Wednesday, October 31, 2007

lets see this familiar sequence.

1. a mega indian multinational (for long we have been telling american multinationals are out to conquer india!!!) announces a grand!! plan to start and 'develop' a remote but crucial rural area comprising of tens of thousands of marginalized people living on vital ecological pillars.

2. the central and state government turn into 'brokers of development' and start acquiring (of course by india's own technique of police threat, force, playing divisions in community, arrest, etc) land at dog's price

3. the land deal gets of to a slow start forcing the indian multinational to 'shift' to a more conducive place, of course for the 'development' of india.

4. the small farmers and people who lived in the lands for tens of decades are left wondering of their own fate at the merciless feet of the multinational and ruthless elected 'brokers'.

no i am not talking about zimbabawe. i am not also not talking of iraq and of course i am not talking of america at all. welcome to india. welcome to 'development'.

the story by environmentalist nity in corpwatch on tata's plan to 'develop' india via its tuticorin titanium plant is indeed stomach turning.

indeed most of tata's activity on their growth is abysmal coming at reckless need to make money and give returns to shareholders and propel sensex past 20000.

this kind of fake 'development' is indeed abysmal.

there was no drum beating, there were no huge lorries ferrying people, there were no press coverage like the one for sensex 20000, there were no VIP's lined up.


there were tens of thousands of people marching. there were tons and tons of feeling of betrayal of 'developed' india. there were tons and tons of hope at the same time on those tired legs and brave hearts.

last week around 25000 marginalized people from several north indian states reached delhi. not by fancy cars, not by sexy jeeps and not by massive lorries. but by foot. they walked several hundred kilometers for more than a month telling their sad stories.

what are their stories. their stories is the hidden story of 'developed' india. of polluted villages, of displaced hamlets, of brutalization in name of SEZ, of non implementation of vital land policies, of fancy industrial hubs that is displacing them in name of fake 'development'.

walk did they,
talk did they,
cry did they,
to make 'developed' india sit up,

walk did they,
tired were they,
brave onto themselves,
to make 'shining' india take notice,

walk did they,
sing did they,
peace onto themselves,
to make india truly everyone's

the count was 25000 people. but there are tens of millions of people who are in the same sad boat left brutalized by the tiny section of 'developed' india.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

2 pictures that tell (or perhaps don't tell) the story of 'development' of india.

the first one is the picture of sensex crashing 20000 points and the second showing 2 pictures that tell (or perhaps don't tell) the story of 'development' of india.

the first one is the picture of sensex crashing 20000 points and the second showing tribals in london to protest against the displacement that will befall the thousands and thousands of their tribesmen.

sensex going 20000 is nothing wrong, but if that zoom is on top of polluting factories, environmental abuses, massive displacement via fake dams and unsustainable mining projects actively encouraged by officials and politicians in cohorts with businessmen to make a killing, then it is important we question the fact why sensex has zoomed 20000 whereas majority section of environment and marginalised people are being shoved down the toilet.

development indeed is stinking in india.
(the zooooomminnggg sensex.....
(the brutalised tribals of niyamgiri hills, orissa. 2 faces of india. one tiny section that is galloping on back of the other major section)

as 'developed' india rejoiced on the sensex hitting 20000 points, as a new india 'emerged' and as the elite middle class 'wakes up' from slumber, one thing remained unchanged.

the destruction and brutalization of our environment and marginalised people continued unabated. as ritwick dutta, the supreme court lawyer puts its strongly "In project after project, the State rides roughshod over the cultural and ecological concerns of the affected communities "

in project after project, in 'development' after 'development', in gdp point increase after increase, the burden of the growth shifts towards the ecology and the marginalized people who bear the brunt of fake policies that propel one tiny section of india at the same time destroying the majority section of india.

i am putting down the article written by ritwick below lest the page is moved. india should bow in shame on the fake 'development' policies being pursued rather than chest beating of sensex at 20k.


Culture Shock

In project after project, the State rides roughshod over the cultural and ecological concerns of the affected communities

Environment Lawyer

Sudeep Chaudhuri

THE PROPOSED Sethusamudram canal has generated debate on a scale that neither Narmada nor the Tehri dam projects ever could. The Supreme Court’s (sc) stay on the execution of a part of the project is more because of Ram Setu’s (officially called the Adam’s Bridge) cultural and religious associations, than its ecological impact. This is welcome: the recognition of cultural values associated with natural features gives hope to those striving to protect India’s natural resources from plunder and overexploitation.

Unfortunately, there are hundreds of Sethusamudram like structures and natural features in India that are being destroyed today. In Sikkim, members the Lepcha community have been on a hunger strike for the last two months against the proposed construction of a number of dams in Dzongu, their sacred land. The special constitutional protection accorded to the region, the sanctity and reverence it has traditionally enjoyed, and the hunger strike by young Sikkimese and Buddhist monks — all have been ignored bythe Sikkim government and the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) in New Delhi. The MoEF continues to approve dam projects in Dzongu without any comprehensive impact assessment of the projects.

Unfortunately, this depressing story is being repeated across the country. In Orissa, the state owned Orissa Mining Corporation Ltd intends to mine bauxite at the Niyamgiri hills and sell it to Vedanta Alumina Ltd. The projected profits for all involved is handsome and there will be “some” local employment generated. All of which apparently justifies the fact that the Dongaria Kondhs, a “primitive” tribal group numbering only 8,000 people, will have no say on the fate of the Niyamgiri Hills which they regard as sacred.

The Dongaria Kondh consider hilltops as particularly important and refer to them as the “playgrounds of the gods”. Unfortunately for them, the hilltops also have ample reserves of bauxite much in demand by aluminium companies the world over.

Like the Lepchas of Sikkim, the Dongarias have been protesting against the mining project, but they have neither the numbers nor the kind of media attention that those opposing the Sethusamudram project received.

A slew of so called “run of the river” hydel power projects — proposed along almost every Himalayan river — have been approved without adequate assessment of their environmental impact. For instance, rough estimates suggest that nearly 80 percent of the Teesta river in Sikkim will flow through tunnels when the dam projects along it are completed. Alaknanda and Bhagirathi, tributaries of the Ganga, are being dammed at an amazing speed: in just two months, the MoEF has approved three hydel power projects — Kotlibhel 1 A, I B and Stage 2 on theses rivers.

In 1992, India became a signatory to the Rio Declaration. Principle 10 of the declaration requires that each signatory country provide access to information, public participation and access to justice on environmental issues. After a few initial steps forward, India’s record has been dismal compared to other signatory nations.

While there has been significant progress on access to information in other areas of governance, when it comes to the environment, developments have been shocking, to say the least. Local communities in India now have few options of finding out the impact of mega-projects, thanks to the Environment Impact Assessment Notification, 2006, which greatly limits access to vital project-related documents. Public hearings, which required the views of the affected communities to be taken into account when planning a project, are no longer mandatory. Projects which can have a huge impact on ecology, like building roads across mountains and forests, or tourism projects, no longer need impact assessments. A notification to restrict construction along rivers, called the River Regulation Zone along the lines of the Coastal Regulation Zone, has been gathering dust for years.

ALTERNATIVE GRIEVANCE redressal mechanisms are practically nonexistent. Even when they are in place, they are non-functional. The National Environmental Tribunal which has the mandate to enforce the “polluter pay principle” and compensate victims of environmental damage is yet to be constituted, even though Parliament passed the Act establishing it in 1995. This is largely due to the lack of interest of successive governments. Mercifully the sc recently quashed attempts by the MoEF not to grant extension to the Central Empowered Committee — a special committee on forests and wildlife, which has taken a strong stand against many ecologically damaging projects.

The absence of such alternative forums, as well as the unilateral, exclusive and myopic vision that typifies environmental decisionmaking at all levels, will lead to more issues like the Sethusamudram coming up before the courts. The outcome could be embarrassing for both state and Central governments.


Monday, October 29, 2007

if what the honorable supreme court suggested in the niyamgiri vedanta mining issue case is what the supreme court will be following up in its final ruling, it will be indeed tragic.

as per livemint website, "The court suggested that VAL’s holding company, Sterlite Industries (India) Ltd, file an affidavit with three undertakings: commit to pay Rs50 crore as a security deposit to the court; agree to pay 5% of the net profit accruing from all its mining activities or Rs10 crore, whichever was greater, towards tribal development and environmental safeguards; and present a report on employment opportunities that the project would generate."

as this blog has repeatedly pointed out, industries in most cases abuse marginalized and environment by doling out fake promise before a project is started and screwing up after the project goes on stream.

on top of that you add fake environmental impact assessment (eia's) and poor regulation from government, it is a total recipe to disaster.

it is unfortunate to see the honorable supreme court suggesting 'sustainable development' by allowing disastrous mining project in niyamgiri hills which is home to around 8000 primitive Dongaria Kondh tribes living there for many decades.

in a funny part, vedanta has indeed built the refinery to process the raw materials without even getting clearance and approval for the raw materials (niyamgiri hills) site.

this project has also been opposed by the very own supreme court empowered committee (cec) as it will be a disaster to many thousands people living there apart from the forests, wildlife and water stream sources and the honorable supreme court should have seen the underbelly of this vital case in terms of environment, ecosystems and tribal welfare instead of just throwing money at a disastrous mining project.

well, when it comes to 'development', i guess even our honorable supreme court is not in tune with the ground level reality.
(the vital niyamgiri hills, the home of many thousands tribals who will face eviction, pollution and eventually extinction, courtsey 'development' of india)
(the primitive kondh tribals of orissa who live in niyamgiri hills. marginalised people like these thousands of tribals are yet another trash in the 'development' of india. picture courtsey grassroots media @ flickr)

Friday, October 26, 2007

india, apart from say america, china and brazil, is one of the dam crazy nations of the world. dam, dam and more dams is the mantra.

as india's cities grow in an unsustainable manner in terms of energy and water, there is huge pressure from the urban elite for more and more of energy and water. this directly translates into more and more dams as elected officials of india are more than happy to join hands with contractors in building unsustainable dams.

the story ends not soon after the building of monster dams which is built mostly on top of fake eia and fake promises. after the dam is built, there is no effort in its maintenance, in its life span, in its working, etc.

the end result these monster dams are a direct threat to the people who live nearby these dam areas. the recent episode in chalakudy river in kerala is a glaring example of this. indiatogether story has the sorry state of india's dam's with kerala as the example.

dam, dam and more dams. damn, damn and damn the environment and the marginalised people. this is the one line summary of 'development' of india. bad and fake can 'development of india' go. it can go as bad and fake as the development of orissa.

tehelka has put an article that describes how bad can this maniac push towards 'development' can take.

some snippets from the article,

ORISSA’S FRAGILE ecosystem, sustaining some of the most endangered species on the planet, is collapsing under the weight of relentless industrialisation. Even as Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik was promising in New Delhi that agricultural land would not be acquired for setting up Special Economic Zones (SEZs), Industry Minister Biswabhusan Harichandan said in Bhubaneswar that farmers would have to make “sacrifices” for the state’s development. The Orissa Pollution Control Board has declared that ground water in vast areas of the state is severely contaminated and fast depleting, and that water in six major rivers is now unfit for human use. In a recent report, the Board has declared that rivers Mahanadi, Bramhani, Rusikulyaa, Nagabali, Subarnekha and Baitarani have lost their natural cleansing systems and are unfit for drinking.

the entire story paints a sad picture of how bad can development go. and leading the pack is the america returned politician chief minister of orissa who has made the word 'reckless' a meaningless word.
(Demonstration in Front of Orissa Pollution Control Board by People affected by the proposed mining of Malangtoli, Keonjhar, by Orissa Sponge Iron Limited in nov 2005. in orissa, tribal people, farmers, ecosystem and wildlife has no meaning to their america returned politician who is hell bent on destroying every inch of the state in name of 'development'. )

Thursday, October 25, 2007

at last we had the veteran communist leader v.s.achuthanandan is making correct noise regarding the crucial silent valley national park.

words cannot express how important this forest area is for the importance of kerala and india. one of the few remaining western ghats region that is untouched and pristine, this region is an eco treasure spanning many thousands of years apart from being the drinking water source of many tens of thousands of keralites via its various rivers.

let entire silent valley region (including buffer zones) be declared protected forever and no damn dams will be ever allowed to destroy this important place.

silent valley is an example of the greatest failure of development wherein even important ecosystems are being threatened ('developed') day in and day out to build unsustainable dams to satisfy the lust of urban elites who pile upon gadgets upon gadgets and waste energy while living in unlivable cement buildings that suck electricity every second.

minor changes in lifestyle by elite of india will mean major protection to india's environment resulting in sustainable living and development of india.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

amidst the earning calls for several american companies last week one news stood apart. it was not an earnings call but as that of 'accountability' call.

the caller was the house committee and the callee was yahoo! inc, the internet behemoth. i have blogged on how environment and people rights is being eaten up in relentless pursuit of 'development' and in a similar way (and also in a dangerous way) internet is also being used by china to target individuals who are demanding more democracy and freedom (or free speech if you will).

i would not have blogged if it was not for yahoo!. yahoo! being an internet pioneer ought to have acted more responsibly when it was turning over emails relating to an individual to chinese authorities. of all the things in the world, yahoo is the pioneer of internet, the very internet that fosters more choice and more freedom. and worst of all, yahoo! seemed to have lied to the american authorities in this case and hence the call by house committee.

the day when yahoo! turned over critical information to chinese authorities (probably for being in good books of chinese), was indeed a tragic day for the individual(s) who got arrested and for internet.

india's fake development and yahoo!'s fake act in turning over the individual(s) both are tragic.

Monday, October 22, 2007

a ndtv video that profiled a march by tribals from jharkhand onto delhi to protest against the displacement and destruction of their homes, lives and livelihood in name of development.

the tribals led by the ngo ekta parishad are talking, singing and dancing their way to delhi to protest against the brutal naked dance of fake development.

will the powers that be in delhi listen. will the political parties that talk non stop about class struggles listen. will the businessmen and ceo's who are propelling the elite india to more elitist goals listen.

all the tribals (and this blog) is asking is fair and equitable balanced and sustainable growth. growth that includes everybody including the marginalized communities and the abused ecosystem.

it is a new paradigm of development that india needs and not the fake development that is going on.

when it comes to perspective/policy/watchdog/guidance on development versus environment, fake development versus sustainable development, maniac polluting industrial growth versus agriculture there is no one political party that is as confused as our beloved comrade in arms (or shall we say confused comrade not in arms with the poor people)

and when it comes to calling correct shots, our confused communists of india are no better. look at the statement of the confusion chief of communist party of india mr.sitaram yechury when it comes to calling of bandh's of political party and i quote him below.

‘If not allowed, democratic rights will be reduced to a level of impotence’

Bandh is a legitimate political activity, and how can courts curb the right by declaring it as illegal, asked Sitaram Yechury, Polit Bureau Member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) here on Friday.

“Today there are two Indias in the making,” Mr. Yechury said, adding one was a shining India and the other a suffering India.

political parties, especially like the communists who should have been a correct watchdog on various things outlined in the first para, has unfortunately turned into political middlemen lobbying for industries including polluting chemical hubs (that has been kicked out of developed countries) that affects the very living environment of the marginalized people, wants to conduct bandh(s) so that 'democratic' rights can be sustained.

where are the communists when narmada dam is being bulldozed, where are they when the fake sethu project is being arrogantly pushed down the throats of local fishermen, where are they when athirapally dam is being smashed violating all rules of the land, where are the they when sipcot cuddalroe area is a virtual hell hole... there are tens of hundreds of cases like these across india and the communists are virtually absent. they are not only absent but in the 'other camp' pocketing nice rewards touting 'development'.

democratic rights for whom. democratic rights for politicians or democratic rights for people. democratic rights for the fake politics and fake development policies pursued by political parties. democratic rights to conduct a bandh that can paralyze the whole economy and affect daily wage earners and their families, democratic rights so violence can be let loose on innocent people....

it is time to call the bluff. the bluff called 'development' and the bluff called 'democratic rights' as is being touted by our communist not-in-arms comrades.

mr.sitaram yechury is right. there are only 2 india's. one india is the rich india and other india that supports/sustains/claps/enjoys the rich india. mr.sitaram yechury and his communist friends belong to the second case.

Friday, October 19, 2007

there was some positive news on the beleaguered urban bangalore environment front. the hindu reports that the Forest Department has proposed that all the 114 lakes within the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike limits be declared “reserve forests” under the Karnataka Forest Act, 1963.

urban water bodies in bangalore and in other cities have been abused, misused, toileted and toxicated for many decades and the direct penalty of this is increasing pressure on rural rivers so that water can be sucked in to urban areas (at great cost) from far away off.

preserving urban area lakes as viable water bodies is super important in case india's chaotic urban area people wants any sort of decent living. if they want maniac 'development', of course they can always continue like now and get up at morning 4 AM for the water lorry to give them the water!!!.

we all know that united states is actually 'united states of china' due to its 100% dependence on chinese products right from laptops onto construction materials onto cheap toxic toys :).

but on a serious note united states is fast becoming 'united states afraid of china'. how else would we describe iraqi war zero bush meeting with dalai lama. i am quoting a para from cbsnews below.

So as not to rub China’s nose in it, the President’s meeting is not listed on his public schedule today. The get-together was taking place behind closed doors in the White House residence. There’s no photo-op for the press, and unlike previous meetings, there’ll be no release of a White House photo, as was the case on November 9, 2005.

the head of a nation that has the world's most vibrant democracy, the very nation that was built on foundations of human freedom, respect and speech, the nation that is hope to many million immigrants, a nation that is an example of democracy meets dalai lama in a hush hush top secret manner.

and the reason is america (its president actually) does not want to antagonize china. and precisely for this type of short vision reason america now pays homage to dictatorship possible and acts supplicant to chinese even for normal things that can be done in open.

bravo democracy. bravo america. as the america (and the world) becomes more open, wireless and online, its heart becomes more closed, afraid and dark.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

it was very interesting to read the ceo of mindtree software consulting interview. he says that by company actions/records/behaviour clean, it can be a good sustainable business operation.

if he can tell his fellow indian ceo's who are smashing india's rivers, forests, wildlife, coastal regions to pieces to do the same thing when it comes to environment then how good it can be!!!

the article ended with the following quotes

In Africa, they didn’t know what ‘food’ meant.
In India, they didn’t know what ‘honest’ meant.
In Europe, they didn’t know what ‘shortage’ meant.
In China, they didn’t know what ‘opinion’ meant.
In West Asia, they didn’t know what ‘solution’ meant.
In South America, they didn’t know what ‘please’ meant.
And in the US, they didn’t know what ‘the rest of the world’ meant.

and may i add a single below line:
In India, Indian CEO's dont know what 'environment and sustainable development' meant.

nothing can be said so simple when you say it very simple. on reading the interview of Gavin Edwards, Head of Climate and Energy Campaign, Greenpeace International, it is very simple to say no to nuclear power.

this blog has been telling the same thing all along in the hyped up india america nuclear deal. we don't need dangerous nuclear power plants that smashes coastal livelihoods apart from generating toxic radioactive waste to achieve energy sufficiency.

mandatory residential green buildings, renewable energy, conservation targets, mandatory solar power water heaters,systems for elite urban households, mandatory green buildings for industries and software companies, cutting down transmission and distribution losses from the current 30 to 40% to low single digits - many things like these can guarantee that india can achieve positive results in energy sufficiency.

and also it can spawn a new green industry that california is now spawning. only if india's policy makers, politicians and urban elite listen to the true situation on the ground with respect to environmental and marginalized communities most of policies can be forged ahead with a huge green paint so that it can be a win win for all.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

one more vital river. one more state. one more abused community. one more feather in the cap of 'development of india'.

welcome folks to the new india where there is enough bandwidth to carry internet traffic but not enough basic drinking water for hundreds of millions of people.

welcome friends to the land that taught civilisation to the rest of the world but where the very foundations where the civilisations originated - the rivers - are dying

welcome strangers where one small section of india booms choking the chests of the vital ecosystem and marginalised communities.

one more vital river.....

kerala, the land of rivers and land of cultural beauty would soon be classified as land of dying/dead rivers and gradually the very culture that is based on rivers is destroyed.

the beautiful manimala river of alapuzha district is the latest casaulty (or feather if you will) in the face of development of india.

many rivers of kerala are meeting the same fate as manimala river wherein the heart of the river is stabbed beyond healing by means of massive illegal sand mining and unless urgent action is taken it will be very very late even to see water in kerala. if this is the devlopment we want, the less said the better.

(the vital manimala river with almost zero safeguards is becoming yet another feather in the cap of development of india. picture from hindu shows the disappearing river bank on easter side of the river) (the mesmerizing manimala river as it flows in central kerala. a vital river now on death bed in many places)

when everybody can weigh in on the 'positive deal' between america and india on the nuclear front, why should mohammed elbaradei, chief of the UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) be quiet.

i quote from the ibnlive interview "What I see there is a bipartisan support in Congress for the US-India deal. So even there is change of administration I will be surprised if there is lack of support for that deal because as I said it makes a lot of common sense. It will help India to lift millions of people out of poverty."

how so? how will the deal which potentially can bring 10's (perhaps 100's) of nuclear reactor lift india out of poverty (and perhaps forge india ahead to be a developed country. yeah right!!!).

when communities across coastal india are fighting pitched battles on top of flawed public hearings, fake eia companies touting false eia's, huge pollution due to thermal power plants, how come a nuclear power plants (that too projected to add just 10% or less to the national power at huge costs) will lift india out of poverty.

only the UN chief knows it. or perhaps was he tutored by one of india's 'development and growth' guru's?

Monday, October 15, 2007

the ill fated and unsustainable athirapally hydel dam project is back in limelight. amidst several eia violations and huge protests from local people, this brutal dam is headed to the courts again.

the public interest litigation filed in kerala states what has been known to everybody. abuse of eia, fake eia report, the public hearing has been a farce, the project will destroy the ecology of the area inflicting a fatal death stab at the already abused chalakudy river.

aren't we all familiar with the above. aren't we. all the above are the trade marks of the abusive development process we follow in india in the name of maintaining the 'growth rate'.

damn the ecosystem and damn the people who depend on it. this is development of the 'new india'.

when will our icon steve jobs go green and when will our icon steve jobs go green without getting kicked by greenpeace.

in its latest findings, greenpeace has found toxic BFR and PVC materials in iphone's apart from the alarming fact that apple corporation does not have any worthwhile buyback recycling policy of its products.

greenpeace specifically says as "Analysis revealed that the iPhone contains toxic brominated compounds (indicating the prescence of brominated flame retardants (BFRs)) and hazardous PVC."

come on apple you can do definitely do better. Why the hell greenpeace has to kick your conscience each and every time you release a new product to point out the dangerous toxic chemicals you put inside.

Note that by going green not only you can get a huge boost for your products but also you get a new base of customers who like to buy environmentally friendly products. even a kid studying high school can tell this. it does not require greenpeace to point to your bad product components each and every time.

we all need real leaders and it is time apple and steve jobs stood up to be a real one and by pointing to those leaders we can tell the other businessmen (especially the one's in developing countries) that 'hey be like steve jobs is on environment angle'.

unfortunately it has not happened yet but it is not late yet.
(iphone and ipod from the iconic apple corporation. great products to have but toxic products to avoid. when can apple transform itself to a green company without being kicked and dragged into being so)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

how low can the middle class and upper middle class pampered on fake 'development' policies of businessmen and politicians go?

they can go to any limits to assert their 'new sense of devloped india'. they can go so low as probably for the first time a cricketer has been abused with huge racial overtones.

this deplorable, condemnable, disgusting act should be condemned by all concerned especially the comatose indian cricket board headed by the suicide-damn-the-farmers agriculture minister.

it has been widely reported that andrew symonds, the australian cricket all rounder has been abused with 'monkey calls' and 'monkey chants' during the match in vadadora, in the state of gujarat.

it is a matter of great national shame that each and every indian need to be ashamed of and each and every indian should apologize to andrew symonds.

it is time for all indians and gujaritis to stand up and be counted and condemn this shameful incident.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

i have been to mangalavanam near high court in cochin. a wonderful lung in the increasingly polluted and congested cochin port city.

hindu had a wonderful picture. when i was there and met the forest officer in charge of mangalavam, they are already fighting new proposals to 'develop' mangalavanam.

without vital green lungs like mangalavanam places like cochin will be virtually unlivable. for that without greenery on roads, green lungs, green small parks, green round-tana's, green buildings - all of india will be unlivable.

with more and more buildings, massive cars and choked cities, we can call this 'development'. of course it is development for the person who travels in a nice car. but for the majority of pedestrians, urban poor, cyclists, this is anything but 'development'. (mangalavanam in cochin. a vital lung area for the increasingly polluted and choking cochin)

hcl computers, india's flagship computer hardware and software exporter has come with a new line of desktop's and laptops under their "HCL eSafe" program.

this is a very good move as of late hcl has been in firing line of environmentalists due to the usage of toxic components in their computer line. as per the press report, "The new desktops, HCL eSafe, are compliant with “restriction of hazardous substances” (RoHS) directive, having negligible or zero quantities of hazardous materials such as lead, cadmium and mercury and are easily recyclable."

and on top of this positive move, we have HCL tie up "chennai-based government approved recycling plant, Trishiraya, where all the collected products are recycled. People can submit their used mobiles, electronic gadgets and computers in our 200 collection centers across the country"

this is much more wonderful news worth emulating by other companies. this is not only a positive news for environment, it is also a good news that hcl should tap on to market their eco friendly products.

in environmental safeguards + company's eco friendly products we have a win win. win for environment and win for the company and ultimately the win for consumers in using a safe product and also living in a clean environment.

hopefully hcl will also feature aggressive power sipping chips and components, ease to use features to save power while idle, etc thereby making the computer more eco friendly.

well then, it is a win, win and a win. parameters like should reshape india's policies on sustainable growth and not the reckless growth.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

eloor, as we have tracked in this blog, is a stunning but massively abused island in kerala. with its beautiful scenary, the majestic periyar river and wonderful kerala people, this place should have been one of the jewels of india.

but the same eloor is one of the toxic hotspots of india and a cancerous place even to breath. with massive pollution from industries (big private players as well as our own government run industries) on ground water, air and river periyar, eloor can be termed as hell hole of kerala.

couple of months back, the government with enough fanfare announced a good scheme called periyar action plan with the idea of cleaning periyar river. very good idea no doubt. but what happened now?

many things. many things that were supposed to happen did not happen. the dead kerala pollution control board (pcb) did not do its work on submitting the river status from pollution point of view, the kerala water authority did not submit the papers on the river quality and the pampa action plan (which is in the national river protection scheme) has been stalled asking the national river conservation directorate(nrcd) to question why another plan when one such plan is already stalled for pampa river.

let's shift focus a little. assume a mega indian company wanted to setup a polluting industry in banks of periyar like 3 months back. bang, right now all the approvals would have come!!!

'development' is faster when it is needed for industries and the same development never happens when it comes to india's environment. similar type of government entities but different types of results when it comes to industries and environment.

i can't help repeat. how fake can fake development get.
(picture and text courtesy tehelka. periyar action plan along with pampa action plan have proven non starters in the progressive state of kerala. if kerala's environment is in such bad shape, it shudders to think about other 'developed' states of india)

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

hindu businessline picture (below) is vivid. it shows 2 boys (who should be in school at first place) polishing shoes in mumbai railway station.

the caption on the picture reads that the central railways is calling for bids from private parties to setup shoe shining stall with the possible potential of hitting the boys small earning on top of their already difficult life.

this blog post is not about central railways move to rope in private parties but rather the failure of the the government and the upper middle class to rein in fake development. ideally, the government and railways themselves can intervene in providing shoe shining jobs for these kids along with the condition/monitoring/etc that the boys have to be in school alternate days. it is not an ideal situation though but a start.

here in we are asking explicitly a social scheme that the government has to roll in for a specific target. in this case shoe polishing children.

but the government already craving for more gdp growth amidst mounting social and environmental destruction seldom cares. or to re phase it, the fake development that pumps more money into government coffers has turned the government and its politicians and its officers into money machines insensitive to the needs of crucial sectors of the society.
the mindless fake development has left most of india's social sector in dust. especially crucial sectors such as children, primary education, environment, rural livelihoods, agriculture, community involvement, role of panchayats, etc. picture courtesy hindu businessline.)

after a slew of emotional statements on the sethu project, veteran administrator and CM karunanidhi came up with a much project focussed statement.

he mentions 2 points and i reproduce it below.
Referring to the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute being asked to establish techno-economic viability, Mr Karunanidhi [whose party was then in the Opposition in the State but part of the National Democratic Alliance Government at the Centre] had urged Mr. Vajpayee to expedite the study.

Expressing the hope that his statement would make the factual position clear, Mr. Karunanidhi said he intended to write further on the Sethusamudram project and issues that had arisen.

this blog has tracked the fake sethu project and it seems quite clear that this project is a financial, social, environmental and gulf of mannar biosphere ecological disaster.

perhaps either the tamilnadu CM does not know how the EIA has been abused for sethu project as pointed out downtoearth cover story or he is feigning ignorance. as for his idea to write up about more on the project, i do not know how one can support a fake project without supporting fake data.

fake projects, fake data and fake development - the entire thread tells the story of a mega disaster called sethu project.

Monday, October 08, 2007

tamilnadu government seems to take the lead in proposing ultra monster coal power plants. in cuddalore, in nagapattiam, in marakkan and in cheyyur regions, tamilnadu is proposing mega (1000 to 4000 mw) coal power plants either as full entity (built either by tamilnadu electricity board or national thermal power corporation) or as merchant plants (in which third party private builders build and run the plant and give electricity based on demand/supply at a profitable price).

and in that process, tamilnadu government seems to have conveniently forgotten that in these coastal areas, several hundred thousand people depend on the sea and neighboring lands for living, fishing, agriculture, etc.

and the coastal areas along with tamilnadu rivers that had been cradel of tamil language and civilization apart from feeding and giving livelihood for hundreds of thousands of people is getting to be brutalised and bulldozed - all in name of development of the mega iphone owning hip urban area upper middle class elites.

i could not but wonder to compare sunny states like tamilnadu, kerala, karnataka with that of california. california is forging ahead with thousands of megawatt of generating electricity with cutting edge solar power plants whereas other india states are destroying themselves with highly polluting coal power plant.

i guess instead of saying that india wants to be like america, we will be better off saying we want to do what california does.

some articles are meant to the pick of the postbag because they illustrate the state of the affairs on the ground in an accurate manner.

the indiatogether article by environmentalists kanchi kohli and manishi asher is the pick of the postbag for sure as they vividly point out how tribals, forests, drinking water sources, tourist places all about to get bulldozed in name of development.

ruthless bulldozing development in india means destruction and posco case in orissa confirms that.

Friday, October 05, 2007

rediff ran another article on the disaster called sethu project. based on inputs by retired navy officer, it dissected how absurd and fake the sethu project can be.

how fake can the sethu project be? as fake as "If you went around Sri Lanka, it is 102 hours 15 minutes! So, your net savings in time by going through Sethu Samudram is 1 hour 45 minutes! Is it worth spending Rs 2,400 crore to save 1 hour 45 minutes?"

sethu is redefining the word 'fake' much better than the word 'fake' would.

as the world races on towards once in 2 years laptop's, once in 3 years desktop, every year new ipod's, perhaps once in 2 years iphone's, countless blueberry phones - one thing will be much more clear.

more and more dangerous e-waste will be shipped to people intensive countries like india and the poor policy enforcement will make sure that these e-waste will be toxic for those poor people who work on it without safeguards and also for india's environment.

import of these discarded electronics calls for highest level of environmental and labor safeguards. india - with its fake development policies - seems to be making sure that these electronic waste comes in an illegal manner in name of 'reuse'.

as per greenpeace india a whopping 628 tonnes of e-waste has come into india. from greenpeace india website you can read the shocking para:
According to import records procured by Greenpeace pertaining to shipments entering through the Chennai port, even old cables, mouse pads, printed circuit boards, printers, batteries, keyboards, RAM chips and hard disks are being imported, aside from old monitors and processors. The total amount of E-waste imported through Chennai port between January and June 2007 was approximately 628 tonnes.

it is sad and disappointing to see RAM cards and PCB's also being dumped using this 'reuse' loophole by the commerce ministry.

india should immediately clamp down on this and cleanup their policy and enforcement. already india's environment is dying a slow death. we need not add 'modern electronics' death also.
(greenpeace activists in demonstration outside the commerce ministry. if india's policy makers really work then we need not need greenpeace to point out every flaw and misplaced policies. but with the way MoEF is sleeping, greenpeace india will have to 100 year plan for their actions. picture courtesy hindu businessline.)

Thursday, October 04, 2007

as tata cranks up its small car project and as 'developed sections of india' eagerly the arrival, no one is paying attention to the traffic congestion and pollution this one lakh rupees low cost car can bring.

cse india had a press release on it and had the following recommendations:
# Introduction of the next stage of emissions standards (equivalent of Euro IV)
# Prohibition on using diesel fuel in the personalised vehicle segment until the price difference on petrol and diesel is eliminated or narrowed significantly
# Enforcement of key safety regulations
# Introduction of a range of fiscal policies to correct distortions, including policies to force car owners to pay the full cost of using a car by revising road taxation and directions for compulsory introduction of parking charges based on real estate costs. These must also include the lowering of taxes for mass transit vehicles like buses.

one thing that is shocking is the small car is coming much before the euro IV will be in place which means 'hello pollution, please come'. this is a crucial failure on government bodies that okayed the technical specifications such a mass produced car. how can we leave our air choking amidst the flood of these small cars.

and the next thing is to make sure that the owners of these car pay the full cost of environmental parameters along with usage parameters as cse india mentions.

one thing is very clear. when this small car comes, our choking cities will become pollution hells with super choked roadways. development is indeed sweet.

amidst the talk and hype of development, growth, progress, gdp increase, etc for one section of indians - the rich section - the government of india last year implemented national rural employment guarantee act (nrega).

as the name specifies the idea is to give mandatory employment to rural poor so that constructive village level works can be done and the workers given money for their work. the idea is a win win since the village level work (say road laying or water shed development, etc) gets done and the village level people also gets compensated.

the idea is obviously to give income for the rural poor so that they can use the money for food, schooling, etc.

but india being india, it made sure this nrega does not blossom well to benefit the poor sections. hindu businessline has a report on nrega progress in orissa. to say the least, it is shocking to read. a scheme that can benefit one of the poorest and perhaps the most environmentally abused state has virtually being cut off from nrega benefits by massive corruption and negligence.

orissa chief minister will talk grandly about posco, about kalinganagar steel factory, about dhamra port, etc - all fake projects benefiting multinationals and export markets like china at the cost of people living locally and huge environmental disaster -, but he nor his administration will utter a single word on the fraud and disaster that is happening in a vital scheme called nrega.

what will mahatma do when he sees such blatant corruption and negligence on part of elected officials who go begging to multinationals to come and virtually mine each inch of the state. for sure he wont call this development.(rural poor of orissa. hindu businessline calls it appropriately as "Widespread hunger, poverty and deprivation in Orissa’s Bolangir district are demeaning and dehumanising". fake development is priority of the government rather than sustainable programs and inclusive development)

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

let's close all discussions on the disaster called sethu samudaram canal project - sscp. let's tell in the mouth of all the people who support this disaster project that this project is fake. let's the 'almost ready' sscp project be an harbinger of fake projects in india.

after the destructive and fake EIA-ed narmada dam, the Sethu Samudram Shipping Canal project might be the biggest fraud every perpetuated in name of 'development'.

the increasingly bollywoodised rediff posted a powerful interview from O Fernandes, the convenor of the coastal action network which has opposed this fraud project from the begining. and the sad thing is that the project proponents pitting this project as the 'dream of tamils'.

which tamils. the tamils living on nice residential areas or the tamils slogging to catch fish off the coast. the tamils working in posh software companies or the tamils living in polluted sipcot cuddalore area. the tamil contractors thriving on sethu project money or the tamils whose have shoot at sight orders if they go near the dredging place. the tamil politicians who perhaps are making a kill out of the project or the tamils to whom the health of the gulf of mannar marine biosphere is vital.

this is a huge disaster of a project as as O.Fernandes calls and it directly hits at the root of the ecology, marine life and the livelihood of fishermen.

let stop this madness asap. the madness called ruthless 'development' and the madness called 'sethu samudram shipping canal project'.

finally HCL - one of india's leading software export house and hardware manufacturer - came out and said we will go green. they agreed to phase out PVC and BFR's from their computers apart from taking over old computers for safe recycling.

this, HCL should have done when greenpeace pointed out in the beginning. but atleast now HCL woke up. not only this move will be a boon for computer users/recyclers but also for HCL in terms of adding positive points to its image.

i should not be saying this even for argument sake but an important angle is that if not for the people of india, companies like HCL which have significant developed country exposure (in case of HCL it is the software development) have to be clean and green as they are looking at an crucial and vital population that uses HCL products (software) and can be put off by insensitive corporate policies.

better late than never. we need more companies in computer hardware/software to be role models and examples. it will be great if they can become one on their own without repeated intervention by greenpeace.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

i have blogged on the disaster called sethu project. with entire political class playing brutal politics over an ecological, livelihood and financial disaster, very few articles have come on the main media on the nature of the project itself.

one such of the very few article is from timesofindia - a newspaper to which i am no great fan since the management have turned an illustrous newspaper into a tabloid kind of thing.

i reproduce the article in full below with all copyrights acknowledged to the author and timesofindia.

we have to stop this madness called sethu shipping canal and also stop deluding ourselves about this kind of fake development.

Religion and history do not mix well. I shrug my shoulders at those opposing the Sethusamunda-ram canal because it will damage the remains of the bridge that Ram’s army used in the Ramayana.

Now, i too oppose the canal, but on economic and environmental grounds. Its rationale is more political than economic. It will become one more public sector white elephant.

The Palk Straits, between Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka, are so shallow that only small boats can pass through. So, east-west coastal ships have to go around Sri Lanka. So do ships from Europe and Africa to the east coast.

Sethusamundaram will be a furrow dredged in the sea-bed of the Straits, deep enough to accommodate ships of 20,000 DWT. The canal will save ships both distance (saving fuel) and time (saving daily charges for chartering ships). So, it should be able to charge ships for passage, like the Suez and Panama Canals. This revenue is supposed to make the project economic.

The project is a political gift for Tamil Nadu. It will hugely help Tuticorin port, which today can receive ships only from the west, and not the east. It will improve the viability of existing and planned minor ports in the state. Hence, Tamils call the canal a 150-year dream about to come true (it was first proposed around 1850).

Dreams are costless, but canals are not. Project documents claim that the canal will save ships 36 hours of time and 570 nautical miles of distance. But a recent study by Jacob John in Economic and Political Weekly exposes these claims as highly exaggerated. Up to 70% of the traffic through the canal is projected to come from Europe and Africa. And John estimates that the time saving from Europe to Kolkata will be only eight hours, and the distance saving 215 nautical miles. From Africa to Kolkata, the time taken will actually increase by 3.5 hours (being piloted through the canal is a slow process), and distance reduced will be only 70 nautical miles.

John calculates that ships could lose up to $4,992 per passage if they are charged the tariff laid down in project documents. In which case ships will find it cheaper to go round Sri Lanka. If the government cuts the proposed tariff to attract traffic, John estimates that the project’s rate of return could fall to an uneconomic 2.5%. I expect that the project will also suffer cost overruns in capital and maintenance dredging, and hence be in the red.

The canal is supposed to be ready by November 2008, not far off. So why has the project not been able to sign up potential users? The finance minister has appealed to private shipping companies to participate in a project that will benefit them, yet no shipping company has come forward. The economics of the canal look much too dicey.

The Suez and Panama Canals save ships thousands of miles, and that makes them profitable. Sethusamundaram is not remotely comparable. It is designed for small ships (the project documents talk of 20,000 DWT), whereas the Panama Canal takes ships of up to 65,000 DWT and Suez takes ships up to 150,000 DWT.

The Suez and Panama canals were dug through land corridors, and once dug stayed dug - they did not face sand inundation from the sea. However, Sethusamundaram will be a furrow in the sea-bed, at the constant mercy of currents bearing sand.

The government’s environmental assessment has cleared the project on ecological grounds. Yet, much of that assessment was not about sand incursion, but about fears of possible damage to coral reefs, coastal erosion, oil spills, and changes in ocean salinity and temperature. Besides, the ecological studies were done from the Indian side of the Palk Straits, and not the Sri Lankan side, and so are technically incomplete.

My own major fear is not so much that the project will ruin the environment, but that the environment will ruin the project. I fear that ocean currents will keep dumping fresh sand in the furrow of the canal. The Palk Straits are shallow not by accident but because sand-bearing currents have made them so. Combating the full force of nature is perilous, expensive and sometimes impossible.

The project envisages maintenance dredging of two million cubic metres per year, infinitely more than required by the Suez and Panama canals. Jacob suspects (and so do i) that actual maintenance dredging will far exceed project projections, rendering the canal uneconomic. An extreme event (like the 2005 tsunami) could dump enough sand to close down the canal.

Finally, global shipping is shifting to ever-larger vessels. Bulk carriers and tankers often exceed 200,000 DWT, and those under 60,000 DWT are being phased out as uneconomic. Old general cargo vessels have been replaced by container ships, which started small but now exceed 35,000 DWT, and may soon touch 75,000 DWT. Such vessels cannot use the canal.

So, Sethusamundaram will be unsuitable for the large vessels of the 21st century. It is a 150-year old idea for 150-year old ships. That may be its epitaph.

Monday, October 01, 2007

chattisgarh, one of india's newest states has been in the news wrongly of late. whether it is the salwa judum -the pro government force that seems to be doing things that a government elected by people should not do-, the or opening up of forests and mountains for 'development', this state and its elected officials think that money, fast money by destruction of people and forests are the way up to the future.

and as ibnlive points out amidst this turmoil, one doctor (Dr. Binayak Sen) via his NGO Jana Swastha Sahyog has been doing impressive work on the health care front. and the same doctor has been in forefront opposing the brutal policies of the anti naxalite force salwa judum in chattisgarh.

naturally in the largest democracy called india he is jailed and brutalized just for treating a former naxalite in jail, to whom the government has given 33 time visitation rights to Dr.Binayak Sen.

as the greatest democracy was the architect of iraqi blood bath, there are many mini iraq's that is being created by world's largest democracy amidst its own people. at the one angle of the problem is the control of natural resources by the people who live there amidst the forests and mountains and at the other angle is the elected government which chants the fake development mantra for corporations and brutalizes genuine individuals who are making ground level difference.

increasingly this blog is sounding like a left hand blog. but the way things are going in india in name of development, this blog should sound much more than a left hand blog.

when a crucial ministry (agriculture) is being handled by a powerful politician whose another passion is cricket, the end result will be clean bowled for all.

with agricultural sector in doldrum amidst shrinking acreage for food growth, the agricultural growth in low 1's and 2's of percentage points, when farmers are committing suicide due to mounting debt and losses, when rivers run as toxic sewages throwing thousands of farmers out of farming - our agriculture minister ought to play the correct game to mitigate these disasters.

but i guess our agriculture minister - sorry shall we call him cricket minister - nay cricket minister has no time to work on agricultural issues and hence he visits and watches the 20-20 cricket tournament, he presides over the winning ceremony in mumbai and showers our cricketers with money, whereas at the same time in his home state farmers are being thrashed by goons for asking for their dues from local sugarcane cooperative.

tragic is the way in which development of india is being pivoted. stomach churning is the way our cricket minister cum agriculture minister does not care about the vital issues in the crucial agriculture sector.