Saturday, December 30, 2006

Two years of resilience

Two years past since tsunami waves struck. International aid poured in to all the tsunami affected parts of the world. It is Cuddalore which leads in tsunami reconstruction and rehabilitation. New houses, schools, Self Help Groups and community-disaster alert systems are put in place. National disaster relief fund from various states are used thoughtfully in several other projects like building bridges in affected areas.

Two weeks back former US President Bill Clinton, who visited Cuddalore as a UN special envoy for tsunami relief, greatly applauded the active steps taken by our district administrator Mr. Gagadeep Singh Bedi. India's over all response to the tsunami disaster work was good. But what has happened in Cuddalore in the past two years was excellent. It is because of our dynamic collector Mr. Gagandeep Singh Bedi, Cuddalore has seen such an immense reconstruction in the post disaster period. According to Clinton, providing housing was "the hardest thing to do". He added while in other places only 30% of the houses were built, "In Cuddalore, even those not affected by the tsunami but identified as "vulnerable" had been given houses." He went on to say "Florida can learn from Cuddalore" and that he want Cuddalore model of disaster management to be implemented throughout the world.

"Florida can learn from Cuddalore" simply means, administrators of Florida must learn from the administrator of Cuddalore. His work of coordinating and directing various governmental and non-grovernmental organisations in post tsunami period was phenomenal. If Cuddalore has got so much, it is because of this "good man here".

When rest of the tsunami affected world is still in their early stages of tsunami reconstruction, Cuddalore had almost come to the final stages of the work, Tsunami Retention Wall for the vulnerable communities along the coast line . Work for the construction of tsunami retention wall has begun in full swing. Fishing villages in Cuddalore district will soon get rid of the fear of tsunami.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Fishermen in Cuddalore use GPS to catch fish

Tsunami has brought about a lot of change is life of fishing community in Cuddalore district. Better public addressing and warning systems are put in all coastal hamlets in Cuddalore, and a new Global Positioning System (GPS) is used to guide the fisheries off the coast explains the article Now, technology ensures smooth sailing for them .

Federer plays cricket in Cuddalore

Swiss tennis player and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Roger Federer plays cricket during his visit to the Kinnur Pudupettai village of Cuddalore, about 165 km (103 miles) from the southern Indian city of Chennai, December 23, 2006. Federer refused to put his feet up during the tennis off-season and instead utilised his time to visit tsunami survivors in Southern India on Friday.

Switzerland's World number one tennis player and UNICEF Ambassador Roger Federer (R) holds a cricket bat while shaking hands with a child during a visit to the tsunami affected village of Kinnur Pudupettai, some 180kms south of Chennai, 23 December 2006. Over 200,000 people lost their lives in the 2004 tsunami which hit the Indian Ocean coastline, 8,000 of them in Tamil Nadu. UNICEF has been working on relief and recovery in 8 countries since the tsunami struck, building shelters but also steering programmes in health and nutrition, drinking water, education and child protection.

Source: MSNBC

Photo: Federer in Cuddalore

District Collector Mr. Gagandeepsingh Bedi with Roger Federer

More on Federer's Cuddalore visit

Federer makes tsunami visit to Cuddalore - Rediff News

Roger Federer visits Cuddalore - Sahara Samay

Federer visits Cuddalore, promises to return - Sify Sports

Federer's visit fans waves of hope - IndiaTimes Sports

Embajador de la UNICEF - SIPSE

Federer besucht UNICEF-Projekte in Indien - AZ Online

Federer meets tsunami-affected kids
- IBN Live

Federer's goodwill to India - ITN News

Federer besucht Tsunami-Opfer in Indien - Schweizer Fernsehen

Federer plays cricket - Sky News

FEDERER EMBAJADOR DE UNICEF - La Opinion (scroll down the page)

Federer's goodwill to India - Channel4

Federer plays cricket to tsunami survivors' delight - Scotsman & Gulf Times

Roger Federer visite des survivants du tsunami - LCN

Federer plays cricket with Indian tsunami survivors - The Peninsula

Federer's Cuddalore visit update

Federer Praises Resilient Tsunami Victims in UNICEF Visit - ATP Charity

On his first official field trip as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, ATP World number one Roger Federer today met with tsunami-affected children in Tamil Nadu in southern India.

The December 2004 tsunami took the lives of over 200,000 people, with India accounting for 18,000 dead or missing. One-third of the victims were children. Tamil Nadu was the hardest hit state, with 8,000 dead, 351 severely-damaged child care centers and 186 destroyed schools. Three days before the second anniversary of the tsunami, Federer visited UNICEF's
recovery and rehabilitation programmes in Cuddalore, one of the worst affected districts of Tamil Nadu.

"It's amazing to see how young people are using the rebuilding process as an opportunity to improve their lives and strengthen their community," said Federer. "The way these children are bouncing back from even the toughest tragedy is a testament to their resiliency."

In Cuddalore, Federer met with children who have chairs and tables at school for the first time. Across the tsunami-hit districts of Tamil Nadu UNICEF has provided 330 schools with furniture and learning materials, which benefit around 140,000 children and 3,500 teachers.The improvements in their school include programmes to learn through participation rather
than by rote and the use of puppet theatre to help them cope with post-tsunami trauma. Federer also met with UNICEF- trained early child care workers at one of the 351 restored government centres where pre-school children are able to get essential health care, nutrition supplements and informal early education. .

Along with District Collector Mr. Gagandeep Singh Bedi, Federer visited the Cuddalore Orphanage. UNICEF has helped to establish a tracking system to monitor around 2,000 children in Tamil Nadu who lost one or both parents in the tsunami, including those in the orphanage. As part of the tsunami psycho social support programme more than 114,000 children have been reached through counseling, art, puppetry and children's theatre.

"Many of the programmes we set up in the tsunami hit communities, such as education programmes and child protection interventions, will now serve as a model for the rest of the state to follow," said Thomas George, UNICEF State Representative, Tamil Nadu. "Our focus has been to improve equity to services and to truly build back better for the children of Tamil Nadu."

Federer's day ended by meeting with teenagers who are learning about HIV through a life-skills programme that is giving them the practical information they need to make responsible decisions and spread awareness about the disease.

"It's great to see the young people so full of life and spirit. Despite what happened to their community, they have really managed to turn things around," said Federer.

Federer's Cuddalore visit

Goodwill Ambassador Roger Federer sees tsunami recovery progress in Tamil Nadu - UNICEF

CUDDALORE, India, 22 December 2006 – Just days before the second anniversary of the Indian Ocean tsunami, tennis great and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Roger Federer visited Tamil Nadu, India, witnessing firsthand the progress made to help tsunami-affected communities ‘build back better’.

UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Roger Federer meets children and staff at the Government Home for Tsunami-Affected Children in the city of Cuddalore, Tamil Nadu, India.

The tsunami killed some 8,000 people in Tamil Nadu alone, destroyed nearly 200 schools and damaged more than 350 child care centres. On his first field trip since becoming a Goodwill Ambassador, Mr. Federer toured UNICEF-supported recovery and rehabilitation programmes in Cuddalore, a district devastated by the tsunami.

He met with many schoolchildren who, for the first time, have chairs and tables in their classrooms. As part of the recovery effort, new furniture and learning materials have been provided to 330 schools, benefiting some 40,000 children and 3,500 teachers.

‘Bouncing back’

Apart from the improved leaning environment, Mr. Federer also saw new ‘child-friendly’ learning and teaching methods being introduced in the schools.

Another post-tsunami initiative here – psycho-social support for traumatized children – has reached more than 114,000 children through counselling, art, puppetry and children’s theatre.

At Thazanguda Government School in Tamil Nadu, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Roger Federer signs autographs.

“It’s amazing to see how young people are using the rebuilding process as an opportunity to improve their lives and strengthen their community,” said Mr. Federer. “The way these children are bouncing back from even the toughest tragedy is a testament to their resiliency.”

Ms. Federer went on to visit an early childhood centre, one of the 351 such facilities rehabilitated with UNICEF’s support. The centre is equipped to provide young children with education, nutritious meals and basic health care.

Along with District Collector Gagandeep Singh Bedi, Mr. Federer also met with the children in the Cuddalore Orphanage. UNICEF has helped establish a tracking system to monitor and protect some 2,000 children, including those in the orphanage, who lost one or both of their parents in the tsunami.

Education and child protection

“Our focus has been to improve equity to services and to truly build back better for the children of Tamil Nadu,” said UNICEF’s State Representative in Tamil Nadu, Thomas George. “Many of the programmes we set up in the tsunami-hit communities, such as education programmes and child protection interventions, will now serve as a model for the rest of the state to follow.”

Mr. Federer’s first day in Tamil Nadu ended with him meeting young people at a life skills workshop, which offered practical information to help them make responsible decisions – such as better protecting themselves from HIV/AIDS and educating others about the disease.

“It’s great to see the young people so full of life and spirit,” remarked Mr. Federer. “Despite what happened to their community, they have really managed to turn things around.”

Federer finds inspiration in Cuddalore kids - Zee News

Cuddalore, Dec 24: Roger Federer has paid a visit to some of the areas of India struck by the tsunami two years ago.

As part of his work as a UNICEF goodwill ambassador, the world number one toured the state of Tamil Nadu, which was hit hardest by the disaster.

With another success laden season behind him, Roger Federer has used some of his precious time off to visit the tsunami-struck region of Tamil Nadu in southern India.

In his first official trip since becoming a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, the world number one toured

Cuddalore, one of the worst hit areas by the disaster two years ago.

The Swiss was able to see for himself how reconstruction efforts are progressing:

"I'm very happy that the kids are well taken care of, and very happy to be here and I wish them all the best.": Roger Federer.

Federer was accompanied by his girlfriend, Mirka Vavrinec as they visited a school and orphanage, where victims of the tsunami are still coming to terms with what happened that fateful day.

The December 2004 tsunami killed over 200,000 people, with India accounting for 18,000 dead or missing - one third of the victims were children.

Federer declared himself inspired by the resilience shown by the children of Cuddalore, by their ability to bounce back from the toughest tragedy.

Clearly, the visit of the tennis superstar will help provide some inspiration to the people of Tamil Nadu as well.

Source link

Federer's tryst with cricket - The Hindu

by Rajesh Nair

CUDDALORE: Nobody can resist a game of cricket in India, not even Roger Federer, the World's Number One tennis player. He picked up a few tips on how to wield the willow in a game of cricket from tsunami-affected children of Chinnurpudupettai village near here on Saturday.

"When we asked him if he would play a game of cricket with us, he said that he didn't know to play the game. And so we taught him how to hold a bat and strike a ball," a beaming Prasad of Chinnurpudupettai said.

After listening to the rules of the game for a few minutes, Mr. Federer then faced 11 balls of local boy Madhan. He was beaten in the first ball and bowled out thrice in his short stint at the crease.

And in return, he gave the children cards that hadhis photograph holding a trophy. He also signed on the tennis ball with which he was playing cricket and presented it to a child. Till two days ago, the children had not heard about Mr. Federer and his game.

As UNICEF's Goodwill Ambassador, Mr. Federer was in the village to call on Krishnamurthi, whose wife was washed away by the waves. His five children are at a government-run orphanage in Cuddalore.

Krishnamurthi, who married again recently, now lives in the Tsunami Nagar, built by SOS, at Chinnurpudupettai. The Swiss tennis star visited his house, which was full of photographs of the five girls and Krishnamurthi's late wife. Mr. Federer spent a few minutes in the house. He then watched a theatre performance by the children.


Roger Federer serves an ace at Cuddalore - The Hindu

by Vani Doraisamy

Learns "one of life's most important lessons" from tsunami orphans "It was mutual love between us as I inspired them and they inspired me back to raise more funds."

LOVE ALL: Tennis World Number One Roger Federer, who is UNICEF's Goodwill Ambassador, converses with children at a government-run orphanage in tsunami-affected Cuddalore in Tamil Nadu on Friday. Federer, on his first visit to India, promised to come "again and again" and said the children had inspired him to raise more funds for tsunami rehabilitation. — Photo: R. Ragu

CUDDALORE: Tennis ace Roger Federer discovered a whole new meaning for `Love All' in Cuddalore on Friday, when he learnt "one of life's most important lessons" from tsunami orphans.

"These children have taught me how lucky I am, making the incredible amount of money I do at the prime of my career. It was mutual love between us as I inspired them and they inspired me back to raise more funds and create awareness about tsunami rehabilitation.

"It is heartening to learn that things have improved tremendously in Cuddalore in the last two years. I shall keep coming here again and again," Federer, who was in Cuddalore as UNICEF's goodwill ambassador said. This is his first visit to India.

Federer struck an instant rapport with the 70-odd children at the orphanage — many of whom had never heard of him before — and spent more than an hour answering all their questions. "Now I know everything about them — their names, their age, lessons and friends."

Three-year-old Abhinaya instantly won his heart. The little girl spontaneously flung herself into his arms and remained there for the rest of his stay.

"India can be very proud of its tsunami recovery programme. It has been an extremely emotional experience for me. I shall now try to raise more funds for the rehabilitation effort," he said.

The champion of nine Grand Slams, however, refused to answer any questions on his game and merely said, "I have some thoughts on how I could use the Roger Federer Foundation in tennis-for-charity to help disadvantaged children."

Collector Gagandeep Singh Bedi explained the progress made so far in tsunami rehabilitation in the State.

Federer also visited the Integrated Child Development Scheme Centre at Thazhanguda village and sat through a puppetry show by children on HIV awareness.

Federer's visit was, however, marked by drama outside the orphanage as UNICEF representatives were mobbed by reporters who were denied access to cover the champion's visit. Federer was whisked away by security personnel and left for Villupuram to know about the tsunami recovery programme there.

Federer was appointed UNICEF's goodwill ambassador in 2006 and has, since then, helped in several fund-raising initiatives.


Federer in Cuddalore

After Clinton it is Federer now. Number 1 ranked player Roger Federer visited Cuddalore on December 22nd, as UN Goodwill Ambassador. He was in Cuddalore for 2 days visiting various tsunami affected villages in the district, met children in government-run orphanage, and played cricket with children from tsunami affected village.

In the following posts I will add links to news articles which as reported in various media and add full text from the reputed sources.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Cuddalore in the news

Tsunami-hit still in make-do shelters - The Hindu

Pain captured thru' pictures - News Today

Cuddalore: A Bhopal in Chennai's backyard in New Kerala, Telugu Portal and RxPG News Westchester,CA,USA.

Tatas may acquire 26% stake in Nagarjuna refinery for Rs 400cr - The Economic Times

Rare fishes in Coromandel coast

Increased salinity, rare fish in Bay of Bengal - The New Indian Express
Monday December 18 2006

CUDDALORE: The salinity in the Bay of Bengal has shot up alarmingly, almost equivalent to that of the Dead Sea post tsunami, according to a study conducted by Plus One students of a private school.

In the chemical composition of soil saturation extracts, concentration of sodium and bicarbonates was found higher. The pH value has increased from 5.8 to 8.40 in the wake of tsunami, which struck the coast on December 26, 2004. Besides this the electrical conductivity has also risen from 3.9 to 4.60 dsm.

Another observation of the students is that the normal colour of the sea has changed from sky blue to black. According to the students, it may be due to the presence of archebacteria, under-ocean bacteria, and other liquid secreted by fish. Rocky ocean surface has become shallow. Another finding is that the Bay of Bengal has become an abode of rare and new fish species; marine species, normally found in Pacific Ocean and other oceans, were found in the Bay of Bengal.

A fish - plataxteira, usually found at a depth of 3 metres below the surface of sea water, has moved to the Bay from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands; they are new to the Coromandel coast. A number of invertebrates - crustaceans, molluscans, worms and algae were also found at the Pudumandabam coast.

Similarly, puffer fish, found around Australian coast, red crab, ornamental fish varieties - parrot fish, angel fish, clown fish and butterfly fish- were found in the sea bed. The number of seer fish (Vanjaram), promfet fish (vawal), murrel (virral), flat fish (nakku meen) and flying fish (kola meen) has decreased.

As part of the research, the students travelled more than 100 km along the coastline and contacted more than 400 fishermen.

The research paper, ‘Changes in aquatic life after tsunami in the coastal areas of Tamil Nadu’ by five students of Krishnasamy Memorial Matriculation Higher Secondary School, was selected for a State-level Children Science Congress. Biology students - K Susidar, R Yugadev, K Dinakaran and Mohamed Salim- presented the copy to District Collector Gagandeep Singh Bedi. Correspondent Dr K Rajendran, principal R Natarajan and teacher Shanthi Pandian were also present on the occasion.

The study was carried out by Plus One students of a private school in Cuddalore.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Dreamproject coming true

Kammianpet shows visible development within a year of completion of the link bridge connecting Semandalam. There are abundance vacant spaces in this area which can very well be utilised for various public buildings and for the commercial development of the town.

This place is easily accessible from many parts of the town which makes it suitable site for public buildings and government offices. This is a potential place for the proposed Integrated Courts Complex and an Integrated Offices Complex. An Integrated Offices Complex may help shift the offices functioning in rented buildings. It would be a great relief for various departments which pays huge sum as rent.

The development of the locality must be planned and a design layout must be drafted out to guide the development. The place is also suitable for bringing up commercial establishments. Government can even come up with a multistoryed market similar to the one proposed for Erode.

As a first step to increase the more activity along this stretch, 'Share Auto' service and the bus service must be introduced.

A long sighted initiative must be taken for traffic planning. Necessary land must be acquired and reserved along the road and railway routes, before the value of the land sores up.

As the value of the land rises encroachments becomes an major issue. Real estate owners tries to make most of the land: their own land and the public land. Already some of them have illegally occupied the river bank with help of corrupt officials. This illegal occupation is done along the south west corner of the bridge, which is shown in photo. Note: The photograph was taken several months back, now the place looks completely different.

A distant view of Kammianpet-Semandalam bridge as seen from the land which was recently converted into plots.

The river bund road connecting Jawan's Bhavan and Kammianpet has further increased the land value. This was a dreamproject for decades. The inaccessible part of the town is about to get a good access. De-congesting the roads is the direct reason behind the project, but the resulting development along is this stretch will be unimaginable. A similar bund road from Kammianpet and Padirikuppam would nurture the ongoing developement process. Though it may not be economically viable to carry out such a project at this stage, keeping the river bank safe from illegal occupiers is vital.

Note: The above photos were taken several months back

Related links:

Gedilam bank to be raised - The Hindu

Bridge across Gedilam coming up: Bedi - The Hindu

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Environmental Cycle Tour Suspended After Young Cyclist Dies in Accident

Chennai. 4 December, 2006 -- Organisers of the Cuddalore to Chennai environmental awareness cycle tour have suspended the tour after one of the cyclists died in an untoward incident near Tindivanam on 30 November, 2006. K. Gurubalan, a student of Loyola College, who was part of the youth team that cycled in solidarity with the pollution impacted community in Cuddalore, accidentally drowned in a village pond during a rest stop about 18 km from Tindivanam.


The cycle tour had covered more than 100 kilometres and had departed from Pondicherry on 30 November morning. “Gurubalan is a particularly sensitive young man, who was deeply affected by the horrendous environmental condition in SIPCOT Cuddalore. Even while conveying our deepest condolences to his parents, we wish to remind people that he died while on a tour to fight for justice for pollution-impacted communities. His spirit and sense of justice will keep our fighting spirit alive,” said SIPCOT Area Community Environmental Monitors (SACEM), a community group comprising Cuddalore villagers trained in environmental monitoring.

During an interview with a TV station a day before the incident, Gurubalan had expressed his intention to support the Cuddalore community’s campaign against pollution by reaching out to more youngsters in Chennai.

“Being the kind of person he is, Guru would not have wanted his death to put the brakes on such an important environmental tour for justice. For sure, more youth from Chennai will rally around and join the cycle tour for Cuddalore as and when it resumes,” said Guru’s friend Anushka Meenakshi who was also one of the cyclists.

Cuddalore is a toxic hotspot, where existing industries have made life unlivable. Rather than mitigate pollution, the Government is planning to target Cuddalore residents with more and more polluting industries. Currently, the villagers are fighting a desperate battle to prevent the setting up of a PVC plastic factory by Chemplast Sanmar in Semmankuppam village. A 4000 MW thermal power plant, several textile dyeing industries, a 6 million tonnes per annum oil refinery and two schemes to pump toxic effluents from textile dyeing and leather tannery units are part of the industrial plans for Cuddalore.

Organisers and participants of the cycle tour have resolved that they will resume the cycle tour in January. In the interim, they plan to organize a first-aid training for youth and activists in Chennai. On 16 December, a seminar on “Ongoing Human Rights Violations in SIPCOT Cuddalore” will be held at the Madras Institute of Development Studies. On the same day, all cyclists and their supporters from Chennai will meet to discuss plans for resuming the cycle awareness tour, and strengthen the struggles for environmental justice in Cuddalore, Mettur and other pollution-impacted communities.

For more information, contact: Nityanand Jayaraman. 9444082401

International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal; The Other Media; Cuddalore District Consumer Protection Organisation, Youth for Social Change, SIPCOT Area Community Environmental Monitoring, DEPORT.

42A, 1st Floor, 5th Avenue, Besant Nagar, Chennai 600090

Monday, December 04, 2006

Audio: Bill Clinton's Cuddalore visit - BBC Tamil

The following image links contains audio files from BBC Tamil service which reported about the Clinton's Cuddalore visit. Please use the 'Download' option in the leading page. 'Listen' option may not work.

News headlines:

Actual news:

Sunday, December 03, 2006

More on Clinton's Cuddalore visit

Florida can learn from Cuddalore: Clinton - The Times of India

Clinton visits tsunami hit hamlet in TN - The Hindu

Clinton asks Lanka and LTTE to choose politics over violence - Zee news

Clinton to make final visit to tsunami-affected countries as U.N. envoy - The International Herald Tribune

Clinton asks Lanka and LTTE to choose politics over violence - Zee News

Clinton to visit tsunami affected areas in Dec - The Times of India (published prior to the visit)

Clinton cosies up to Chennai - The Hindu

Clinton lauds India's tsunami relief efforts -

TN a model for tsunami rehab: Clinton - ChennaiOnline

Bill Clinton praises India's tsunami rehabilitation works - New Kerala

Bill Clinton Lauds Tsunami Relief Efforts - The News is NowPublic

New & Just In-Clinton Visits TamilNadu - BuckleUpNow

Clinton's Cuddalore visit: Taking no chance - IsraellyCool

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, second from right, stands amidst puppets controlled by tsunami affected children at a rebuilt school at Thazanguda in Cuddalore district, around 165 kilometers (103 miles) south of Chennai, India, Friday, Dec. 1, 2006. Hundreds of villagers lined the streets of a coastal hamlet in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu Friday as Clinton, the top U.N. envoy for the tsunami recovery effort, visited homes built to replace those washed away by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. The tsunami destroyed nearly 130 homes in Thazanguda, leaving many of the fishing community's 2,600 residents homeless. (AP Photo/ M.Lakshman)

Clinton's Cuddalore visit: Clinton visits tsunami-hit area - BBC

Clinton visits tsunami-hit area - BBC News

Former US President Bill Clinton has visited the region of southern India worst hit by the 2004 tsunami.

Mr Clinton, a UN special envoy for tsunami relief, visited new
homes and a school for tsunami victims in Cuddalore in Tamil Nadu state.

He also visited a cyclone shelter with a newly installed warning system and witness a mock drill.

The tsunami killed more than 6,000 people in the area and affected at least 200,000.

Mr Clinton is also due to visit Thailand and Indonesia, where the tsunami killed tens of thousands of people during his final visit to the tsunami affected areas as an UN envoy, a statement issued by his office said.

Mr Clinton had visited the region last May and met with survivors.

On Monday, the ex-US president announced to make HIV/Aids treatment cheaper for children at a function in the Indian capital, Delhi.

"I will never forget your story all my life," he had told a tsunami survivor in the area during his last visit.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Clinton wants the Cuddalore model replicated elsewhere

Clinton wants the Cuddalore model replicated elsewhere - The Hindu
Ramya Kannan

All praise for the town's post-tsunami reconstruction and rehabilitation effort

CUDDALORE: It was in the shade of a neem tree at the Panchayat Union Middle School in Thazhanguda, a fishing village in Cuddalore, that the future disaster management policy of the United Nations was discussed on a hot Friday morning.

Former U.S. President and United Nations Special Envoy for Tsunami Recovery Bill Clinton cited the model the small town had adopted for post-tsunami reconstruction and rehabilitation and wanted it to be replicated not only in other tsunami-hit areas but also the rest of the world. "I want to figure out how to make this part of the UN strategy for future disasters."

"This is a good model for economic diversification and housing construction, not only for places devastated by natural disaster but also where poor people have substandard housing and not much economic opportunity. What is being done here, I would like to see copied throughout the world," Mr. Clinton reiterated during his last trip to India as Special Envoy.

He lauded the speedy pace at which houses were built for each family that had lost its home while ensuring that education, water and sanitation standards were on par with the mandate he had set.

He said housing was very important and also "the hardest thing to do." In other places, only about 30 per cent of the homes had been replaced. Even in Florida, a year after the hurricane rendered several thousands homeless, people were still living in tents. In Cuddalore, even those not affected by the tsunami but identified as "vulnerable" had been given houses.

He commended the efforts to provide alternative livelihood for those who had suffered multiple losses during the tsunami.

Mr. Clinton, who turned out in a formal blazer worn over a blue t-shirt, also dwelt on the warning system that had come up in the area. Cuddalore could be proud that it had covered the "last mile" in early warning systems and disaster preparedness.

Commending Collector Gagandeep Singh Bedi for leading the recovery and rehabilitation effort right through, he said behind the success story was an "unusual partnership - national funding and regional leadership under this good man here." A combination of government, NGO and private contractor partnership had helped "build back better."

In two hours, Mr. Clinton visited the house of Mayilvail, a fisherman, in the newly reconstructed shelters (by the TANFAC Janseva Trust), interacted with students of the Panchayat Union Middle School in Thazhanguda and witnessed a mock disaster-preparedness drill.

Characteristically, he broke protocol to reach out, touch and interact with the locals who had gathered in droves to see him.

Construction of permanent houses in Cuddalore leaves Clinton impressed

Construction of permanent houses in Cuddalore leaves Clinton impressed - The Hindu
A.V. Ragunathan

These incorporate flood-proof and cyclone-proof features The district was the first in the country to implement a pilot project on early warning system

CUDDALORE: Former United States President Bill Clinton, who visited Cuddalore on Friday in his capacity as the United Nations Secretary General's Special Envoy for Tsunami Recovery, was all praise for the tsunami re- construction works undertaken here.

He made a special mention about permanent houses built on a foundation of 10-13 ft, incorporating flood-proof and cyclone-proof features. What had been accomplished in Cuddalore was worthy of emulation elsewhere, Mr. Clinton said.

The tsunami had left 648 persons, including 214 children, dead in the district. A total of 2,23 houses were flattened, standing crop on 619 hectares damaged and 5,000 fishing boats destroyed. It was a daunting task for the State Government and the district administration to provide suitable accommodation and restore the livelihood of the affected.

Role model

But, within two years, Cuddalore has emerged as a role model for other tsunami-affected areas on carrying out reconstruction works. By constructing over 4,000 permanent houses, the district administration has also provided decent shelters to marginalised sections such as Irula tribals and Dalits. Collector Gagandeep Singh Bedi told The Hindu that the UNDP had commended the district administration for having built additional houses. The district was a salient example of how public-private partnership could transform a devastated coastline into an area bubbling with life.

Imbued with the motto of three Bs - "Building Back Better" - the State Government had sanctioned Rs. 158 crore for providing infrastructure in the coastal areas of Cuddalore.

Pilot project

The district was the first in the country to implement a pilot project on early warning system, in coordination with the UNDP, in 55 coastal villages. The district administration has prepared disaster management plans for all 681 villages with the most vulnerable areas earmarked through participatory rural appraisal exercises. The escape routes have been charted out and safe shelters identified to accommodate people during exigencies. Mr. Bedi said UNICEF had provided school benches, desks and bags to all students in the coastal areas. Under the Prime Minister Relief Scheme, a monthly stipend of Rs. 300 was being given to students studying from standards 1 to 10.

Clinton's Cuddalore visit

In the next few posts I will be adding links to various newspapers and other news sources which reported the Bill Clinton's Cuddalore visit. Since there was an extensive media coverage in both national and international level, I have decided to make an exhaustive list. I will be adding news from reputed sources only, others will be just links. It would take several days to make a complete list, if you find that I have missed a good source, please intimate me.