Friday, February 24, 2006

St. Joseph's Church, Cuddalore

St. Joseph's Church in Kammianpet, Cuddalore.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

The health effects of white asbestos

The health effects of white asbestos

Chrysotile is an established carcinogen and there is no safe threshold

WHEN THE towers of the World Trade Center (WTC) in New York collapsed in September 2001, they released a cloud of hazardous material that included 2000 tonnes of asbestos.

In a ruling on a class action suit filed by people who say they were exposed to this hazard, on February 2, 2006, Judge Deborah Batts chastised the US Environmental Protection Agency for having first assured that the clouds were safe from asbestos and later admitting to this misinformation, calling their assurances as `conscience-shocking'.

The asbestos used at the WTC is what is known as `white asbestos' or chrysotile as it is chemically known. This form of asbestos is being used in the U.S., India and many other countries with the belief that of the various forms of asbestos, chrysotile is the safest.

The basic message

The Asbestos Cement Products Manufacturers Association of India (ASCMA), during the Clemenceau controversy, issued a public interest advertisement stating that (a) chrysotile or white asbestos, when used under controlled conditions, does not pose any risk to health (b) chrysotile fibres are locked as a 8-9 per cent component in a cement matrix which prevents them from escaping into the air, and (c) asbestos occurs in nature and a lot of asbestos fibres are inhaled by us everyday full story>>

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Chemplast Sanmar plans new plant - Sify

Chemplast Sanmar plans new plant

Chemplast Sanmar Ltd, a flagship company of the Sanmar Group, on Tuesday said it will invest Rs 300 crore for setting up a power generation plant and for conversion of its mercury based caustic soda manufacturing process at Mettur.

The board of directors has approved the investment of Rs 220 crore for setting up coal based power generation plant and Rs 80 crore for converting mercury based caustic soda manufacturing process to a membrane based process, the company informed the Bombay Stock Exchange.

© Copyright Sify Ltd

In the news

The Great Firewall of China : A Measure of Freedom
Bloggers Who Pursue Change Confront Fear And Mistrust

Rs. 36-cr. UGD project approved
The State Government has released an order recently on the formation of an underground drainage for the municipal area.

The same would be established at a cost of Rs 36 crores with funds from the State Government and various agencies.

The works would be commenced after finalising the tender, said the Municipal Commissioner, K.R. Selvaraj full story>>

2000-year-old site in decay
A historic site in Guduvanchery near Tambaram, dating back to the megalithic period and from where evidences of attempts to make iron from ore have been found, is now in decay. Just 100 metres off the National Highway 45, on the eastern side of the Grand Southern Trunk Road are remnants of what is called `mudhumakkal thaazhi'. It was where the dead were buried in huge earthen pots full story>>

Plea to confer union territory status on Karaikal
The Karaikal Struggle Group, a non-political organisation, has appealed to the Centre to make Karaikal a separate Union Territory full story>>

India: Flood response in Tamil Nadu-ReliefWeb

India: Flood response in Tamil Nadu

During the last December floods in Tamil Nadu EFICOR provided relief in Cuddalore and Kumbakonam districts to about 9000 families in 46 villages. Some parts of Chidambaram town including EFICOR's office faced water logging and it was reported that water snakes entering houses created panic among the people. Boats distributed to the Tsunami affected fishermen were pressed into service to evacuate and transport the flood affected in some villages.

Most of the affected people were agricultural labourers belonging to the Schedule caste. These scheduled caste labourers work on daily wages in the land which are taken on lease from land owners by people of higher caste. The agricultural labourers in Cuddalore were earlier affected by the Tsunami when sea water had filled the agricultural land in December 2004. After land treatment and desalinataion these labourers who had hardly started farming since last August, were expecting to harvest their crops early January for Pongal. The flood in December destroyed their crops once more, severely affecting their livelihood.

EFICOR provided relief materials to 8000 familes in 38 villages in and around Chidambaram during the second phase of distribution with rice, dal, oil, bedsheet, mat etc. About 1200 families from 8 villages were also provided relief in Kumbakonam district. The distribution just before Pongal helping the flood affected to celebrate one of their important festival was much appreciated.

© 2006 ReliefWeb

Monday, February 20, 2006

With elections fast approaching politicians concentrate more on pseudo issues.This basically because of the sentiment driven mindset of the people.Tamil Nadu Chief Minister has announced a memorial of Kumbakonam victims at a cost of Rs.60 lakhs.I am not Sagainst the construction of a memorial all together.Politicians fail to take steps that makes a real difference.Till date a large number of schools operate in an insecure condition.
On the left is the picture of a nursery school in Sanathi Street with a too narrow entrance.

If incumbents have concentrated on real issues the state would have been a far better place to live in.

Photo courtesy:Arun Gobu

Clemenceau:another victory for Greenpeace

French ship Clemenceau carrying not less that 700Kg of asbestos,PCBs, lead, mercury, and other toxic chemicals was turned back to France.The decomissioned ship was to be mismantled in a shipbreaking yard in Alang.French government sent it to India despite stiff resistance from Greenpeace and other anti-abestos groups in France.

Greenpeace with its maverick campigning strategy attracted public attention.Trade unions and other environmental action groups like Corporate Accountability Desk,The Other Media and Ban Asbestos India also joined hand.Later the scandal attained media hype and to a greate extend this was a reason behind fair overturn of events.This is just another victory for Greenpeace.With this victory Greenpeace has now started an amibitious campign for regulating the ship breaking industry.The following link takes you to the campign page,

Call upon the international community to accelerate the work of regulating the ship breaking industry

Saturday, February 18, 2006

In temple, consumer is god -The Telegraph

This news appeared on 15th Feb. 2006 in The Telegraph

In temple, consumer is god
- No bath water, trust fined for deficiency in service

A pilgrim who had to go without a bath after tonsuring his head at an ancient temple in Tamil Nadu has been awarded Rs 500 in damages by a consumer court.

The order is perhaps the first directing a temple devasthanam (trust) to pay compensation for “deficiency in service”.

Selvakumar, an advocate, had visited the famous Shri Devanathaswamy temple at Tiruvendipuram village, 10 km from Cuddalore, with his family on February 7, 2000.

The temple attracts thousands of pilgrims, many of whom come with their children because it also has a shrine to Hayagreeva (Vishnu with the horse’s mouth who saved the Vedas), revered as the Lord of Learning in the Hindu pantheon.

Selvakumar had his head tonsured and paid Rs 5, out of which the barber’s share was Rs 4 while Re 1 went to the devasthanam.

According to a complaint filed at the Cuddalore District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Selvakumar went to take a bath after tonsuring his head but found that the tap in the bathroom near the tonsure centre had run dry.

A nearby hand pump was also not working and Selvakumar could not take a dip in the Gadilam river that courses around the temple because the “water was contaminated with human excreta, drainage water and rubbish”.

Without a bath he could not go for a darshan of the deity, so the pilgrim approached the temple authorities for help.

But the clerk at the “devasthanam office abused me and told me he was not bothered as to whether the complainant was an advocate or a collector” and asked him to do whatever he could, the complaint said full story>>

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Mouth of Gadilam River

Photo:Mouth of Gadilam River

RS.49 crores sanctioned for Cuddalore District

The following link contains a large collection of links which are linked to articles (about Cuddalore) in popular daily's

Rs 49 crore sanctioned for relief to flood-hit farmers

Worryingly high school drop out rates in India and Bangladesh-Save the Children

Worryingly high school drop out rates in India and Bangladesh

Children in class at Rasapettai Government primary and middle school, Cuddalore District, Tamil Nadu. The fishing village of Rasapettai did not suffer any fatalities in the Tsunami of 2004 but did lose boats and fishing nets. Save the Children and local partners LEAD (League for Education and Development) have been active in promoting child rights and education in Rasapettai since the Tsunami.

The E-9 meeting of Education Ministers from nine of the world's most populous countries - Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria and Pakistan - is taking place from 13th-15th February in Monterrey, Mexico.

Save the Children UK is calling on the UK government to commit substantially more resources to improving the quality of primary education in countries where large numbers of children are missing out on education, and to use its international influence to ensure that other donors do the same. This money could go towards improving teacher recruitment and teacher training, and to devoting more resources to reaching those children excluded from education.

More aid to education must go hand in hand with action from country governments to improve the quality of education for children so that they stay in school. Teachers should be trained to move away from rote learning towards interactive teaching methods which give children the skills they need. Furthermore, education must been made more relevant to children's needs, for example by making the curriculum relevant to local work opportunities, and by providing primary education in local languages.

In Bangladesh, statistics (UNDP, 2005) show that:

*80% of primary school age children (6-10 years old) go to school.
*Only 54% are still in school by the time they reach 10 years old.
*Drop out rates from primary school were 33 percent in 2004.

The dropout rate for ethnic minority children in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, an area with a large proportion of ethnic minority people, is much higher than the estimated national rate with more than 60 percent of children dropping out especially in the early years (Asian Development Bank, 2001).

In Bangladesh, among those children who are not enrolled and those who have dropped out, a significant number come from poor households and live in rural areas, urban slums, and areas with high populations of ethnic minorities. The reasons for the lack of quality in education services include lack of well-trained teachers, particularly in remote areas where the poorest and most marginalised children live. On average there are 66 students for every teacher in government primary schools (UNDP, 2005).

Ethnic minority children are often turned away from school by teachers and administrators because they do not speak fluent Bangla (Save the Children's 2005 situation analysis on basic education in Bangladesh).

In India, statistics (UNESCO 2006) show that:

*The net enrolment rate rose to 88% in 2002
*Only 61% are still in school by the time they reach age 10
*Drop out rate is 39%.
*There are vast differences within states and between social groups,
with very low rates of enrolment reported for socially disadvantaged groups such as scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. 50% of scheduled caste and 56% of scheduled tribe children drop out of school.

In India, a recent report showed that 44% of children between the ages of 7 and 10 could not read even a simple paragraph. Teaching is still done by traditional rote learning methods, corporal punishment is rife, and children are often taught in a language they do not understand (Annual Status of Education, 2006).

Copyright:International Save the Children Alliance

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Bristle worms' life throws light on seawater pollution

Bristle worms' life throws light on seawater pollution

Is there a connection between the quality of seawater and the breeding behaviour of polychaetes or bristle worms that inhabit the ocean?

Very much so, says a researcher, who has looked at these creatures with a different eye to find clues to detect polluted water.

After nearly two decades of research, P. Vivek Raja, head of the department of zoology, Presidency College, has established that the reproductive ability of polychaetes is severely compromised when their habitat is polluted. By correlating the reproductive biology of these creatures with the quality of their habitat, Mr. Raja was able to determine the extent of pollution in the water full story>>

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Chinese Petro offered 26% in Nagarjuna Oil-DNA India

Chinese Petro offered 26% in Nagarjuna Oil

Nagarjuna Oil Corporation, which is implementing the Rs 4,500 crore refinery project at Cuddalore near Chennai, is close to financial closure and will have more than one joint venture equity partner.

“While Chinese Petroleum Corporation is one of the options we are also talking to a few other prospective equity partners,” K S Raju, vice chairman and managing director of parent company Nagarjuna Fertiliser Corporation Ltd, (NFCL) told DNA Money.

The Taiwanese company had said in Taipei earlier on Monday it may invest in Nagarjuna Oil Company which had offered it 26% equity in the 6 mtpa capacity project.

“We have not yet finalised the deal with Chinese Petroleum,” Raju said.

Being implemented at a 2:1 debt-equity ratio the project will have a majority holding by the promoter group while the remaining 49% is likely to be split among several joint venture partners. However, Raju did not name the others in the reckoning pending finalisation of the deal. “But we are very close to financial closure and we would be on stream within 3-4 years from now,” he said.


Officials visit from tsunami-hit regions-OrlandoSentinel

Officials visit from tsunami-hit regions

-Ludmilla Lelis

On Dec. 26, 2004, the day the tsunami struck in the Indian Ocean, he first had to save himself and his family from the massive wave that quickly engulfed his hotel at a seaside resort in India.

As the waters from the Bay of Bengal rose to his shoulders, Gagandeep Singh Bedi ran for higher ground, clutching his young daughter in his arms.

"The force of the tsunami was broken by the hotel. Had it not been for that, I could have been lost to the sea," he said Wednesday.

Then Bedi had to help save his community. As the "collector," the most powerful government official in his coastal district, Bedi rushed back to work to mobilize the police, the medical teams and other government workers for the biggest disaster the Cuddalore district had ever seen.

This week, Bedi visited Port Orange as part of a delegation of Indian government officials hoping to learn from their American counterparts how to prepare for a future calamity and rebuild their homeland.

Two Indian groups are touring Central Florida through the CityLinks program funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development and organized through the International City/County Management Association.

To help Indian cities rebuild from the tsunami's devastation, the program sets up an exchange between government officials at the local levels to share ideas and information.

A Florida delegation in July visited the Cuddalore and Nagapattinam districts, both in the state of Tamil Nadu, and the Indian delegations are visiting Port Orange and Palm Bay this week.

"It's a technical and intellectual exchange of information and ideas," explained Donna Steinebach, assistant to the city manager in Port Orange, who traveled to Cuddalore last year. "It's been very encouraging to see the level of commitment of the officials involved in the exchange. They are so eager to find ways to help their community," she said.

The Cuddalore district, with 2.3 million people, was hit hard by the tsunami: 638 people dead; 29,000 people displaced; dozens of children orphaned; 500 boats damaged in a district where thousands of families depend on fishing.

For officials like Ambuj Sharma, the commissioner of municipal administration in Tamil Nadu, the first week involved 20-hour workdays handling the dead bodies and coordinating relief for the living.

But with the massive outpouring of international aid, the tsunami-ravaged regions are rebuilding. Construction of new, concrete homes is well under way, this time farther inland.

During the Florida trip, the delegation has toured various municipal operations in Port Orange. They visited the emergency-management center, where they learned about advance planning for emergencies and evacuation routes.

They toured stormwater sites, learning how the canals and retention ponds help to mitigate flooding. They toured the city water plant, learning about water-and-sewer operations. And they visited parks and discussed financial management and economic development.

Sharma said he was impressed with a presentation about community emergency-response teams and said he'd like to start a similar program of volunteers ready to respond to disasters.

"We would like to adopt this program to involve the community in taking care of themselves in an emergency because in the initial stages, it will take time for government to respond, especially to some of the remote villages," Sharma said.

They've also had a chance to enjoy the scenery and were impressed by the local parks and the aesthetic beauty of several Florida neighborhoods.

All of it gave them dozens of great ideas that they plan to take home. "We want to not only return to a state of normalcy, but also build our cities better," Bedi said.

Ludmilla Lelis can be reachedat or 386-253-0964.

Copyright © 2006, Orlando Sentinel

Solar power empowers fisher women--CNN-IBN

Solar power empowers fisher women

In Chennai's fishermen's colonies, a solar-powered fish drier has brought in a revolution driving more and more women into scientific food processing and providing many a means for livelihood.

It was a project that started in tsunami-hit Cuddalore and now Chennai city has its own Solar fish drier.

Karuvadu or dried fish is a delicacy that 70-year-old Thangapapa has been making all her life.

She buys fish and puts them on the sands to dry them out. It takes a full sunny day, sometimes two, for the fish to dry out.

And it's unhygienic. But now all that's changed with the arrival of a new solar fish drier.

"If we put it for drying outside, then we will have to have five people guarding the fish. Crows and dogs will eat the fish. Now, we just have to put it in the drier and in four hours it's done. It's cleaner and more hygienic," says Thangappa.

She says with the solar drier she can make double the amount of Karuvadu in the same time. She just has to put fish in these trays and put it in the drier powered by solar energy. She's now part of a Self-Help Group and they got the drier, which costs RS 2.5 lakh, with the help of an NGO. And it's attracted more women in this fishing colony to join Thangapapa.

Says Janani, another fisherwoman, "I was unemployed earlier. Now with this machine, I have also started helping out. This means a source of income for me and we now want to put this fish in packets and sell them."

The project was first set up in the tsunami-hit Cuddalore district, where it has been implemented successfully. And now the company which makes the drier and some NGOs are planning to install more such machines in the city's fishing colonies.

Copyright ©

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Tackling global warming

According to the World Meteorological Organisation, 2005 missed becoming the warmest year on record by the merest fraction of a degree Celsius. The past decade, 1996-2005, is the warmest on record (if 1996 is taken out of the calculation). The earth's surface has warmed by about 0.6 degrees C since the late 1800s, and the temperature is expected to increase by another 1.4 degrees to 5.8 degrees C by 2100. The culprit is `greenhouse gases,' notably carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. These are accumulating to unprecedented levels in the atmosphere as a result of profligate burning of fossil fuels, industrial processes, farming activities, and changing land use. The greenhouse gases act like a blanket around the Earth, trapping too much of the heat that would otherwise have escaped into space. If the Earth warmed further by more than one degree C, it would be warmer than it has been in a million years. James Hansen, a doyen of the science of climate change, recently warned that if carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels continue rising at about two per cent a year (as in the past decade), the additional warming would be two to three degrees C this century, implying changes that would mean practically a different planet. Global warming is likely to trigger disastrous changes in rainfall and snowfall patterns. full story>>

Copyright © 2006, The Hindu.
The Railway Overbridge built at S.N.Chavadi is not utilised by the larger section of population till date.Some prefer to wait for few minutes (when train passes) rather than taking an alternative route which atleast a couple of kilometers to their journey. Many are not aware of train timings, also if one know of the timings ,trains in India seldom keep up the time.

One possible solution I see is to blow siren(or any other suitable type of signal) to indicate that the Raliway Gate is being closed so that people take the alternative route.

These sirens can be placed at
*Lawrence Road-Imperial Road junction

*Subrayachetty street-Lawrence Road junction

*One at Imperial Road and Vandipalayam Road where the connecting bridge road intersects the above roads.

New bridge in record time

Construction of the new bridge connecting Kammianpet and Semandalam was completed in a record time of just nine months.The bridge construction was completed at the cost of two crores and was funded by the Central Government.The bridge was opened to traffic on 14th of January 2006.Though it awaits a formal innaguration a large number of people make use of it especially during the peak hours.School going children and commuters use it to a greater extend.Apart from providing greater connectivity it is believed to bring greater economic prosperity to Semandalam and Kammianpet area.

People were demanding for it for decades.Their dream came true atlast.Once again the person to be thanked is Mr.GanadeepSingh Bedi,without whom the project would not have been completed.He is the administrator who will never be forgotten by the people of Cuddalore.People wish him to stay here for a long long time and severe them and work for the developement of Cuddalore.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Need for a permanent helipad

When political leaders arrive here in helicopters a makeshift helipad is built inside the stadium.This greatly interrupts the routine of the practising players and others who take a talk.

Apart from this the helipad destroys the play field.This time when Ms.Jayalalitha planned to visit Cuddalore during the recent floods a helipad was prepared in footbal l ground,also a new road was laid overnight connecting the foot ball ground to Collector's Office Road thus damaging the joggers footpath.The circumference wall of the stadium near the HomeGuard Office was also broken in the process.None of them where set right till date.

It is necessary to find a solution to this problem by building a permanent helipad.Since Manjakuppam Maidan is an ideal site for public gatherings sure the helipad must be built somewhere near here.There are two potential sites.
  • One southwest corner of the maidan sharing border with the Cuddalore Municipal Park and an abandened open theatre.A problem with this site is that when a political arrives for addressing a large crowd he need to traverse the entire section of the crowd to reach the dias which is on the east end.This puts constraints on security.
  • Another ideal site which I believe is the southeast corner of the maidan.This section of the ground is not actively used for any reason.So it can be very well utilised.Another advantage of this site is that the leader can directly be moved to the dias for great ease and high security.(A road can be laid connecting the Collector's Office Road with South Esplanade Road(Beach Road) along the (west)circumference wall of the stadium as shown in the fig.This would ease the vehicle movement of political leaders who generally come from Chennai and move down southwards though Chidambaran.(i.e.,)they can first come along the Collectors Office Road,then they can reach the dias along the new road and after addressing they may reach Barathi Road through Beach Road.)If it becomes necessary large a few trees along the Beach Road and which are much closer to this site can be cut down.

If implemented it will be a great relief for the players and police personnel(since its makes the security arragments much easier) alike.