Thursday, August 31, 2006

Warning sytem in Cuddalore district

Early warning system - The Hindu

CUDDALORE: A pilot project for the installation of a wireless-triggered early warning system has been launched in Cuddalore district. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)-funded project is first of its kind in India, according to District Collector Gagandeep Singh Bedi.

Addressing a press conference here on Tuesday, Mr. Bedi said that in the first phase, the system would be installed in 55 villages, including coastal areas and interior places. It was tested at Thazhanguda coastal hamlet on Tuesday, he said.

Mr. Bedi said that by September-end all the systems would be in place. Each system would cost about Rs. 60,000, with the total expenditure amounting to Rs 33 lakh. Based on the past history of floods and cyclone, the following places would be equipped with the system: Kurinjipadi — 12, Panruti — three, Kattumannarkoil — five, Kumaratchi — seven, Mel Bhuvanagiri — five, Parangipettai — six, Khammapuram — five, and Keerapalayam, Thazhnguda and Pichavaram — one each.

Soon after receiving the information about impending disasters such as floods, cyclone and the tsunami, officials could immediately sound the alarm and alert the vulnerable areas through the wireless-linked public address system.

The real time communication would help immediate evacuation of the people from those places.
Since the system was operating on battery, it would be fail-proof.
Mr. Bedi said the panchayat unions would maintain the system and impart training among the elected representatives.

All the BDOs, Assistant Director (Panchayat), Personal Assistant to the Collector (Development), Project Officer (DRDA), Tahsildars, Sub-Collector, and RDOs had already been provided with wireless sets, both in their offices and in their vehicles.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Encroachments removed from Gedilum riverbank - The New Indian Express

A news article that appeared in The New Indian Express on 24th of August.

Encroachments were removed from a riverbank here on Wednesday with the help of police. The affected residents staged a demonstration protesting against the government move.

In an effort to lay a connecting road between the main bus stand and a bridge across River Gedilum at Kammiyampettai, revenue officials removed the encroachments on Wednesday morning.

The Cuddalore Municipality had decided to establish the road with the intention of avoiding traffic snarls in the coastal town. As many as 100 families, who were residing in huts, were evacuated from the riverbank.....

Poor roads in Koothapakkam

Koothapakkam. One of the new residential areas in the outskirts of Cuddalore. Some two decades back new houses started coming up in this locality. For the first ten years houses came up at a faster rate, but in the successive ten years the rate droped. One main reason, poor condition of roads and lack of good accesibility (partly because of dead ends). There are not more than a few black topped road in this locality. The condition of the neighbouring Padirikuppam is much the same. Seems some road laying process is on, but delayed for a long period of time. These dirt track becomes unusable after a rain. But the residents have no other choice. It will be of some relief to the residents atleast if the on going road laying process is expedited and completed before the onset of the monsoon.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Freedom fighter's `precious' gift for Collector

Freedom fighter's `precious' gift for Collector
A. V. Raghunathan

CUDDALORE: It was a day of surprise for Collector Gagandeep Singh Bedi.

He was honouring freedom fighters with shawls at Anna Stadium here on Tuesday as part of Independence Day celebrations. And now it was his turn to be honoured with a shawl.

Taking him by surprise was a middle-aged anganwadi worker, Vijayalakshmi, daughter of deceased freedom fighter Pandurangan (84) of Alpettai near Manjakuppam, who presented the special gift to him. She had brought the shawl in deference to a wish expressed by her father.

Pandurangan was one of the two freedom fighters from Cuddalore, who attended a tea party hosted by President Abdul Kalam in New Delhi recently to commemorate the "Quit India" movement.

In recognition of his services to the nation, Mr. Kalam had given a shawl to Pandurangan.

While he was on his deathbed, Pandurangan asked his daughter to hand over the shawl to Mr. Bedi as a token of appreciation of the Collector's commendable service to the district. Pandurangan died a few months ago.

On learning about it, Mr. Bedi was visibly touched.

Later, he told The Hindu that Mr. Pandurangan had helped the administration in identifying freedom fighters in the district. He had recommended Pandurangan along with another freedom fighter for the Delhi visit.

Mr. Bedi said the shawl was a precious gift, as it had come with the blessings of a freedom fighter on the Independence Day. He would preserve it for his lifetime.

Welcome departure

In a welcome departure from the earlier occasions, the freedom fighters were accommodated in a shamiana. The Collector had bought shawls from his discretionary funds, instead of relying on the usual sponsorship. Mr. Bedi had also arranged a breakfast for hundreds of students before cultural events started.

Copyright © 2006, The Hindu.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Panel sought to study the death of whales

The Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park (GMMNP) has urged the State Government to constitute a panel of experts or competent agency to study the increasing incidence of death of whales on its territorial waters full story>>

Traffic planning exercise begins

The Additional Director-General of Police, State Traffic Planning Cell, K.R. Shyam Sunder, recently said that the police have started soliciting public feedback for mooting a comprehensive plan for traffic management.
To begin with a study was being done in Coimbatore to ascertain the requirements for improving the traffic conditions in terms of road engineering and designing. Similar exercises would be held at Tirupur, Kancheepuram and Madurai in a phased manner full story>>
Centre sanctions Rs. 58.16 crore to Cuddalore district
Job guarantee scheme gets off to a head start in the district

Chemplast Sanmar: Buy - Bussiness Line

Chemplast Sanmar: Buy

The company is in expansion mode with plans to double its EDC capacity and treble its PVC resins capacity.

Chemplast Sanmar also plans to set up a 1.7 lakh PVC resins plant at Cuddalore with vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) as feedstock. The Rs 450-crore project is scheduled for completion in 2008 full story>>

Palm Bay lends helping hand - Florida Today

Palm Bay lends helping hand

City officials travel to areas hit by tsunami


PALM BAY - The city has its issues with drainage and expanding water service.

But as three city officials learned, Palm Bay's problems are minor compared with the needs city leaders in Indian cities face. Residents of Cuddalore and Nagapattinam in India receive water, sometimes cloudy and with iron, two hours every other day

City Manager Lee Feldman, Assistant Utilities Director Rick Nipper and Melbourne-Tillman Water Control District Manager Al Pennell spent nearly 10 days earlier this month in the traveled to the tsunami-hit southeast coastal communities. to share their knowledge. They hope their suggestions can improve the two cities' water distribution and stormwater system by 2007 with water delivered twice as often and less flooding during monsoons.

The three, joined by two officials from Ponce Inlet, spent nearly 10 days in visited from July 7 to 17. Their trip, which also included two officials from Ponce Inlet, was sponsored by CityLinks, a program co-sponsored by the International City/County Management Association and the U.S. Agency for International Development. Its $2 million tsunami recovery program is expected to end in September. U.S. municipal experts tour and work with Indian locals to address needs that include water distribution, drainage, park development and a model street program.

Pilot projects should be under way by April. Officials hope the cities will expand successes with other Indian cities.

This week, officials from Oldsmar and Port Orange are in India to work on parks and streets.

It was Feldman's second trip to India and a reunion with friends who had visited Palm Bay in February. About a dozen representatives came to Florida then to review emergency plans and see city infrastructures.

Last August, Feldman, now president of the Florida City and County Management Association, was in an initial group one of the first groups to visit Nagapattinam to select priorities.

The trips are paid by USAID through the International City/County Management Association. The city gave participants the time off.

"It's not just a sister city thing. It's more to learn from each other," Feldman said.

Months after Brevard County endured two hurricanes, Nagapattinam and Cuddalore faced the most devastating tsunami in recorded history. Two-thirds of the 100,000 residents of Cuddalore were evacuated. Nearly 650 people died, along with 1,000 head of cattle. More than 2,000 homes were heavily damaged or lost.

In Nagapattinam, 8,000 died.

"I have a much greater appreciation for the resources we have here in the U.S.," Feldman said. He said the city was able to restore water service, clean up debris and restore power fairly quickly after the hurricanes.

Pennell, who has 44 years experience working with public drainage systems, worked with Indian locals on drainage. In Nagapattinam, three stormwater ponds cascade to the river. "But there was severe flooding in the slums, with water knee-deep flowing through homes," he said.

He found that connecting culverts and drainage ditches were full of debris. "Just cleaning them out and opening the channels will help a lot," Pennell said. He worked with a consultant to design larger culverts in some areas that will be easier to maintain.

In Cuddalore, the water is held collects in a bowl-shaped terrain, Pennell said. There, he recommended cutting a brick-lined connector to one of the low ridges that form the bowl. "That will provide a path for the water to leave." He also recommended construction of a pond to hold stormwater away from homes.

Nipper tested water quality everywhere he went with equipment he brought with him. He couldn't test water for bacteria, he said, because the equipment is too cumbersome. But he tested for conductivity, total dissolved solids, chlorine residuals, and saltiness. "It fell within the range of their water quality standards," he said.

In Nagapattinam, he said, a large water tank fed water through gravity. He suggested a booster pump in-line to force water through pipes faster so it wouldn't be cloudy. He said that could double the water's availability.

Cuddalore has a problem with iron, he said. "Many pipes are three-quarters clogged with iron oxide." That not only reduces the amount of water going through the pipes, but it also allows too much iron in the water as it goes through cast iron pipes.

Nipper recommended flushing all the lines and replacing the 1958 pipes -- in place since 1958 -- that can't be cleaned out. He suggested a booster pump to push water faster through the pipes. Engineers are designing a way to filter out some iron before it gets into pipes.

All three were amazed at the trash and debris everywhere, and that both humans and animals bathe in city reservoirs.

Nipper said Indian roads are shared by a variety of vehicles and animals. "There are no real traffic signals. Being on the road was better than any Islands of Adventure ride," he said.

While the three are back in Palm Bay, engineers with USAID will design plans and move forward the project. "The premise is that for 200 years in the U.S., independent local governments have responded to the needs of its citizens. City leaders have skills and experience to share," said Jon Bormet, director of CityLinks with ICMA.

He said 13 years ago, Indian cities became independent. Before that, all decisions were made by the central government. "Now, city leaders have to make decisions by themselves."

Bormet said the hands-on grassroots program works.

"I felt like we made an impact on their ideas," Nipper said. "When the Indian engineers finish plans, we can review it them and make comments. I think we're making a difference."

Friday, August 11, 2006

Eco-restoration project for lakes
Coastal zone management plan for Pulicat-to-Palar stretch

Demolition of heritage building stayed

Scheme to rid Coimbatore city of slums

Industrial effluents `ruining farmland'


At Cuddalore, V. Nirupama won the under-10 and under-13 titles at the district-level badminton championship conducted by the Cuddalore District Badminton Association here.

Cuddalore 104 all out in 43.3 overs (Guhan 33, Keshav three for 21) bt Madurai 96 all out in 28.5 overs (Joevt Garnel four for 10, T. Sivaprakash three for 17).

Zone A: Cuddalore 117 in 36.2 overs (R. Guhan 41, Naveen four for 15, Sekar three for 21) bt Dharmapuri 41 in 24.5 overs (J. Pradeep six for 10); At Neyveli: Sivaganga 162 in 45.3 overs (Ramesh Kumar 64, Varun three for 30, Keshav three for 25) lost to Madurai 163 for three in 44.2 overs (R. Varun 84).

Teach The Girls To Swim -

Teach The Girls To Swim
Tsunami, survival and the gender dimension

By S Gautham

10 August, 2006

The wealthier tourists and luckier survivors have deserted the beaches of Java after the July tsunami. But rescue workers are still pulling corpses out of the rubble by the dozen. The mainstream media, convulsed by the man-made crises in Mumbai and Lebanon has paid scant attention to this calamity. The story lacks the atavistic viciousness on display in West Asia. It mourns the absence of a Robert Fisk. Agreed, the figures are thankfully nowhere near the chilling numbers of the disaster of 2004, but the toll is already 650 and rising. More than 70,000 people have fled their coastal homes; they are no less innocent and helpless than the fleeing denizens of Beirut or the hardworking commuters of Mumbai.

Some amount of aid has reached the survivors. Soon, there will be the usual complaints of corruption and pilferage as things go awry. There will be more talk of warning systems and hi-tech solutions, more opportunities for western 'Technical Assistance'. This time around the Pacific Tsunami Warning System's bulletin gave Indonesian authorities notice of a mere 24 minutes. There was little they could do.

As a bruised people slowly make what they can of their lives once again it will be the woman and the girl child who are ignored. As always.

This truly reflects the larger malaise in our attitude to disaster preparedness. We miss the wood for the trees. We make grandiose reconstruction plans, at the cost of ignoring simple local possibilities.

Forget governments, even the media, which drives the public discourse, is quick to discuss the impact of a disaster like the 2004 tsunami on tourism, on the environment, on the economy, on marine life, and even underwater archaeological treasures. There is a deafening silence on all fronts on the gender impact of such disasters, especially the toll they extract from women. They are not even worthy of a count when dead. There is very little effort made to disaggregate and publish a gender break down of the casualties.

There is a treasure trove in there for an intrepid demographer.

Natural disasters, despite the adjective are not random in their selection of victims. It is the existing social structures which determine who pays the higher price. Oxfam, the British relief and development agency conducted a survey and released figures, a few months after the 2004 tsunami. And they are stark:

In Indonesia, in the four villages in the Aceh Besar province surveyed by Oxfam only 189 of 676 survivors were female. That is a ratio of 3:1. In the worst affected village, Kuala Cangkoy, for every male who died, there were four females. In Cuddalore in Tamil Nadu, almost three times as many women were killed as men, with 391 female deaths, compared with 146 men. In Pachaankuppam village, every single person to die was a woman.

Why does this happen? It has been established that a tsunami is no great danger for those out at sea. The tectonic plates clash several miles below and the waves too pass under. It hits the coast the hardest. When the tsunami struck, the women were on the shore waiting for the catch to come in. It is they, who traditionally sort the catch and take it to market. And it is tradition too which dictates that young girls will not swim or climb trees. So, when the waters did come, more of those who could swim, and climb survived. It is no surprise that they were mostly men.

Emergency relief measures rarely respond specifically to women's needs. The posting of women doctors, and police officers in some camps in India, was a rare exception. At another extreme, NGOs flew in thousands of packets of sanitary napkins and distributed them to Nicobarese tribal women who have never used them. They were first used as toilet paper because there was a water crisis, and then as pillows. This only illustrates that even when women-centric actions take place, they can be misplaced, if the women themselves aren't allowed to articulate what they want.

The point of all this is that disaster management plans need to address gender in a focused manner. There are several questions that arise. These range from security in survivor camps, where women are hopelessly outnumbered. There are issues of inheritance rights and access to means of livelihood. Some of the long-term rehabilitation programs have begun to address these, but simple local solutions to help women handle a future recurrence better, are for the most part, ignored.

Surely, while it may be unrealistic to begin swimming lessons for all women, a start could be attempted with younger girls? There can be training in the fabrication and use of low cost floating aids, and women encouraged to reach out and learn them.

In February 2006, the Vienna based Women without Borders sent two volunteers to Chennai. They wanted to teach women on the coast to swim. The idea was initially scoffed at and dismissed. But they persisted and managed to convince some key bureaucrats, and obtained local support.

They leased a swimming pool, and spread the word around to the neighbouring villages. Over 80 women and younger girls enrolled. The memory of the tsunami, still fresh, was a powerful catalyst. However, many of them were reluctant to wear swimming costumes. So, these were discarded and replaced with T-Shirts and track pants. In the end, everyone who came had learnt to swim.

Teach people to swim and boost their chances of survival. It is a simple idea that can make a substantial difference to vulnerable lives. It doesn't have to be another tidal wave; it can be a moderate cyclone or even monsoon floods, it will still help. The long-term rehabilitation work must of course, continue. But swimming lessons can be delivered locally at little or no cost. It is a whole lot better than not to try at all because of assumptions and pre-conceived notions of their traditions and modesty.

S Gautham is based in New Delhi and work mostly as a researcher and producer of documentary films. He can be reached at

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Cuddalore expelled from rail project

There are signs of Cuddalore being expelled from the rail route project along the East Coast Road. This is evident from the Union Minister of State for Railways R. Velu's appeal to Mr.Rangasamy "to share 50 per cent of the total project outlay for laying the line from Chennai to the Union Territory on the ECR route (Mahabalipuram segment)".

Again the expulsion of Cuddalore from the project is clear from Mr.Rangasamy's memorandum to Mr.Velu.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

What makes sidewalks unusable

For a long time I have been wondering why people do not use pedestrian footpaths along roads. I have been observing various reasons why people are not using sidewalks. Here are some of them (in no specific order) in brief,

  • electric posts, telephone posts in the footpath,
  • narrow footpaths,
  • shops protruding into the footpath,
  • encroachments of the footpath by shops, footpath vendors, hawkers,
  • people waiting in the footpath (in large number) for buses and other means of transport
  • open manholes in the middle of the footpath,
  • tiles of the foothpath broken for laying cables, wires and desilting drainages and not replaced properly,
  • using footpath to store construcion materials for the nearby construcion site,
  • footpaths too high from the level of the road for senior citizens and children to step into,
  • too many discontinuities in the footpath (due to both avoidable and unavoidable reason)
  • using footpath to park vehicles,
  • people convening regularly for gossiping (I regularly notice this peculiar scence in Lawrence Road),
  • people never use an obnoxious footpath. When people stop using it, it further become a place for wrong deeds - it becomes a cycle (this is more common for footpaths along long perimeter wall) .