I usually find news paper advertisements boring, but a small invite to pre-bid conference for proposed 4000 MW Ultra Mega Power Plant (UMPP) caught my attention. Ignoring a restraining order by the National Green Tribunal India, the project promoter Power Finance Corporation Limited, India has announced bid process for UMPP proposed in Cheyyur District of Indian State of Tamil Nadu. In past PFC has lied to the people and authorities of Cheyyur about upcoming project and now they were trying to hide facts from investors as well. Someone had to put an end to all lying. So we at 350 India, decided to confront the concerned authorities and warn the investors as well. With help from our friends at Community Environment Monitoring, a list of fraudulent statements and misrepresentations used by Coastal Tamil Nadu Power Ltd to facilitate environmental clearances for 4000 MW Cheyyur UMPP was prepared. The plan was to hand out these letters to the potential investors warning them of risks associated with this project.
It was bit difficult to blend in the suit clad crowd and pretend to be as one of interested developer. However the short film on the project site followed by a presentation boosting about state of the art technologies being adopted to protect environment, made us laugh and even more determined to expose the lies in the Environment Impact Assessment report submitted by the PFC officials. During the open discussion, one by one we started asking hard hitting questions about court orders & land acquisition. While the authorities tried to duck these questions few more investors expressed their concerns over the way the clearance was sought. Suddenly from technical discussion the focus shifted to environment and forest concerns. However the key moment was when we directly mentioned about the fraudulent claims and walked to deliver the letter to the panel. All eyes were glued to us as we were distributing the letter in middle of the meeting. We were hoping we would be asked to leave immediately, but the organizers were too shocked to react and we got stay till the end of the meeting.
As we prepared to leave the conference we were surrounded by anxious investors asking for a copy of the letter. Soon we ran out of copies of letter. We never expected our small action would be taken so seriously by investors present. No wonder we were not invited for post conference lunch for the organizers.
The small action was in solidarity with people of Cheyyur, fighting to save their land and water resouces. Visit http://cheyyur.
A massive cyclone is about to hit the eastern sea coast of India. Cyclone Phailin is gathering intensity and is expected to pick up speeds of over 220 KMPH, which would categorize it as a 'severe' to 'super' cyclone. Over 400,000 people have been evacuated from low lying areas close to the coast and shifted to various public institutions turned into cyclone relief centers. The army, navy, air force, coast guard and other reserve forces have been mobilised to offer relief as the cyclone is expected to make landfall by 6 PM IST on October 12th. Here is a list of emergency contact numbers in the region. The cyclone is currently on par in its intensity with hurricane Katrina in 2005.
I write this from the comforts of my home in New Delhi while hundreds of locals are refusing to leave their homes, shops and their only source of livelihood. Relief operations are in full swing but as is with many in India, there is a greater faith in god to protect them than anything else.
Two questions that remain unanswered at this moment are a. What was the sea surface temperature that caused this cyclone? vis-a-vis the past few decades and b. What is the periodicity and intensity cycles of such cyclones? These questions are crucial to learn how the unequivocal rise in global warming is causing cyclones like Phailin. But for now, our thoughts are with those millions in the path of the cyclone's fury and hoping there is as little casualty as possible.
We will keep this site updated with the latest on this extreme weather event.(More...)
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