Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Azadi Ki Chaah

इंक़लाब  इक वतन था
आज़ादी का तरंग था

उम्मीदों के गुलशन खिलते थे
शहीदों ने लहू से सींचे थे

जोशीली धड़कन न समाती थी
दिलों में नई दीवानगी थी

आओ एक नया भारत बनायें
अपनापन का हाथ बढ़ायें 

सत्य मार्ग से हम ना घबरायें
अहिंसा और नेकी का कदम बढ़ाये

जहाँ भूख दर्द का कोई स्थान नहीं
जाति धर्म-भेद का कोई मान नहीं

स्त्री पुरुष अब हाथ मिलाये
साथ ही सपनों को साचार बनाये 

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Nuclear Fallacies and Falsehoods

Fukushima Disaster happened on 3/11/11 - two years and eight months ago. The world watched,  horrified; and the horrors of this disaster are far from over.  Cleaning up task is formidable, and can never be fully successful, since vast amounts of radioactive pollutants have spewed into global winds and continue spilling into the oceans, poisoning them. In an overwhelming demonstration of sanity, many developed nations decided to end their dalliance with this dangerous technology and turned their sights on safe, green technologies to serve their future energy needs. The response from the nuclear lobby was as expected - they vulgarly underplayed the vast damages, to humans and environment, caused by the Fukushima and the predecessor nuclear disasters and continue to chant their nuclear  mantra of necessity, safety, and low cost - without accounting for the already enormous cost of damages to human life and living environment.

The latest bid to reverse a swelling tide of a global anti-nuclear sentiment, are two desperate and flawed efforts [here and here] in form of a letter and a film. In the first instance, four climate change scientists make a naive appeal to our rationale to support safe nuclear energy - not realizing that this is an oxymoron - in order to curb green house gas emissions and abate the threat of climate change.

The dangers of nuclear energy have been demonstrated many times over its history, not just with experiences of large disasters, such as Chernobyl, Three mile island and Fukushima, but also due to the many more smaller incidences that go relatively unnoticed, and whose human and environmental damage are more difficult to quantify, and go unaccounted (see for example the recent San Onfre shutdown). Added to this is the lengthy process of decommissioning and the long term/indefinite risks posed in safe containment of spent fuels;  we continue to witness the unsurmountable dangers from Fukushima's spent fuel rod pools, and the non-tractable leakages at the Hanford site in USA.

That nuclear energy cannot be disassociated from potentially high risks is known only too well by the nuclear business lobbies and the insuring agencies, who refuse to enter into business transactions without a sound safety net of sufficient government protection - as seen with their fuss over India's nuclear liability clause.

The authors contend that expanding energy needs are unavoidable, especially to provide for needs of developing economies and favor nuclear energy, even compared to the green renewable alternatives (like solar and wind) since nuclear is cheaper , and rapidly 'scalable', somehow suggesting wrongly that it takes longer to build solar panels and rig up wind farms compared to setting up a nuclear power plant.  Also, in a post Fukushima world, while the real cost of nuclear energy (including govt subsidies), is rising due to higher insurance costs, the cost of renewables in the global market has been falling sharply.

Thus the favoring of nuclear is based on its contentious low-cost and a  need for rapid energy expansion (in the developing world) - all this while Fukushima and the global community reel under continuation of hazardous contamination from a disaster of 32 months back. Even if accepted at face value, should one really favor 'cheap and fast' versus 'slow and safe' ? This is for the people of the developing nations to decide - for whom the authors are, very considerately, advocating expansion of nuclear energy.

Meanwhile, it is interesting to check out how much greenhouse gas (GHG) producing coal is burnt worldwide. The site also contains many other global energy statistics. Are the developed nations also planning to change their conventional energy sources to nuclear? Or, are they only adept at selling nuclear to developing nations, like India, while making only token efforts at home, to keep their nuclear business, alive, outside?

This brings me to the documentary ' Pandora's Promise' by Robert Stone, aired on CNN recently.  This documentary took 4 years to make with substantial effort to consult nuclear scientists, industry giants and specialists, all funded by the nuclear industry, to arrive at a well researched conclusion, that nuclear technology is 'really safe' . Now, there are two things I don't understand: why sound science of nuclear physics or chemistry, imply a safe working of nuclear technology? Sure, science drives technology, but this does not guarantee its successful functioning.  And, we should all know this by now.  Also, why ask the very beneficiaries of a technology, to vouchsafe for it? Wouldn't this be suspect for conflict of interest? How about asking all scientists 'not-funded or benefited' by the industry for their vote of confidence.

The film again harps on the needs of growing economies like China, India, Brazil to advocate nuclear energy. Either the pro-nuclear lobby has become surprisingly compassionate towards the needs of their poorer brethren or....they are just business savvy and know where their profits lie.

I guess, we are stupid to not be convinced, by their persuasive nuclear fallacies and falsehoods, and would now prefer to be only safe, rather than sorry?

Climate change exists, and must be countered, for survival - of us all. But, this need not be a 'from a frying pan to fire' game. And the choice we make is not between coal versus nuclear; we must instead evolve towards to an energy efficient, green and sustainable future, for all.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013


Rage sears,
slices my fears
with a blade,
against her heart
tearing apart
a child's veil,
innocence frail.
Mothers wail
to curtail
hatred and greed,
that seed
and breed
evil deeds,
and transform
men into swarms
of hunting packs
who rape and ax
with rods, bottles
to throttle
laughter and light,
to spite
a few thin rays
in dark days
of despair,
hopeless gloom
strikes doom.
Search not,
this must be fought;
do not pray
but scheme to slay
the beast
hounding at your door,
there is no savior
for such behavior;
Rise -
and hide not from
their shame
this is a war-game;
"We shall not surrender"
till we are free
of rape, repression
and patriarchy,
and found a society
just and fair,
with equity equality
for all, to share.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013


I have been involved with issues related to human rights, for sometime now. I am aware that the world is a hungry place.  A few years back I had been invited to Taj for  conference on abolishing world hunger. Needless to say I did not go.

Today my sister alerted me on the news of adivasi elders dying of hunger in Thane.  I also read about it here, here and here.  I also forced myself to stare at the horrific, violent google images of the 'starving' and face the world that also is - a world of primarily human making. Apparently only 8% of starvation deaths are a result of some natural calamity - we, the human race, can take a collective responsibility for causing the rest.

The point is not - did I personally create this inhuman hunger,  terrible misery? will anything happen if I eat less? I do believe that by eating less, less than I need, I will microscopically experience what it feels like - the gnawing pains of hunger pangs, and this might sensitize me to imagine, how this must be like, if this were not by choice, if eating was not just less, but just not possible at all, for days on end, till one lay ones self down and dies - quietly, without a choice.

 The point is, can I do something, even a tiny bit about it? Can I, as a grown up responsible person, make this a part of my choice? to not avert my eyes - have their starvation penetrate the consciousness of my future actions? Can I cling on to a hope that change is possible, but only with a determined will and lots of hard work? Can I? Will I?

Will You?

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Threatening War on Syria

To say that I am merely 'angry' at all this talk of waging war on Syria by the world's largest bully and its sucking up cronies, is a wild understatement. I am impotently outraged. I am nauseated with fear. I am sick to my soul. Me, a non-believer that any outer force can save us, close my eyes and clasp my hands in prayers, that this may not be.....

Whether Syria did or not use chemical weapons is important. Who used it, and who provided chemical weapons, is also equally important. But one thing is very clear - if such chemical weapons of warfare were used - it would be the civilians, the normal ordinary people, with normal ordinary lives, the women, children and old, the helpless who do not decide fates of countries, even their own country, or play with grandiose ideas of politics and wars, who were the undoubted victims. If there is war waged against Syria, to teach a lesson in peace and morally right, it is undoubted that again the same set of civilians who go to work, send their kids to school, fend their old, and tend their gardens, who sit around and gossip about the who should marry who and who will have the next child, who plan  festivities and share their normal everyday sorrows, who will again be pounded from heavens  to be crushed alive, maimed, killed and destroyed so that some other powerful nation, may teach those in power in their own country, to not harm them - the ordinary people, who have already been harmed, with chemical weapons!!

In the meantime, warnings have been issued to Syria to hand over their chemical weapons in a week...I do hope they have them to hand them over...or can buy them to hand them over. I hope they will not sit behind any comfort of telling " We don't have chemical weapons" ...whoever it was that used these weapons. For we all know what US is capable of..if it says "confess" it is a good idea to figure out what it wants confessed...and then confess it, produce any and all evidence to prove It is right, and stop hundreds of thousands of lives getting extinguished, with a pin-point accuracy.

This is not a moment to question how many innocents the US killed in Iraq1 and Iraq 2 wars, and how and why? many others died in Afghanistan at the same hands. Sadam was a bad and wicked man who did many bad things..but did teaching him to "show and tell"have to be so much wickeder, and humanly destructive?? did it require so many lives with such gruesome and tragic ends? Especially when nothing was finally discovered to either show or tell?? What if the same happens in Syria? Can any nation with force, unleash it on any other nation - no matter what? Who will teach US a lesson? to not kill more to punish those that have already killed? Who will think of all those civilians who have not wronged, either their own nation or the US who is world's self appointed class monitor? Why does an entire nation if civilians have to pay a price for the wrong done (to them) by their powerful?

This is also not a time to question who are the world suppliers of war machinery? Which nations have already profited from selling weapons of bloodshed and are ready to kill more when that blood is shed?
Who will teach these manufacturers and traders of killing machines to stop trading in blood money?? Which mightier God can teach Them a lesson - those who kill most - morally and righteously? If there is such a God, then "Oh dear God in heaven...let the living live and let there not be another war".  

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

A Tear Drop in the Ocean

Sri Lanka sits like a giant tear drop on the expanse of Indian Ocean. Over the last three decades, the country has been terrorized, ravaged, and destroyed by a brutal and horrific civil war where neither side has spared the other. Large areas of the country have seen unimaginable horrors with rapes, tortures and exterminations. The war culminated with state sponsored and large scale ethnic cleansing of its Tamil minorities. Crimes against the minorities continue, but under the radar, unseen and mostly ignored by the world outside. To the outside world, Sri Lanka has reverted to its original identity as a lush tropical island - a drop of paradise, beckoning the lost and the seeking " Buddham Sharanam Gacchami".

I recently went to Sri Lanka. I went as a mind less tourist, shoving aside all that I knew and all that I believed in - to wander over the contours of its cool hills, to plunge into aquamarine depths of its beautiful ocean, to explore the dark emerald cacophony of its still virgin forests; I ignored the human calamity, loss and despair and roamed the country in silence, being just an observer, a traveler. And, there was plenty here to please - from fire eaters and dancers of Kandy, to ancient abandoned cities of Polanaruwa, the rock fortress of Sigiriya to a vibrant cosmopolitan Colombo. I spent most time on the unspoilt, quiet beaches of Mirissa and Hikkaduwa - swimming in silken waters, and walking barefoot, miles along the soft sandy beaches.

What struck me most was the people - and how gentle and pleasant they seemed. No one seemed to be in a mad rush; the country was very clean, with no obvious signs of garbage, dumps, or  plastics; I saw no slums, and the rivers ran clean, dense and tropical brown. There was no honking on the roads, or rarely if ever; the public transport was cheap and frequent, out numbering private cars and autos. People looked at you and smiled, not having yet learnt to avoid gaze while saying " how are you" - in passing. People paused for long chats...the whole mood was unhurried and relaxed.

While I spoke, engaged and listened, and wandered  through the country, I also pondered 'what makes hate?'. I avoided speaking in Tamil, for fear of entering its domain of suspicion, fear and hate and managed to mostly avoid the whole genocide issue. Everything changed at the mention of Tamils, the separatist movement, or the killings, including the state sponsored genocide. I brought up the subject only twice. Once with a young and devout Sinhalese and the next time with a Tamil hotel owner.

The young buddhist, while espousing vegetarianism and non-violence towards animals felt that the killing of tamils was justified for the murders that had been committed - especially of monks, women, and children by the LTTE. He was enraged at the concept of a separate Tamil nation and felt that Sri Lanka belonged to the Sinhalese - and not the hindu tamils or the muslims.

I spoke to the Tamilian at the end of a long day. He must be about forty, thin with a belly, balding, hard working and with an easy laugh. I was dining on a simple fare of masala dosa and filter coffee; the restaurant was empty except for the owner and staff - all of whom spoke to each other in Tamil. The man came and sat down with us for a chat, about his relatives in Tamil Nadu, the cost of things and all the general stuff. He was happy to speak to an Indian in Tamil. And then I asked " what about the killings in the north?" The man went completely silent and then quickly looking around to make sure there were no Sinhalese around said " They are all gone.... killed..everyone, about four lakh people died in a few days..the army went in...killed and burnt everything down. Whatever was left was dumped in the one knows how many missing were killed ...our people know, but no one talks about it". He seemed to have great deal to say about India's role in the war including, "She (Sonia Gandhi) did not help..why should she help anyone who killed her husband..?"
The conversation ended abruptly with a late comer walking in for a delayed dinner. The Tamil did not approach our table again.

I left Sri Lanka, as I had entered it, with a heavy heart, and a burden of conscience - denied. I knew of the evil that lurked even in this paradise - of evil in man's heart - which flourished and fractured even while the sun shone, the winds played with waves and forests chanted their evening songs.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Leaking Liability Strategically

The issue of India's Civil Nuclear Liability has been a contentious one, with charged reactions from all sides. The principal points of the law, as it now stands, are a maximum liability cap of Rs. 2500 crores, in event of a disaster, to the operator, which in this case would be Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd(NPCIL) and GoI, plus a clause that allows NPCIL to subsequently sue the nuclear supplier for damages. It is this tiny clause that has deterred foreign commercial interests from venturing into nuclear trade with India - especially in a post Fukushima world.

The Indian state, with its nuclear establishment, under international and US pressure, is pushing for a dilution of India's liability clause to open up India's nuclear energy sector for commercialisation;  the foreign suppliers  are also keenly eyeing investment opportunities with India's ambitious goals of expanding its civil nuclear facilities, but can only afford to risk business ventures if the nuclear opportunity is offered risk-free - i.e. without the baggage of an eventual supplier liability - even if they were responsible by providing defective technology that caused a nuclear disaster.

Such a dilution was staunchly opposed by anti-nuclear activists, especially in pockets around the upcoming nuclear facilities, since this could potentially lead to a weakening of quality controls from a non-liable supplier and thus pose an increased risk of future calamity. Also, sections of India's civil society voiced their opposition based on the horrific human tragedy and fiasco, played out in the aftermath of the Bhopal chemical disaster; they were unwilling to let the Indian tax payers take full financial responsibility for any future and potentially a more dangerous nuclear disaster caused by a liability-shielded supplier's negligence and failure. The dilution issue also faced partisan reactions with nationalistic jingoism from right to expressed opposition from the left [See a recent mix of reactions here].

It is important to note that the recent unfolding of corruption charges against Zio Podolsk for supplying substandard equipment to nuclear facilities - both Russian and foreign - is part of the same larger concern of what can and will play out without a strictest liability clause that force adherence to quality control. Agreement for Units 1 and 2 of Kudankulam, between India and Russia, predated our Civil Nuclear Liability and was therefore exempt from it. One might argue that a better system of checks and monitoring, mandated if Russia were functioning within a tight nuclear liability clause, would have probably lead to a less compromised system with fewer substandard parts than were probably supplied to Kudankulam.

Now, this was the current state of affairs - or so I thought. Behind the scenes, however, a whole different drama had already played out. I chanced upon this script from WikiLeaks.

There are many serious and grave revelations:

1) It appears that Indian officials are willing to compromise the liability issue and facilitate free nuclear commerce with the US provided they receive strategic cooperation on the issues of reprocessing and enrichment. India would then ratify the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear damage(CSC), despite this not being a recommended choice for the nation. India's signing the Safeguard Agreement with IAEA also was conditional to progress on nuclear reprocessing and enrichment.

2)The officials reiterated their commitment to the letter of intent, already been signed with the US, for two nuclear parks with a combined capacity of 10,000 MW. The site explorations were concluded although the sites not finalised.

3)There was a strong push to encourage participation of private sector in power generation and management and also for partnerships between Indian firms and  US suppliers - to keep the cost of nuclear energy competitive.

The need for concern is strong. The civil nuclear liability issue, that provides a safety net for Indian citizens, in case of a nuclear event, is being used as a bartering chip for so called 'more important' strategic goals. That this happens behind closed doors, and with far fetched ambitions for the nuclear energy sector - without media participation and far from public eye, is a cause for further worry. That private Indian vendors and public-private-partnerships are encouraged, takes the exercise even further away from the realm of safe-and-secure, with increased difficulty for any vigilant monitoring or supervision of quality control - necessary for the complex and risky nuclear industry. And thus to systematically derail national interest and safety of its citizens by weakening the issue of liability,  under such circumstances, is just sheer madness. Beware!

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Supremely Courting Disaster at Koodankulam

In a bizarre, but not so recent development, India's Supreme Court has taken to ruling on cases, based not on applications of laws, nor readdressing of petitions or pleas, but via self-appointed mandates and grandiose generalities that pertain little to law and less to justice.  
It is an attempt by the court to act supreme without bothering with any inconvenient truths or harsh realities.

I am referring to the Supreme Court's justifying the hanging of Afzal Guru for "satisfying the collective conscience of the nation", or the recent SC approval of the Koodankulam nuclear plant (KKNPP), since "a balance has to be struck between the right to life and sustainable development". 

The Koodankulam ruling was based, not on the legitimate and serious safety concerns, which STILL remain, but on Court's perception of national developmental goals vis-a-vis constitutionally sacred, right to life of all - including the predominantly marginalised communities in the neighborhood of the plant. The court took this untenable position without realising that the very notion of development and how this nation should go about it, is not part of this or any other Court's mandate - whereas right to life is. Unashamed and non-apologetic the Supreme Court ruled that this right-to-life could be compromised, since the nation's need for energy is greater.  It bought the rhetoric of the nuclear establishment without demanding rigorous compliance of safety standards, and  in a direct conflict of interest,  delegated the assurance of the plant's safety to the very same authorities charged with commissioning the plant and who have been crying themselves hoarse " All is Well" - despite allegations of complicity  in a series of omissions, violations and compromises for a hasty commissioning.  

Instead of a soppy “Nobody on the earth can predict what would happen in future and to a larger extent we have to leave it to the destiny…", the supreme court could have made history if it had realised that while  destiny is not in man's hand,  uncompromising attention and rigor in implementation of safety standards is - and this needs to be assured, independently, before operation of any giant, complex technology which is potentially very risky to humans and environment.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Death-ly Competition: Choosing between Nuclear and Fossil Fuels

Yesterday, the world mourned on the 27th anniversary of the Chernobyl Disaster - and things are still not 'normal' in the disaster effected zone. In fact,  many things will never get fixed, or normal, or reverted to prior-to-accident-state - some 30,000 sq. kms which will remain contaminated actively radiating till 2090 - polluting soil, air, water, and all living things and also killing them.

In this context, the efforts of nuclear lobby took an absurd and macabre turn with this recently published paper. The authors calculated deaths prevented by production of nuclear power, instead of power from fossil fuels - which would generate sufficient air pollution to choke 1.8 million people to death. This estimate is a cumulative of nuclear power generated throughout history and strongly advocates its future expansion, despite the Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters, to  prevent a purported 7 million deaths by mid-century. It is curious that the authors compared two hazardously polluting thermal technologies, run on nuclear and fossil fuels, to declare nuclear power a winner - and this dubious win is also a suspect. It is more surprising that a journal like Environmental Science & Technology decided to publish this article, since competing two flawed and inviable technologies cannot be used to promote scientific merits of either.

However, if one were to indulge in such a bizzare exercise of account keeping deaths, it is also necessary to track all dead, or dying and generations yet to be born who will die, unnaturally, because their ancestors, in the distant past, were exposed in nuclear disasters. Between 1986-2004, an estimated 985,000 died mostly due to cancer from Chernobyl exposure. By 2011, this number had risen to 1.5 million. Yes.. it is true that these estimates are statistical , but these are now statistics of large numbers and well above average mortality expectations (for example the cancer rates in cleaning crew is three times higher than rest of the population). Remember that for every death due to radiation exposure there are at least twice as many cases of cancer - with their untold misery, pain and suffering. And, all this before we reach the half life of 137Cesium which is 30 years.  It takes three decades for half of the radioactive 137 Cesium to have decayed and harmed everything in its path...and between five to seven such half lives before the radioactive effects become sufficiently small. Thus the radioactive contamination of 137 Cesium will continue decaying and damaging ad infinitum, as will also the other radioactive isotopes of Strontium and Plutonium.

While it might be too early yet to observe the health damage in the exposed population in Japan, recent studies seem to indicate that the Cesium levels from Fukushima disaster could be as much as 20-30 times higher, and might contribute to a thousand times more deaths than predicted. In fact, the effect of irradiating the food chain will contribute and build radiation poisoning in all species. Thus, the total future death toll from Fukushima disaster should also be subtracted from the estimated  'lives saved' in this paper.

A question for the authors is : when a single major nuclear accident, like Chernobyl, can wipe off the canvassed advantage of the historically-compounded nuclear power, over coal, are they sure of their conclusion - of saving lives with nuclear energy, and further advocating a global nuclear future? Especially when the death toll from Chernobyl and Fukushima will continue to increase on time scale much much longer than our lifetimes, or of these authors writing this ludicrous paper.

Also, the authors calculate that IAEA's projected increase in nuclear energy capacity till 2050 will save a further maximum of 7 million lives, forgetting to scale alongside the direct additional risk of serious future nuclear accidents. Are ready to risk four times as many Chernobyls and Fukushima, with their un-countable future deaths and health impacts and the vast irreversible environmental costs, to allow a future nuclear race? Can we, as a human race sustain or even survive this?

Don't get me wrong - I am definitely not arguing in favor of highly polluting, hazardous, huge GHG emitting fossil fuelled thermal power plants. But I staunchly oppose the pitching one disastrous technology against another to proclaim, unethically, a winner. For this is what the authors do - use incomplete calculations to make strong and wrong inferences, to lobby for the future of nuclear energy, forgetting, that nuclear accidents are inseparable components of such complex and unsafe technology and there can only be losers in such  "death-ly competition".

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

EWS Evictions: The Aftermath

The demolitions at the EWS quarters in Ejipura started on 18th Jan 2013. In a matter of a few days, a thriving bustling community of about 1500 homes was razed to the ground. There have been a variety of efforts by various volunteer groups to reach out to the victims by providing water, food and assistance with finding alternate shelters and providing some financial aid to cover part of its costs. 

As of yesterday, on part of one perimeter directly outside the original demolished site there were 34 families who were braving out with their young and old under harsh sun and nowhere to go. The reasons range from not having any identification to avail of some financial assistance, to not having enough money to meet the rest of the required rent deposit before they could move into some other home. 

All this time, the state has provided several assurances of help to those evicted while remaining unbudging on the issue of actually holding off from further eviction drives - now from the streets and footpaths around the razed area.  Even as I type this note, I have heard that police are forcing remaining families out of the area. It is reported that one woman has poured kerosene over herself and tried to commit suicide. 

The photos below were taken yesterday afternoon. They tell their own stories. Can the state do this to its own people? And where can the poor go?

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Sun over Water & Energy Potential

First of all, let me make myself very clear. Anytime I start talking about energy, electricity, power etc. I am doing it in an absolute and firm context of my well researched, well considered and therefore a deep and entrenched opposition to nuclear - energy, weapons - you name it.

A pilot program in Gujarat, from last year, had completely escaped my attention. The project was to generate 1 MW of electrical energy by covering 1 km Narmada canal with solar panel; additional benefits include saving on canal water evaporation, and eliminating need for additional land and avoiding displacement. Even though this idea has emerge from the Modi state, I still like it.  And, the idea appears to have been picked up by Karnataka -BJP Gujarat's sister-state .Karnataka has 1 lakh kilometers of irrigation canals and with 1 MW per kilometer potential, you work out the math.

The idea has been particularly endorsed by the Renewable Energy Minister Farooq Abdullah for replication in the Damodar valley, especially since, as he says, the cost of solar energy generation has dropped to Rs.7/unit from Rs.18/unit.

Now, with a good idea like this, can we get rid of all big, bad ideas that are expensive, dangerous to life, hazardous to health, polluting of environment, irrational, and unnecessary, like nuclear, thermal, large dams etc etc.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

BBMP's Large Donation to Maverick

Over the last few days, BBMP and its bulldozers, under the protection of a large and armed police force, have razed about 2000 shelters of the Economically Weaker Section in Ejipura. These actions have been carried out using terrible brute force and in arrogant impunity on the basis of a high court order of Aug. 2012. The Ejipura story is a larger than life greek tragedy unfolding from within realms of India's push for fiscal growth, and its horrific need to hide its all pervasive poverty behind glittering malls - like the one which will arise from the rubble of destroyed homes and lost lives. The photos below are taken by MirnoPasquali

Big Questions that remain: Why a PPP between BBMP and Maverick Pvt Ltd.? Why the diversion of public property, earmarked for our Economically Weak Sections (EWS), to private companies for profiteering? Why the sacrifice of shelters of our poorest, to build Malls of the rich?

Maverick Constructions, via its PPP will get 8 acres of prime property in the heart of Kormangala - one of the poshest localities in the city. According to reports this is valued at anywhere from 200 to 300 crores.
If we take the property cost in Koramangala at Rs.10000/sq.ft (market rate) then 8 acres = 8x40000 sq.ft = 320000sq.ft will cost 320 crores - consistent with the above values.

In exchange Maverick will build 1640 homes of 312 sq.ft each. Even if we adopt a construction cost of Rs.1000/sq.ft (for an average middle class type home) - the entire cost of construction to Maverick is 312x1640x1000=51 crores. So, Maverick Constructions will profit anywhere between Rs. 150 - 250 crores - just by entering into this agreement.

The Govt. claims that it has no money to construct EWS homes, although BBMP's annual budget is more than 4000 crores. Also Bangalore Development Authority (BDA), city's other civic body,  has failed to collect similar sums in rents from its malls, even while earmarking  additional Rs.500 crores more for building new malls.

So..Whose interests does the State really serve? And, how are the EWS displaced families in Ejipura, now on streets, benefited?

Rich Power

I do not usually frequent malls – this is my preference. So when I do, I am stunned and appalled at the shocking display and abuse of power - I  mean electric power. I decided to explore this further, especially in the context of our power hungry, and rapidly nuclearising nation.

So how much power does it take to run a single mall? Typically in Bangalore the number is around 4 MW –  let us see what these numbers actually mean: 4 Mega Watt  = 4000 Kilo Watt which is equivalent to lighting 40,000  100 Watt bulbs. So, during working hours, each mall consumes a power equivalent of forty thousand light bulbs!! And, shopping malls guzzle power during entire day unlike most Indian households which turn on lights mainly at night. For about 25 malls in the city  this means a million light bulbs lit during an entire day, each day, for the entire year, just so that the rich may shop in brightly illuminated, privileged spaces.

In Bangalore, with a population of about 8.5 million, between 9-11% live in urban slums i.e. roughly a million people. Most slums have erratic and limited power supply, even at night; some are not connected to the grid at all. So, the million light bulbs in the malls could instead light a million homes of our poor, or run their water pumps or reduce load shedding in homes; we could even limit ourselves to creating less damaging power - like  nuclear or thermal power plants or with large dams.

The bottom line is" Why should shopping or entertaining the rich of this city replace lighting requirement of a million homes?"