Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The NPC Kaiga Incident - From the Frontline

Misplaced trust - T.S. SUBRAMANIAN Source - Frontline

Once again a “mischief-maker” is able to expose colleagues to radiation doses at an Indian nuclear power plant. The Kaiga Atomic Power Station, where 65 NPCIL employees were found to have received radiation doses in excess of prescribed limits in November.

ON April 17, 2004, three employees of the Waste Immobilisation Plant (WIP) of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) at Tarapur, Maharashtra, were exposed to radiation doses when they used, at different times, a particular chair in a room at the plant. Embedded in a fold of the cushioned seat of the chair was a vial of liquid waste containing caesium and strontium, both radioactive substances. The vial should have been sent to a “counter” for “counting” its radioactivity. Instead, it was found lodged in the chair. Top officials of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) laid the blame for the incident on “mischief” by a “disgruntled” WIP employee, who was dismissed.
Tarapur, about 130 km from Mumbai, then had two nuclear power reactors. (It has four now.) Liquid waste from these reactors is stored in underground tanks. Liquid waste is categorised as high-level and low-level. Solid waste is vitrified (converted into glass) and stored in capsules.
Five and a half years later, on November 24, 2009, at the Kaiga Atomic Power Station on the banks of the Kalinadi river in Karwar district of Karnataka, bioassay tests of the urine samples of 65 employees working in the first reactor building revealed that they had received radiation in excess of the prescribed limits. They were all employees of Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL), which designs, builds and operates nuclear power reactors in the country. They had drunk water mixed with tritiated heavy water from a water cooler kept in the operating island of Unit-1. Tritiated heavy water is a radioactive fluid in the heavy water. The three operating reactors at Kaiga use natural uranium as fuel and heavy water as both coolant and moderator.
Two of the 65 employees received radiation doses above the annual limit of three rem (or 30 millisieverts) set by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), the watchdog organisation that monitors safety in nuclear installations in India.
A top DAE official blamed the incident on “an insider’s mischief”. He said “an insider had mixed tritiated heavy water in the drinking water kept in the cooler in the operating island of the reactor”.
S.K. Jain, Chairman and Managing Director, NPCIL, also called the incident “possibly an act of mischief”. He explained that there was heavy water in the reactor’s moderator system and primary heat transporter. During the reactor’s operation, a part of the deuterium in the heavy water gets converted into tritium. (Deuterium and tritium are isotopes of hydrogen.) While light water contains two atoms of hydrogen and one atom of oxygen (H2O), heavy water contains two atoms of deuterium and one atom of oxygen (D2O). Tritium oxide, or super-heavy water, contains two atoms of tritium and one atom of oxygen (T2O). “Trained, qualified workers” took out vials of tritiated heavy water from the sampling points in the reactor building to the chemical laboratory (which, in this case, was situated outside the building) for analysis, Jain explained. This is done every day. When urine samples of 250 workers were tested on November 24, it came to light that 65 of them had received tritium radiation. Investigation revealed that water in the water cooler had been contaminated with tritiated heavy water. “Preliminary inquiry does not reveal any violation of operating procedures or radioactivity release or security breach,” he said.
Jain was confident that since the “computerised access control system has a record of all the personnel who have entered the operating island”, it was only a matter of time before the mischief-maker would be identified.
The DAE/NPCIL do not seem to have become wiser after the incident at the WIP at Tarapur. No closed-circuit cameras have been installed in the corridors/passages leading from the sampling points in the reactor buildings to the chemical laboratories, which are generally situated outside the reactor building.
With touching naivete and implicit faith in their staff, top NPCIL officials explained away the absence of closed-circuit cameras. Their unanimous argument was: “The workers are our staff. Their antecedents were checked before they were appointed. So there is no need to monitor every movement of a worker.” Besides, they argued, it was not feasible to install cameras all over the nuclear power plant “from end to end”, and that cameras had been installed in what they called “strategic areas”, “sensitive spots” or “vital points”.
But all of them declined to reveal what were the “strategic areas” or “sensitive spots” where closed-circuit cameras had been installed. An AERB official frankly admitted: “The closed-circuit cameras have been installed at strategic locations so that nothing is removed without authorisation. But who would have thought a fellow would go out of his mind and mix tritiated heavy water with drinking water?” One NPCIL official said that the vial containing tritiated heavy water would not be detected by radiation-monitoring counters if it was covered with a piece of cloth.
A top DAE official said, “There are a large number of places where closed-circuit cameras have been installed. There were no cameras here because it was a corridor [in Unit-1 at Kaiga]. The cameras were not installed then because the decision at that time was based on a [particular] scenario. Now you have to factor in this scenario [of an employee spiriting away the vial containing tritium and mixing it with drinking water in the cooler].”
The AERB sent two of its officers to Kaiga. They concluded that a drinking water cooler was the source of the tritium contamination. The water tank of this cooler, like other water coolers, was kept locked. “However,” said Om Pal Singh, AERB Secretary, in a press release, “it appears that a mischief maker added a small quantity of tritiated heavy water to the cooler, possibly from a heavy water sampling vial, through its [cooler’s] overflow tube.”
Officials of NPCIL and the AERB also played down the gravity of the ingestion of tritiated heavy water by the 65 employees. An “update” on the incident from Jain on November 29 said: “Any contamination caused by heavy water inside the human body is quickly flushed out through natural biological processes like urination and perspiration. These processes can be hastened through simple medication. The contamination detected in this incident has been brought down quickly and one worker is currently close to the limit specified by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board.… No worker is hospitalised.”
Om Pal Singh argued that the “administration of diuretics accelerates the process of removal of tritium from the human body by urination” and said the personnel who ingested the tritiated heavy water were referred to hospitals for the administration of diuretics.
But according to an article in Science and Democratic Action, published by the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, United States, in its August 2009 issue: “As radioactive water, tritium can cross the placenta, posing some risk of birth defects and early pregnancy failures. Ingestion of tritiated water also increases cancer risk.” These observations form part of the lead article, “Radioactive Rivers and Rain: Routine Releases of Tritiated Water from Nuclear Power Plants”, by Annie Makhijani and Arjun Makhijani. They observed: “The problem of routine tritium emissions is, in our opinion, underappreciated, especially because non-cancer foetal risks are not yet part of the regulatory framework for radionuclide contamination and because tritium releases constitute the largest routine releases from nuclear power plants.”
Although the Kaiga incident came to light on November 24, it was not before November 30 that the Kaiga station officials “formally” requested the Mallapur police for an investigation. Notwithstanding the NPCIL top brass’ confidence in the computerised access control systems, biometrics and the list of 250 employees who work in Unit-1, neither the State police nor the Central intelligence agencies had zeroed in on the “mischief-maker” as of December 7.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Karwar cuisine- a tradition - Sourced from

Source -

Karwar cuisine

Cuisine of Karwar, a small town on the western coast of India, just south of Goa, is unique in its taste, flavour and variety. People of  Karwar have spread over different parts of India and the world in search of employment and livelihood. But the karwar Diaspora, no matter where it exists cares for the food of the native land. Their mouth waters the moment somebody mentions the Karwari dishes.

There are books on Goa cuisine which is therefore well advertised but Karwar cuisine is less known. Though it may have similarities to Goa cuisine, it is distinct. Goa was under Portuguese rule for five hundred years and this inevitably affected the content and the style of cooking with the inevitable impact of the Portuguese food style. But Karwar cuisine has retained its pristine purity and traditional favour. the Malwani food in south Konkan is similar in some respects. But Karwar food has its own tongue- tingling and mouth-watering quality. It is quite distinct from the food of the neighboring Karnataka and Maharashtra states. Karwar food deserves to be widely known and its dishes made accessible to not only the Karwar Diaspora but also all the lovers of good food the world over.

Local crops and products, fruits and vegetables inevitably enter into the cuisine of the people. Rice, cocoanuts and the fish are naturally the main ingredients of Karwar food but it is enriched by wide varieties of fruits, nuts, vegetables, leaves and spices.

Rice: rice is locally grown since the crop requires heavy rains, which Karwar is blessed with. The locally grown parboiled rice ( ukado tandul) is used for rice gruel ( pej) for mid-morning meal. Rice ripens around Dasara-Diwali time (month of October) and appears in the market. It is stored in the house in hugemoodos (baskets made of dry paddy stalks) for use through the rainy season till the next crop is available.

Cocoanuts:  Every Karwari house would normally have a grove of cocoanut trees in the backyard. Cocoanuts are used in abundance in Karwari cuisine to produce a variety of curries, chutney and sweet dishes like patoli, modak and madgane. A traditional house has a ragada, a stone artifact that is used to mash cocoanuts flesh. Cocoanut milk is an input to sweet dishes like payas and madgane. It is mixed with jaggary made from local sugarcane which serves asros cakes made of rice are dipped and eaten. Cocoanut when dried up becomes copra which when crushed becomes oil which is a medium for cooking. Fish fried in cocoanut oil gets an aroma and taste of its own.

Fish:  A wide variety of fish is the treasure provided by the sea the estuaries. Karwar fishermen spread the early in the day and the fisherwomen bring the fresh fish to sell in the morning bazaar. The head of the household personally goes to buy the fresh fish according to the liking of his family members. Often he successfully bargains with the fisherwoman about the price. A successful purchase of quality fish at a bargain price becomes a matter of boast in an animated morning conversation with friends and neighbours. Bangada ( macharel) Tarala (sardine) are the fish most abundantly available as reasonable prices. Paplet( pomphret), Visvan or Surmai( king fish) Ravas, Shevate are bigger fish each with its own taste. Nagali found in estuaries are a delicate fish and is aptly called Lady’s Finger. Sungata (prons), Tisryo (shall fish) Kalwa (rock fish or mussels) and Kurlyo (crab) each has its own flavour and taste. Winter (November to January)     

 Is the best season for fish-lovers? The fish is abundant and appetite is demanding. During the rainy season, fishermen cannot enter the turbulent sea to catch fish. So fresh fish – bangada, sungata and mori (shark)- is dried in the summer season on the road under the hot burning sun and stored for use in the rainy season. They are carried in bundles by visiting Karwaris who live in places where fresh fish is not available. Kismore made of dried bangada, sungata and mori is more delicious.

Fruits: mango is rightly called the king of fruits. Everybody knows about Ratnagiri Alfanso (hapus), which is exported to up country market of Mumbai and from there to Dubai and other foreign lands. American president Bush relished the alfanso mango during his visit in India and hoped that the mango will be exported to US also. But Karwar varieties of mangoes are quite different and are unique in taste and flavour. Karwaris will not exchange them for any other variety. First are ishadthkalo (black) and dhavo (white).They are full of sweet pulp. There is musrad big in size and with special flavour. Third is fernadfirm in flesh and easy to cut into pieces. Karwar meal cannot conclude in the summer season without a plateful of pieces of these mangoes. Summer is the season when mangoes arrive in abundance in the market. Amras-puri is a favorite dish in a summer season meal. Beside there are also small juicy mangoes, which are used to prepare sasav, a special dish of Karwar. Mango curries flavoured with ghalani are also a favorite. Wild mango trees, grown in forest provide an abundance of raw mangoes, which are collected in early season to produce whole mango pickle besides a variety of other pickles. Mango juice is dried in the sun and made into flakes –sath for relishing the taste of mango long after the mango season is over.

Jackfruit: Like mangoes, jackfruits also ripen in summer. Huge jackfruits hang in bunch from the jackfruit trees. Every household compound has a tree or two. The green exterior with small spikes hides a treasure of golden ( garas) that is sweet flesh covering large seeds neatly packed inside. The huge fruit is ripped open with a knife and with oil smeared hands, lest the glue( cheek) sticks, thegaras are taken out to be consumed at leisure. There are two types of jackfruits – kappa and baraka. Garas of kappa are crisp and delight to relish. Those of baraka are juicy and are used to prepare relishing patolis – a pancake steamed in a covering of haldi (turmeric) leaves. Patolis are eaten steam-hot with dollop of ghee melting over it. The jackfruit seed ( bikan) is used as an additional input to curries.

Bananas: Bananas are a common fruit in India but the standard banana sold in the market is with green skin. But those in Karwar, smaller in size are golden in colour, sweeter and fragrant. Bananas are eaten fresh after the meal but are also turned into sasav, a sweet, sour, pungent dish.

Cashews: Summer is also the season for cashew nuts. Very few know that cashew nut appears on the top of the cashew apple resplendent in its red hue. Cashew apple is nice in taste but can hardly compete with mangoes and bananas. It is the cashew nut that is more coveted. A thick exterior covers the nut which is roasted on fire (nowadays it is done in cashew factory) the cover removed and the nut taken out for eating. The nut has a crisp brown cover, which is easily removed with fingers. There is hardly any nut as delicious as cashew nuts. It is eaten as it is or salted or spiced. It is also mixed with variety of preparations like sweets such as madgane and kheer or savouries like phov and muga- ambat( green gram curry). Cashew nut is the ingredients of katli sold by the famous Chitale shop in Pune.

Ananas (pinapple): This is also summer season fruit. Its rough exterior cover is removed to reveal a sweet sour interior, which is sliced and eaten. The slices are canned and its juice tinned. Karwaris use the ananas for sasav and bhaji.

Chibud (melons): These again are available round Dasara-Diwali time. They are eaten mixed with phov, coconut and jaggery.

Vegetables: coastal areas are not known for modern vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower or green peas, which require cooler climate not available in Karwar’s coastal climate, which is warm and humid. But there are distinct local vegetables.

Neerfanas ( breadfruit) : though called a fruit it is indeed a vegetable. Green in colour like jackfruit but much smaller and round in shape. They appear on the branches of a huge tree with its artistic leaves. Their skin is peeled off to reveal a whitish flesh inside which is sliced and shallow-fried. These are called phodies a typical Karwar dish which is very delicious. A tasty bhajis- suki ( dry) and patal( saucy) is also made combined with vatana (dried white whole peas)

Mage: This is a typical fruit vegetable of Karwar – like the people of Karwar, soft and somewhat sweetish whose liquid bhaji mixed with vatana (dry peas) or ghalani and coconut paste is a great delight.

Vali-bhaji ( local spinach): This is a leafy vegetable whose bhaji mixed with dry shrimps is an ideal accompaniment to mid-morning pej( rice gruel). It is rich in iron.

Tambadi ( red) bhaji: this is another leafy vegetable of Karwar, which is often flavoured with lasun( garlic)

Toushe (cucumber): This is often used as an input to a delightful home made cake eaten with dollops of ghee.

Ambade: This sour fruit vegetable is put in a special curry called udadmethi, which tingles the tongue.

Leguminous crops:
Mug(green gram): are sprouted and are used as an input to a most popular vegetarian curry flavoured with phodani palo (curry leaves) and enriched with cashew nuts. It is eaten with rice and is a must at wedding feast and other ceremonial occasions. Usal is another dish flavoured with fresh coconut gratings. Mug is nutritious.

Chilli: Bydagi variety, grown in neighbouring Dharwar district is invariably used for all types of curries –vegetarian or fish. Byadagi gives the red tinge and taste to the curries but is not pungent.
Tepal (Trifal): It is an essential input in many fish, specially Bangada( maceral), tarala( sardin)  and vegetarian curries. It leaves unforgettable taste in the mouth. While raw they are green in colour but on drying assume a black tinge. Dried tepalas are stored and used for months together.
Sola- bhiranda and vatamba. They are grown wild and are plucked and dried. They are used to add sour taste to the curry. Red Bhirandas are used for sola kadhi, which has the cooling effect and is in demand in summer.
Haladi( turmeric) leaves: the aromatic leaves are used to cover the sweet pancake-patoli.

Cooking utensils and procedures:
Karwari cuisine has its own cook-wear i.e. modak-patr for steaming patoli and heet and special frying pan for cooking yerrapes. Kashya vessels for prparation of fish curries.

It has also unique cooking procedures i.e. dhuvan for smoking viangan( brinjal) bharit and kismore. A burning coal with coconut oil poured on it is covered with bharit or kismore, which them assume a delightful flavour.

Karwar cuisine- a tradition

Karwar cuisine is a tradition that is evolved from generation to generation and is a part of Karwari way of life. A Karwari housewife does not mechanically follow written prescriptions and formulae in a recipe book but relies on her own uncanny judgment of taste and flavour. She passes on her skill to daughters and daughters-in –law. Things have undergone a change in recent years. Girls are getting educated even up to the highest levels of education – graduate and even post-graduate. They get less time in the kitchen. They take jobs, which keep them engaged for hours on in the office. They do not find it possible to spare time for preparing dishes involving elaborate processing. They would like them to be available at some restaurant or hotel but latter are seldom familiar with the delicacies and nuances of Karwar cuisine. Hence the need for a recipe book on Karwar cuisine. We hope our book will be widely used.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Karwar Beach in 1933 - sourced picture

This picture of Col Gosnell was taken at Karwar in 1933. Came across this Web Page while Image Searching/browsing "Karwar Law" here -

Colonel Kenneth Arthur Gosnell, O.B.E.Army Officer. Ken served with the Indian Army, in Mesopotamia and India in 13th Rajputs and later the 6th Rajputana Rifles. Ken held the rank of Captain at his marriage in 1922, and ended his career as a Colonel. He was awarded the O.B.E. for service in the 2nd World War.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Alien food is laying its bait for the Konkani seafood—will it bite? -

Alien food is laying its bait for the Konkani seafood—will it bite?

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The earthy red of manganese dust around Karwar port, echoed in the colour of the fish curry served here, dominates your visual experience of this slumbering coastal Karnataka town. If the tangy curry, cooked with the wild spice jummana kalu, is a taste of the past, the red dust is all about the pressures of the present.

And the pressures are many. The landmark Amruth Hotel now has fish tikka and butter chicken. But the authenticity of its Konkani fare still survives.

They have all come in the name of development. The Kadra dam, the Kaiga nuclear power plant, the caustic soda factory and most recently, the Seabird naval base. These projects have led to bustling new settlements and have inexorably altered the traditional palate of a town where even Brahmins survive on a daily diet of fish. In the last couple of decades, jummana kalu (zanphoxylum rhepha) has had to fight the advances of ajinomoto and tandoori masala.

Ecologist Pandurang Hedge, who lives in Sirsi nearby, says he came to Karwar regularly once upon a time just to feast on its staple Konkani shellfish varieties, rice bakri (thin crusted rice-rotis) and shagoti (chicken in gravy) and the wild spice fish curry served with boiled rice at the city's most famous landmark—Amruth Hotel. "But now Amruth serves everything from chicken Manchurian and fish tikka, to fried rice and butter chicken masala. The Punjabification of food is an indicator of the changes the city has seen," he says.

Local editor Ashok Hasyagar says that Kaiga saw an influx of 8,000 families and Seabird brought another 3,000 in its first phase. A vegetarian, he came to Karwar as an employee of the caustic soda factory in 1975. "I struggled at that time because we did not get vegetables and milk in Karwar. Fish was the staple and fish-eaters hardly needed another calcium supplement. But now we have three streets selling vegetables and milk," he says. The same, he points out, is true of sweets—they came in with the Gujaratis and Marwaris, and almost swept away kaju miji, a local sweet made of jaggery and ginger.

S.R. Neelavar, the 87-year-old patriarch who started Amruth, admits to having diversified, but swears by the authenticity of his Konkani dishes. "I was inspired to start Amruth in October 1978 after the shagoti and rice bakri that I used to sell in Karwar twice a day, on my cycle, became very popular. Then, my wife Amruti was the cook. Now we have grown big, but my wife still keeps an eye on the cooking." To prove the point, he treats us to some delightful estuarian fried fish, a rare variety found where the river Kali meets the sea, and bangda (mackerel) curry rich with coconut milk, another important ingredient of this coastal cuisine.

Neelavar is a Daivagna Brahmin, traditionally a goldsmith. Just as the cuisine seems to be under attack, the jewellery, too, is facing pressure from competitors. "Karwar-style jewellery has a very special place but with Bengali goldsmiths coming into town, their style has begun to dominate, and perhaps their fish masala too," says Deepak Shenvi, a jewellery exporter.

But nobody can take away the teesra sukka (a small clam) delicacies from the Karwar people. This is evident when you visit the fisherfolk of the Kali riverbed. "We prepared teesra biriyani yesterday," say members of the Waingankar family. But Ashok Hasyagar rings an alarm bell: "Land erosion, sand mining and Seabird's break-water wall to stop waves have altered the undercurrent, and affected the abundance of shell fish."

A good number of the Saraswat Brahmins, another important community in the Karwar region, have migrated to Maharashtra. But their food survives, as we discovered at Shweta Homely Food, run by Shyam Sundar Basrur, a Chitrapur Saraswat. He served us delicious thoy, a yellow dal tempered with coconut oil and mustard and solkadi, a drink made of kokam and coconut milk, which tastes divine after a good karli or surmai fish curry. There are other wonderful fish curries, but also Chinese fried rice and kebabs. "We added chicken and mutton to cater to the demands of my clients, mostly bank and government officials transferred here," explains Shyam.

Amidst this torrent of seafood, there is a small pocket in Karwar untouched by fish, called Habbuwada. The Habbus are strict vegetarians who migrated from Bijapur during the Adil Shahi reign. In this 'wada', the talk is about rice porridge, the spicy saru, local greens, papaya, cucumber and sweet gourd. "Other vegetables were alien to us until recently," says Ramachandra Habbu, a college principal.

Tagore, who visited Karwar in 1873, when his uncle was the first Indian judge in the area, wrote of the sea beach: "It reflects the joy of the infinite and thus draws us to lose ourselves in it." But the universe of Konkani cuisine is not exactly infinite, at least not any more.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Homage to the Heroes and Victims of 26-11 at Karwar

We, as small Group of Lawyers friends at Karwar paid Homage to the valiant Heroes and the innocent victims of the 26-11 Mumbai Terror Attacks, at the residence/office Mr. Pradeep M Naik Advocate.
Mumbai's prominent landmarks like the Leopold Cafe, Cama Hospital, Oberoi Trident, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Taj Mahal Palace and Tower, Nariman House fell prey to the Pakistan based Lashkar-e-Toiba operatives. Several brave officers of the Mumbai Police force like Joint Commissioner of Police, Anti-Terrorist Squad, Hemant Karkare, Police Inspector, Anti Extortion Cell, Vijay Salaskar and Additional Commissioner of Police Ashok Kamte fell prey to the bullets. National Security Guards and Marine Commandos were summoned to bring the situation under control. The NGS also lost its two personnel, Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan and Commando Gajendra Singh. The day is a tribute to all those martyrs who gave up their lives to ensure others could live to tell their tales and a salute to the bravery of those who survived. CNN-IBN
Attending the Homage ceremony at Karwar Lawyer Pradeep M Naik's house, were Anil Mayekar, Anirudh Haldipurkar, Jagadish Harwadekar, Ramnath Bhat, Yogesh Naik, Nagaraj Deshbhandari, Varada Naik, Vinayak Naik, A. D. Naik, Ramnath Parulekar, Jyoti Mirashi, Gajanan P Tarikar, Ashwini Gowda, etc. Advocate Kiran Naik sang patriot songs and 2 minutes of silence was observed.
The first anniversary of the horrific 26/11 Mumbai terror carnage was also the 60th anniversary of the adoption of the Indian constitution but sadly, this did not get the attention it deserved, a Rajya Sabha MP lamented Thursday. ‘This morning, when we assembled, we paid tribute to the victims of the 26/11 attack. But we have forgotten that our constitution was adopted on 26th November 1949. Today is the 60th anniversary of that momentous event,’ Bharatiya Janata Party member S.S. Ahluwalia said during zero hour. ‘Sadly, there is no mention of this in the media. Parliament too has forgotten about it. There was not even a bouquet placed in the Central Hall where the constitution was adopted,’ Ahluwalia added.
Source: 26/11 anniversary is also 60th anniversary of constitution’s adoption 60th anniversary, ahluwalia, indian constitution, rajya sabha
A year later, the entire nation has come together to observe the first anniversary of the 26/11 attacks and pay homage to the 166 people who lost their lives. Indian Express Nation observes first anniversary of 26/11
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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Copenhagen UN Climate Summit - Results ?

EXPECTATIONS for the Copenhagen climate conference, to be held next month in the Danish capital, rise and fall. On November 15th, as Barack Obama toured Asia, he and the Danish prime minister, Lars Lokke Rasmussen, agreed that no agreement on a new treaty would be reached at the conference. Instead, they said that the best that can now be expected is a “political” deal out of the Copenhagen meeting, which begins on December 7th.
The negotiations leading up to Copenhagen have been something of a fiasco. But this is not, as some would have it, wholly the fault of balky American senators who have refused to pass a cap-and-trade bill fast enough. It is true that a lot of the blame does indeed belong on Capitol Hill; the Senate has taken its time mulling over its version of a climate-change bill, not helped by the protracted debate over health care. John Kerry, one of the Senate’s cap-and-trade champions, now says only that he hopes the bill will make it to the floor in the spring.

But this is far from the only reason that a full, binding deal at Copenhagen had to be scratched. Each round of successive negotiations leading up to the conference lengthened, rather than shortened, the list of matters up for debate. The negotiating text is a snarl of bracketed material that the parties cannot agree on. There is now no hope of getting legally binding targets for emissions-reductions—a “son of Kyoto” treaty that would extend plans to cut greenhouse-gas emissions when the targets laid out in the Kyoto protocol end in 2012.
Big developing countries have been as immovable as America, at least publicly. China’s president said in September that his country would cut the amount of carbon dioxide it emits per unit of output by a “notable amount”, but has provided no actual figure. India, another big poor-country emitter, has steadfastly pushed back against any binding targets for poor countries at all. Many in Washington, DC, continue to believe what they did at Kyoto: no deal is acceptable in America that requires nothing concrete of the big poor-world emitters. China, after all, puts out more carbon dioxide than America does.
Yet a number of climate-watchers in Washington breathed a sigh of relief when Mr Obama and Mr Rasmussen said what everyone involved had long known. Not only will Mr Obama now not sign a bill before Copenhagen; the Senate is not even expected to vote on one. But at least that means that the several committees that get a crack at the bill will be allowed to get on with their work.
Climate change was at the top of the agenda when Mr Obama arrived in China late on November 15th. A few Copenhagen-watchers still held out hope that Mr Obama and Hu Jintao, China’s president, would announce something that could break the deadlock. Instead, they announced a raft of practical measures on energy—both its production and its use. Some were more aspirational than operational. But they may show the way forward, by focusing on concrete measures to be taken today rather than distant goals.
The measures announced include the creation of a Sino-American clean-energy research centre and an electric-vehicles initiative. They also include a plan to increase energy efficiency, especially in buildings. This was a big part of America’s stimulus bill, and an Energy Department official says that China will add housing and office space equivalent to America’s entire stock in the next 20 years.
Another promise, to work together on “cleaner coal”—meaning capturing and storing the carbon dioxide from coal-fired power plants—is important as both countries sit on mountains of the stuff. Finally, the two agreed to co-operate on extracting natural gas from shale. America has much more extractable gas in shale than previously thought, and the same geology pertains around the world. Gas power emits just half the carbon dioxide of coal.
Back in Washington, such talk may help a cap-and-trade bill’s chances. Boosters now talk more about energy production (from natural gas or solar), and cost-saving (like keeping buildings just as warm with less energy) than about hair-shirt measures like turning out the lights. Lindsey Graham, a Republican, has joined forces with Mr Kerry, saying he will support a cap-and-trade bill if it includes production of more low-carbon energy from nuclear power, as well as offshore oil-and-gas drilling in America. On the Senate bill, E&E Daily, an energy and environmental news website, counts 27 of 100 senators “on the fence”, along with 41 “yes” and “probably yes”. That fence-sitting group has grown, though 60 votes are still needed to ensure passage of a bill. Some talk of abandoning the idea of a cap-and-trade system that covers the whole economy in favour of one that covers power companies (which are reconciled to the idea) plus tighter fuel-efficiency standards for vehicles.
The interplay between international negotiations and the Senate’s deliberations is delicate. Senators are unwilling to vote for caps in America without a commitment from China, China is unwilling to make one without an ambitious target for cuts from America, and the administration is unwilling to antagonise the Senate by seeming to cave in to foreign pressure. But there are ways round the impasse. America may offer up numerical targets based on the legislation that it hopes will pass next year, and China might put a number on the “notable” cuts in the energy intensity of GDP it has promised. That could be the basis for an outline deal at Copenhagen—details to be filled in next year.

Copenhagen UN Climate Petition

Hopenhagen is a movement, a moment and a chance at a new beginning. The hope that in Copenhagen this December – during the United Nations Climate Change Conference – we can build a better future for our planet and a more sustainable way of life. It is the hope that we can create a global community that will lead our leaders into making the right decisions. The promise that by solving our environmental crisis, we can solve our economic crisis at the same time.Hopenhagen is change – and that change will be powered by all of us.

Change will not happen unless the people demand it. That’s why Hopenhagen exists – to give you a rallying cry and the tools to demand a positive outcome in Copenhagen. Signing the UN Climate Petition is only the first step. We need your help activating Hopenhagen in your communities, so the movement grows. This needs to be a people’s movement, with enough people involved that our leaders can’t ignore it.

Our hope is that in Copenhagen we can begin to build a cleaner, more livable world than the one we live in today. And this hope is more than just wishful thinking. We’re already seeing examples of how this is possible, all around the planet.

On December 7, leaders from 192 countries will gather at the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen to determine the fate of our planet. Let’s turn Copenhagen into Hopenhagen. Sign the Climate Petition and become a citizen at

Friday, November 20, 2009


Ambassador Richard Jones, Deputy Executive Director, International Energy Agency

Drawing on the results of the new World Energy Outlook 2009, Ambassador Jones joins the Council to provide a comprehensive update of energy demand and supply projections and their implications for energy security and the environment. This latest analysis from the International Energy Agency (IEA) takes into account the dramatic economic downturn that has now hit all parts of the world as well as revised expectations about energy prices, which have ridden a veritable roller-coaster over the past year. Ambassador Jones will outline the results of an in-depth assessment of the prospects for global gas markets, including the emergence of shale gas as a potentially low-cost source of supply in North America. He will also present a post-2012 scenario, which the IEA prepared as input to the UN climate negotiations, which details a pathway for the energy sector to achieve a transition to a low-carbon world. Ambassador Jones will be speaking with energy expert David Victor, Professor at UC San Diego's School of International Relations and Pacific Studies and Director of the School’s new Laboratory on International Law and Regulation.


  • 11/23/2009 6:00 PM - 7:00 PM
    Please arrive early for registration


  • World Affairs Council Auditorium


  • 312 Sutter Street
    Second Floor
    San Francisco, California 94108

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The International Youth Council

The International Youth Council

The International Youth Council (IYC) is a non-profit, non-governmental organization founded at the UN Youth Assembly in 2007 dedicated to giving young people across the world both collective voice and a mechanism to support global sustainable development.

Our mission is to bring together and support young leaders from around the world in pursuit of partnership, progress, and the Millennium Development Goals. We seek to empower the next generation of leaders by providing them with the training, resources, and opportunities they need to succeed. We also advocate for an official body representative of the youth within the United Nations power structure.

We hope to inspire the youth of the world to act and give them the tools to make a difference.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Hankon Thermal Power Plant - 6 - Agitation continues...

Take proper action against the officials: SHRC

Sirsi: State Human Rights Commissioner (SHRC) had recommended the government to take action on seven police officials in connection with the issue on Hankon thermal power plant, where police allegedly assaulted the people who were protesting against the proposed thermal power plant, said the commission Chairman.

Speaking to media during here on Wednesday, he said that the commission had submitted its recommendation to the Home Ministry on October 23, and urged to take proper action against the officials.

The commission had considered the incident very seriously. One the day the report of the police team regarding the Hankon incident was revealed, a message was conveyed to the Inspector General of Police (western zone) Gopal Hosur, saying that the report was not satisfactory, he said.

The delegation convinced the ministers that the project site was at an aerial distance of five Km from Kotegao Wild Life Sanctuary of Goa and 10-11 km from Anashi Tiger Reserve. Reports given by Deputy Conservators of Forests of Dandeli and Karwar in this regard were also presented to the ministers. The ministers were also told about the plight of 20,000 fishermen, who would be affected if the project was established, he said. Alva reminded the ministers the promise given by SM Krishna, when he was the CM that no more power projects would be allowed the come up in the Uttara Kannada district.

Desai further said Jairam Ramesh has assured that he would take steps against the officials, who has given the clearance to the project without verifying the facts. Alva may also lead an agitation against the project along with Medha Patkar if the letter of clearance given to the project is no withdrawn, he warned.

Hanakon agitation gets Patkar's support

The anti-thermal power unit Sameeti of Hanakon has found a supporter in Narmada Bachao Andolan founder Medha Patkar. A rally will be held in Karwar on November 7 and Patkar will participate in the rally, said Kishor Desai, legal adviser of the Sameeti, on Saturday.

Citing the order passed by the State Human Right Committee (SHRC), against police officials who allegedly committed excesses during the violence at Hanakon on July 30, Desai said the Sameeti would approach the high court and the Supreme Court if the government fails to take action against the police officers who were indicted by the SHRC.

He said the committee will stage a dharna in front of the Vidhana Soudha and the IGP's office in Mangalore. Releasing a copy of the British gazette of 1895, in which the survey number 288 where the company is building the thermal plant was shown as forest area, Desai alleged that the company had suppressed the fact before obtaining clearance for the project.

Desai said the assistant commissioner of Karwar had converted the forest land into non-agriculture (NA) land by flouting the law.

He said many sections of the Karnataka Panchayat Raj Act were flouted by the revenue, police and company officials and he would file a writ petition in the high court seeking action against the officials who allegedly helped the company officials to suppress and conceal the facts while obtaining the permission for the thermal power plant.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Hankon Thermal Power Plant - 5 - Fiery like the Kali - Article by Arun in Indian Express

Article Source

Time: Around dusk

Place: Hanakon in Uttara Kannada district

The plot: Jyothi Maruti Savant and Sunitha Suresh Naik are chatting. Hanakon gram panchayat secretary Syed Adam asks the two housewives to work at the site in their sleepy little village for clearing “unauthorised structures” constructed by a Hyderabad-based company that is launching an energy project. Next morning, Jyothi and Sunitha are among the 50-odd men and women who have gathered at the place where Ind-Barath Power (Karwar) Limited is setting up a 450-MW coal-based power plant. But Syed is nowhere to be seen. As whispers of Syed having taken ill spread, Jyothi and Sunitha decide to return home.

All of a sudden, they are battling the blows that the police are raining on them. Everybody starts running, screaming for help. Police round up the villagers, thrash them and bundle them up inside a van. Villagers are picked up at random and produced at the magistrate’s house around 3 am. Jyothi is angry and wants to tell the magistrate in no uncertain terms what she had gone through. But she is not allo wed to get off the van. Both the women, along with several others, are taken to the district prison in Bellary, 400 km away.

The charge: Attempting to sabotage the site of a proposed private thermal power plant.

Footnote: After the two are released from prison on August 2, Hanakon readies itself to become the Nandigram of Karnataka.

This drama in Hanakon is just one of the many theatres of the absurd playing out in the state. In the mining town of Bellary, villagers are performing the painful urulu seve (rolling bare-chested) on the road — for about 15 km and blocking traffic almost every other day. They say that agricultural land is being taken over for a greenfield airport — which will perhaps serve only the high and mighty of the area — by notifying it as barren land. In Uttara Kannada’s Tadadi, the government had to bow to public pressure and convert the proposed coal-based power plant into a gas-based one. The proposed hydel project in Gundiya earned the wrath of Union environment minister Jairam Ramesh when chief minister B S Yeddyurappa laid the foundation stone even before receiving the mandatory clearances. The list is endless.

Karnataka’s hunger for power

One doesn’t have to look too far to see why the state government is running at breakneck speed to sanction power projects. Karnataka’s unrestricted power demand is 10,500 MW while it generates only around 6,000 MW. The deficit is being managed through load-shedding. But with its inability to bridge the gap soon, the first Bharatiya Janata Party government south of the Vindhyas faces the prospect of losing power in the next elections.

Why Hanakon matters

With a population of just around 1,400 (1,284 according to 2001 census), Hanakon, on the northern bank of the estuary of the Kali River, has managed to stand up to the giants.

And the blanket of protests is getting stitched up with help from the nearby villages as Kali is their lifeline and a rise in the river’s temperature will have a devastating effect. Fisherfolk of the Gabit community have also joined in. Recently, they returned the palanquins donated by their MLA and fisheries minister Anand Asnotikar to the local deity for his ambiguous stand on the issue. During the 2008 elections, Asnotikar had assured fishermen of protection of their interests. “But he failed to do so. It became inevitable for us to return the palanquins,” says Uday Poshe, the leader of the fishermen.

Balakrishna Pai, an advocate leading the protests and exploring legal options, sounds a more defiant note. “If the authorities do not stall the project,’’ he says, ‘‘we will launch an agitation on the lines of the people’s protest against the Nano project in Nandigram. We are ready even for bloodshed.”

What is at stake?

The project is proposed to be located a few metres from the Kali estuary. The state’s forest department has identified 49 mangrove species, 93 herbs in the vicinity apart from a floristic composition of 133 species of trees, shrubs, creepers and climbers in the adjoining forest (most have medicinal value) which will be affected. Bisons, spotted deer, porcupines, and various birds and reptiles are at threat as the proposed project lies within 5 km of the Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary in Goa, and less than 12 km from the Dandeli-Anashi Tiger Reserve. The project is expected to consume 3,200 tonnes of coal each day generating not less than 800 tonnes of fly ash.

And that makes the threat of acid rain in this bio-reserve a distant reality. Since only 65 per cent of the heat is used for power generation the remaining 35 per cent heat will be discharged in the Kali, and that will affect the aqua-fauna in the estuary. This is where the sea fish come to breed in the mangroves.

Which begs the question: All this for 450 MW of power? And the government is not even sure if it will come to Karnataka. And even if it does, at what price?

Lack of transparency

In Bellary, the government pulled the wool over the villagers’ eyes. In Hanakon, however, it was ignorance that did the villagers in. Since most of the area is at a level lower than the high-tide level of the Arabian Sea, saline water gets into the paddy fields every month.

The Khar Land Bund constructed along the banks of the Kali adjoining the village is unable to stop the backwater getting into the paddy fields. Many families found a better calling in Goa and their land turned fallow after they migrated. Villagers allege that the power company has exploited this situation.

In 2006, during the annual fair at the Sateri Devi temple, somebody said a pharmaceutical company was planning to set up shop in Hanakon. Soon enough, agents of the company started buying land at a very attractive price of Rs 2.6 lakh per acre and acquired around 100 acres. Villagers claim they did not know that a thermal plant was coming up even when Ind-Barath obtained an NoC on October 4, 2006, from the Hanakon Gram Panchayat to set up a plant with installed capacity of 140MW. By June last year, panic set in when they got to know what was happening. The Hanakon Ushna Sthavara Virodhi Horata Samithi (a committee to fight against thermal power project) was set up and the villagers decided to oppose the project after a public hearing in October. Accordingly, the Hanakon Gram Panchayat withdrew its NoC.

Protests and the aftermath

After the handful of protesters managed to turn the issue into a big controversy, the district administration asked the company not to take up any work on the spot without getting clearance from the Karnataka Pollution ControlBoard. The National Environment Appellate Authority in New Delhi, based on an

appeal made by the people of Hanakon, ord ered a status quo. The Forest Department closed the cul de sac, the only pathway to app roach the project site from the Londa- Sadashivagad State Highway (locally called as Karwar-Kadra Road) by fencing it.

In the meanwhile, a committee of the Union ministry of environment and forests headed by the Chief Conservator of Forests of the regional office in Bangalore K S Reddy recommended that the Centre order a comprehensive impact assessment study of the site. It found more than 20 lacunae in the Impact Assessment Report prepared by the power company.

Meanwhile, Jyothi and Sunitha — and several other villagers of Hanakon — are awaiting the Karnataka State Human Rights Commission chairman’s report after the local police enquiry gave a clean chit to the officials.

Hanakon villagers have won a few battles but if they manage to win the war against the misplaced priorities and the might of the corporations, they will end up showing the way to protesters in Bellary, Hassan, Gulbarga, Raichur, Bijapur and countless other areas in Karnataka. In the end, it will prove that the “individual does matter”.

The backbone of the protests

He is better known as “Green Swamiji”.

Gangadharendra Saraswathi Swamy of Sonda Swarnavalli Mutt, earned the sobriquet for his fight against activities detrimental to the environment in Karnataka in general and Uttara Kannada district in particular. He has been a source of inspiration to villagers to protest against the thermal power project. During his visit to the spot last October, he called upon the people to participate in large numbers in the public hearing that was held on the last day of that month.

Environmentalist Ananth Hegde Ashisara, who has attended several such public hearings, says he never saw so many people attend a public hearing like when he did that day after the Swamiji’s call.

Swamiji is worried about the greenhouse gases and the impact that the project will have on the local environment. He says that Uttara Kannada district does not need another project, over-burdened as it is with seven large reservoirs and hydropower projects, one atomic power project (at Kaiga), the Seabird naval base and mining activities in addition.