Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Golden era

The year started with a sad news for the people of Cuddalore. The news of District Collector Gagandeep Singh Bedi's transfer took all in grief. His transfer is an irrecoverable loss for Cuddalore.

He changed the outlook of Cuddalore as he promised while taking charge three years ago. He made a sudden visit to Government Hospital as soon as he took charge and took stern action on negligence and corruption, and improved the amenities there. Next it was the Anna Stadium. He took steps and completed the construction of swimming pool which was pending for several years and constructed a new sidewalk. He initiated the construction of squash courts and synthetic tennis courts. His encroachment eviction drive Lawrence Road is seen as a bold step. Then came broad and beautiful sidewalk along Lawrence Road. New medians, high mast lamps, cascades, island parks, fountains and street lights lifted the face of Cuddalore. The construction of pedestrian pathways and medians are on way in the Cuddalore OT. He took great effort to bring underground drainage system.

Two rivers running across the town and forming estuaries, Cuddalore was in desperate need of more number of bridges. Decades of struggle was in vain until this great man took charge. He constructed bridge connecting Kammianpet and Semmandalam which will be changing Cuddalore completely in the near future. He expedited the land acquisition and completed the railway overbridge in Tirupadhiripuliyur. A bridge connection Singarathope fishing village and Cuddalore mainland which later saved thousands of lives during the tsunami. The work on two more bridges connecting the Devanampattinam with Cuddalore is nearing completion.

Silver Beach got a new look during his period. Rows of chairs, play materials for children, baywatch stage and a jetty were built and all washed away by tsunami. Again there were new chairs, play materials and a new boat house, this time washed away by floods. But all these were brought again by collector. The new boat house that is being built is even more beautiful and the new police outpost unique of its sort.

New parks came up. The Subburayulu Reddiar park got a new look and the tower in the park was renovated- new landmark. Aquarium in the park is nearing completion. Similarly Gandhi Park in Cuddalore OT got a new look.

His work during tsunami and flood(2005) was phenomenal. It is his work that made Cuddalore is made as model for reconstruction and rehabilitation work for other tsunami affected regions. Countries which are consider as most developed has starting learning from his work.

His another remarkable achievement was making the people from rival fishing communities work together in Self-Help groups. There is lives are changed forever. No one else could have done this.

I have listed only some of the work he has done in Cuddalore town. In fact he has done a lot in other towns and villages in the district.

He changed our town and thus our life and won all our hearts. Until now District Collector's Camp Office is seen as a place where Robert Clive has spent his year. Future generations will see it as a place where Gagandeep Singh Bedi lived. His period is a golden era in the history of Cuddalore.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Construction of tsunami retention wall begins

A makeshift road is laid in Silver Beach to facilitate the easy transportation of trucks carrying construction materials for building tsunami retention wall in the fishing hamlets near Cuddalore Old Town.

A truck carrying construction materials for building tsunami retention wall in Singarathoppu.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Special recongnistion for Cuddalore District

Recovering From Tragedy - WashingtonPost
Lessons of Tsunami Reconstruction After Two Years

By Bill Clinton
Tuesday, December 26, 2006; Page A25

Today marks two years since the 2004 tsunami unleashed untold suffering and devastation upon Indian Ocean coastal communities. The tragic toll still resonates: more than 200,000 dead; 2 million people displaced; 370,000 homes destroyed or damaged; some 5,000 miles of coastline devastated; and 2,000 miles of roads ruined.

The tsunami was also unprecedented in the magnitude of the response by donors, the affected governments and their everyday citizens. The homeless received shelter, the hungry were fed, disease was prevented and substantial recovery has been achieved over the past 22 months. Nearly 150,000 homes have been rebuilt or repaired and 80,000 more are being reconstructed. More than 1,600 schools and health centers have been rebuilt or are under construction, tourists are returning to the region in large numbers, and economic growth rates have improved substantially.

At the same time, the tasks ahead are significant in scope and cost. Some 200,000 homes must still be rebuilt or repaired, and in Aceh in particular the challenges of rehabilitating infrastructure and promoting economic development remain daunting. In light of the work to be done, it is encouraging that so many donors have sustained their focus, thus far translating some $13 billion in pledges into roughly $11 billion in firm commitments to critical projects.

I have just completed my third and final trip to the affected region as the U.N. secretary general's special envoy for tsunami recovery. In India, Thailand and Indonesia, I saw once again the resilience of the human spirit and the determination to build a better tomorrow.

At year's end, the mandate entrusted to me by the secretary general will conclude and my responsibilities will be transferred to the United Nations, the World Bank and other established institutions. As this important work continues, I believe four key lessons learned from the tsunami reconstruction effort will contribute to further and faster progress, as well as to dealing with future natural disasters.

First, we must get better at managing risk. Climate change and patterns of human behavior ensure that more devastating natural disasters will occur in the future. The good news is that officials in the countries affected by the tsunami have made progress on a regional early-warning system, natural disaster prevention legislation, training of rapid-response personnel and public education. However, funding for prevention is much harder to come by than funding for relief after a disaster. Donors and governments of at-risk nations must invest much more money to ensure that early-warning systems reach coastal communities, that safe building codes are developed and enforced, and that evacuations are practiced.

Second, we should pursue recovery practices that promote equity and help break patterns of underdevelopment. In the Cuddalore District of India, for example, officials have worked with nongovernmental organizations to expand their post-tsunami housing program to include new homes for Dalits and members of other disadvantaged communities. Many of these people did not lose assets in the tsunami but had been living in substandard conditions. Authorities in Aceh are considering similar solutions for former squatters and renters who did not own the housing they lost in the tsunami. Such efforts should be strongly encouraged.

Third, we must recognize that peace is critical to any recovery process. In Aceh, long-conflicted groups put aside entrenched differences and created an environment conducive to reconstruction. Tragically, the tsunami has not had a similar impact on reconciliation in Sri Lanka, where the recovery will be continue to be hampered until the parties resume a serious dialogue and reestablish the cease-fire. I hope they will choose to work for peace; all of Sri Lanka, especially the tsunami victims, will continue to suffer until they do.

Finally, we must do more to harness the talents of local entrepreneurs and established businesses, domestic and foreign, in relaunching economies. Corporations in the United States and around the world contributed generously to the tsunami response, but we need to do more to turn philanthropists into investors, and providers of access to new markets.

Two years ago, millions around the world responded generously to a tragedy of historic proportions. The challenge that remains is to sustain the recovery effort, use the lessons we are learning to continually improve our response, and apply those lessons to mitigate and respond to future disasters. This will be the most fitting way to honor the memory of the hundreds of thousands who died in the tsunami and to support the millions who survived and are rebuilding their lives.

The writer, the 42nd president, is president of the William J. Clinton Foundation.