Reason why TamilNadu suffers from dire Electricity shortage


The major reasons for the power crisis in Tamil Nadu are the following

1. Absence of a long term vision to increase availability of power by capacity addition and encouraging private investment in power generation compared to other states, over the last 10 years.

2. Overdependence on outside sources.

3. Considerable dependence on wind energy which is highly seasonal in nature and therefore not completely reliable.

4. Failure to reduce power transmission losses in the last 10 years.

1.Lack of long term vision

The following stats demonstrates how the gap between  requirement and availability of power in Tamil Nadu has altered significantly in comparison with other industrialized states between 2003-04 and 2010-11.

e1

e2

Comparing this with the situation in 2003-04, it can be seen that the status of deficits in most of the states was the same, except in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. Tamil Nadu, in particular, only had a deficit of around 1% in 2003-04. This deficit has been increasing rapidly, especially in the last five years as can be seen from the graph below:

e3

Anticipating a huge increase in demand, driven by economic growth, states such as Maharashtra, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh put in added efforts to increase the availability of power. This was done both by increasing own capacity and by encouraging private investment in power generation. On the contrary, such a long term vision to increase availability of power was absent in Tamil Nadu.

Further, installed capacity in Tamil Nadu increased from around 13,000 MW at the end of the 10th plan to around 14,700 MW in 2010-11, representing an increase of around 12%. This represents the least capacity addition among all the states in this period.  States such as Maharashtra and Gujarat have capacity additions of 53% and 21% respectively. States such as Rajasthan and West Bengal increased capacity by as much as 43% and 47% respectively. This is explained in the table below:

e4

The graph below will help you visualize better

e5

2. Overdependence on external sources

There are five main sources of power in a state  – own generation, central allocation, power purchased from IPPs, short term power from the exchange and other sources (including wind mills). The sources of power for the various states considered here are shown below

e6

As can be seen from the above graph, among all the states, Tamil Nadu is the most dependent on outside sources.

3. Over dependence on wind energy

All the capacity additions in Tamil Nadu were in private wind generation (R.E.S), which, as mentioned before, is highly seasonal. This can be seen from
the graph below, which shows sector wise capacity additions over the last three years:

e7

Thus as mentioned before, the reason for the low generation by the state sector is the absence of investments by the state in stable internal sources.

4. Failure to reduce Transmission and Distribution losses

Tamil Nadu also has relatively low T&D and AT&C losses of 18% and 19.5% respectively. Even though these values are relatively low, they have remained at these levels for the past ten years. Tamil Nadu is the only state which has not reduced its T&D losses and improved the system over the years. This is evident from the following graph which shows the movement of T&D losses in the different states since 2002-03.

e8

The main problem faced by Tamil Nadu in transmission is with respect to  congestion in the Southern grid. The following table shows the capacity of the Indian electricity grid.  Further, the southern grid is currently running at full capacity. This is a major problem for a state like Tamil Nadu which is dependent on outside sources of power. As can be seen from the graph below, the amount that can be transferred to the Southern Region is not high. (I am guessing the Kudankulam plant will solve this problem).

e9

Future Projections

1. Projected Demand for Power

The graph below shows projected power demand in Tamil Nadu till 2015-16.

e10

 

The following shows the break up of the demand sector wise:

e11

2. Supply of Power

Total capacity that will be added in the state from 2011-12 to 2015-16 is 7310 MW, out of which 1860 MW will come from the state sector, 4250 MW from the central sector and 1200 MW from the private sector. The plants coming up in the state in the next five years are shown in the graph below.

e12

The total power made available through capacity additions in the year 2011-12 is expected to be 11,536 MU out of which 6384 MU is generated from TNEB’s own capacity additions, while 4059 MU is allocated from capacity additions of Central Generating Stations (CGSs) within the state. Further, a capacity of 1093 MU will be allocated from CGSs outside the state (namely, NTPC’s Simhadri power plant in Andhra Pradesh and Kaiga APS in Karnataka). In 2012-13, an additional 2770 MU of power is expected to be made available due to further capacity additions by NTPC in the state. The graph also shows an increase in existing capacity from 65420 MU to 88478 MU. This increase is mainly due to higher generation through increased utilization of the plants commissioned in the previous year. In 2013-14, only one plant is likely to be commissioned. This is the 1200 MW thermal power plant, Coastal Energen, Tuticourin.

Strategies to be adopted by the state government: (Taken from the Draft of the 12th Five Year Plan (2012-17) of Tamil Nadu)


(i) Capacity Addition

♦Taking up new projects-North Chennai Stage III and IV, Udangudi project and its expansion, Ennore Annex, Kundah Pumped Storage, Uppur thermal power project, ETPS replacement, Tuticorin stage IV,
Cheyyur Ultra Mega Power Project etc.

♦Speeding up and expediting the completion of on going projects-North Chennai Stage II, Mettur State III, TNEB-NTPC JV Vallur, TNEB-NLC Tuticorin JV, Kudankulam, PFBR Kalpakkam, Neyveli TS-II Expansion
etc.

♦Exploring the possibility of adding 10000 MW wind  energy through various promoters; Setting up offshore wind power plants;

♦Setting up of Solar Parks;

♦Attract private investments on a commensurate scale;

(ii) Transmission and Distribution


♦Enhancing transformer capacities in the existing sub stations;

♦Bifurcation of high tension overloaded feeders and installation of capacitor banks at distribution transformers for injection of reactive power;

♦Conversion of low voltage lines to high voltage lines along with feeder separation to reduce the distribution line losses;

♦Segregation of agricultural loads from industrial, commercial, and domestic loads;

♦Adequate transmission network to evacuate the power generated from new plants and to distribute the customers;


(iii) Energy Conservation


♦Implementing Bachat Lamp Yojana (BLY) scheme to increase energy efficiency in domestic sector;

♦Improve the efficiency of the agricultural pump sets using appropriate incentive scheme;

♦Solar powered home lighting in 3 lakh Green houses; 1 lakh street lights through solar power;

♦  Energy conservation building code; Energy Star Labeling in Equipments


(iv) Fiscal Health of Power Sector


♦ Make the distribution system financially viable during the Twelfth Plan by rational pricing, bringing modern systems of management, use of IT, enforcement of accountability and privatization or franchising.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Few Longest Train Routes of India


Which is your preferred mode of transport for long distance travel- flight or train? Flight saves time, but there’s the inconvenience of cramped space and security checks. Besides a flight journey falls short of emanating that romantic charm despite the presence of those charming flight attendants. This is where a train journey fits in. Imagine yourself inside a train rushing past the towns and villages of India- giving you glimpses of fascinating landscapes, the weather changing every few hours and the food presenting distinctive changes in aroma in each of your meal. Then, there’s the exciting prospect of meeting perfect strangers, getting into conversation with them and discovering ways of life so different from your own. So, hurry up! Dust off that travel bag and choose one route from the below mentioned list of 1o longest routes.

Kerala Sampark Kranti Express
Train Number: 12218
Starting Point: Chandigarh (Punjab)
Ending Point: Thiruvananthpuram (Kerala)

1
Running at an average speed of 57killo meters per hour, it covers a distance of 3415kms in 57 hours and 35 minutes. It takes 21 halts. It traverses through Punjab, Delhi, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala. This train runs once in a week.

Guwahati- Ernakulam Express
Train Number: 12508
Starting Point: Guwahati (Assam)
Ending Point: Ernakulam (Kerala)

2
It runs at an average speed of 55killo meters per hour. It travels 3337kms in 59 hours and 45 minutes. It takes halts in 43 places. It’s a weekly train service. It passes through the states of Assam, West Bengal, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and finally reaches Kerala.

Dehradun- Kochuveli Weekly Superfast Express
Train Number: 12288
Starting Point: Dehradun (Uttarakhand)
End Point: thiruvananthpuram (Kerala)

3
It covers a distance of 3459kms in 61hours and 10 minutes. It traverses through Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharastra, Karnataka and Kerala. It halts at 25 places. It runs once a week.

Raptisagar Express
Train Number: 12522
Starting Point: Ernakulam (Kerala)
Ending Point: Barauni (Bihar)

4
Raptisagar is a super fast express running at an average speed of 55km per hour. It covers a distance of 3441kms in 62 hours. It takes 61 halts. It’s a weekly train service. The train passes through Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

Dehradun- Kochuveli Weekly Superfast Express
Train Number: 12288
Starting Point: Dehradun (Uttarakhand)
End Point: thiruvananthpuram (Kerala)

0
It covers a distance of 3459kms in 61hours and 10 minutes. It traverses through Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharastra, Karnataka and Kerala. It halts at 25 places. It runs once a week.

Ten Jammu Express
Train Number: 16787
Starting Point: Tirunelveli (Tamil Nadu)
Ending Point: Jammu Tawi (Jammu & Kashmir)

25rail1
It passes through Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Jammu & Kashmir. It covers a total distance of 3561kms in 70 hours. It halts at 70 stops and crosses 518 intermediate stations. This is a biweekly train service.

Guwahati Express
Train Number: 12515
Starting Point: Thiruvanathapuram (Kerala)
Ending Point: Guwahati (Assam)

6460602099_a7ee92f15f_z
This is a super fast train running at an average speed of 54km per hour. It traverses through Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, West Bengal and Assam. It covers 3552kms in 65 hours. It takes a total 50 halts. It runs once in a week.

Navyug Express
Train number: 166
Starting point: Mangalore (Karnataka)
End Point: Jammu Tawi (Jammu & Kashmir)

22railways2
NavYug Express runs through 12 Indian states: Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka. It covers a distance of 3609kms in 67 hours. It takes 61 halts. It runs once a week.

Dibrugarh Express
Train Number: 15901
Starting Point: Bangalore (Karnataka)
Ending Point: Dibrugarh (Assam)

dibrugarh-rajdhani-express
Dibrugarh Express started running from 4th January 2010. It’s an express train running at the speed of 51km per hour. It covers a total distance of 3547kms in 68 hours. It takes 33 halts and runs through Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, West Bengal and Assam. It’™s a weekly train.

Vivek Express (Dibrugarh-Kanyakumari)
Train Number: 15905/15906
Starting Point: Dibrugarh (Assam)
Ending Point: Kanyakumari (Tamil Nadu)

222
It owes its name to Swami Vivekananda as it started running to commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Swamiji. It is an express train, covering a total 4272kms in 82 hours. It travels through the states of Assam, West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. It takes 54 halts. This is the longest train route in India and the 9th longest in the world.

Himsagar Express
Train Number: 16317/16318
Starting Point: Jammu Tawi (Jammu & Kashmir)
Ending Point: Kanyakumari (Tamil Nadu)

8
This express train runs at the speed of 53km per hour and traverses a total distance of 3714kms in 70 hours. It passes through 9 Indian states: Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. It halts at 71 stations. It runs once a week. It starts at 11.45PM on Monday from Jammu and reaches Kanyakumari at 10.45 PM on Thursday.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Indian Engineer To Get Rs.8.4 Lakh For Exposing Facebook’s Image-Deleting Bug


f9c6yHn1

Arul Kumar, a 21 year old Indian Electronics and Communications engineer hailing from Tamil Nadu, has been awarded bounty of $12,500 by Facebook for recognizing a bug within website which allowed users to delete an image or an  interaction from other users without his or her concern.

64mS0q9Q

The whole story started when Kumar, also a researcher, posted in his blog about a flaw within the Facebook Support Dashboard. According to the blog, it is easy to exploit the Facebook Support Dashboard and delete any picture from any user page, including verified ones. The blog also had a detailed structure of the bug. For more confirmation, Kumar even had made a video on the bug and send it to the Facebook security team.
About the flaw, it works well with any browser, but according to Kumar, it works better through mobile devices. Initially, the doer needs two profiles, one as the receiver and the other as a sender. Parameters used are Photo_iD and Owner Profile_iD. Once exploited, hackers can delete any photos from any user profile without the owner even knowing about it.

Interestingly, this event shares great similarities to that of Khalil’s, a security expert who couple of weeks before broke into Mark Zuckerberg’s profile. When Khalil came across multiple faults in Facebook, he tried to report the openness to Facebook Security Team, who instead of rewarding dismissed his bounty or even didn’t take it seriously. Impatient and desperate, Khalil hacked into Mark Zuckerberg’s wall and displayed the bug that gave the freedom to post on any Facebook user’s wall. Apart from hacking, Khalil also wrote a huge post explaining about the bug and his discontent against Facebook Security Support team for not taking his efforts seriously.

Soon after the whole event, Khalil’s profile was suspended and eventually he didn’t receive any bounties. According to Facebook, Khalil had broken the golden rule of ‘never to compromise a real-time user’s profile while displaying a bug’ and eventually was disregarded.

As Khalil, Kumar also faced some initial refusals from the Facebook team. But what made the difference was that Kumar detailed the whole bug in a comprehensive video and had sent it to the security team. He even exploited Zuckerberg’s Facebook photo, but did not delete it. This move certainly impressed Facebook as they have recognized the bug and decided to reward Kumar $12,500. The social networking giant also approved 3 Open Redirectors by Kumar, making him eligible for an extra bounty of $1,500.

India’s Largest Temples With Outstanding Architecture


It’s not just spirituality that draws people to these magnificent constructions, the brilliant architecture, peaceful atmosphere and an opportunity to embrace our culture; all these are elements that attract millions to Indian temples. Let us take a look at some of the largest comprehensive Hindu temples, as listed by Walk Through India.

Akshardham Temple

Iu9O7E630egyAUC

Akshardham, also known as Delhi Akshardham or Swaminarayan Akshardham is a Hindu temple complex in Delhi. It is a beautiful blend of architecture, tradition and spirituality. The temple developed by Pramukh Swami Maharaj with the support of 3,000 volunteers and 7,000 artisans was officially opened in the year 2005.It is an important landmark in Delhi and majority of the tourists who visit Delhi, make it a point to grasp the charm of this outstanding shrine as well.

Meenakshi Amman Temple

361wz27xq49TfhN

Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple or Meenakshi Amman Temple, devoted to Parvathi(known as Meenakshi) and Shiva, is situated on the banks of river Vaigai, in Madurai. 14 gateway towers, more popular as gopurams, ranging from 45-50m in height can be found in the temple complex. It is one of the most prominent landmarks in the temple city of Madurai, drawing 15,000 visitors a day and around 25,000 on Fridays. There are 33,000 sculptures in the temple and the shrine also made it to the list of top 30 nominees of the ”New Seven Wonders of the World”. Meenakshi Tirukalyanam festival, a 10 day celebration which is held during the months of April and May, attracts more than 1 million visitors.

Annamalaiyar Temple

4WVy0oK9sN2BCkI

The shrine is situated at the base of Annamalai Hill in the town of Thiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu. The main deity is Lord Shiva and the temple is associated with the five elements, the Pancha Bhoota Stalas, and specifically the element of fire, or Agni. The Karthigai Deepam is one of the main festivals celebrated here, during the day of the full moon between November and December. An enormous fire is lit at the top of the hill, which denotes the Shiva lingam of fire joining the sky and nearly 3 million pilgrims visit the temple to witness this charm. The temple is maintained and administered by the Hindu Religious and Endowment Board of the Government of Tamil Nadu.

Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple

Sp152JugHda3Brh

A beautiful construction of the 1987 AD, Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple is the largest temple in India and one of the largest religious complexes in the world. Frequently listed as the largest functioning Hindu temple in the world, it has the second tallest Gopuram. The temple is located in Tiruchirapalli(Tamil Nadu), on an island in Cauvery River and the architecture has been inspired by Dravidian style. During the Tamil month of Margazhi (December-January), a 21-day festival is celebrated here, drawing around 1 million visitors.
Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, a renowned Vaishnava temple in South India has a total of 21 gopurams (towers), 39 pavilions, fifty shrines, Ayiram kaal mandapam (a hall of 1000 pillars) and numerous small water bodies inside.

There are numerous large and beautiful Hindu temples in the country, from which a selected few are mentioned in the article.

Siddharth Mallya’s Facebook horror


An imposter pretending to be the UB group scion is posting status messages about them among other things.

1869707

Siddhartha Mallya recently faced a situation on Facebook. The UB Group scion has a number of fake accounts on Facebook that are all posting updates as him. In fact, one of the impersonators

(https://www.facebook.com/sid.mallya.5?fref=ts) even posted an update about UB Group tying up with Fox Searchlight to come up with UB Motion Pictures which was totally false.

Sid’s team has approached Facebook and even asked them to shut down all impostor accounts, especially this one. According to the statement from Siddhartha’s spokesperson, “On behalf of Sid, would like to clarify that, there is no truth whatsoever to the matter of the so-called creation of UB Motion Pictures. This update has been posted on Facebook by an impostor who is posing as Sid and NOT by Sid himself. Hence would request everyone to completely disregard any updates on these fake accounts and only consider news that are issued from official sources.”

This is not a random case. A lot of celebrities are being impersonated on social networking sites. Recently model Sahil Shroff discovered that someone had hacked into his Facebook account and was fooling around with girls using his name. Actress Amrita Rao wanted her identity to be undisputed on a popular micro-blogging site. And to this effect, the actress had filed five impersonation complaints recently. “In fact two accounts that were impersonating me have already been deleted by the authorities recently, and three others are under close scrutiny,” she had shared.

Actor Hurman S Baweja was in shock when an unknown person created a fake account in his name on a networking website and sent random requests to several girls.

Noted South actor Kiccha Sudeep had recently cautioned against a fake Facebook account in his name carrying ‘derogatory’ material, including against Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa.

Actress Shruti Haasan was taken aback to find out that there are more than 20 Facebook accounts all posing to be Shruti. However, the actress has no Facebook account and only interacts with her fans through Twitter.

Centre’s wrong economic policies are the reason for repeated increase in prices: Jayalalithaa


Petrol price was yesterday hiked by Rs 1.82 a litre, the third increase this month, as the falling Rupee had made imports costlier.

jj

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on Saturday slammed the Centre on the issue of rupee depreciation and said the latest petrol price hike spurred by the weak currency showed Congress-led UPA‘s “administrative incompetence and incapability.”

“Instead of taking steps to control the falling value of the Indian Rupee, the reason for the fuel price hike, central government is just revising the rate of petrol as per its whims and fancies and this is the best example of its administrative incompetence and incapability,” she said.

Petrol price was yesterday hiked by Rs 1.82 a litre, the third increase this month, as the falling Rupee had made imports costlier.

She described as “height of deceit” the latest hike, which came within 15 days of the previous revision of petrol rates and strongly condemned such attitude of Centre.

“Centre’s wrong economic policies and its fuel pricing policies are the reason for repeated increase in prices. The Centre and RBI can take steps to control the falling value of Rupee, but they are instead passing the burden on to the people, which is unacceptable,” she said in a statement.

She said if Centre was not equipped to handle the problem, it should focus on retrieving black money stashed abroad. Had this been done, there would not have been any need to revise fuel prices.

“But the Congress government at the Centre is silent on the black money issue. It is helping those who possess black money,” she alleged.

The Chief Minister said the latest hike would have a cascading effect with industries using petrol forced to spend more which they will ultimately pass on to the customers.

The price of products produced there will also increase and the latest hike will further strain the people of the country.

Rupee will further depreciate and inflation will go up, she said, adding considering the welfare of the poor and middle classes, Centre should immediately withdraw Friday’s petrol price revision. She also sought strong steps to prevent further fall in value of the Indian currency.

PTI

Cauvery panel finds T.N. demand for water not feasible


The committee agrees for decisions by consensus

cauvery_350_120612114715

The Cauvery Supervisory Committee that met here on Wednesday did not find “feasible” the demand of the Tamil Nadu government for directions to Karnataka for release of Cauvery waters as per the award of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal.

 The panel, chaired by Union Water Resources Secretary S.K. Sarkar, agreed to the suggestion of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka to modify its Rules of Business to decide that decisions shall ordinarily be taken by consensus. If no consensus is reached, then the decision may be left to the Chairperson. Noting that the situation was “very grim” for both the basin States as the storage levels in their respective reservoirs were deficient, the committee decided to review the position in its next meeting slated to be held in the first week of July.

 The meeting observed that the southwest monsoon had arrived on time in Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu and has so far been in excess of normal in the first 10 days of June. It is expected to pick up in due course.

 “Looking into the data such as deficit in inflows and very low storages in the reservoirs in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, the request of Tamil Nadu for release of water by Karnataka was considered and found not feasible as of now. However, the position will be reviewed in the next meeting proposed to be held in the first week of July 2013,” said the six-page order signed by Mr. Sarkar.

 The live storage in Karnataka reservoirs on June 10 was 3.716 tmcft, while it was 3.58 tmcft in Mettur dam as against 15.8 tmcft and 41.96 tmcft respectively in the previous year on the same date.

 The outflow from Karnataka reservoirs is 0.83 tmcft and drawals, including evaporation, is 0.04 tmcft, while outflow at Mettur is 0.49 tmcft. “It is evident from the data that the situation in both Karnataka and Mettur (Tamil Nadu) is very grim,” the order said. Both Tamil Nadu and Karnataka raised objections to certain provisions in the Rules of Business, particularly the clauses pertaining to quorum and decision by majority vote. While Tamil Nadu sought early constitution of the Cauvery Management Board, Karnataka wanted that the panel should not adopt the guidelines of the Cauvery Management Board (as prescribed in the final award). The Supervisory Committee has been formed on the directions of the Supreme Court. Karnataka also suggested that water account be done at the end of December instead of from June to May. Besides, Tamil Nadu that sought 24 hours average water flows at Biligundlu for kuruvai crop and other needs.

 Panel takes note of poor storage levels in the two States

 It will review the position in the next meeting in July

Source : The Hindu

Image : Representation Only

Saving the mangroves


India’s eastern coastline and regions east of India have been suffering serious environmental degradation without any sincere efforts at mitigation. The Orissa super-cyclone of 1999 smashed through huge tracts of land, taking countless lives and wrecking incalculable damage to crops, cattle, and property. The thirteen coastal districts along Tamil Nadu’s 255-kilometre long coastline are regularly exposed to cyclonic fury, and the terrifying tsunami of 2004 is still fresh in public memory.

Summer 2008 has been kind to India; Hurricane Nargis which shattered the lives of untold thousands in Myanmar has spared this land; it could so easily have been otherwise. A grim earthquake has devastated China, raising the toll of human tragedy manifold. Delhi’s unseasonal rains have also taken some lives, and the weather has been inexplicable enough for experts to seriously consider it a consequence of global warming and environmental degradation.

Resurrecting the mangroves, now almost extinct in our part of the world, can even now end this continuing legacy of human misery, this horrible haemorrhaging of the earth itself. Mangroves, literally dense forests on the shore, tolerate the salinity of sea water and protect inland water sources and soil from salinity and erosion; above all, they mitigate the impact of cyclonic winds. There is no more ecologically sensitive and cost effective measure of saving the seacoast and continental shelf than mangroves, yet we have seen least action in this direction.

Given the pulsating environmental instability in our region, it is astonishing a debate still persists regarding the desirability of the Rs 2,400-crore white elephant called the Setusamundaram Shipping Canal Project (SSCP). The plan to dredge a 300-metre wide channel through the land-link between India and Sri Lanka, to reduce the distance between the western and eastern coast ports, is opposed by environmentalists, economists and security analysts. Colombo has raised an alarm fearing human intervention on Ram Setu could threaten its very existence in the event of another tsunami, already predicted by Nature magazine (December 2007).

The historical-civilizational significance of Ram Setu is obvious. Sinhala scholar Prof Tissa Kariyawasam, former dean of the University of Jayawardenapura, Sri Lanka, says most probably Emperor Ashoka’s son Mahendra and daughter Sanghamitra came to the island by walking across the Ram Setu. It symbolizes the establishment and protection of dharma; the Skanda Purana prescribes worship of the Rama Setu and the Shivalinga installed in its middle with appropriate mantras. It is a popular place for offerings to pitrs (ancestors).

The proposal to hack a channel was publicly welcomed by the LTTE in Sri Lanka and Tamil politician Vaiko. The Indian Navy and Coast Guard warned of the possibility of facilitating militant groups! Capt. H. Balakrishnan (retd) of Chennai made an in-depth study of the SSCP’s viability, particularly the claim that it would save ships nearly 424 nautical miles (780 kms) and about 30 hours of sailing time, with commensurate savings in fuel, thereby becoming self-sustaining over time. An estimated 3055 vessels were projected to use the canal annually.

But its economic viability alone is questionable from a study of the Information Memorandum of the UTI Bank (now Axis Bank), wherein dredging costs alone are pegged at Rs 200 million in the first year. This will actually be higher as the open sea will constantly bring sand, which may keep the channel effectively closed much of the year. It is pertinent that the Suez Canal was cut through land, though it too has to be annually desilted. Many international shipping companies have already stated that using the canal would involve reducing speed, switching fuels, and incurring extra costs like canal charges and navigation assistance to negotiate it; hence it made better sense to go around Sri Lanka! With news reports suggesting cost escalation up to Rs. 4000 crores, the argument for economic viability of the project is certainly over.

The Kochi-based Centre for Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) has warned about the adverse effect on marine bio-diversity in the protected Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve, if the SSCP is implemented. Director NGK Pillai has affirmed that the 3,600 species in the biosphere would be endangered if the Gulf of Mannar was linked to the Bay of Bengal, in the manner in which the Kochi shipyard had caused loss of nearly 60 percent biodiversity in the Kochi estuary. Worldwide, the phenomenon of vanishing wildlife is reaching endemic proportions, and unless strict measures are taken, biodiversity loss could touch 60 to 70 percent in the next three decades. In this regard, the practice of trawl fishnets needs an urgent rethink, as they cause immeasurable damage to non-edible biota.

The National Institute of Ocean Technology has affirmed that the Ram Sethu is a man-made structure, dating back to antiquity, a view shared by the National Remote Sensing Agency of the Ministry of Space, which has even been tabled in Parliament. This is why, once it was forced to withdraw the controversial affidavit denying the existence of Sri Ram, the Union Tourism and Culture Ministry insisted only an archaeological investigation could determine if the Ram Setu is man-made, and a legitimate heritage site worthy of protection under the Ancient Monuments Preservation Act, 1904. With monsoons ruling out an early investigation, the project is virtually in a limbo for the present.

But the danger is far from over as the forces behind SSCP are resourceful and powerful, as reflected in the ingenuous argument of protecting the Ram Setu while continuing with the project through a different alignment! It needs to be understood that the Ram Setu is a single, somewhat winding, land track between Sri Lanka and India, wide enough for an army to cross over. Over the centuries, natural erosion in the turbulent waters there has cut natural channels into it, wide enough for shallow boats to cross over to either side.

Any move to preserve the pristine glory of the Setu must envisage filling these passages and restoring the ‘Ram path’ between the two nations. Stopping SSCP vandalism at a spot where dredging is difficult and attacking the structure at a more vulnerable point, in the name of realignment, is desecration in disguise. It is pertinent that the southern sands are rich in thorium, our nuclear future. India does not need unnecessary activity in this area.

 Sandhya Jain -The Pioneer, 27 May 2008

#Kamal Haasan to release #Vishwaroopam-2 this year


Actor and director Kamal Haasan said Saturday his next production Vishwaroopam-2 will be launched in a few days and release this year.

Vishwaroopam-2

Speaking to reporters here at a meet organised by Raj Kamal Enterprises, along with film distributor HD Gangaraj, Kamal Haasan said he would ensure that there will be no delay in the release of the new film as he has been making preparations in right earnestness.

The actor said that many Tamil film personalities advised him to continue making films at least once a year.

Haasan also announced that he has also been involved in another script titled Moo.

The actor’s latest espionage thriller Vishwaroopam ran into trouble after some Muslim groups sought certain modifications. The actor agreed for the changes before its release Feb 7.

The Rs95 crore film narrates the story of a Muslim Indian agent living in the US in disguise, on a secret assignment to stop a probable terror attack. It stars Kamal Haasan, Pooja Kumar, Andrea Jeremiah, Shekhar Kapur, Rahul Bose and Jaideep Ahlawat.

“My fans in Tamil Nadu are overwhelmingly supporting my movie and it has already been talked as my biggest carrier hit after it opened with a humongous response for three days,” he said.

“Now, that the Tamil version of Vishwaroopam has been released in Tamil Nadu, I am happy that I will not be questioned by my brother and co-producer Chandra Haasan,” said the actor, indicating that the film may collect nearly Rs100 crore.

Muslims need to choose their battles


From Vishwaroopam to Kashmir rock band, India’s Muslims are forever battling shadows

Sometime back in these columns I had argued that if Islam were to sue for libel, many of its followers would find themselves in the dock. No faith has suffered as much as it has at the hands of its own overzealous followers. Bernard Shaw got it about right when he suggested that Islam is the best religion and Muslims are the worst followers. No day passes without the fervent faithful putting the religion in unforgiving global glare with their actions.

If it is not some crackpot blowing himself up with fellow believers right when they are in the presence of their God, it’s some self-anointed defender of the faith declaring who in his expert opinion has stepped beyond the pale of Islam. Without troubling the Ultimate Judge, they even decide right here and right now who gets to go to hell.

Indeed, if it were up to them, they would dispatch everyone right away to damnation. All this of course is done with complete sincerity and conviction believing in the justness of their cause. The road to hell is indeed paved with good intentions.

Lucknow Muslims against Vishwaroopam movie.

From the wild heart of Asia to the unpredictable Middle East to the edge of untamed Africa, this willful distortion and misrepresentation of Islam and its teachings and spirit has not only lost its shock value for everyone, including the faithful, it’s acquiring increasingly absurd and frightening proportions.

And this is in no way inferior or less dangerous than the kind of Western wars and ideological crusade against Islam that we have lately seen, especially over the past decade or so. In fact, they appear to be aiding and abetting and providing the fig leaf of an excuse to each other.

So if Kamal Haasan’s Vishwaroopam unabashedly apes Hollywood and taps into the First world narrative of Islamophobia, painting all Muslims as crazed followers of Al-Qaeda and a threat to the world peace and civilized world, those threatening him with dire consequences for the movie wittingly or unwittingly end up justifying his message.

It must be said though that all protests against the movie in Tamil Nadu were totally peaceful. That didn’t however prevent the increasingly shrill Indian media from once again launching into a diatribe, screaming about a grave threat to free speech and the nation’s great democratic traditions. Excuse me but do not the same democratic traditions and the freedom of speech, include the right to protest peacefully and register one’s disagreement?

And it’s not Muslim groups but the TN government that prevented the film’s screening because of Chief Minister Jayalalitha’s own issues with Haasan. The movie has been running in the rest of India, including in several neighboring states without any incident. But those who have watched the film suggest that the outrage over the movie is justified. It’s an endless and predictable harangue against Islam and a paean to Uncle Sam’s global war.

I don’t believe Haasan is communal. One of the finest actors India has produced, the star is widely regarded for his sensitive portrayals in films that have enriched Indian cinema.

However, as Feroze Mithiborwala says in his brilliant Tehelka piece, the actor is being far from honest when he claims Vishwaroopam is his “tribute to Muslims” and that it would make them proud. The film actually reinforces communal stereotypes and justifies the empire and its hegemonic wars and occupation “in ways that even Hollywood would have felt ashamed of portraying.”

The message propagated all through, in Feroze’s words, is basically this: “One Good Muslim, All the Rest Bad Muslims.” The hero, a closet Muslim and a RAW agent, is a noble exception who saves the world while the rest of the Muslims are all committed to destruction and mayhem driven by their faith. Muslims are furiously praying while bombs go off all around them. The Quranic verses are recited in the background while machine guns are turned on defenseless women and children by the followers of a menacing, one-eyed Mullah Omar-type lunatic. There’s no mention whatsoever of what the Afghans have been through at the hands of their Western liberators.

That said though demanding a ban on such movies and books is no solution. It’s counterproductive and ends up earning them greater attention and hype as has been the case with numerous Hollywood and Bollywood flicks, Danish cartoons and Rushdie’s infamous book. And taking to the streets over every slight and slur–real or imagined–actually plays into the hands of the ever voracious, insensitive media and forces that can hardly be described as our friends or sympathizers.

In the past few weeks or so, not a single day has gone without the television pundits furiously debating about some Muslim issue or the other. If it’s not about the largely isolated demonstration against Vishwaroopam, it’s about some little-known outfit protesting against Rushdie’s visit to Calcutta. And then there was this absurd row over an all-girl rock band from Kashmir in the news with a fatwa promptly declaring it ‘un-Islamic.’

Not surprisingly, it’s not just the insufferable Arnab Goswami who had a field day; everyone else joined the fun, gravely speechifying about “our growing intolerance” and the creeping Taliban rule in Kashmir under Indian constitution. There was more bedlam when the nervous band of teenagers that calls itself, Pragaash (From Darkness to Light), clearly drawing on the Islamic imagery, decided to call it quits.

Frankly, I fail to see what the fuss is all about, especially when the young girls, in their early teens, observe hijab and have done nothing that violates Islamic traditions. Not only does Kashmir boast a hoary tradition of music and singing, especially by women, men and women sing and dance across the Arab and Muslim world on festive occasions and even otherwise. Women sang to encourage their men at the time of wars, including in those that were led by the Prophet, peace be upon him. He would make Hassan bin Sabit, the legendary poet, recite poetry right in Masjide Nabavi, the Prophet’s mosque.

So why are we constantly chasing chimeras and tilting at the windmills? Why do we for goodness sake see a threat to Islam everywhere? Is our faith so fragile and feeble that it cannot withstand a minor idle pursuit here or criticism there? Don’t we know how much abuse the Prophet himself silently suffered at the hands of his legion of enemies?

Islam is far more robust and tenacious than our insecurities. If it wasn’t, it wouldn’t be the fastest spreading religion today despite our own conduct and efforts and all the conspiracies and canard against it. More important, why are we battling shadows, ignoring our real issues and concerns? As a people, we have developed a rare talent for obsessing over the irrelevant and inconsequential.

As Amartya Sen so rightly put it commenting on the protests over Vishwaroopam and Rushdie, India’s Muslims have far larger problems facing them–from poverty, health and sanitation to food and education. And this is not a state of affairs that is limited to India. Indeed, elsewhere the community confronts fiercer demons.

Isn’t it about time we got our priorities and focus right? We cannot forever remain locked in a perpetual state of war, bleeding ourselves to death. We have to choose our battles. Every time we get bogged down in such minor irritations and irrelevancies, we let our adversaries win.

Aijaz Zaka Syed is a Gulf based writer. Email him at aijaz.syed@hotmail.com