Saturday, October 28, 2006

New tennis court

File photo
New synthetic tennis court that is to come-up in Anna Stadium.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

From clean beach to dirty beach

Two years back there was a discussion in the NDTV Message Central on "Which is the cleanest beach in India ?", one message board user from Edinburgh had replied in the forum that Silver Beach in Cuddalore as a clean beach in India. Silver Beach used to be a clean beach, but in the recent months it is getting more and more dirtier. Papers and plastic materials thrown out by people visiting beach forms the major portion of the garabage. Now this type of waste is reduced to a greater extend after effective steps taken by the district administration. But they form only a portion of the total lump. Materials used for rituals are left out in beach, after the ritual is over. Nowadays these waste materials are spread across the breadth of the beach.

The scene in the above photograph are more common if one happens to go to the beach in the morning hours. People come, perform the rituals, throw-away/leave behind whatever and wherever they feel like. As District Collector Mr.Gagandeep Singh Bedi pointed out , whatever steps the administration takes to improve the aesthetics and cleanliness of the town, if people do not cooperate, none of the programme can be successful.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Manjakuppam mani koondu

“Manjakuppam mani koondu ! ”
This is the welcome call we hear from the bus conductors once we touch the boundary of Cuddalore from Pondy.

But the clock tower itself is not working for the past two months and one of the clocks is removed a month back.

Lets wait and see when the clock tower will comeback alive.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

North-East monsoon begins

Gedilam bank to be raised-The Hindu

Gedilam bank to be raised

Cuddalore: The right bank of the Gedilam will be raised to serve a double purpose: as a protective wall from the recurrent floods as well as an alternative route to decongest the town.
A statement from District Collector Gagandeep Singh Bedi said that at many places the right bank was far below the maximum flood level, thus quite often causing flood havoc. The Gedilam originating from the Kaattu Idayar hillock in Ulundurpet block is draining in the Bay of Bengal after traversing 121 km.
Since Cuddalore happened to be at the confluence point, it was subjected to floods, whenever the river was in a spate. Therefore, as a remedial measure, it had been decided to raise the level of the right bank from the Khammiampettai bridge to the Jawans' Bhavan.
The soil for the scheme would be brought from the Karaikadu Agraharam, 12 km from the town. After its completion, the bus services from Panruti, Pondicherry and Salem would be diverted on this bank to reach the Thirupadiripuliyur bus stand.
This measure would ease the traffic congestion in the heart of the town, the statement added.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Rs. 3000 crore plan to develop textile infrastructure-The Hindu

Rs. 3000 crore plan to develop textile infrastructure

.....The processing parks are proposed to be set up in Cuddalore and Perunthurai at an investment of Rs. 300 crore each. The Perunthurai park will also come up at the SIPCOT industrial complex.....

New strategy to replenish groundwater-The Hindu

New strategy to replenish groundwater

Cuddalore: For replenishing the ground water, a new strategy has been adopted in Cuddalore district. Owing to increasing demand, there is over-exploitation of ground water. Therefore, to arrest the trend and to improve the condition, the Agricultural Engineering Department has started adopting the "recharge shaft" technique.
Under the system, 6 to 8 inch diametre and 15 to 30 metre deep bore wells are being dug to recharge the underground soil and the rocky terrain. According to Gagandeep Singh Bedi, District Collector, 30 recharge shafts had been put up in the district by utilising the funds sanctioned under the Rashtriya Sam Vikas Yojana.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Revisiting tsunami

This video footage seems to have been shot in a fishing hamlet in Cuddalore District, just hours after tsunami waves struck the coast.

Viewer discretion strongly advised.

Police Outpost

A new police outpost is being built in Silver Beach by the Government of Rajasthan.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Afforestation drive

Restoring the fading forest-News Today

"Isha Foundation, in the past two years, planted 2.5 lakh trees as a pilot project at Six Tsunami affected villages in Cuddalore district. Around 25,000 trees of 65 species were planted along the five-filometre stretch on the seashore, to create a green wall."

700,000 saplings to be planted in TN in a single day-India Post

"Project Green Hands stands apart from other plantation initiatives due to the expansiveness of the project that will cover 28 districts including Chennai, Coimbatore, Cuddalore and Salem. Isha Foundation aims to encourage school children and people in rural areas to be a part of the project."

Sunday, October 15, 2006

India: Temporary shelter, permanent pain - Relief Web

India: Temporary shelter, permanent pain

By Max Martin

CHENNAI, ( During the last rainy season when her temporary shelter was flooded Elanji had to spend the night standing up, holding her baby, in ankle-deep water.

This year again Elanji and her neighbours in this tsunami shelter cluster in Puthukuppam, Nagapattinam - seven hours drive from Chennai - are awaiting the rains with fear.

Most of the people living in 178 temporary shelter sites still left in Tamil Nadu live in such fear of rain, notes a study by the prestigious Loyola College in Chennai.

People line their leaky roofs with tarpaulin sheets and lay corrugated metal sheets to cover the floor, knowing well that water will still flood in. "Last time we often had to spend the night sitting on a single cot so as not to get wet," said another resident.

The first rains of the north-eastern monsoon have already hit parts of India’s eastern coast in Tamil Nadu. Hectic repairs are on at Nagapattinam, where bulk of the remaining shelters are located. It is a daunting task.

The Loyola study notes that in Tamil Nadu 76 per cent of shelters need repair or replacement of roofs; and 78 per cent need wall repair.

Officials said that the shelters - each costing Rs 8000 - were meant initially to be used for only three to five months of residence. But they are still around 21 months after the tsunami, as the government so far could finish only one-fifth of the 54,620 tsunami rehabilitation houses proposed to be built for those displaced by the Asian tsunami.

A tour along the study areas in Kanyakumari, Nagapattinam, Kancheepuram,Cuddalore and Villupuram revealed a striking picture - blown-off roofs, damaged walls, low-lying floors and the sheer helplessness of people.

"The findings were striking indeed," said Gladston Xavier, a social work lecturer at the Loyola who led the study team with the support of Oxfam America. "There was no adherence to Sphere standards (of humanitarian relief).

Officials acknowledge that there is a big problem. "In Nagapattinam it is a matter of concern, as many shelter sites are located in lowlands," said C V Sankar, an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer on special duty, who supervises the tsunami rehabilitation in Tamil Nadu.

"These sites face the risk of flood, and it can be very bad when it rains," Sankar said. "The district collectors have been instructed to make the repairs before the rainy season," he said in an interview.

Garbriel Britto, former policy and advocacy advisor of Oxfam International who was part of the study, said that Tamil Nadu still fared better compared with the response to earlier disasters elsewhere. "Systems were functional here unlike in, say, Kutch, a forlorn place (where an earthquake struck in 2001). The people here got basic services fast."

"There was an initial rush of goodies, often at unmanageable levels - I found someone who got nine stoves for instance; then everybody seems to have gone into a slumber."

The Loyola study is a response to this slumber. Its context: "…in 2005, practically all the sites were flooded four times; the roofs leaked; food grains got soaked; fires gutted the shelters in over eight places; chicken pox spread in several settlements, and over time the temporary shelter materials had degraded. It was urgent that an appraisal be done…"

Most of the houses were damaged in earlier floods and needed repairs, he study noted. One-third of the houses needed overall repairs and nother one-third needed outright replacement. Worse, in about 80 per cent of the shelters, there is no provision for storm drains.

People living in more than half the shelter sites suffered mosquito bites. In the case of Salavankuppam of Kancheepuram District almost all families reported cases of Chickungunya a disease, spread by mosquitoes and marked by high fever and body-ache.

At Selavankuppam, the people are stuck in cluster of shabby shelters close to the East Coast Highway, as the government could not find a good place for their rehabilitation. "Here it (chikungunya) attacked everyone. I could not even walk, said Susheela, a resident.

Under the original tsunami rehabilitation package, 54,620 houses need to be built - 22,060 by the government in Chennai and Thriuvallur districts and the rest by NGOs. The Government has handed over 8,077 houses and 3,179 more houses were ready by 30th August.

Another 17,542 houses are under construction, still leaving 25,822 houses yet to be built. Finding adequate, acceptable land is a problem, officials said.

In the meanwhile, the rains are gathering strength and the situation ahead looks rather grim.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

News article from

15 Hospitalised after Consuming Poisoned Water

03 October, 2006. CUDDALORE -- At least fourteen people from Sonanchavadi village, and one from Vairankuppam colony, in SIPCOT, Cuddalore, had to be hospitalised this morning after consuming poisoned water. It is suspected that someone intentionally added a toxic pesticide to the overhead tank storing water to the village. People started reporting symptoms after 6.30 a.m. Most of the victims were women. Victims described their symptoms as giddiness, nausea and a burning sensation in the stomach. Doctors at the Government Hospital suggested that the pesticide Novacrone may have been added to the water.

According to local reports, relief was quick and efficient. The victims were removed to the Government Hospital in private vehicles loaned by neighboring villagers. The Fire Department flushed out the overhead tank. The Police has begun investigations. The local legislator, Mr. Ayyappan visited the victims in the hospital, and urged the hospital authorities to extend quality care to the victims. The motive behind the crime is not yet known.

Local body elections are around the corner, and the election campaign has begun all over Tamilnadu in full earnest.

Bio-shield likely in coastal region

Bio-shield likely in coastal region-The New Indian Express
Wednesday October 11 2006 00:00 IST

CUDDALORE: The State Government has proposed to develop a bio-shield on 400 hectares of land in the coastal region to protect people from natural calamities, informed District Collector Gagandeep Singh Bedi.

Addressing a function here on Monday, Bedi said the bio-shield would be developed to protect the habitants in the coastal hamlets from disasters, including cyclone, flood and tsunami. Causerina trees would be planted on 250 hectares of land at Pitchavaram and Parangipettai.

The government had plans to develop a mangrove forest on the 100 hectares of land near the backwaters in Pitchavaram, Bedi said.

The government has also plans to plant Causerina trees on the 100 hectares of land in the coastal region and develop a green belt on the 57.5 km stretch of land along the coast line this year.

Trees were planted on 22,800 sq km of land in the reserve forest in Tamil Nadu and 3,67,00 hectares of land in Cuddalore district. And mangrove trees were cultivated on 1,357 hectares of land in the Pitchavaram region in the coastal district, the Collector said.

He said Malattar river, located near Panruti, had become extinct due to repeated deluge in 1970. Residents in 40 villages had faced hardships over the years and the government allotted Rs 40 lakh for taking up steps to give a new lease of life to the river, as a result of which, the ground water table would be recharged effectively, Bedi added.

Forest Department officials, including Villupuram Division Forest Officer V Valaguruvan and Ajay Singh Panwar, spoke on the occasion.

Cuddalore in the news

Abandon proposals to set up new units: panel-The Hindu

Computers in disrepair-The Hindu

Coastal people oppose Centre's move-The Hindu

Shifting alliance

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Substandard roads

Over the past two years tens of crores was allocated and spent for laying roads in Cuddalore. Execellent quality roads were laid in some parts of the town while others are of poor quality. Especially in broad roads like Barathi Road the quailty of road decreases as a gradient outwards.

Also the roads laid in patches are given an poor finishing. For example if a road is 30 feet wide, it is laid in two stages, 15 feet in each. The level of road laid in each stage are different, so is the quality(See Pic. 1 - around middle of the road). As a result roads are worn away easily by fast moving vehicles.

A good quailty road was laid along Beach Road by the end of June. But its quality is poor towards the beach end. Both picture 1 and 2 shows this.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Open Air Auditorium in neglected state

Open Air Theaters/ Audi- tourism, much alien to India and its people. But I was surprised to see one such Open Air Auditorium in Cuddalore, unfortunately in a neglected state.

This theater is at the south-west end of the Manjakuppam Maidan. Locals say that the theater was operational until a few decades back. They say even the most celebrated artists of Tamil film industry and popular dramatists had performed in the very stage.

The theater is spread over a vast area and can accommodate huge crowd. It is located in one of the most easily accessible part of Cuddalore. But what lead it to this state of ruin perplexes me.

Since the theater is so large,the audience at the back rows would not have had a better look at the stage. This might have been a reason for decline of popularity among people. This problem can be addressed by providing a downward slope towards the stage. Lack of proper toilet facilities for the audiences might be another possible reason.

In addition arrangement for a food kiosk can be made to attract more audience.This will also serve as a means of refreshment during the breaks of large performances.

This theater can be used for performing various traditional arts. Particularly foreign tourists would love to see such shows. Now states such as Assam and Arunachala Pradesh are taking some serious steps to promote tourism following Kerala, Rajasthan, but Government of TamilNadu remains unmindful. For both Kerala and Rajasthan folks arts are important source of attraction. Pondicherry is also doing a great job to attract both foreign and domestic tourists. If the Open Air Theatre is developed as center flaunting rich heritage of region through dance and musical performances.

Also since it is located in Beach Road, weekend shows would attract a huge crowd. Arrangements for regular weekend shows can also be made.This may also serve a means of income for the near extinct traditional performers.

Photo Courtesy: Narendar Kumar

Friday, October 06, 2006

Tsunami Survivors Move into New Homes Built by the Sikh Community - Sikh Sangat News

Tsunami Survivors Move into New Homes Built by the Sikh Community
Oct 4, 2006, 15:18

CUDDALORE, Tamil Nadu, India: Guru Nanak Sarbat Sikh Sangat (GNSSS), a coalition comprising of UNITED SIKHS and eleven other Sikh organizations delivered the keys of newly built permanent houses to the survivors of the 2004 Tsunami in the village of Muzhukuthurai in the Cuddalore district of Tamil Nadu on September 28th 2006.

Speaking at the inaugural function, the Tamil Nadu Governor Surjit Barnala praised the efforts and dedication of the NGOs in helping rehabilitate the victims of the Tsunami. Gagandeep Singh Bedi, the District Collector of Cuddalore and the person in charge of handling natural disasters also addressed those at the inaugural function recollecting the destruction caused by the Tsunami and applauding the building efforts of the NGOs. A total of 161 new homes were built by GNSSS and other non-Sikh NGOs.

The twelve NGOS took up the project to construct houses for the villagers rendered roofless by tsunami and aside from the permanent houses, have provided a primary school, a community hall, a primary health centre, a fish market area, roads, electrification, rainwater harvesting structures and drainage systems.

Rajinder Singh of Guru Nanak Sarbat Sikh Sangat said “I believe anything that starts under Guru Nanak’s name completes successfully. I am motivated by the initiative of all member organizations.”

Dimple Kaur, UNITED SIKHS Project Coordinator, said Tsunami-ravaged South Asia had required prompt response from all involved. The efforts of UNITED SIKHS were led by sewadars such as Bhai Esher Singh, Lakhvinder Kaur and Navneet Singh who along with the rest of the GHANAIA (Giving Humanitarian Aid Necessities and Assistance Impartially to All) team provided relief to affected people in areas including Campbell Bay and Cuddalore. The team had to use innovative ways to reach the Tsunami victims to provide emergency supply including food and clothes.

Dimple Kaur continued, “UNITED SIKHS joined GNSSS on the Tsunami permanent housing and infrastructure project making it a high priority task, gathering funds and disbursing them to its team on the ground. We have other permanent rehabilitation projects running in Campbell Bay, Poonch in Kashmir and other parts of the world where natural calamities have struck. We are grateful to all our other partners in this venture are special thanks to district collector Gagandeep Singh for his support”.

Other members of the coalition present at the inauguration event included Harbhajan Singh of Nishkam Sikh Welfare Society, Kulwant Singh of Guru Gobind Singh Study Circle, President Sri Guru Singh Sabha Mumbai, Jaspal Singh of Gurmat Charitable Trust, Harbans Singh Anand of Guru Nanak Satsang Sabha, Surjit Singh, Mata Harnam Kaur of Guru Granth Sahib Study Centre.
For more details visit

To read a previous community voice on UNITED SIKHS projects for Tsunami survivors please click

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Cuddalore protests industrial pollution-India

Cuddalore protests industrial pollution

Industries are welcome but pollutants in the sea are not, say Cuddalore residents who are protesting the water pollution caused by factories along the seashore of the Tamil Nadu district.

Notwithstanding the protests, the state government is planning a major expansion of the Cuddalore industrial area.

The government has given 1,000 acres of land on the seashore, where tributaries of the Cauvery enter the Bay of Bengal, to the State Industries Promotion Corp of Tamil Nadu (SIPCOT) to be given to medium and major industries. Investors have responded positively.

E.V.K.S. Elangovan, the central minister of state for textiles, has been promoting the relocation of polluting dye industries from the textile hub of Tirupur to Cuddalore, 200 km south of Chennai.

‘This is because Cuddalore has abundant water and a coast, so all the rejects can be easily discarded,’ says Shewta Narayan, an activist from a citizen’s NGO.

To discuss the problem, the SIPCOT Area Community Environmental Monitoring Group, Cuddalore District Consumer Protection Organisation and the community environmental monitoring programme of The Other Media had organised a public hearing.

Based on the hearing, a report titled ‘Environmental and Human Rights Violations in the SIPCOT Complex, Cuddalore’ has been released by the hearing panel comprising R. Saraswati, retired head of the department of sociology in Queen Mary’s College, S. Janakarajan of the Madras Institute of Development Studies, and Rakhal Gaithonde, a community health physician.

The report recommended against the expansion of polluting industries in Cuddalore and has called upon the government ‘to respect local sentiments’.

‘The current proposals to set up groundwater intensive polluting industries in Cuddalore will only threaten the long-term economic sustainability of the region,’ the report says.

‘It is clear that companies with political clout can and do get away with anything in SIPCOT. Such unregulated and corrupt functioning in dealing with highly hazardous industries located in close proximity to residential populations is a recipe for disaster.

‘The pervasive bad odour, the devastated environment and the lengthy list of health complaints of residents make us wonder how they manage to live there.’

This is not the first time the government has been warned about the environmental crisis.

In 1994, the Asian Development Bank (AND) had warned of salinity ingress in the region.

The State Human Rights Commission had in 1998 investigated reported environment-related human rights violations in SIPCOT and found this industrial area over-polluted.

It remains to be seen if one more call will wake up the government and improve the lot of the Cuddalore residents.

- Indo Asian News Service

The same news item was published in DailyIndia for which I have provided the link below

Cuddalore protests industrial

SIMA seeks Rs 2,000 cr under TUFS-The Financial Express

Abandon proposals to set up new units: panel

Abandon proposals to set up new units: panel-The Hindu

"Move will aggravate pollution in SIPCOT Industrial Estate"

# Long-term economic sustainability of the region threatened
# Creation of value-added opportunities to traditional economies suggested

CUDDALORE: After a public hearing on the proposals to set up new units in the SIPCOT Industrial Estate here, an expert committee has concluded that the move will aggravate pollution problem and threaten a long-term economic sustainability of the region. The committee urged the Tamil Nadu Government to abandon any proposals to set up new units, particularly the groundwater-intensive ones.

Instead, the committee suggested creation of value-added opportunities to traditional economies such as fisheries, agriculture and weaving. The proposed Southern India Mills Association Textile Park, the Chemplast Sanmar poly-vinyl chloride and Nagarjuna petroleum refinery were certainly not in the interest of the local people, and hence, must be given up, it noted.

In its report "Environmental and Human Rights Violations in SIPCOT Complex, Cuddalore", the committee pointed out that the public hearing had brought to limelight the fact that the companies having a political clout could get away with their intransigence on the pollution front.

Local response

It said the pervasive bad odour, the devastated environment and a host of health complaints of residents made the living in the area miserable.

The frustration among the local youth was palpable and the continued collusion between the officials and the polluters could result in a serious law and order situation, it cautioned. The committee squarely blamed the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board and the Inspector of Factories for the negligence in dealing with polluting and hazardous industries in the estate.

It said that rather than improving the local economy, the industries had eroded the self-sufficiency of the region, by throwing weavers, fishermen and farmers out of their traditional livelihood.

Increased health expenditure, combined with lower incomes, had impoverished the communities, and compromised their ability to exercise healthy choices.

The public hearing panel was constituted by the SIPCOT Area Community Environmental Monitoring, the Cuddalore District Consumer Protection Organisation, and the Community Environmental Monitoring programme of The Other Media.

The committee comprised Prof. S. Janakarajan of Madras Institute of Development Studies, Prof. R. Saraswathi, former Head of Department, Department of Sociology in Queen Mary's College, and Rakhal Gaithonde, a community health physician from the Community Health Cell.