Large Infrastructure Projects: Inertia and Opposition

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Large Infrastructure Projects: Inertia and Opposition

Postby enqyoobOLD » 14 Mar 2007 23:50

We have all watched the recent tamasha of the Narmada project.

When I was little, we had the Idukki Project.

And the Rajasthan Canal.

We have been hearing of the Golden Quadrilateral Project.

We have been hearing for a long time about the North-South River Interlink Project

In 1962, our soldiers died or were captured, trying to fight a war where we had completely failed to build basic roads - and even today we sit around looking at the Chinese building railroads in Aksai Chin, dams in Tibet, turning the course of the Brahmaputra, while we sit around saying "Bhavitavyam Bhavedeva".

In the 1990s we saw the first of several "FastTrack" boondoggles. The ENRON Dabhol disaster.

Then there was the BOFORS. Remember that corrupt or not, it was the Bofors guns that formed our first line of defense against the Pakis occupying the peaks of Kargil. First things to really hit them before the fighter-bombers and then the canvas-shoe-clad cliff-scaling heroes finished them off.

OK, now we have ... The SethuSamudram Canal (SSC). I want to discuss the technical and political issues surrounding this. Here is a project where the forces of calm engineering professionalism are being hammered by forces of ... well... we are about to see when I hit "submit" on this post.

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Postby enqyoobOLD » 14 Mar 2007 23:55

Here is Wikipedia on the SSC

The Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project proposes linking the Palk Bay and the Gulf of Mannar between India and Sri Lanka by creating a shipping canal through the shallow sea sometimes called Setu Samudram, and through the island chain of Rama's Bridge. This would provide a continuous navigable sea route around the Indian Peninsula. The project involves digging a 44.9 nautical mile (83 km) long deepwater channel linking the shallow water of the Palk Strait with the Gulf of Mannar. Conceived as early as 1860 by Alfred Dundas Taylor, it recently received approval of the Indian government.


OK, first thing I note is that it is a SHIPPING canal. The issue is, IOW, clearing a shipping channel, which to me means, clear the rocks, map the bottom, maybe put some marker buoys.

So the issue is not so much CUTTING a trench, as CLEARING a safe path.

Now its long history:

Possibly conceived in 1860 by Commander A. D. Taylor of the Indian Marines, the project has been reviewed many times over the years but no decision was ever made. It was part of the election manifestos of all political parties during elections. The Union Government of India appointed the Sethu Samudram Project Committee in 1955, headed by Dr. A. Ramasamy Mudaliar, which was charged with the duty of examining the desirability of the project. After evaluating the costs and benefits, this committee found the project feasible and viable. Several reviews of the proposals followed. Finally, the United Progressive Alliance Government of India headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced the inauguration of the project on June 2, 2005.

[edit] Benefits

The strategic advantages to India derive from obtaining a navigable sea route close to the coast, with a reduction in travel distance of more than 350 nautical miles (650 km) (for larger ships). The project is expected to provide a boost to the economic and industrial development of coastal Tamil Nadu. The project will be of particular significance to Tuticorin harbour, which has the potential to transform itself into a nodal port. The State Government has announced its proposal to develop 13 minor ports, including Ennore, Cuddalore, Nagapattinam, Thondi, Valinokam, Kolachel and Kanyakumari.

Development of the canal and ports is also expected to provide increased maritime security for Tamil Nadu.


A mere 50 years from Committee Appointment to Project Go-ahead. I would think that is adequate for all to have voiced their concerns and positions.

Theo_Fidel

Postby Theo_Fidel » 15 Mar 2007 02:20

enqyoob wrote:So the issue is not so much CUTTING a trench, as CLEARING a safe path.


Latest alignment does include a lot of dredging. The alignments proposed 100 years ago were further out to sea. Admittedly there was one alignment that would have cut Danushkodi in two!

Presently dredging includes about 35 kilometers for about 1000 feet width to a depth of 40 feet. This area is tidally very active therefore active maintenance will be required to keep the canal open. Please note that the canal cannot handle the largest current ships that can have drafts of 50 feet or more.

For the beneficiaries in North TN (Chennai) and South TN (Tuticorin) this is a necessary project. Everyone else who does not directly benefit or is affected opposes it. We did not have the traffic to justify the cost earlier. Now we do and we are seeing action.

We are like this only...

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Postby enqyoobOLD » 15 Mar 2007 06:16

Theo, why are they doing what they are doing (OK, other than "stomping on the feelings of Yindoos to break our spirit" etc)? :roll:

What engineering criteria are cited, that determined where the cut across the Ram Bridge is to be made?

Thing is, the total depth is only 12 m (40 feet). I am quite sure that the average depth there on a given day is already 20 feet. So how bad is this?

On the other hand, what are people talking about when they say that other alignments would NOT cut the Ram Bridge? I mean, if you need 40 feet depth below sea level, you need 40 feet below sea level. So the only way that some locations could be preferred is that erosion has ALREADY taken away 20 feet of the Ram Bridge there - IOW, it's mostly sandbank there. So doesn't that knock out the objections to doing some minimal dredging?

If they have been moving the precise location of the channel across the Ram Bridge, that means they have been taking a lot of input and refining the system design. A far cry from an arbitrary dictatorship slamming something down poor powerless ppl's throats.

Theo_Fidel

Postby Theo_Fidel » 15 Mar 2007 09:08

The best alignment with minimal dredging would cross into Sri Lankan waters, where there be dragons...

But seriously the Lankans are in no mood to help us here. Every attempt to bring up the topic with them has resulted in delay tactics or mindless rhetoric.

I have visited Rameshwaram and Danushkodi many times and if you visited the place you would kinda understand. It is some of the bluest cleanest water anywhere in India. Tropical islands with coconut trees dot the sea with coral reefs that run for hundreds of miles. Will be our Caribbean coast one day.

Imagine sending an oil tanker in there.

The main problem as I said earlier is that the locals don't directly benefit. Also there is a strong smuggling network that flourishes as the Navy is unable to pursue at speed for fear of grounding. With a 40 foot deep channel they could easily set up round the clock patrols that would effectively end this smuggling.

Geologically 12000 years ago, when the sea was 200 feet lower, Lanka & India were one land mass. The gulf of Mannar was actually part of the Kaveri Delta. As the Pulicat axis continues to rises (having already produced the Nilgiris) there will be a point in the future perhaps a million years hence when the Gulf will be raised once more and India and Lanka joined together once more.

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Postby Singha » 15 Mar 2007 09:19

hydrofoil or catamaran waterjet type patrol boats shallow draft armed with
HMG, good radar and LAWs with the CG can put an end to the smuggling menace. they should have 45 knots top speed and be able to call up armed Dhruv with 8xatgms if the smugglers decide to fight.

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Postby SRoy » 15 Mar 2007 09:54

A problem that runs parallel to delay in infra projects is that of faulty/inadequate planning in such infra projects.

The problem aspect ranges from lack of capacity planning for future, disregard for end user perspective, poor build quality etc.

The much touted Metro service in Delhi has failed to make any impact on the congestion level even on the roads that run parallel to these tracks covering same routes/destination.
The planners obviously did not find it worthwhile to take the DTC on board. Had it been the case, there would have been feeder bus services to Metro stations in all residential areas along the route and the loss making buses on the route would have been taken off.

A second observation on the hyped up Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway. There have been 10 deaths, all pedestrians or bikers, since the opening of dedicated lanes in the last fortnight.
DDM with their heads in their a$$E$ are going ahead in the local news channels, calling for curbing of speed limits. NHAI is even seeking permission to created overhead footbridges, which I believe will be knocked down as soon as the first truck with a tall container passes through.
But the question that DDM misses is that how the project authorities failed to overlook the requirement for pedestrian underpasses/subways and dedicated bicycle tracks?
We need top class planners to begin with.

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Postby Singha » 15 Mar 2007 10:08

hopefully they wont create ugly speedbreakers and random zig-zag barriers that every hamlet on the Blore-Mysore SH17 has done to ruin the fun. only a couple of places have pedestrian overbridges.

meantime the Nandigram massacre with was triggered by armed criminals
in the protesting crowd firing upon the police seems like a N-layer 'play'

- the anti Buddhadeb crowd wants to cut his credibility and make him unpopular, vulnerable to more compromises for keeping the CMs office
- make the case through media that all SEZs approved and in-process will
lead to this kind of violence so better to cancel/freeze
- scare other state Govts considering SEZ
- scare potential foreign investors looking to enter via SEZ
- empower & organize miscreants in other states with start the same cycle
- slow down/hamper industrialization, keep blocking regulatory reforms,
keep people poor, umemployed and angry - ripe fodder for naxal and
CPI mobilization
- embarass the UPA and mentally cow them down


This time I wont give an prize for korrectly guessing who's the puppet
master behind the green door. consider who has the most to lose globally
if the SEZs take off in major fashion...

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Postby enqyoobOLD » 16 Mar 2007 06:25

The trouble seems to be that the process gets so disorganized that they don't have a good mechanism for ppl to think - only to yell. Way too much money in the Protesting business, apparently.

On this SSC project, folks, yes, I HAVE been to Rameswaram and Dhanushkodi, way too many times to be able to ever forget what I have seen:

Abject poverty. Children begging for scraps. Children diving into pools for a 1-paisa coin, tossed there by idle train passengers for entertainment.

Yeah, clear blue-green water. White sand. Palm trees (arecanut, more than coconut, as I recall...). Burning heat. Shortage of fresh water.

Utter hopelessness.

As for oil tankers passing by, well, they pass by many beautiful coasts. Kochi has a supertanker terminal, as well as an oil refinery. Doesn't hurt the beauty or the economy.

I'd rather have them pass through a clear, well-defined, well-dredged channel, wouldn't you?

I don't agree that the locals will not benefit from the project. I don't see how the area CANNOT benefit. Access to deep-sea fishing boats, access to cruise liners... access to Navy ships. Good engineering jobs, meaning good schools, hospitals, good tourist facilities.

I do understand Sri Lankan opposition. Colombo and Galle now have a stranglehold on INDIAN coastal traffic. This will vanish, and Toothukudi (tuticorin) is a far better node for traffic.

Also, northern SL (Jaffna) will quickly get good commercial traffic. So let me just say that SL can go take a hike - but I understand why the channel can't go too close to SL waters.

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Postby Alok_N » 16 Mar 2007 07:40

with all this talk of free trade agreement with Sri Lanka, why is there smuggling? ... is it in narcotics?

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Postby gauravs » 16 Mar 2007 07:56

OK, before people start fantasizing about the canal, the following longterm problems should be kept in mind:

1) Long term sediment budget studies: Do we envision having dredging capacity to remove the sediment which will accumulate,
2) What studies have been conducted: Environmental as well as hydrodynamic.

I have worked on such projects in the US including the intercoastal waterway and the problems we are still encountering are humongous which evn the USACE has trouble managing.

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Postby enqyoobOLD » 16 Mar 2007 07:58

My view is that the whole area has been monopolized by petty thieves and smugglers for centuries, since only shallow-draft boats can move around freely. Relative freedom from Coast Guard, Navy etc., and until 1975 there wasn't even a road from the mainland, just a rail bridge with maybe 2 trains a day. I remember that if one missed the 2pm Coimbatore Express, one was stuck until the 6pm Manamadurai Passenger - which gave new meaning to the term "slow". Usually meant 1.5 days added to what was otherwise an overnight trip to Kerala. The *&^%$s of the "Customs" ensured that most people missed the 2pm Express.

I am trying to figure out the scoop behind the "protests" against this SSC project, which IMHO is 50 years overdue. Look at it this way: if that canal comes up, fast boat service between Jaffna, Talaimannar - or even Colombo - and Chennai would become cheap and easy. They could run hydrofoil service as well.

So far, all the "technical" objections that I've come across have simply not stood up to the laws of physics, or to the test of truth. Much of it is based on the usual propaganda misquoting, distortion and simple lying.

Then there is the Religious Sentiment objections. Utterly baseless. Nowhere in the Ramayana, to my knowledge, does it say that the brilliant engineering project that Rama and His army built, should degenerate and be abandoned while the descendants of the great Rama-bhaktas were condemned to live in abysmal poverty. Nowhere does it say that one should not build even better engineering to complement the Rama Bridge.

So I am trying to track down the money behind these "objections". Drug and weapon smuggling is clearly one source. The SL government itself may be another source. And the LTTE a third. A fine gang for the stupid Holies in TN to align themselves behind. If you check into this, one will hear shiv's words from the other forum ringing in the space between one's ears.

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Postby gauravs » 16 Mar 2007 08:06

So, what studies on the canal have not stood upto physics?? I don't think there has been any hydrodynamic or other studies on it.

As long as there are no studies on the canal, objections are useless, no one can say if its workable or not. Sediment dynamics are complex and not intuitive ( Einstein once told his son Albert (who was specializing in sediment) that his area of study was too tough and unpredictable)

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Postby enqyoobOLD » 16 Mar 2007 08:07

I have worked on such projects in the US including the intercoastal waterway and the problems we are still encountering are humongous which evn the USACE has trouble managing.


But that does not keep the US from operating the Intracoastal waterway, does it? It is vital to the coastal economy. What's the big deal? Indians can't deal with a little sand accumulation?

Kochi harbor was entirely dredged out of the shallow kayal, and still requires dredging. Many harbors require dredging.

The Pamban bridge was built way back in 1911 - some 2 miles of rail bridge across a fairly deep channel.

The Satellite maps on GOOGLE show extensive seawalls and other engineering there already. Otherwise the Rameswaram temple might have been lost in one of the many cyclones there, along with most of the town of Rameshwaram.

Is this shallow sea something absolutely unique on the planet, that nothing there works according to any known physics?

Apparently the GOI has indeed decided that dredging is OK, if it has to be done. Look at it this way: that area gets cyclones every 4 years or so, that completely change the topography. Islands and villlages disappear, canals appear. So if one is not willing to do some dredging and other marine engineering, one has to condemn the whole area to perpetual backwardness.

Consider the Florida Keys: They get hit by some 4 hurricanes EVERY year, and they continue to operate, with a lot of different engineering projects, environmental projets, and a lot of lucrative tourism. Impossible to find a hotel room in Key West once the season starts.

Isn't it time for India to get out of these "even Great America has prablems, how can poor third world country like India do these" inferiority complexes??

Added later: this thing about "no studies" is not correct at all - please visit the Wikipedia page, and on to the pages set up by the Tuticorin Port Trust. There have been plenty of studies as needed to start digging the project.

Then again, it is a usual obstruction tactic to go on demanding "studies" for "Analysis Paralysis".

If the canal is dug, and gets filled up, and, hey, has to be abandoned, so what? Good money will have been pumped into the local economy, at least.

The laws of physics violated (conservation of mass and momentum), can be explained if someone starts posting the ludicrous objections that have been cited. I don't want to go into that, really.
Last edited by enqyoobOLD on 16 Mar 2007 08:13, edited 2 times in total.

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Postby gauravs » 16 Mar 2007 08:10

Dude, its not "America can't do it so how can India", it's the question of MONEY. Dredging coasts a boat load of money, and its not a little bit of sand, it's billions and billions of tons of sediment and the question of where will you dispose of it.

As I said before, unless hydro-sediment studies are performed, talks of going ahead and constructing the darned thing are moot.

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Postby enqyoobOLD » 16 Mar 2007 08:18

Dudette, the billions of tons of sand can be put right back where they came from, or a huge mountain can be built of it, for all I care. Go read the reports generated (as one of the Chief Objectors kept demanding that I do until he realized what the reports said). The reports show that the project is economically sound. Yeah, dredging MAY be needed. Dredgers are available.

So what? Where is the study showing that the cost of dredging is prohibitive? It's time to start asking the naysayers to produce data, isn't it? From what I read, the Objectors' claim is that they have no idea what they are talking about. Why is this any reason for the project to be stopped?

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Postby enqyoobOLD » 16 Mar 2007 08:20

And by the way, the project is very much underway, not moot. That's why the noise is getting shrilller - the GOI is actually moving their musharrafs after all these years. So it is not "moot" at all, like it was under the previous government.

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Postby hnair » 16 Mar 2007 08:57

Singha wrote:This time I wont give an prize for korrectly guessing who's the puppet
master behind the green door. consider who has the most to lose globally
if the SEZs take off in major fashion...


Singha, I think this time it might not be the soy brigade - what if Buddha gets kicked out in the next elections? The soysters will loose a lot if that particular pearl is lost from their g-string. And states like TN, Andhra, Gujarat, Maharashtra etc are going to have the SEZs that flee WB.

The Commie Parivar is in a lot of turmoil over SEZs. They cant abandon it, as a lot of the areas they rule have no other options nor can they kick out their powerbase, the subsistance farmers. The gauntlet for leading them out of this mess was taken up by the Red Parivar's shadowy and really sinister members, the Maoists. It is they who are to be watched, particularly their recent declaration of war against the Indian Union, talks about attacking India's strategic interests as represented by SEZs.

Sadly, the Indian press and the rest of the political parties(including Cong and BJP) are remarkably coy about clubbing the JNU/Jholawalla types represented by Karat and Yechuri and their sword arm, the Maoists.

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Postby Singha » 16 Mar 2007 09:19

singur land was trinamool, who 'owns' the nandigram votes..trinamool again?
nandigram is a much large area coz it was slated to be salim group SEZ not a standalone factory.

Theo_Fidel

Postby Theo_Fidel » 17 Mar 2007 00:48

enqyoob wrote:So I am trying to track down the money behind these "objections". Drug and weapon smuggling is clearly one source. The SL government itself may be another source. And the LTTE a third. A fine gang for the stupid Holies in TN to align themselves behind. If you check into this, one will hear shiv's words from the other forum ringing in the space between one's ears.


Don't forget that AMMA is opposed to it as DMK supports it. She provides much of the foot soldiers.

There is an excellent if slow website for the corporation that runs the project showing alignments and all.

http://sethusamudram.gov.in/

The southern areas of TN are some of the poorest areas of India. As you pointed out there is a severe shortage of water in the area. These people were some of the most affected by the Tsunami and there is a rumour that the canal will make the next one worse. Bizarre, I know.

I still don't see how the people there would benefit. The project does not call for extensions to Jaffna or Rameshwaram. There will not be a jot of infrastructure built on the land except a communication tower or two and some structures on the islands. Any new jobs will be wholly incidental. The fishermen will now have to dodge huge ships travelling at 20 mph or so in their boats that do 5 mph at best. And ships by their nature are polluting.

The sand by the way is being dumped into the deep ocean on the East side. The environment impact statement is here. Read it many years ago need to brush up.

http://sethusamudram.gov.in/EIA.asp

As in other areas of India there is a small coterie of 'professional agitators' who attempt to gain politically through agitation to such projects. The aim is to provoke the government into taking strong action, then feign Ghandhi like innocence and injured pride, and finally settle for government compensation.

There are sadly many people attracted to such ideas.

Theo_Fidel

Postby Theo_Fidel » 17 Mar 2007 00:55

enqyoob wrote:the GOI is actually moving their musharrafs after all these years.


The GOI could care less. In fact the Italian Queen is discreetly opposed to the project.

The moving force is all the DMK combine.

They need to get a move on Chennai Airport though. KK can rename it after himself if he pulls of this miracle.

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Postby enqyoobOLD » 17 Mar 2007 09:15

Theo, thanks. Makes sense.

The southern areas of TN are some of the poorest areas of India. As you pointed out there is a severe shortage of water in the area. These people were some of the most affected by the Tsunami and there is a rumour that the canal will make the next one worse. Bizarre, I know.


Well... that's where a lot of the hype is, unfortunately. Apparently this area was NOT hit by the tsunami, because it is in the lee of SL. The "next tsunami" business is cynical distortion by some ppl of what the good Dr. T.S. Murty from Canada said. He was on vacation, and made a few remarks, but he was NOT opposing the project. Apparently he was led into commenting on what he would do to minimize the impact of a tsunami on this canal, and he said, well, turn its mouth away from the east. This has been completely blown out of proportion, attributing claims to him that Kerala will be wiped out in the next tsunami, all bcoz this narrow channel, now deeper by a meter or so, is going to make all the difference. Complete unmitigated "Go-Pu"

I still don't see how the people there would benefit. The project does not call for extensions to Jaffna or Rameshwaram. There will not be a jot of infrastructure built on the land except a communication tower or two and some structures on the islands. Any new jobs will be wholly incidental. The fishermen will now have to dodge huge ships travelling at 20 mph or so in their boats that do 5 mph at best. And ships by their nature are polluting.


The reasons for that are not far to seek - SL is not going to rush in with an extension to Jaffna, and an extension to Rameshwaram at this stage will bring all sorts of objections. But the writing is on the wall (or the sand if u will). Once u have this nice passage for oceangoing vessels, why wouldn't ppl quickly think of an extension to Jaffna, and one to maybe the old pier off Dhanushkodi? It's rather trivial to do these.

The area is also perfect for sheltering from most storms in that area, though the Palk Strait itself tends to get pretty rough.

Once this project comes about, there is at least HOPE for the people there. I think the next big project should be the land bridge, following the Ram Bridge. A causeway could be built, if the place has depths of only 20 feet or so. This is shallower than Lake Pontchartrain near New Orleans, or the backwaters near Norfolk/ Chesapeake Bay (I am trying to think where else I have driven 30 minutes at 60mph with sea-water on both sides, but it slips my mind right now..)

Then they could just put a big overpass to let the ships go underneath, at the SSC part. This too is no big deal - it's done on the IntraCoastal Highway in several places, and, come to think of it, even in the Chavakkad area in Kerala. A direct TN - SL road link would change trade and development in that zone tremendously. At least they have enough sunshine there to run desalination plants and get enough water.

There is no real reason for the area to stay poor, if they can be brought out of the subsistence fishery trap. As someone commented, it's a great place for palm trees and Pina Colada, in fact, 400-proof Sinhalese arrack and palm liquor - get a bunch of hippies to start restaurants and resorts. Snorkeling in the Palk Straits, Coral viewing, glass bottomed boats, becoming shark bait....

(Oh, yes, Interstate 10 going to Houston through Louisiana. It may not be 20 feet deep there, but it is marshland, and populated with alligators).

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Postby Singha » 19 Mar 2007 16:05

Reuters: Peeth pe chura maar diya na....WB singur and nandigram were
deliberately used as stalking horses to discredit and block the entire SEZ idea. they never had any intention of having SEZ is west bengal just wanted a vulnerable point of attack.


FEATURE - Land battles threaten POSCO's Indian steel project


Enlarge Photo
By Reuters
Monday March 19, 02:50 PM

By Simon Denyer

DHINKIA, India (Reuters) - A tense stand-off with farmers unwilling to give up their land threatens India's largest-ever foreign investment project, a $12 billion steel plant planned by South Korea's POSCO.

Opponents of the project have taken heart from events in neighbouring West Bengal, where plans to seize farmland for a chemicals complex were shelved after police killed 14 protesters.

"This has had a very good effect on the people struggling against the POSCO project," said protest leader Abhay Sahu. "This is an opportune time for us to move forward."

The controversy could cast a shadow over India's attractiveness as an investment destination, officials said.

Supporters of the project were already frustrated that the government of Orissa had done little to back it, apparently scared of provoking trouble after protests over another steel plant cost 13 lives last year.

Clashes between supporters and opponents of the POSCO project injured 50 people this month, and angry farmers have erected a bamboo gate at the entrance to the village of Dhinkia to keep outsiders away.

POSCO spokesman Shashanka Pattnaik said the company remained confident the project would go ahead, and was "very, very hopeful" work will start by October, after missing an earlier target date of April.

But a senior government official told Reuters he thought the project might not get under way until early next year and said there was perhaps a 25 percent chance it might never happen.

"POSCO are pretty serious but they can't wait indefinitely," he told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.


"The risk for us is that if we don't get it right, no big-ticket FDI will look easily towards Orissa in particular or generally towards India."

The issue of acquiring farmland for factories has become an explosive one as industrialisation gathers pace in eastern India.

In January 2006, 13 people were shot and killed by police during a protest over a plant proposed by Tata Steel in Kalinga Nagar in Orissa.

That incident has all but paralysed the state government over the land issue, analysts said.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik offered little to reassure POSCO's supporters in an interview with Reuters.

"We are trying to convince people but in a humane way and in a rational manner, especially after the tragic incident of Kalinga Nagar," he said. "I certainly hope that it will happen, I think it takes time, but I am sure it will happen."

BROKEN PROMISES

There are other problems. As part of the agreement signed in June 2005, Orissa promised to grant prospecting and captive mining leases to supply the plant with 600 million tonnes of iron ore over 30 years.

But state-run Kudremukh Iron Ore says it has a prior claim to one prospecting area and has gone to the courts.

POSCO also needs official permission to convert around 2,700 acres of forest for industrial use, a potentially complex and time consuming procedure.

But it's probably in fields around the villages of Nuagaon and Dhinkia that the battle for POSCO's project, which aims to produce 12 million tonnes of steel a year, will be won or lost.

Orissa's government says its rehabilitation package for displaced farmers is among the best, offering cash and employment for at least one member of each family losing all its land.

POSCO has promised to help find plots for landowners.

But many farmers are not convinced, suspicious after other firms broke similar promises and jealous of a livelihood growing betel vines in the sandy soil and fishing in the area's creeks.

"IOCL (Indian Oil) promised to give us jobs when they built a refinery near here but they backtracked, so how should we believe POSCO," said 55-year-old Dhruba Charan Palai, bare chested in the heat with a cotton lungi wrapped around his waist.

BUILDING TRUST

POSCO hired 230 villagers to carry out a socio-economic survey to help draft a rehabilitation package. But police advised them not the enter the villages after the latest violence.

"The government has not taken a single step to solve the problem," said Tamil Pradhan, leader of the pro-POSCO movement. "Anti-POSCO people have been beating our people and setting fire to our betel plants."

The problem is that most of the families living in the project site don't own their land, but grow vines -- whose leaves are used to wrap the paan which many Indians chew -- on what is officially government land.

Many have been here for generations, but have no idea what compensation they will get.

"There are 20 million displaced people in India and they are in real trouble," said 48-year-old Sudhir Dalei. "We will be displaced and who will take care of us?"

"We don't want compensation, we just don't want to leave," said 48-year Dhira Pradhan. "If we leave our land, it will be over our dead bodies."

POSCO spokeswoman Soo Jung Kim said the company recognised the concerns and was working to build trust.

"When we say something, we do it," she said. "Here they haven't seen many examples of that, and they have doubts about companies, but our job is to reduce that gap and to prove we are sincere and committed."

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Postby shaardula » 19 Mar 2007 19:16

N3,
I understand your point that there might be economic, political and military reasons for doing it.

But I got a sense of disregard for env concerns from your post. (i dont care where they dump it) Typically, once the damage is done in water bodies, it is hardly ever possible to reverse it. It is difficult to even monitor and estimate spreads in water systems – metrics, sensors, 3D space, dynamics, logistics etc., and the whole litany of problems.

In the beginning of this century apparently, Adirondacks was completely – I mean completely denuded due to logging- Hard to imagine if you see it today - flora and fauna all back – thanks to legislation. But such remedies are generally not possible in water. GE basically abandoned a once thriving town because it could not clean up Hudson. They are shelling $$ but everyone knows that is just like archane to pullayar before exams.
(I will not push on land vs. in water conservation too hard, but it is valid to a certain extent)

Theo says there are corals in the region. Does shipping pose danger to these? An example of negative fallout due to commercial and recreational boating in freshwaters is the Zebra mussels phenomenon not just in the waterways but also land locked lakes. These are colonizing species that are causing serious imbalances. This not the massa hero fighting fire in the mountains kind of story also. Basically it is altering the geography of nutrient distribution in water systems and thus consequently the life forms in the water bodies. I don’t have exact $ amount this translates to but I can tell you proposals after proposals mentioning Zebra mussels are getting funded. All they are doing is writing history of the spread and attempting to estimate its spread. Measurements are tedious and indirect and analysis is painstakingly slow and needs a lot of lab time. Estimation cycle is a whole season behind the spread cycle – practically useless. There are no remedies either. They have to physically send divers to pluck these things out. And they come back with the next tourist season.
All these in a freshwater body.

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Postby Kakkaji » 19 Mar 2007 22:04

Re. the 'Impact on Ram Bridge' argument:

One way to get around will be bring to shore those pieces of the 'Ram Bridge' that the SSC cuts through, and house them in an annexe next to the Rameshwaram Temple, and convert it into a museum open to general public. That should satisfy the 'don't disturb the Ram Bridge' types.

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Postby Gerard » 20 Mar 2007 03:30

So squatters on government land have a veto on national development.
Nice.
Anarchy rules.

I think there needs to be an additional special 20% reservation for these people. Plus additional 'rights' to land.

The system has to be pushed to the point where it implodes. A point where the effective veto that small groups have, the demands for reservation etc, the whole stinking socialist edifice just collapses under its own weight, leaving the space for a meritocracy, respect for property rights, and a demand for development.

Perhaps in 20 years, the environment for a POSCO, for SEZs, may be better?

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Postby bala » 20 Mar 2007 03:53

Sethu project will lead to industrial growth: Centre tells Supreme Court

The Centre has justified in the Supreme Court the implementation of the ongoing Rs. 2,400-crore Sethusamudram Ship Channel Project (SSCP) through the Gulf of Mannar, the Palk Straits and the Palk Bay to facilitate passage of ships between India and Sri Lanka.

"The total length of the proposed channel is about 167 km, out of which 89 km has to be dredged, involving 82.5 million cubic metres (CUM) of dredged material. This involves about 35 km length and 48 million CUM dredging in Adam's Bridge area and 54 km length and 34.5 CUM dredging in Palk Strait area.

The width of the channel at seabed level is proposed at 300 metres to provide for safe two-way navigation in the channel," the Union Ministry of Shipping and Transport said.

The Centre said the project — conceived about a century ago and under the consideration of successive Governments in the past — "will save up to 424 nautical miles of distance and up to 29.9 hours of sailing time for ships between east and west coast."

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Postby SaiK » 20 Mar 2007 03:57

I am 100% confident that ASI will discover many things (idols/potteries, etc) in sethu dig, if the machines don't destroy while digging., besides the lost coral reefs.

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Postby Gerard » 22 Mar 2007 04:46

Slum in way of Mumbai's progress
Close to where the slum sits is the main railway track bringing trains from across India to its wealthiest city - and the slum dwellers threaten to bring it to a grinding halt

Arputham Jockin says if the plans are given the go-ahead "all we have to do is simply step out of our homes".

He explains: "We will completely block the railways. A hundred thousand of us will squat there and bring the whole city and the whole of India to a stop."

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Postby enqyoobOLD » 24 Mar 2007 08:39

The Mumbai slum-dwellers' plight is an example of the really tough choices that India has to make. It is a vicious circle: No proper transportation infrastructure, so ppl have to live close to their livelihood. EVERYone wants to live close to town, so land values in town get to astronomical levels, putting housing way out of reach of non-millionaires. So more slums come up.... obstructing infrastructure development. Every square millimeter of land is worth big bucks, so who will be willing to donate it?

The only ethical way of doing it is to compensate those displaced, handsomely, beyond anything they can gain by hanging on. Of course, if u start this, it will turn into a buge incentive for businessppl to bring in new slum-dwellers for a cut of the compensation.

Same issues are faced in Kerala, where the same spiral in land prices strangles infrastructure growth. So you have ppl newly rich from land sales driving shiny Lexus sedans stuck in traffic that will drive the driver insane, on roads reminescent of places that have been carpet-bombed.

So it really requires strong government action. How do you develop intelligent policies for this?
************************
Back to the SSC project which has really intrigued me because of the increasingly strange objections raised, and the quarters from which they are being raised.

I agree completely with the idea that any pieces of the Bridge cut out (and its really NOT a whole lot..) should be brought to land and set up as a huge National Monument. If ten million (1 crore) ppl spend an average of 2000 Rs. each to come visit it and deposit money as offerings, you'll recover the project cost from just that, inside 12 to 15 years.

Related to that, is the challenge: Has ANY piece of human-made "bridge" been dug up so far, in works under the Pamban bridge (which surely must have been part of the man-made bridge, since it is the first foray into the sea from the Indian mainland) or from Dhanushkodi or the sea immediately beyond?

If the answer is no, as I suspect, then what is the basis for obstructing work several miles out in the sea?

My "concern for environmental issues" is developed after some thinking on this tough issue. My take is that yes, the "treasures of all humanity" must be preserved for future generations. But today's generations also have a right to life and freedom, and if it comes to a choice between protecting a child's future and a fish species' future, my vote is for the child, sorry.

The Palk Straits area has at least TWO marine sanctuaries, which is why the shipping channel is crooked. I think that's enough attention to the environment.

If people don't know what effect a minor clearing of rocks at two places (which is all that is really involved here) will have on the ecology, it is because they really have no basis for believing that there will be any effect that is significant, compared to the many natural excitements that the area experiences, such as cyclones. So I think it is again up to the opposition in such projects to present clear, well-researched evidence that the project will do irreparable damage, before the project should be stopped or delayed. There is no other way towards progress.

The place is NOT a shallow, idyllic wading pool, as is made out by many. It is a rough, violent stretch of sea, with very strong tides and winds. I still remember how rough the ferry crossing was, every year, and until I saw oceans in other parts of the world, I thought the sea everywhere was rough and green with foaming waves.

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Postby Laks » 26 Mar 2007 09:56

This power project is the latest to the list of power projects in Karnataka stalled by environmental groups citing opposition from, 'locals', 'farmers', 'fisherman'. Earlier Cogentrix, the 4000 MW coal plant and possibly others too have ran into trouble. KA has a bad shortage of electricity, it is only March already there is regular load shedding even in parts of Bangalore.

link
Udupi: Manorama urges Centre to Shelve Thermal Power Project
Manorama Madhwaraj, MP, has urged the Union Government to shelve the proposed 1,015 MW coal-based Nagarjuna Power Project at Yellur in Udupi district, as the people of Udupi and Dakshina Kannada districts were opposed to it for environmental reasons.

In a letter written to Union Home Minister Shivraj V Patil, the copies of which were released to the press, Ms. Madhwaraj said that the people of the two districts had been opposing the project for two decades as this was an ecologically sensitive region.

Reports submitted by Danish International Development Agency, National Environmental Engineering Research Institute, and the State of Environment Report 2003 compiled by the Karnataka Government, said that the area encircled by the Western Ghats on three sides and Arabian Sea to the west was unsuitable for coal-based power plant even with the flue gas desulphurisation technology, she said. Such a project would affect agriculture, fishing and human health.

A comprehensive writ petition challenging the viability of the project was pending in the Karnataka High Court, she said. The issue was now "becoming a serious matter of law and order in coastal Karnataka," she said, adding that a situation similar to Nandigram and Singur was being created in the area.

The Centre should intervene "before the situation goes out of control and people take law into their own hands," Madhwaraj added.

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Postby abhischekcc » 26 Mar 2007 12:10

Since we are all here bitching and whining about the state of infrastructure in India, I would like to point out that bad infrastructure has its own advantages. Consider the following scenario:

A man dies and goes to hell. There he finds that there is a different hell for each country. He goes to the German hell and asks, "What do they do here?" He told,"First they put you in an electric chair for An hour. Then they lay you on a bed of nails for another hour. Then The German devil comes in and whips you for the rest of the day." The man does not like the sound of that at all,so he moves on. He checks out the USA hell as well as the Russian hell and many more. He discovers that they are all more or less the same as the German hell. Then he comes to the Indian hell and finds that there is a long line of people waiting to get in. Amazed, he asks, "What do they do here?" He told, "First they put you in an electric chair for an hour. Then they lay you on a bed of nails for another hour. Then the Indian devil comes in and whips you for the rest of the day." "But that is exactly the same as all the other hells - why are there so many
people waiting to get in?" "Because maintenance is so bad that the electric chair does not work,someone has stolen all the nails from the bed, and the devil is a former Govt servant, so he comes in, signs the register and then goes to the canteen!!!!!!


:mrgreen: Heading for the bomb shelter (aka Humuor THread) before anyone tries to bomb me. :eek:

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Postby Gerard » 28 Mar 2007 04:25


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Postby Kakkaji » 28 Mar 2007 07:54

Cry to stall Sethu to save Ram bridge

The Adam’s Bridge — a series of sand-dune islets and shallows linking India and Sri Lanka south-east of Dhanushkodi near Rameshwaram — is locally believed to be the bridge that Ram built to invade Lanka and rescue Sita.

It is to be dredged out completely to open up a direct route between the Indian east and west coasts, removing the need for ships to sail round Sri Lanka.

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Postby Vipul » 28 Mar 2007 19:09



She has to look for a "cause" for appearing in the media, doesnt she?

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Postby Sanjay M » 31 Mar 2007 22:41

Prakash is now blaming the Nandigram incident on "Evil Uncle Sam":

http://www.financialexpress.com/fe_full ... _id=159601

Oh, of course. How else could this have happened?

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Postby vsudhir » 02 Apr 2007 05:03

From the pioneer, posting in full.

'Foreign hand supporting Medha Patkar'

Abraham Thomas | New Delhi

M-P Govt accuses her of disrupting Narmada rehabilitation work

After Gujarat's demand for a high-level probe into the activities of Medha Patkar-led Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), the Madhya Pradesh Government has also accused "foreign hands" supporting NBA in disrupting relief and rehabilitation work concerning major water projects in the State.

In an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court, the State Government has said, "It will be worthwhile to mention here that these activities have been are being supported by some foreigners also. There have been a number of visits by foreigners in the knowledge of the district authorities."



The affidavit comes in the wake of a PIL seeking investigations into foreign funds received by NBA. A Bench of Justices CK Thakker and Altamas Kabir is expected to hear the matter on Monday.

The affidavit sworn by AIG (Intelligence) Madhya Pradesh Police has supported its contentions with replies filed by Madhya Pradesh State Electricity Board (MPSEB) and Narmada Valley Development Authority, both agencies concerned with the relief and rehabilitation work among families displaced due to construction of water projects.

The affidavit has said, "the NBA is continuously creating hurdles in the completion of major water resources development projects by launching dharnas, satyagraha, rallies, jal-samdhis and violence against Government officials."

Due to the opposition of NBA, it stated, "the water development projects get delayed involving considerable time and cost over-runs and delay in getting benefits of the projects by the people at large." Besides the Sardar Sarovar Dam project, the Government has accused NBA of creating hurdles in the Indirasagar, Omkareshwar, Maheshwar, Man, Jobat and Upper Beda projects.

Detailing the manner of opposition faced from the NBA, the affidavit quotes the decision of the NVDA which suggests, "the NBA opposed the surveys for the remaining proposed major projects and instigated the families likely to be affected by major projects to object to the project - proposals during public hearings which are conducted as per directions of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests for getting environmental clearance for the projects."

The MPSEB has alleged manhandling of its officials by NBA activists leading to several criminal cases being lodged against the latter. It states, "Apart from the threats etc to the officials working for the project, the officials were/are also not allowed to enter the villages affected by the project." The officials have to visit the villages for purposes of survey as part of relief and rehabilitation. The affidavit gives a date-wise documentary evidence of instances when the officials have been manhandled or threatened.

The Madhya Pradesh's response comes subsequent to the Gujarat Government's response, which has sought a high-level probe into the alleged anti-national activities of the NGO led by Patkar. It even hinted at the possibility of a foreign hand behind NBA as it said, "Such a long lasting, organised and sustained movement spanning geographical boundaries cannot be conducted without access to substantial funds."

The apex court Bench had earlier asked the State Governments to respond on the petition filed by National Council for Civil Liberties, through its president VK Saxena. Notices had been issued in this regard in January 2006 after the court held a prima facie view that the allegations were of serious nature and required response from the concerned States. The court is also hearing a separate petition by NBA where it has challenged the raising of the Sardar Sarovar Dam seeking adequate relief and rehabilitation packages for the project-affected families.

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Postby Kakkaji » 09 Apr 2007 02:25

Paging enqyoob:

RSS, BJP claim NASA has proof of the existence of Ram Sethu

New Delhi, April 8 (PTI): RSS and BJP have found a new rallying point in their campaign against the Sethusamudram project, claiming that some NASA satellite images have shown the remains of a man-made bridge connecting India and Sri Lanka.

Holding an "American conspiracy" responsible for the Sethusamudram project which he said breached the mythological Ram Sethu (Adam's Bridge in modern times), RSS chief K S Sudarshan asked the Prime Minister to halt the ongoing shipping canal project.

"This project is being opposed by all Hindus, Muslims and Christians. The two ships sent for dredging returned with their blades broken," Sudarshan wrote in the latest issue RSS mouthpiece Panchjanya.

Acknowledging the huge benefits arising out of making a shipping canal, the petitioner argue the canal can still be built, without breaching Ram Sethu.

Citing specialists, the petitioners contend that a sea route may be prepared for navigation, without damaging Ram Sethu, by removing the barren sand heaps near village Mandapam between Rameshwaram and Dhanushkoti railway.

"This will not only give a shorter route but also protect the oldest manmade heritage,"
it says.

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Postby Gerard » 12 Apr 2007 03:49

Confusion reigns on Reliance Panvel SEZ
Mhatre pointed out that the farmers in the entire village had opposed the SEZ proposal in writing. "We will not give our land, whether you give us a compensation of Rs 1 crore per acre or jobs to our entire family," he said.


Badal govt set to pull plug on DLF’s SEZ
the Punjab cabinet is preparing to withdraw its land acquisition notification for the DLF special economic zone project in Amritsar
DLF officials are both angry and anxious. Yogesh Verma, head of the SEZ division of DLF Universal Ltd, said: "We had decided to go to Punjab following an assurance by the state government to provide us land. How can it go back on its promise? Land acquisition for our project should be considered retrospectively."

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Postby Gerard » 14 Apr 2007 04:07



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