattisgarh, DFO Raigarh take strict stand and denied to permit work on transmission line without forest clearance from Ministry of Environment & Forests. It is not known if case has been registered against company for this illegal act.

jpl has applied for diversion 5.54 Ha of protected forest in Tanmar Range and felling of trees for erection of high-tension power line to transmit power from its Mega Project. it seems the company is now uprooting already erected power line by JBC Machines, cutting steel poles by gas cutters and rolling back electric wire.

going several steps in violation of several laws, jpl has also laid down about 35 KM Pipe Line from Rabo Dam to its plant at Tamnar for water requirement without forest clearance from Ministry.

well, we atleast expect some amount of genuine patriotism from jindal. sadly patriotism for jindal does not come when he chases money. money that is being touted as development in india. and much more scarier and sadder is naveen jindal, under whose nose these developments are happening, is also a member of parliament and also america educated, a land which ought to have taught him how to respect the rule of the law.

below pictures show the pipeline and subsequent cleaning up/removing of pipeline which was in first place laid in contravention of the fc act.

hindustan lever, a multinational group involved in everything that you can dream of right from coffee onto soaps onto beauty products onto detergents onto ice creams onto wheat products onto nutrition items onito whatever you can dream of and whatever you are using.

but the same hindustan lever limited, now hindustan unilever limited hid many important and damaging information about its thermometer factory in the crucial kodaikanal hill station. worst of all, after the factory was closed due to environmental and health hazards, the company cared a hoot about the workers whom it had abused by making them in hazardous and dangerous conditions.

it took dogged persistence from the ex-workers of the factory to pursue the company to take care of the damage to their health and the high court has now intervened and formed an expert committee to analyse the health conditions of the ex workers.

corporate india talks about social responsibility, community development and sustainability at the drop of the hat. but when it comes to real life, like this hindustan lever thermometer factory fiasco shows, they act exactly in the opposite direction. after all wall street, financial analysts and industrial captains are concerned only on profits and money and nothing else.

(a notice board in the closed hindustan lever thermometer factory in kodaikanal. development gone amiss)
(mercury pollution in kodai area near the factory caused huge health issues not only to factory workers but also those who had coffee plantations and people living nearby. above picture from tehelka shows mercury being treated without proper care when the factory was functioning)

Monday, July 02, 2007

videocon is a respected indian company competing with multinational in the very competitive area of electronics.

but when videocon chairman talks about sez, then i guess, he is competing against himself in trying to convince his own self.

as per him and i quote him " Special economic zones (SEZs) are not a land-grabbing game, as the cost of land in any industrial project is only 10 per cent, and bulk of the expenditure is incurred on plant towards machinery and human capital."

that's news to lot of people :). if the land cost is only 10%, then why on earth does big companies ranging from tata to reliance running after very cheap means to acquire by force thousands and thousands of acres.

why does indian companies that are 'developing' india want these lands at very cheap and throwaway prices.

why is real estate projects being planned almost in majority of sez's if land is not a factor.

why is lands closer to urban areas (outskirts of bangalore, delhi, mumbai) being lusted after.

and his partner in crime mr.saraf (outgoing chamber of merchant's chamber of commerce) turns real funny when he says "Quoting a recent Goldman Sachs report, Mr Saraf said labour was nearly four times more productive in industry and six times more productive in the service sectors. “As such, any fear of loss of livelihood by the land-losers is totally misplaced.”

how can farmers who have tilled the land for generation be suddenly wearing ties, coats and become service industry people and how can these farmers who are violently thrown away from their own lands be rehabilitated with industrial jobs when industries are rapidly automating and cutting out manual work in order to increase competitiveness. how can somebody be trained just like that in a new area and that too after bulldozing his family.

in india anything is possible i guess, loose talk by captains of industries included, to justify fake development that lines only the pocket of the rich.

the bhopal industrial disaster is the worst saga that can happen to any country in the world. but even worst is the fact that the victims have not been compensated correctly, their demands met and being followed up diligently or the polluter who caused the mayhem is punished legally and morally.

union carbide was the original culprit and with dow chemicals taking over union carbide, it took over all assets of union carbide. by that assets, the liabilities are also included especially when it comes to unparalleled human disaster.

so what should a company like dow do? give advertisements all over the world saying they are greenest companies. tom tom in every meeting that they are in cutting edge of green technology. wooing the prime ministers and important ministers of the world with lucrative 'investments'.

absolutely no. if they want to do all of the above it is fine for them. but they should also have knuckled down, acknowledge that bhopal has been a festering wound and address it genuinely.

but instead they are lobbying (albeit sadly successfully) with india's important politicians in a bid to remove them from the bhopal tragedy and in the process the return on investment for india is 'new investments'.

the moral of the story is 'murder if you can and once you murder sweeten the deal so that the murder is absolved'.

the repeated bhopal fiasco shows how crazy india has become to industrialised especially in toxic chemicals sector.

well for india, when money for a select few is all that matters, then murder and mayhem like bhopal seems to be perfectly a correct path for 'development'.