February 17, 2008

life in general: (part 3) left's modi on rampage again...

The chemical SEZ (special economic zone) (see here for more) that was cancelled in Nandigram is now coming up at Nayachar. At Nandigram, the people displacement issue was predominant that led to stiff resistance. At Nayachar, the ecology is in terrible danger of being completely devastated (for photos of Nayachar download this pdf document). I share below an insightful write-up on this matter.

The way I look at it is that Buddhadeb Bhatachara, the chief minister of West Bengal, is to the Left parties in India what Narendra Modi is to the Right-wing parties in India. He is the Left's Modi (more
here and here). Some similarities in their colleagues also -- Brinda Karat is to the Left what Sushma Swaraj is to the Right.

Here is that report:

Date: 16 Feb 2008 08:26:12 -0000
From: seztrack@yahoogroups.co.in
Subject: [seztrack] Digest Number 478
To: seztrack@yahoogroups.co.in

An Article on Nayachar

Posted by: "Sukla Sen" suklasenp@yahoo.co.uk Sat Feb 16, 2008 12:41 pm

This was published in The Statesman dated 12th. Feb.'2008

Nayachar - Terminal Symptom of a Malady

The proposal for a chemical hub at Nandigram, in West Midnapur district was aborted due to an unprecedented revolt encompassing most sectors of Civil Society. The West Bengal Government has now zeroed in on Nayachar, an island that emerged from the sea in the nineteen thirties in the offshore region of the Bay as an alternative.

Located near the confluence of the Haldi river and the Bay and virtually within the coastal offshore zone, it is a very small and flat island fully made up of unconsolidated alluvium that rose just three metres above the sea. GSI drilling also showed that it is similar material down to thirty metres. In the same offshore region, Lohacchhara, Supari Bhaga , Kapasgadi and Bedford islands were submerged by global warming effects. This was indisputably established by Jadavpur University researchers.

Somewhat later, Nayachar may share the same fate. Any industrial infrastructure shall necessitate substantial raising and consolidation of land by dumping colossal quantities of imported material. In fact, this process itself may expedite land collapse. Even then, would it be strong enough to bear major industrial infra-structural load ? Furthermore, such an island shall always remain susceptible to tidal waves and erosion.

Consequent on activating the proposed chemical hub, enormous quantities of hazardous wastes (including carcinogenic, mutagenic, and toxic to reproduction category) shall be generated with no safe dumping arrangements within the island. Obviously, these will be dumped into the sea, wreaking havoc on offshore marine life including fish and planktons. Most ominously, the seasonal offshore currents operating in the zone shall transport the pollutants along the coast into the Sundarban deltaic system and tidal currents will push them further into the Indo-Bangladesh river network.

The Chief Minister very recently reiterated from the ramparts of 'Fort Brigade Parade Ground' that Nayachar shall have the chemical hub. Even with the insensitivity of the State to valid scientific criticism, such a decision is simply mind boggling! Yet, there are alternatives available.

Having land fully government owned land, this island was handed over to the State Fisheries department about thirty years ago. A number of fishing cooperatives were formed and more than three hundred ponds were leased out to local fisher-folk and small entrepreneurs, commuting by ferry from Haldia. The island also has six hundred squatter families eking out at least a meagre livelihood as labourers in the ponds or catching fish. The socio-economic fallout of setting up a major industry cannot be ruled out, with inevitable problems of livelihood loss and rehabilitation of the displaced families.

The Jurong Consultants appointed by the Salim Group, has endorsed the Nayachar location, citing the examples of islands off Singapore! Whereas those islands form part of the Himalayan arc itself, Nayachar is an offshoot of eroded Himalayan material and transported over thousands of millennia to form one of the thickest alluvial basins on earth. Singapore has no such vulnerable alluvial basin to pollute ! Instead of wooing industrialists with questionable credentials, the State should organise and support fisheries to be developed and run by local dwellers. Obviously, with moderate investment, the losses shall be miniscule compared to industrial development even if the island is submerged after a few decades. This would be an optimum utilisation package for such a chunk of ephemeral land.

Andhra and other states are satisfying the huge demands of such a fish hungry State. The East Kolkata wetlands fisheries have been decimated by planned and relentless state sponsored urbanisation to pamper major realtors. Although miniscule, Nayachar may provide an example to emulate in such a warped development scenario. Even the state government admits that West Bengal has started facing shortfalls in food production; fish is certainly a major protein food item.

Nayachar is another decisive step in West Bengal's journey of no return into the path of devastating its invaluable natural resources. Despite concerted protests, it is providing the cradle for Tata-Nano miracle in prime farmlands of Singur and development of Rajarhat. Further plans to build highways, bridges and Kulpi inland port shall inexorably destroy theinvaluable and vestigial mangrove swamps of the Sundarabans that protect the state from the disastrous cyclones. The Teesta Project has started constructing a chain of dams and barrages in the tectonically active Himalayan foothills zone. Indications of a major disaster are already being perceived in a series of major landslides, along with water logging in the plains.

Yes, the Government is transforming the State into an environmental inferno, basically for the benefit of a miniscule affluent urban minority! Instead, by forsaking the globalisation highway, it could always choose the country roads of a resurgence that would include small agro-based industries. This would be sustainable and endow benefits on the overwhelming rural majority of the State.

Subrata Sinha
Formerly , DDG,Geological Survey of India
15 A/1 Khanpur Road, Kolkata 700047
Landlines 2481-8559 / 24110576


sunaina said...

its truly horrible....
i think the citizens of kanpur and the whole nation should come fwd to make sure that such inhumane and cruel culprits get hardest of the punishments...so that never a child is subjected to the barbarous incident like this...
it seems like a torturous scene from the most horrific imagination!!!
may her soul have peace....

Rajesh said...

Sunaina, the confusing blog design has made you post your comment in the wrong post. this comment of yours belongs to the previous post.

I have made my comments in response to this comment of yours in the comments section of that post at natant.blogspot.com/2008/02/life-in-general-when-will-we-india.html