October 2014

‘Weak’ Nilofar to hit Gujarat on Saturday

Cyclone Nilofar is set to make landfall at Naliya village in Kutch district, along the Gujarat coast, on Saturday, a day later than expected, says a revised weather forecast on Tuesday. The landfall was earlier forecast on Friday morning.

“At the moment, it is a very severe cyclonic storm, but by the time it makes landfall at Naliya, it is set to weaken into a cyclonic storm with wind speed of 80-90 kmph. The maximum speed can go up to 100 kmph,” Manorama Mohanty, Director, Ahmedabad Meteorological Centre, told The Hindu .

The cyclone is now 1,110 kilometres from Naliya. Heavy rain will begin in Gujarat on Friday night and the sea is expected to be rough, the India Meteorological Department bulletin said. The State government is conducting daily review meetings on preparedness. On Tuesday, the authorities conducted a videoconference with the Collectors of the coastal districts and charted out emergency plans.

Pumping station not a threat to mangroves, says coastal authority

The Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) has finally approved the civic body’s proposal to construct a storm water pumping station at Mahul under the storm water drain augmentation project.

Once completed, the project will help solve water logging problems in Kurla, Nehru Nagar in eastern suburbs and Antop hill from island city. The project was approved after the civic body presented the reworked alignment of the pumping station.

MCZMA had in 2013 asked the civic body to rework the alignment of pumping station so that there is minimum damage to mangroves. Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had initially proposed to construct the pumping station on a thick patch of mangroves; the plot was under no development zone and was a part of Mahul creek.

The new proposal, which is approved by MCZMA, has reduced mangrove destruction from 100% to 12%. “We have received environmental clearances for the Mahul project since we have reduced the extent of destruction to the mangrove. However, we are awaiting several more approvals, one being from the high court. Since protection of mangroves is one of the issues, the high court order is important,” Laxman Vhatkar, director, engineering (services and projects), BMC, said.

Under the Rs3,535-crore Brimstowad project, the BMC was supposed to construct pumping stations at eight places – Haji Ali, Irla (Juhu), Love Grove and Cleveland Bunder (both at Worli), Britannia (Reay Road), Gajdarbandh (Khardanda), Mogra (Santacruz) and Mahul. Currently, only two pumping stations are operational since 2011 — Haji Ali and Irla.

Pumping station Love Grove and Cleveland Bunder, both at Worli, are under construction and have already exceeded the fifth deadline. The pumping stations are now expected to be operational by May 2015.

This year BMC began construction of both Britannia and Gajdarbandh pumping stations, which were long pending due to lack of environmental clearances.

Corporation told to submit report on Olive Ridley breeding along Marina

The Tamil Nadu State Coastal Zone Management Authority on Monday asked the Chennai Corporation to submit a report on the breeding of Olive Ridley turtles on the stretch of the Marina Loop Road from Lighthouse to Srinivasapuram.

This followed wildlife activists' concern over the Corporation’s plan to beautify the southern part of the Marina as it is the natural spot where Olive Ridley turtles breed.

The Corporation was planning to start work this year after obtaining clearance from the authority. The project covers development of walkways and the creation of benches, a gallery, bicycle track, concrete roads, rainwater trenches and streetlight fittings at an estimated cost of Rs. 40 crore for the 2.8-km stretch from Lighthouse to Foreshore Estate.

Akila Balu of Students’ Sea Turtle Conservation Network said the stretch had the highest number of nesting sites last season—December 2013 to May 2014. “We found plenty of nests over there. The number exceeded 200 last season. The Forest Department also relocated a large number of hatchlings for the first time.”

An official said, “The primary goal of the project is to keep the beach clean. The project will not disturb turtle nesting sites. The light fittings will be designed suitably.”

Nityanand Jayaraman of the Save Chennai Beaches campaign said that turtles preferred nesting on either side of the Adyar estuary.

Exercise begins to rebuild green Vizag

Civic body gets CRZ nod to build water pipeline across Malad creek

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Tuesday got a Coastal Regulatory Zone (CRZ) clearance from the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) for laying a 1200-mm water pipeline across the Maladcreek through micro-tunnelling method. The civic body had initiated the project last year to increase water pressure in the areas of Malad, Gorai and Marve jetty.
Micro-tunneling is a digging technique used to construct small tunnels. The micro-tunnelling method is expected to be done at a depth of ten meters. “We had commissioned the construction of the pipeline to undertake development work in Malad. There is a 30-40 meter patch below the ground-level where workers cannot reach, therefore we need to use the method of micro-tunneling,” said Ashok Kumar Tawadia, deputy hydraulic engineer (planning and control), BMC. The work will be carried out from the Evershine Nagar extension to Lagoon road across the Malad creek to avoid the cutting of mangroves that have been declared as reserved forest.
The mangroves, spread over 5,100 sq feet, will be saved by the use of this method, the official added. Though the project has been cleared by the MoEF, the civic body has to seek further permissions from the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB). “The MoEF clearance is subjected to certain norms to be maintained as per the MPCB rules. We will now forward the project to get further clearances before initiating the work,” Tawadia added.
With low water pressure being a constant issue in many areas in the city, the hydraulic department of the civic body has been taking constant steps. Earlier in September, the civic body had undertaken lake-tapping at the Modak Sagar lake in Thane. Through this method, the civic body aimed to increase the water intake level and also increase the water pressure for a better supply to the city in the coming months. The BMC has also been shifting from surface water pipelines to tunnels to prevent leakages and water thefts.

Andhra Pradesh government bets on PPP model to rebuild cyclone-hit villages:

HYDERABAD: A week after Hudhud cyclone left a trail of devastation around Vizag, the Andhra Pradesh government is readying to rope in private enterprises through public-private partnership (PPP) model to rebuild villages on India's east coast.

The state government led by Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu has urged the private sector to adopt parts of Vizag as well as surrounding coastal towns and villages, promising to pitch in with matching grant funds.

Over the past week or so, several Indian and global companies with operations in the domestic market have extended donations running into dozens of crores of rupees to the chief minister's relief fund. Some of the prominent business houses in this list include Tata group, GMR, Infosys, Navayuga and Dr Reddy's, among others.

First person: ‘Yes, I survived cyclone Hudhud’

After covering the deadly Kandla cyclone in Gujarat in 1998, the earthquake that devastated Kutch on January 26, 2001, the raw violence and killing fields of Ahmedabad during post-Godhra riots in February-March 2002, the 2004 tsunami devastation in Nagapattinam in Tamil Nadu, and the student self-immolations in Telangana, I thought I had seen it all. But I was not prepared for Vizag, where I was born, as I entered the city on Sunday just as cyclone Hudhud was making landfall. Just five hours before I had experienced the power of the high speed winds which blew the window panes of the bus in which I was traveling, just as it went past the Vizag Steel Plant. The traffic signal near the Vizag airport fell on one side and a huge tree on the other side of the highway bringing traffic to a halt and forcing about 25 of us in the bus to decide what to do next. I wrapped my prized FZ 200 camera in a plastic bag, gathered my backpack and got down. As soon as I moved away from the cover of the stationary bus, the wind hit and the backpack that was on my right shoulder was lying on the road even before I could realise what happened. I walked up to the lone police constable who was hovering beside the fallen traffic signal. “No way to go into Vizag. I cannot allow you because trees and poles are falling and we have orders not to allow anyone to go on the highway,’’ he said, even before I asked.

NIOT's buoys collect cyclone data

VISAKHAPATNAM: At a time when Cyclone Hudhud demolished everything in its path on land, data buoys indigenously designed by the National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) not only survived the onslaught but also transmitted accurate cyclone data to the India Meteorological Department (IMD) four days prior to its landfall.

"IMD could exactly predict the path of last year's Phailin and this year's Hudhud because of the data transmitted by the NIOT buoys placed in the deep ocean," director of NIOT, MA Atmanand, told TOI.

According to him, the buoys provide information such as wind speed, surface and underwater temperatures of the sea.

Elaborating, he added that the buoys had been designed keeping in view the rough weather conditions and were built to even sustain the worst of cyclones. In fact, he said, the eye of the cyclone had passed over one of the buoys, which still managed to transmit the data to IMD and NIOT.

He said data related to Hudhud was first picked up by one of the buoys on October 8.

"We have about 16 buoys in the deep sea and out of that, four buoys picked up the Hudhud signal. We are quite happy with the design and nothing has happened to the buoy. It proved to be a great advantage for IMD as they could predict the landfall point as well as the time accurately," he added.

Implement CRZ norms strictly, Pachauri tells Goa

Raising concern over rapid growth of tourism making light of Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) regulations in coastal Goa, climate scientist Rajendra K. Pachauri on Saturday highlighted the role of whistle-blowers and activists in ensuring not only strict enforcement of these regulations but also generating public awareness among the people.

Delivering the first late Matanhy Saldanha Memorial Foundation lecture here on Saturday on “Environment: a gift to mankind to be sustainably used and conserved for future generations”, Mr. Pachauri said, “Goa is very vulnerable to large number of impacts of climate change and consequent rise in sea level,” and went on to warn that if CRZ norms were not implemented strictly, the coastal State could be in big trouble.

He said that that vulnerable States such as Goa need not wait for a calamity to happen — every time a storm splurge and flooding took place, its impact Goa’s coastline would be very high and could cause enormous damage.

Taking cognizance of presence of Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar at the function, Mr. Pachauri hailed him for focussing on innovative solutions like green rating for buildings, proposing to work on incentivising and disincentivising the construction sector based on ratings.

He said that it was time coastal areas such as Goa adopted carefully orchestrated and intelligently debated model of development, which was not only good for State but would also ensure that natural resources remained as gift available to next generation in their pure natural form.

Eased CRZ may see development boom on coastline

MUMBAI: The stringent coastal regulation zone (CRZ) rules supposed to protect the coastline from rampant construction could become virtually irrelevant in Mumbai after the high court upheld the tweaked norms.

With construction allowed within just 100m of a bay -- it was restricted to 500m -- Mumbai's developers now have a carte blanche to build much taller buildings. Nothing now stops large parts of the city from being redefined as lying by a bay and this will open up almost the entire Mumbai coastline to unplanned construction, say experts.

The Bombay high court recently upheld a builder's plea that its plot falls near the Mahim Bay (as opposed to the sea) and allowed it to apply for permissions for construction 100m from the coastline. In 2011, the Jairam Ramesh-led environment ministry reduced the 500m minimum distance from the high tide line of a seafront required for construction to just 100m if it was a bay.
Many city builders with coastal plots have since rushed to the National Hydrographic Institute in Dehradun and the Institute of Remote Sensing in Chennai. They have certified areas such as Backbay -- from Nariman Point and Cuffe Parade to Girgaum Chowpatty -- and Mahim as bays and marked out builders' plots as being outside the 100m zone.

Not only will more land be opened up for construction in and near the island city, builders will be able to use much higher floor space index (FSI) only 100m from a bay. "Supply will increase and rates are bound to be stable or may reduce in certain weaker locations," said a leading developer.

A senior official of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), which prepares and executes the city's development plan, said the repercussions of freeing 400m from bay areas will have to be studied. "Can the city handle so much development?" he wondered.