December 2011

Cyclone Thane batters Puducherry, TN; 33 dead

 PUDUCHERRY/CHENNAI: Packing a wind speed of 140km per hour, Cyclone Thane pummelled the Tamil Nadu coast and the Union territory of Puducherry on Friday morning, leaving in its wake 35 dead besides untold devastation. The cyclone made its landfall between Puducherry and Cuddalore district in the state, bringing with it strong winds and heavy rains all along the coast.

Worst storm in decades

 The eye of Cyclone Thane may have spared Chennai but the rain and fierce winds accompanying it wreaked havoc - pulling down trees, damaging houses and inundating low-lying areas. The damage was mostly in fishing hamlets along the coast. Fishermen were deprived of their livelihood as they were unable to venture into the sea. 

The death toll - two people died in Chennai and 33 lost their lives in the districts - could have been lesser, officials said, had people in vulnerable areas listened to advice and moved to safer locations in time. In Chennai, while a woman was killed in a building collapse, a man was electrocuted. Several brick houses in fishing colonies in north Chennai collapsed with the rough sea and heavy rains loosening the soil. 

'Thane' kills 19; life in Cuddalore, Puducherry stops

 Puducherry/Cuddalore: Cyclone Thane passed by the Tamil Nadu coast early on Friday, killing 19 and throwing life in Cuddalore and the neighbouring Puducherry completely out of gear. Trees were uprooted, traffic signals ripped off their bases, shop signboards torn apart and tossed about. Broken glass from street lights, shards from window panes and other debris remained suspended on inundated roads. Mobile services experienced outage only to be restored much later in the day.

12 persons died in Cuddalore in incidents of wall and tree collapse and electrocution, officials said. A 45-year old man of Vanarampet village was among seven people killed in Puducherry. Authorities in Puducherry had wittily cut off power at 2 AM to prevent deaths from electrocution.

Moths behind Mumbai mangrove browning

MUMBAI: Those worried about large swathes of mangroves drying up as soon as the monsoon receded can rest easy. Botanists and entomologists say there is no link between the recent oil spill and the browning of mangroves in the creeks of Mumbai and Thane.

"It is a moth attack but there is nothing to worry as the mangroves will turn green in a month," said Deepak Apte, assistant director of Bombay Natural History Society, who studied the effect of the recent oil spill on the mangroves. The moth attack, he said, has almost become an annual feature now.

According to entomologists, the moth in question is the Hyblaea puera, better known as the teak defoliator. Native to South-East Asia, its caterpillar feeds on teak and 45 other plant species, including several kinds of mangroves. A flush of new, tender leaves are necessary to elicit egg laying.

Corjuem mangroves dyed brown

PANAJI: A dense patch of mangroves along a two-kilometre stretch of the western bank of River Mapusa in Corjuem has turned brown mysteriously, but experts termed it as the handiwork of miscreants and ruled out any effect of disease.

Local residents are baffled at the scorched look of the vegetation. "The mangroves on the bundh along the river from the cable-stayed Corjuem bridge appear to have withered," a villager said.

The villagers noticed the withered vegetation a couple of weeks ago. "But we don't know how it has turned brown, as no effects of fire can be seen," the villager said. The riverfront is inaccessible due to massive cover of mangroves, except by canoe or boat.

But experts think it is the handiwork of some miscreants. "Apparently, some miscreants have used chemicals to damage the mangroves," said A G Untawale, executive secretary of Mangrove society of India (MSI). The mangroves cannot wither even if they are hit by an insect infestation, he said.

The office bearers of Aldona comunidade, which own the khazan land, were unaware of the development. "Nobody has brought it to our notice," said Melwyn Fernandes, special attorney of Aldona comunidade. The land is mostly tenanted, but they have stopped cultivating the fields.

The Goa coastal zone management authority (GCZMA) has requested the Goa state pollution control board (GSPCB) to inspect the area and draw soil and water samples to ascertain the cause of the mangrove malaise.

A local phenomenon: NIO scientist

 PANAJI: The sudden flooding, combined with squally winds, at Palolem beach is a local phenomenon and caused by a deep depression in south east Arabian Sea, sources said.

Seven-member panel to monitor sand mining

 AHMEDABAD: The Centre has asked Gujarat Coastal Zone Management Authority (GCZMA) to form a seven-member committee, headed by the District Collectorate, to monitor sand mining in the state and especially along the coast.