Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Last Wave - in the Andamans

For those in the islands or visiting -
Here is the list of places where a copy of THE LAST WAVE would be available:
A) On Havelock Island:
1) With Barefoot Resorts
2) With Sajan Pulinchery, Ecovilla Palm Beach Resort, Govind Nagar
B) Port Blair
1) At Andaman Chronicle, Foreshore Road, with Denis Giles
2) At Tarang Trades, Middle Point
3) Hotel Sea Shells, Marine Hill
4) Andaman Book Centre, Goal Ghar
5) Sagar Rekha store, Goal Ghar
6) Outlets of ANIIDCO at Sagarika Emporium, Middle Point, the Cellular Jail, Hotel Megapode and also perhaps in Delanipur (thanks Neil Bryan)
7) Andaman and Nicobar Environment Team (ANET), Wandoor

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Jan 4, 2005; a post on andamanicobar@yahoogroups.co.in - mud volcanoes

Jan 4, 2005
(Mud volcanoes)

 There are reports of mud volcanoes erupting on the Andamans. One of the mud volcanoes is on North Sentinel Island! This is bad news. 
I'm a geologist, I downloaded topography for all of the Andamans. I'm trying to find the altitude of the islands to work out the survivability. The topography was measured by the Space Shuttle in 1999, its SRTM data. I guess that mud is erupting from a fault line I seen in SRTM data that trends SSE to NNW on North Sentinel. I'm not sure of the altitude of the island, SRTM is measured at tree the level.
The coast of North Sentinel Island seems to be 30-40 metres a.s.l. the interior is 60 to 80 metres a.s.l. but this could be due to the tree effect. Car Nicobar is the same altitude, 30 to 40 metres at the coast and 60 to 80 metres inland, but I heard that its highest point is in fact just 16 metres. The situation appears poor for North Sentinel Island.
The Andamans are part of an accretionary wedge, this occurs where two plates collide. Here wet sediment is squeezed, much like a sponge the water contained in the sediment is forced to the surface along faults. The fact that mud is erupting in a number of sites along faults indicates that the Indian-Australian plate moved west or NW at the Andamans, and squeezed the wet sedimentary wedge and water contained is now erupting to the surface. This in accordance with tsunami simulations by NOAA. The fault on North Sentinel Island is offset to the left, sinistral, this is in accordance with the expected plate movement.

Also the channels that cut the Islands were likely caused by past major tsunamis events, waves washed over the islands splitting them in two. There are reports that islands have been split in two by the latest tsunami. The fact that there were very few channels cutting the islands in the first place indicates that the phenomena of major island splitting tsunamis is very rare, perhaps once per 10,000 years or more. It could explain the language groups, that Great Andaman Island was once contiguous and populated by one group that was later split up by a major tsunami calamity.

Diamond Dave

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Revisiting the tsunami of Dec 2004; a Jan 3, 2005 post on andamanicobar@yahoogroups.co.in

Jan 3, 2005
Tsunami alarm: desi model or global club?

Ashok B Sharma analyses how technology can deal with a tsunami-like crisis

Posted online: Monday, January 03, 2005 at 0000 hours IST

Is technology the ultimate solution? Could a monitoring and warning system have prevented the large-scale destruction that one witnessed last week? Why didn’t India install a warning system so far? These are among the questions being asked, both within and outside the scientific community, post-Tsunami. Even as answers are few and far between, Tsunami has come as a wake-up call for the government. While relevance of technology in predicting Tsunami is one of the key issues being debated right now, a way forward is clearly being chalked out.
For one, the Union ministry of science and technology is planning to hold a brainstorming session sometime this month with National Geophysical Research Institute, National Institute of Oceanography and Department of Ocean Development for devising an appropriate Tsunami warning system. Also, steps are being chalked out to strengthen the Indian station in Antarctica, Maitri, to monitor seismicity in and around Antarctica and Indian Ocean.
Commitment has come from the minister for science and technology and ocean development Kapil Sibal already. He is on record saying that proper logistics for monitoring and warning will be put in place, even though Tsunami is a rare occurrence.
The initiatives that the establishment wants to roll out include undertaking deep ocean assessment and reporting system, coastal barometry, and increasing the number of data buoys in the surrounding seas from existing 20 to 30. The buoys are expected to monitor 6 km below the ocean surface, by connecting the aquatic tidal gauges to a satellite. The project cost: a mere Rs 125 crore!
Meanwhile, there’s a difference in view as far as joining the Tsunami warning system in the Pacific is concerned.
For instance, the US Geological Society (USGS) has alleged that the Tsunami-hit countries has not put in place any warning system for mitigating the disaster. USGC spokesperson Carolyn Bell is reported to have said: “We support the Tsunami warning system in the Pacific only. Of course this earthquake was not in the Pacific Ocean.” According to her, creating a Tsunami warning centre in the Indian Ocean will be a challenge. “This crosses so many countries and so many boundaries in that part of the world and the warning system would have to be so geographically diverse. We’re talking about educating people to what the warning means, what you have to do,” she says.
India thinks differently. Mr Sibal says that India will not be a member of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre, a body set up exclusively for the Pacific Rim countries. “Being a member of this body will not help us as the mandate of the body is for the specific region. Our seismic zone is Indo-Australian plate as distinct from the Pacific plate. We should therefore ask for relevant data from them and construct our own model for monitoring and forecast,” he says. The minister also said that India will network with Indonesia, Thailand and Myanmar in future for exchange of relevant data. Whatever the arrangement, experts argue that a suitable monitoring system could have mitigated some of the colossal damages. Though earthquakes and volcanic eruptions cannot be predicted on a short-term basis, the Tsunami effect, which takes longer time to reach distant places, can be predicted at ease, they say.
But, the Indian government insists that the country did not opt for such a system as Tsunami has not been a frequent occurrence in the region. According to Mr Sibal, the first Tsunami killed the forces of Greek invader Alexander the Great, and the second Tsunami occurred in 1883. Secretary in the department of ocean development Harsh K Gupta agrees that Tsunami is rare.
Noted geologist, Dr George Pararas-Carayannis, counters: "Destructive Tsunamis are not uncommon in the Bay of Bengal or along the Sunda Trench. On June 26, 1941, a devastating earthquake in the Andaman Sea, with a Richter magnitude greater than 8.0 generated a major Tsunami that killed more than 5,000 people on the east coast of India. However, at that time, the media incorrectly attributed the deaths and damages to storm surges rather than to a Tsunami generated by an earthquake. Many more deaths must have occurred but were not reported."
He adds that the region where the earthquake took place marks the boundary where great tectonic plates of India and Australia collide with the Sunda and the Eurasian plates. It is the same place where large catastrophic earthquakes and volcanic explosions and Tsunamis have occurred for millions of years.
Coming to the basics, the Tsunami of December 26 is the fourth largest trembler in the world since 1900 and Asia's worst earthquake since 1970. The Tsunami effect touched even the east coast of Africa on the same day. According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), Tsunami effect took about two hours to reach Port Blair in Andaman & Nicobar Islands and
three-and-half hours to reach the Chennai coast.
For those who joined in late, Tsunami is a Japanese word, pronounced as "tsoo-nah'-mee". `Tsu' means harbour and `nami' means wave. The phenomena, Tsunami, is a series of large waves of extremely long wavelength or activity near the coast or in the ocean.
US-based experts predict another tsunami
Posted online : Friday, December 31, 2004 at 0000 hours IST

NEW DELHI, DEC 30: The government has been on the horns of a dilemma after some foreign experts predicted another tsunami.
The home ministry has issued an alert to five affected states and Union territories.

It has also issued a warning to Lakshdweep, so far untouched. Following the alert notice, the affected states are evacuating people from the coast.
But Union minister for science and technology and ocean development Kapil Sibal has denounced these predictions as ‘hogwash.’
Mr Sibal told mediapersons, “An agency manned by four persons called Tera Research based in Oregon, Portland, USA sent a forecast of a fresh tsunami to our meteorological department at 6.00 am.” This was forwarded by his ministry to the home ministry without comment.
Questioned why his ministry did this, Mr Sibal said, “Our duty was to pass on the information and we did that.”
He said that he had asked the Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre to confirm the forecast. Their answer: “There is no such concern”. ISRO has also been asked to stay in touch with the centre.
AK Rastogi of the natural disaster management division under the home ministry quoted a forecast of a fresh tidal wave from another agency, the Australian Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre. He said that his surfing of the net had convinced him that “there is a case for concern”.
The death toll in the country has risen to 7,368.
IARI to study salinity ofsoil, water in tsunami-hit states
IARI centenary celebrations begins today
New Delhi, Dec 31
Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) has decided to send a team of experts to study soil and water salinity problems in the coastal states affected by the tsumani tidal wave.
"We need to find out the salinity problem and identify appropriate saline resistant seeds for sowing. Our team will also study salinity problems in potable water and suggest remedies," said IARI director Dr S Nagarajan.
Briefing mediapersons in the capital on Wednesday, Dr Nagarajan said there is a need for research on global climate change and effective management of natural resources. He stressed the need for organic farming, efficient use of energy and water and encouragement of zero-tillage of soil.
He said: "It has been field-tested that organic farming of rice and sugarcane produces the same yield or more than that done through chemical agriculture."
He that the prime concern before the country is not that of food security, but of ensuring nutritional security and management of natural disasters. He said that deaths due to natural calamity exceed those due to starvation.
"The IARI will be celebrating a year-long centenary celebration in 2005. The new focus of IARI will be on nutritional security, organic farming and management of natural disasters. The centenary celebrations will be formally launched on January 1, 2005," he said.
Dr Nagarajan also stressed on crop diversification in lieu of mono-cropping. He said that disciplines like farm laws, patents and intellectual property rights, environmental issues will be incorporated in the new curriculum of IARI. In the coming days, issues like sanitary and phytosanitary measures and other non-tariff bariers are likely to dominate global trade and hence the country needs to gear up to meet this challenge, he said.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Revisiting the tsunami of Dec 2004; a post on andamanicobar@yahoogroups.co.in dated Jan 3, 2005

Jan 3, 2005

The following letter was sent as a signed fax to the President's office and the PMO yesterday

Madhusree Mukerjee
To Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam
The President of India
Rashtrapati Bhavan
New Delhi

Dear Sir,
Half the population of the Nicobar Islands is swept away, and many smaller islands and shores remain inaccessible to this day. Bodies are yet to be disposed of. Thousands of people are living in daily contact with decomposing bodies, with little food, water or fuel, or access to news of their loved ones. Relief materials are piling up in Port Blair and at Chennai and Kolkata, but utter confusion prevails in their distribution. Ships cannot dock on any of the Nicobar Islands, so that dinghys are being used to approach the islands through rough waters, leading to woefully inadequate aid.

Even on Little Andaman, a few hours from Port Blair, where 25,000 people are living on very limited amounts of water, food and fuel, no relief materials reached for at least five days. The armed forces are doing their best, but they are not equipped to deal with a humanitarian crisis of this magnitude. A dire need prevails for doctors, experts in body disposal, water desalination, and other emergency relief providers. Injured, hungry, cold and thirsty people stranded on the Nicobars are no doubt dying by the hour. Crocodiles are feeding on corpses in Little Andaman and attacking the living. Added to this is the fact that a cholera epidemic hit the Nicobars in 2002; the bacillus exists on the islands, and for all we know is already taking hold.

Ships from Chennai or Kolkata typically take five days to reach Port Blair. Once there, materials need to be sorted and channeled onto ships and aircraft for ferrying to the Nicobar Islands. A command center has been set up, but will take days or weeks to overcome the bottleneck caused by overwhelming need and bureaucratic apathy, if it ever does. The aftermath of other disasters such as Bhopal generates little confidence that the administrators have the organizational and logistical capacity to discharge the enormous burdens they have assumed.

Mainland volunteers eager to help with expertise and materials are not being permitted to provide relief at the Nicobar Islands. They must be immediately allowed into Port Blair and also given the means to get to affected areas. We also urge you to reconsider the decision of Indian authorities not to allow foreign aid. International aid agencies are already ministering to survivors in Sumatra and Thailand, and even in Aceh the situation is coming under control. A US desalination ship is providing clean water in the Maldives; such a ship could be saving lives in the Nicobars. Materials and experts are daily flying from Thailand onto a US aircraft carrier off Sumatra for the relief effort onshore. From Thailand it would have taken-would take-no more than a few hours for international aid agencies, which are experienced in dealing with disasters, to airdrop supplies such as drinking water onto the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and to send medical help and experts for cleaning up the islands and making them habitable again.

India presumably does not want foreigners in this region because of defence concerns. But what is the point of defence if not to protect citizens? What security concern can possibly outweigh the need to save the lives of thousands?

In 1942, when a massive cyclone hit southern Bengal, killing more than 10,000, the British authorities did not send aid for weeks, and also prevented private agencies from functioning there. Their concern was security. Later, during the Bengal famine, they refused offers of grain from other countries, saying they had the situation under control; in truth, more than 2 million people died.

Today we are appalled at such callousness. Why should Indians in turn be handed the burden of similar guilt? The Nicobar catastrophe has the potential to double in magnitude. The government of India does not have the resources to deal with this crisis, and needs to put aside its pride and accept help if thousands of more lives are not to be lost.

Yours most sincerely,
Mahasweta Devi
Rupa Ganguly
Dr. Sita Venkateswar
Author, Development and Ethnocide: Colonial Practices in the Andaman Islands
Dr. Madhusree Mukerjee
Author, The Land of Naked People: Encounters with Stone Age Islanders

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Jan 3, 2005: a post on andamanicobar@yahoogroups.co.in; revisiting the tsunami of Dec 2004

Jan 3, 2005

Isolated islands in desperate need
Jan 3, 1140 hrs
Port Blair, Jan. 3 (GUARDIAN NEWS SERVICE): A deperate group of starving survivors in one of the tsunami-hit Nicobar islands kidnapped the island's top civilian official and its police chief in protest at the inadequate relief operation, it emerged yesterday.  The survivors from Great Nicobar Island spent four days without food before trekking through the jungle to the wrecked headquarters settlement at Campbell Bay.
 When they arrived they discovered the island's assistant commissioner and deputy assistant of police eating a plate of biryani, witnesses said.

The crowd of Punjabi settlers took the men hostage, demanding that they provide help to the hundreds of islanders who were starving in the jungle.  ``The assistant commissioner was eating biryani in his guesthouse,'' one witness, Lilly Ommen, said. ``The men arrived and pointed out that they were starving. They also said there were people stuck in the forest with nothing, as well as many dead bodies.''

Mrs Ommen, who is now in a church-run refugee camp in the island's capital, Port Blair, said the group had survived after finding a sack of rice floating in the sea. They had made their way to Campbell Bay with a group of survivors by jumping over crocodile-infested canals.

``I'm very angry,'' Suresh, 22, a welder from Great Nicobar Island, added. ``We saw these people eating biryani. But we had nothing but rice soaked in salt water.'' The assistant commissioner was released after promising to provide more food. The kidnapping came amid mounting criticism of the Indian relief operation in the Andaman and Nicobar islands, where as many as 20,000 people have died.

According to aid agencies very little aid has reached the people who need it, with some island communities still waiting for help. Delhi has so far refused all offers of foreign assistance to the islands.  A group of aid workers from Oxfam who managed to reach Little Andaman Island yesterday described conditions there as appalling. They also said the local administration in Port Blair had made it virtually impossible for them to join the relief effort.

``The conditions are terrible. People are living in the open. They don't have a roof,'' Shaheen Nilofer, Oxfam's east India programme manager, said.  ``There are acute problems with water and sanitation. People have the right to receive humanitarian assistance. Who are they [the local administration] to decide we will take assistance from there and not from there? More people are going to die.''

The Indian government says its rescue operation across the 435-mile-long archipelago has been hampered by the islands' remoteness, and by the fact that pontoons and jetties have been washed away. On Great Nicobar, the tsunami and subsequent landslides have destroyed the island's only road.  ``All the small boats have been destroyed. We urgently need boats with metal bottoms,'' Hoslo Jiwa, an aid worker, said, after touring Car Nicobar, the island worst affected by the disaster, on Saturday.  ``You really need teams to hack their way through the jungle or use these small boats. On the really remote islands, God knows what is happening. They have only made aerial surveys and dropped packages.'' The local administration in Port Blair puts the death toll across the 572-island archipelago at more than 3,000. But aid agencies say that figure is based on out-of-date voters' lists, and fails to take into account the thousands of illegal migrants living on the islands who are now missing.

They say that on Car Nicobar Island alone, which was 80% destroyed, as many as 20,000 may have perished. From an unofficial population of 35,000, only 15,000 are still alive.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Jan 2, 2005; a post on andamanicobar@yahoogroups.co.in; revisiting the tsunami of Dec 2004

Jan 2, 2005

Jan 2, 2050 hrs
Air-strip in Campbell Bay becomes operational
New Delhi, Jan. 2. (PTI): The armed forces have succeeded in making the air-strip at Campbell Bay operational for landing of Indian Air Force aircraft to carry relief material to the southernmost tip of tsunami-ravaged Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

The air-strip is only 3000 metres and IL-76 and AN-32 planes, containing loads of relief material to the area which had remained almost cut-off from the mainland for three days, are landing on it, Admiral Raman Puri, heading the control room in Defence Ministry, told reporters here.

He said besides this, there had been some sorties carried out by Dornier aircraft on this tip.

Friday, March 20, 2015

When Dr Ravi Sankaran made an appearance in 'The Last Wave'

When Dr Ravi Sankaran made an appearance in 'The Last Wave'

An excerpt 
Pgs 14-16

The rest would largely be clubbed under the category of field biologists – the dominant crowd here. There was the mercurial Dr Ravi Sankaran, one of the country’s finest ornithologists, who had made an international name studying the little-known birds of these islands. His was the first comprehensive study of the endemic Nicobari megapode, a bird that scrapes together a mound of earth and decaying matter for a nest in the low-lying coastal forests in the Nicobar Islands, and then the edible nest swiftlet that builds its nest in dark, inaccessible caves with nothing but its own saliva.

Whenever Sankaran was at the Institute, conversations would inevitably turn to birds, like they would to snakes when Gokul Mehta was around. Mehta was a man obsessed with snakes; the deadlier and more venomous it was, the greater the challenge and thrill. Unlike Sankaran for whom the study of birds was as much passion as profession, snakes were a hobby for Mehta. The only hint of what his actual profession was, lay in the thick gold chain that hung around his neck and an equally thick gold bracelet that circled his wrist. Mehta belonged to a rich goldsmith family and had inherited one of the biggest jewellery chains in Mumbai’s famed Zaveri Bazaar. He sold gold and gold ornaments for eleven months a year. In July, when the monsoons slammed his part of the world, he would pack his bags and embark on his annual, month-long pilgrimage to these islands – to the also rain-soaked, but far more interesting, slushy, leech- and mosquito-filled forests through which he trekked to bag, pickle and study snakes. His interest in the discussions in the quadrangle was aroused only when snakes, or at the very least, reptiles and amphibians were discussed. Nothing else ever seemed to excite him. If he stayed on, it was only by virtue of his innate politeness. 
There were women too, though only occasionally. There was one who had studied bats and owls, another, tourism in the islands and a third, a young American marine biologist, who had almost drowned while studying coral reefs in the Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park in Wandoor. The latest among the visitors was Seema Chandran, a Port Blair girl who had recently returned to the islands for her Ph.D. 

Finally, there was also the staff. The abiding presence here was that of Uncle Pame, the old Karen man from Webi, near Mayabundar on Middle Andaman Island. The Karen were a small community of people that had been first brought to the islands from Burma more than eight decades ago, and Webi was the first settlement that they had created on arrival. A majority of this community of a few thousand, Uncle Pame’s large extended family included, continued to live in Webi. Unlike most of his generation, however, Uncle had moved out to explore the larger world. He was the first man David had recruited when the Institute came into being. An islander in the truest sense of the word, Uncle was in many ways the local guide and expert, knowledgeable about both the oceans and the forests in an unparalleled manner. A calm, quiet man with a dreamy look, he would often be found sitting in the quadrangle alongside the researchers. His face was like a sheet of paper, except for a broad protrusion that passed for a nose. The two cheekbones stood out sharply, framing two narrow slits of dark eyes that were almost lost in that big round face. 

Combined with a constant look of languor, the eyes gave him a mysterious, unfathomable appearance. It was impossible to look at Uncle’s face and say what was on his mind. Unobtrusive and apparently unconcerned with what was going on about him, Uncle would sit at the table in the quadrangle with his peg of whisky or rum or whatever the drink of the evening was and listen intently, staring aimlessly into the space in front of him. For any person who was new to the setting, it would appear as though Uncle saw, heard or registered nothing; that he was floating on his drink in a world entirely his own. But those who had been around longer, even for a week, knew that was not true. Uncle spoke rarely, but his comments – suffused as they were with wit, astuteness and wisdom – said more than the most voluble among their company.
Harish took an instant liking to this old Karen man. 
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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Karen Dungi - Extract from The Last Wave

'The Karen Dungi'

Extract from the 'The Last Wave - An Island Novel',
Pgs 116-118

The vessel was fully ready in four days. Christened Mugger after David’s pet passion, the dungi was a new acquisition for the Institute and perfect for the work to be undertaken. It was deep-sea worthy, and its nominal draught ensured at the same time that it could negotiate shallow coral reef areas and enter mangrove creeks with ease. The dungi was an incredible piece of Karen skill and craftsmanship – efficient and sturdy, yet simple. It had multiple local names too: Karen dungi, in recognition of the community that created these; engine dungi as it was now powered by a diesel engine; and bonga dungi, because the hull of the boat was a dugout made from a specially chosen log, the bonga, of a tropical tree. The Karen name for it was khlee, but it was rarely used by anyone.
Uncle, his nephew and chief assistant Popha, and others at the Institute worked hard to get Mugger ready for the survey. Final preparations now included stocking up provisions.
Early on the fifth day, the staff of the Institute were seen going up and down loading the dungi, bearing all that was needed for the trip. There were cans of diesel, kerosene and drinking water, a sack of rice, two smaller sacks (one filled with onions and potatoes and the other with dal), a bag full of packets of masalas (salt, sugar, red chilli powder, turmeric), pickles, matchboxes, two bottles of refined groundnut oil, a bundle of firewood, two large aluminium vessels for cooking, two aluminium kettles, some plates, glasses and spoons, small lanterns, torches and two boxes of cells for the torches. There were several sheets of plastic and a second tool kit, in addition to one that always lay in the dungi.
(...)They were finally ready to go. Harish climbed into the dungi, followed by Seema. She did a quick survey of the entire set-up. Mugger was a largish vessel, about fifty feet in length and ten feet at its widest. Right along the edge of the vessel, nailed into its sides were flat slats of timber, two feet wide – benches that served as seats during the day and bunks at night. The front end of the boat tapered gracefully towards the bow, and a crudely crafted iron anchor tied at the end of a long yellow nylon rope lay on the deck planks here. A cane framework had been created over the dungi and two huge sheets of thick blue plastic were being tied across it to create a roof. 

Everything was tucked away under the benches on either side. Harish, Seema and David shoved their haversacks under the benches, and Uncle came over to cover them with a sheet of plastic. What both Seema and Harish found amusing was that the inflatable that they had zoomed around in a few nights ago had been lifted as a single piece, and placed at the front end of the dungi. It fitted in snugly, as if it had been configured exactly for the space in which it now lay. The dungi, which had appeared rather compact and not very big from the outside, now seemed like a rather large vessel.The rear end of the vessel was equally interesting. At its extreme end, just before the rudder, was another little canopy, this one for those who manoeuvred the boat. Just ahead and occupying pride of place, about four fifths of the way down the back of the dungi, were the two Kirloskars: huge, greasy, green diesel engines secured with heavy bolts on a specially laid foundation at the bottom of the boat. The engines were sturdy, relatively inexpensive and easy-to-maintain contraptions that boatmen in the islands swore by. For the Kirloskars, engineering giants based in the western region of mainland India, these engines and the Andaman Islands were unlikely winners – this was where they had sold the maximum number of units in the last five years. 
Competition in the form of the Chinese Jiansu engine had made its appearance, however. It was a much better machine in that it was less noisy, better damped against vibration and much faster. Everyone in the Andamans knew about them, thanks to the many Burmese, Thai and Indonesian fishing boats that the Jiansus powered into these waters for very productive though illegal fishing. The higher cost of the Jiansu, small as the gap was, had proved the new engine’s stumbling block, and for that reason alone the Kirloskars were still holding out in these islands. 

Get a copy of the book:  
Flipkart - http://t.co/n7RIVcl0pC
Amazon - http://tinyurl.com/l4e75r8
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Jan 2, 2005; a post on andamanicobar@yahoogroups.co.in; revisiting the tsunami of Dec 2004

Jan 2, 2005
2230 hrs
Dear Friends,
This is based on a short telephonic conversation that I have just had with Samir Acharya in Port Blair. Following a joint NGO meeting earlier in the day in Port Blair today, they were to meet the Lt. Governor for an interaction later in the evening. While earlier the LG had indicated that NGos would working in the islands, there was a dramatic shift in what they were told in the meeting in the evening.
All the NGOs interested in working here are being given forms which they have to fill and submit to the administration. A decision will then be taken five days from now. While we cannot be sure of the reasons for this, it does seem it is linked to the fact that the responsibility for disaster management in the islands has been shifted from the civil administration to the defence. That this would happen was also reported in the Indian Express today. It has also been decided that the official spokes person would now be Commander in Chief of the Integrated Command, Lt. Gen BS Thakur.
This does not presumably impact the ongoing work in Port Blair where about 11 relief camps are operating at the moment, but would certainly affect the possibilities of anyone who wants to or can work in the Nicobars in particular and even some parts of the other islands like Little Andaman where administration help will be needed in terms of access and logistics.

On another front, based on all the information and offers of help that have come to this egroup and some other initiatives, we at Kalpavriksh are now finalising a matrix that will try and put all this information together. hopefully it will be ready by tomorrow when we will send it out and also try and put it on a couple of webpages that we intend to create for the Andamans. Supriya had offered to do that and if there are a couple of other offers, that too would be useful.

pankaj sekhsaria

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Jan 1, 2005; a post on andamanicobar@yahoogroups.co.in; relationship between whale strandings and earthquake?

Jan 1, 2005

The item which I have pasted below is interesting and gives a whole new
angle to the earthquake!
shree venkatram

Earthquake: Coincidence or a Corporate Oil Tragedy?
December 28, 2004
By: Andrew Limburg
Independent Media TV

Now I don't claim to be an expert on seismic activity, but there has been a series of events which led up to the 9.0 earthquake of the coast of Indonesia which can not be ignored. This all could be an enormous coincidence, but one must look at the information and choose for themselves whether there is anything to it. On November 28th, one month ago, Reuters reported that during a 3 day span 169 whales and dolphins beached themselves in Tasmania, an island of the southern coast of mainland Australia and in New Zealand. The cause for these beachings is not known, but Bob Brown, a senator in the Australian parliament, said "sound bombing" or seismic tests of
ocean floors to test for oil and gas had been carried out near the sites of the Tasmanian beachings recently.

According to Jim Cummings of the Acoustic Ecology Institute, Seismic surveys utilizing airguns have been taking place in mineral-rich areas of the world's oceans since 1968. Among the areas that have experienced the most intense survey activity are the North Sea, the Beaufort Sea (off Alaska's North Slope), and the Gulf of Mexico; areas around Australia and South America are also current hot-spots of activity.

The impulses created by the release of air from arrays of up to 24 airguns create low frequency sound waves powerful enough to penetrate  up to 40km below the seafloor. The "source level" of these sound waves is generally over 200dB (and often 230dB or more), roughly comparable to a sound of at least 140-170dB in air.  According to the Australian Conservation Foundation, these 200dB - 230dB shots from the airguns are fired every 10 seconds or so, from 10 meters below the surface, 24 hours a day, for 2 week periods of time, weather permitting.

These types of tests are known to affect whales and dolphins, whose acute hearing and use of sonar is very sensitive. On December 24th there was a magnitude 8.1 earthquake more than 500 miles southeast of Tasmania near New Zealand, with a subsequent aftershock 6.1 a little later in the morning that same day.  On December 26th, the magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck at the intersection of the Australian tectonic plate and the Indian tectonic plate. This is the devastating tsunami tragedy that we have all heard about in the Indian Ocean. The death toll of this horrific event has reached 120,000 souls and continues to rise.

On December 27th, 20 whales beached themselves 110 miles west of Hobart on the southern island state of Tasmania.  What is interesting about this is that the same place where the whale beachings have been taking place over the last 30 days is the same general area where the 8.1 Australian earthquake took place, and this is the same area where they are doing these seismic tests. Then 2 days after the Australian tectonic plate shifted, the 9.0 earthquake shook the coast of Indonesia.

A great deal of interest and seismic testing has been taking place in this area, as the government of Australia has given great tax breaks to encourage the oil exploration.
Two Geologists that I spoke to felt that it was highly unlikely that these seismic tests would have had enough energy to induce the Australian quake. On the other hand there is strong evidence that suggests that oil exploration activities have induced earthquakes in the past.

Again, I don't claim to be an expert. I'm writing this story to bring attention to some interesting facts, so that those who are experts can investigate this fully.
We will be following up on this story as more information is gathered.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

A Colloquy On Books: The Last Wave by: Pankaj Sekhsaria

A Colloquy On Books: The Last Wave by: Pankaj Sekhsaria: Harish has always been an aimless drifter, but he finds the anchor to his life when he sees the slow but sure destruction of everything...

Jan 1, 2005: a post on andamanicobar@yahoogroups.co.in; revisiting the tsunami of Dec 2004

Jan 1, 2005

Manmohan deputes two Ministers to Andamans

By Our Special Correspondent
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, DEC. 30. The Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, has deputed his Minister of State for Home, Prakash Jaiswal, and the Minister of State for Information Technology and Communications, Shakeel Ahmed, to Port Blair and Car Nicobar to oversee the relief and rescue operations there following the devastation wrought by Sunday's tsunami.

At a press conference here this evening, Dr. Singh said the two Ministers would be stationed there for six to seven days. A Central team would visit the affected States and undertake an assessment of the damage and loss. Dr. Singh addressed the press at the Raj Bhavan after visits to Colachel and Tiruchi and a one-hour discussion with the Kerala Chief Minister, Oommen Chandy, and his Cabinet Colleagues.

Dr. Singh said the Government was considering a long-term rehabilitation plan that would emphasise on not only full rehabilitation but also better quality of life. "Professional expertise will be inducted for developing rehabilitation projects. House reconstruction will focus on improving the quality of habitat as well. Focus would be on area development."
The Centre would look into the need to improve the disaster forecasting and warning systems at the national and State levels and through international cooperation. Terming the tsunami tragedy a "national calamity", Dr. Singh said the Centre was committed to providing all possible help to ensure relief and rehabilitation. The Centre and the States would have to work together to bring out an environment-friendly development strategy.

New mechanisms

To a question on whether the Centre proposed to follow the same traditional path of rehabilitation, Dr. Singh said all innovative means would be considered, aimed at providing protection to the people from disasters. "This would include new mechanisms, including new insurance mechanism," he said. The Union Home Minister, Shivraj Patil, had already announced the decision to bring in a law to set up a National Disaster Management Authority. This would enable the country to handle national calamities.

Asked whether the Coastal Zone Regulation Act should not be enforced more strictly, Dr. Singh said all efforts should be directed in that direction. On whether he was satisfied with the international response to India's plight, he said several countries had offered assistance. The United States President, George W. Bush, had spoken to him personally offering his country's assistance. "But I told them we have enough resources and would be happy to receive assistance when needed."

Dr. Singh will visit the affected areas in Kollam and Alapuzha on Friday.

Debi Goenka
Bombay Environmental Action Group

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Jan 1, 2005; a post on andamanicobar@yahoogroups.co.in; revisiting the tsunami of Dec 2004

on andamanicobar@yahoogroups.co.in
Jan 1, 2005

Delhi housewife is 'Angel of Seas' in Andaman
Port Blair, December 31

A Delhi-based housewife in the Andaman islands has become the centre of a multi-nation effort by ham operators to unite thousands of families separated by the killer waves.
 The Andamans account for about a third of India's reported death toll of 11,330, but thousands more are missing or have been separated from families in the archipelago's 572 islands because of massive damage to harbours, bridges and local ferry services.
Ham radio buffs had not been permitted to operate in the Andamans since 1987 but the ban was lifted in November. Prasad was among the first to arrive to help establish a radio footrprint in the string of islands.
"We arrived here on December 15 to support Andamans as a radio country ...Amateur stations across the world wanted a footprint in these beautiful islands," Prasad said.
 "I did not expect a disaster like this. It is no longer a game and now we must help," Prasad said as her headset crackled with tsunami-related traffic from a high-frequency radio band.
Amateur stations in Kolkata, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chennai are now linked with Prasad and the network is growing beyond Indian territory, said Suresh Babu, one of her five co-volunteers.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Jan 1, 2005: a post on andamanicobar@yahoogroups.co.in; revisiting the tsunami of Dec 2004

Jan 1, 2005

Centre plans Integrated Relief Command for A&N

Syed Amin Jafri in Vijayawada/PTI | December 31, 2004 18:16 IST
Last Updated: December 31, 2004 18:33 IST

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday announced that the central government has decided to set up a four-member Integrated Relief Command for Andaman & Nicobar Islands in view of the situation prevailing there following the extraordinary devastation wrought by an earthquake and tsunamis. A&N Lt Governor Ram Kapse would head the IRC as the chairman while the commander-in-chief of integrated services would be the vice-chairman and head of the operations.

The chief secretary of the Union territory will be its Member Secretary and the fourth member will be a Union home ministry official.  The IRC will organize and oversee relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction work in the Union territory.

On a visit to Andhra Pradesh, the prime minister told mediapersons in Vijayawada that two Union ministers have also been deputed to the archipelago in the Indian Ocean till the relief work is completed.
He also intends to convene an all-party meeting in New Delhi 'in a day or two' to mobilise the 'collective will of the people' to meet the challenge.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Jan 1, 2005 - a field report from the islands on andamanicobar@yahoogroups.co.in; revisiting the tsunami of Dec 2004

Jan 1, 2005
Field Report from Andamans 311204 1930hrs IST
31 Dec 2004 14:05:00 GMT

Source: NGO latest

Sustainable Environment and Ecological Development Society (SEEDS) – India Website: http://www.seedsindia.org Field Report from Andamans

SEEDS, Port Blair. 31 December 2004. 1800 hrs IST

The SEEDS field assessment team reached Tamil Nadu on 27 December. We realised that there are some credible NGOs extending aid there. Meanwhile the toll in Andaman and Nicobar was rising and no assistance had reached there due to logistics problems. As such, we moved to the Andamans on 28 December and started relief operations here. Our update is below.

1. We are continuing our relief activities in the two relief camps in Port Blair where evacuees from three locations - Hutbay, Campbell bay, Nancowrie and Car Nicobar Island are being given shelter. These relief camps are being run in Nirmala school and School Line, both in Port Blair, where we have more than 1300 people in the camps right now and more keep coming in. People in the relief camps are being provided shelter, food, toilets and basic cleanliness and sanitation services.
2. Nicobar area is worst hit. The people were washed out, and these being islands in the middle of the ocean, many bodies did not wash back ashore. From back calculations (by counting heads and assuming missing persons as dead), the rough estimates of casualties are about 15,000 in this group of islands alone. Most of the evacuees from these islands are coconut farmers or run piggeries back on their islands.
3. The administration is still evacuating people from vulnerable areas and bringing them to Port Blair under fear of another tsunami. A false alert caused great panic yesterday.
4. There is still no other NGO doing relief work in Andaman and Nicobar. Some NGOs have come for reconnaissance work. There are two more camps being run in Port Blair, both by the administration. Only the administration and some small local groups are working. They are grossly inadequate.
5. There is damage in Port Blair in terms of infrastructure. The administration is busy with putting things back in place. These are primarily facilities that have been damaged, like communications, roads, airport and jetty.
6. We may take up a third relief camp if required.
7. There is an acute shortage of water as the pipe from the dam to the treatment plant has got damaged and not being repaired yet. We are not yet able to sort the problem of water and trying to get some technical expertise on the same.
8. We have put up tents, and are operating the kitchen, distributing food, organising local transport of material, and providing sanitation facilities. We need continued supply of basic provisions to carry this on, and need additional provisions like disposable plates etc. People need other specific things of basic necessity such as soap, towels, foot slippers, bedsheets,
torches, and bags to keep their belongings in. These are not available locally and will need to be transported to Port Blair by air urgently.
9. Taking relief from the mainland is a difficult process. Moving to remote islands is virtually impossible. For the time being SEEDS will run the two relief camps for evacuees in Port Blair.
10. Lakshmi, our logistics officer in the Delhi office accompanied by Sumati, a volunteer from ERM Delhi, is now in Chennai and procured our first load of commodities: soap, toothpaste and towels. This consignment is at the airport waiting to be airlifted. More relief material has been procured today and is currently being packed. It includes foot slippers and torches. The team will deliver this second consignment at the airport tonight and try to get it airlifted tomorrow. Tomorrow they will procure bedsheets and also bags for the evacuees to keep their belongings in.
11. The mission running the Nirmala School is very efficient and is playing a good role in management of the camp. We have provided tents, toilets etc. here and are extending full support for other things. The second camp also is running well now. Yuva Shakti, a local voluntary group is assisting us us, and 20 volunteers are working round the clock to improve and manage the camp.
12. Facilities like T.V , Radio and News Papers are being provided to the people in the camps.
13. Psychosocial Counselling to the victims has been started. Ms. Kanan, the owner of a local restaurant "Annaporna" is organising this with her team.
14. We are also tying up with local cultural groups for organising cultural evenings in the camps.
15. We have mobilised National Cadet Corps youth for monitoring the security and food supplies.
16. The District Administration has requested SEEDS to do a damage assessment and submit a report. We are organising a technical team for this. We will extend all possible cooperation to the District Administration as they are under tremendous pressure right now.
17. SEEDS has initiated its step towards taking up housing reconstruction work in the Islands. For this we have started some data action. Map Action from U.K. is supporting us on mapping the islands on which we intend to start work. At noon today our team also had a coordination meeting with the District Collector for discussions on the further steps.
18. Many concerned persons are contacting us from India and abroad through our Delhi office to find out about their friends or family missing in the Andamans. We are putting up the details of missing persons on a common board at a central location, and also get them aired on local radio. Any information required for any missing person in Andaman and Nicobar Islands
can be mailed to us at info@seedsindia.org with details and photograph of
the person and his/ her last whereabouts known.
 19. We are also getting offers from many volunteers willing to work for relief. We do not need them in Port Blair as there is shortage of accommodation, high cost of transport, and we are currently depending on local volunteers. We have up a volunteer roster on our website wherefrom any ngo needing support can directly access these volunteers. These volunteers include doctors.

Current indications of needs in Andaman and Nicobar are as follows:
Short Term Mid Term Long Term
§ Drinking Water
§ Soap and toiletteries
§ Towels
§ Bedsheets
§ Torches and batteries
§ Foot slippers
§ Expandable bags § Tents
§ Beddings
§ Utensils
§ Housing
§ Livelihood re-establishment
§ Community facilities
§ Disaster Mitigation and Preparedness programmes

We will try to wind up the relief camps by around 10 January, and facilitate the movement of the people back to their islands. By then we have to start planning assistance for reconstruction of houses and community facilities.