Feast for Thought

Not pontificating. Only trying to bat on the side of the environment. And ethics. And simple living. And slowing down. (And trying to learn and practise before preaching or teaching...)

Friday, December 11, 2015

Between the land and the sea - Notes from #ChennaiRains 10

1. Piyush Manush added 2 new photos. 

This 96 sq feet bamboo structure could easily house a family of four till they reconstruct thier homes and lives. A lot of improvisation would be done to the same and it would also be fitted with solar lights ..All this for only 4800/-
Make a difference to the lives of the people who have been rendered homeless .. Come join us at Gandhi Stadium. We at Salem Citizens Forum have announced Salem's effort to focus on Shelter building for the homeless and we are sure all will contribute ...
For contributions from abroad pls do use this account no -
Piyush Sethia,
Bank of Maharashtra,
S.B. Acc- 20111114356
IFSC Code- MAHB0000375..
banks are finding it difficult to handle funds for trust accounts. For local contributions please do send to -
Ac name & No - Mari Sthalam- Salem,: 915020020105876
Branch - Axis Bank -Ramakrishna Road
Ifsc code- UTIB 0000170

Bamboo Shelter update - We are modifying & tinkering with the earlier design.
1. Making sure that the shelter lasts for a decade by treating the whole bamboo.. the treatment is done by heating the bamboo with CSNL solution.
2. Implanting a iron pole so that the bamboo does not touch get immersed in soil.. pic 2 ..
3. Champaka suggests that a glass bottle lining around the shelter will ensure no scorpions, lizards or snakes enter the premises.
maximum in a weeks time we hope to despatch atleast 30 shelters a day depending on th e availability of labor. Pls suggest if any changes are to be made ..

Volunteer Sharan
Help was posted for an aged couple (76,82 respectively) highly diabetic with a son affected by cancer and his child , who hadn't had anything for 2 full days. No water , No food , nothing. Their house had water until the first floor and they couldn't step out. The house went unnoticed during rescue operations and also the family had lost all connectivity since the phones were dead. Information was received through a fb post and somehow no one seemed to have been able to do much about it because of the lack of connectivity to the place. Water was 12 ft or more.
After a few hours ,a young man aged 24-25 , completely drenched was seen very efficiently trying to reach the place through ropes. He looked exhausted , but didn't give up. He managed to reach the house and the old couple was delighted to see someone come and give them food, after 2 entire days. He was shocked as to how the boy reached them, wherein even the boats or any trained sources couldn't reach. He thanked him and blessed him. On his way back from that house he noticed a lady with a small kid and enquired what happened . The lady was stranded all alone and was pleading to be shifted as the boats hadn't reached the place. The next moment the kid was on the boy's shoulders , carefully clinging on to this boy and the lady held the shoulders of the boy firmly , and they were on the other side of the scene in some time. After having done this , when the boy was getting some rest , the naval officer there got into conversation with him and got to know he was just a common man and this was the first time ever he did a rescue. Much to the astonishment of the officer. He was told that he has all capabilities to join the Air Force , army or naval force. When asked further , as to how he reached the place , this was known. He had travelled all the way from ECR, to Ashok Nagar. On the way , due to diversions he had to come through Vadapalani . While he was taking a turn , a brash car guy knocked him down. All the supplies he had bought for the family to be rescued was down the water. The supplies he bought were with the little money he had left as his salary hadn't been credited for the month. Nothing could be done , he had a family to be saved. He went ahead and reached a supplies place where he took in some bread and milk along with glucose for the family which was sinking because of their ailments. On reaching Ashok pillar , the water keel had come up to 8 ft and vehicles couldn't go. He parked his bike in a neighbouring road and started into the water . Wherein another rescuer Mr.Vincent introduced himself and they both were going in together. Finally they reached a place which was 5 -10 minutes from the destination . Vincent had to go and this boy was all alone not having a clue as to what had to be done. Courage , selflessness made him surpass the obstacles and he reached the family . The old man was the only person who was stable. The rest of them were sinking in hunger and low blood sugar levels. And once the supplies were given they regained consciousness. There was no media to cover this humongous effort but we salute that boy. Enquiring about him we got to know his name is Sharan. He has taken his life at stake to help the family . God bless him

Relief contributions - utilisation status (no hard numbers, just to give you a sense of what we have been doing - hard number update to be posted by Srinivas Krishnaswamy later this week.
Hello family and friends - you have contributed and have been contributing very generously, so here's a little update on some of the micro relief projects we have undertaken with the funds given.
1. Relief materials towards 100 displaced anglo indian families - the contribution for this will be done on saturday by Uday Shankar - we have bought / collected the following material for the women coming - nighties, blankets, plastic pais, some toiletries
2. Adolescent girls home (320 girls - 20 more children are expected tomorrow via childline which is why the count has increased from 300) - we have bought / collected the following - innerwear for the children, nighties, leggings and tees, soaps, shampoos, and other toiletries. Still collecting / buying plastic mats, mosquito nets, buckets and mugs and napkins. The contribution for this will be delivered by me or Srini directly.
3. TREE foundation - collecting on behalf of TREE foundation . They are supporting close to 1500 families, so we have a large collection list including clothing for the whole family, blankets, napkins, etc.We deliver relief ourselves to Tree foundation and coordinate with Neelu Dhungana .
4. Basin Bridge displaced colony - collecting for 150 children (from 15 day old infants to 3 year old children) - supplies needed include milk powder, diapers and warm clothing. Again relief contribution is being coordinated with on ground volunteer, and will be delivered by one of our friends. (so beware everyone on my friend list!)
5. ECR Kuppam - request for 150 families - need is for saris, inskirts, nighties, mens shirts, lungis, pais, anti fungal cream, mosquito coils and basic rations. Still don't know how we will be sending these.
Apart from the above, we are also getting relief requests from an NGO based in adyar, and one working in Chemenchery. Both require cooking utensils, so I plan to start a separate drive for this.
We are kind of ready with micro projects 1 and 2. We have barely started with 3. Still rattling the tins for 4 and 5.
And this is just us. We are doing a very tiny amount of relief work, and not even full time. Imagine the vast ocean that still needs to be covered.
So this post strated as an update, and by the end, I am back to my appeal.
Please open your hearts and wallets and contribute. Bhoomika trust is one option - I don't have details but you can do a Facebook search and my friend Koushik Udayashanker has also posted about them.. Bhargavii Mani is doing fantatsic relief work.And also seeks contributions.
So do we. So here is where you can send in funds.
Name : Preethi Sukumaran
Bank : State Bank of India, Besant Nagar Branch ( Chennai)
IFSC : SBIN0003274
Account # : 20175773856
Please do note that this is our personal bank account number & not that of an NGO - so you will not be getting a tax deductible receipt.
What you will get is accountability for your valuable contribution, details and updates of how the monies are spent, thank you notes on FB, a Jaadu Ki Jhappi when you visit Chennai ( if you don't find it creepy) and of course , free samples of awesome krya products.
Thanks a ton! smile emoticon

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Between the land and the sea - Notes from #ChennaiRains 9

Time to Recover Chennai's Lakes/Ponds/Streams.
EFI is initiating a document with photographs and proofs of encroachment into waterways, which will be submitted to the Govt of TamilNadu. We want all of you to participate, kindly help us by clicking photographs of encroaching Structure/Establishment or any form of obstruction and email it to info@indiaenvironment.org.
1. If you know of a lake/pond/stream in Chennai where there is an obstruction, kindly click photographs of the same.
2. Email it to us at info@indiaenvironment.org with name of location.
3. The Encroachment Could range from: Building, Parking of heavy vehicles, Bill Boards, Garbage, Construction Debris etc...
What will EFI Do?
1. Garbage, construction debris etc can be removed through voluntary efforts with govt permission. Vehicular obstruction can also be eliminated through appropriate dialogue with concerned drivers.
2. If they are larger structures and are a definite encroachment a report shall be presented to the Govt for action.
Let's work together positively in rebuilding Chennai, let's start with recovering our waterways.
-Jai Hind-

2. For all Chennai friends. Please do take part, or be in touch with this activity.
Let us realise that we need not wait for Assembly elections every time to hope for the better. Nearer to us than state assemblies are the civic institutions, who may give the impression of working, but are really capable of achieving far better social and civic objectives if citizens of each ward become more proactive and watchful. 
Let us break the corporator-contractor nexus, and claim the civic agencies, please!
Nityanand Jayaraman
SEIZE THE OPPORTUNITY: Beyond Relief & Rehabilitation to Reclaiming Chennai, Our Lives and Democracy
WHEN: 13 December, 2015. 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
WHERE: SPACES, No. 1 Elliots Beach Road, Besant Nagar, Chennai 600 090
KEY SPEAKERS: No VIPs, No Eminent Speakers. Nobody over 35.
(Participants of ALL AGES welcome -- ENTRY FREE)
"The Chennai rains were sort of a 'truth ink' that wiped clean (and exposed) all the farces of the urban establishment," wrote a youngster Samudra Gupta on his facebook. That is true. The urban establishment stands exposed. But so does the fact that we, the people, are not in control of the Government. Our democracy has been captured by vested interests. From aesthetics to functionality, our cities are planned to please corporate investors, real estate sharks, and vile contractors, not residents or the vast majority of urban poor who make this city a home for themselves and others. What also stands exposed is that in the tension between environment and development, the environment will do no balancing.
As people, our anger at the failure of the "system" is justified. The youth who have been dismissed as "useless" and without a sense of social responsibility or purpose are the ones that pulled (are pulling) the city out of filth and floodwaters. Surely, as people who ably faced the daunting task of rescue, relief and rehabilitation in the face of a useless and anti-social establishment, these countless volunteers, back-office geeks, valiant rescuers and coordinators of youth-run portals -- like TheNewsMinute & Thelogicalindian -- can take on the far more formidable task of handling the disaster that our democracy has become.
How can we reclaim our government? How can we re-fashion our economy to ensure that we function within the limits set by nature? How do we redesign our society so that regardless of whether or not there is prosperity, we can ensure that there is no poverty?
These questions are too important to leave in the hands of those who have brought us to this pass.
Please spread the word, and join this brainstorm session to ensure that the opportunity presented by the disaster is not wasted.
For more information, contact: Archanaa Seker -- 9840523235  
3. My Chennai added 10 new photos.
True that!
Creatives credit: IN1947

Peter Van Geit· 
‪#‎ChennaiRains‬ ‪#‎FloodRelief‬ Chennai Trekking Club Launches TN Flood Relief Map: relief.chennaitrekkers.org
Our volunteers made tremendous progress mapping the relief status in the city - 45% of target areas have been surveyed! So far we identified 40 areas identified where no relief has reached yet. Our CTC Relief Center has dispatched materials to 7 areas. Many others are in progress. Please direct any relief materials to our center (contacts: Prasanna: 9994816896, Manoj 9597119618). We ensure it reaches the most needy. We need volunteers to help us scout 72 remaining areas mostly in the city outskirts.
Any volunteer doing survey / NGO doing relief can update the map directly:
Blue marker: area needs survey => require volunteers to scout => update survey results on map.
Red marker: survey done / needs relief => Relief NGO contact volunteer => dispatch relief materials => email info@chennaitrekkers.org to clear this area
Green marker: survey done / relief complete => no further action required
Any other area that requires relief can be added directly to map.
Please share with your friends/NGOs.
Chennai clean up - an important event
There is a very much important event happening on Sunday hosted by @restore and Organic farmer's market at Tre farms, Chetpet. Rekha RamuParthasarathy VMGopi DevarajanRadhika Rammohan,Sangeetha Sriram are the organisers behind the event.
This is a workshop to let everyone know why handing over bleaching powder and stuff like dettol(which I too have been guilty of collecting in the Chennai relief work) is not the greatest way to clean.
They are going to be talking about using AEM or activated effective micro organisms is a super, natural alternative to the above.
Srinivas Krishnaswamy and I plan to trek it from Siruseri on Sunday to join in and learn more.
We also plan to carry some more stuff you can clean your homes with which are natural, do not pollute and do a great job too.
So if you are around these parts on Sunday or even if you aren't, do land up. I hear several thousand litres of diluted AEM would be available gratis courtesy the manufacturers.
So come with empty bottles, fresh notebooks and pens and an open mind.
Human civilization and its need to clean has been around for a zillion years. Synthetic soap and other cleaning supplies for barely 160 years.
You do the math. (Of course we were all cleaning. Only with better stuff).

6.  Aarti Madhusudan.

Angels, all of them. In our area they are from Madurai. Grateful to these wonderful people who are cleaning our city for us.
Aarti Madhusudan added 2 new photos.
12 hrs
The city has been ravaged - there is muck and garbage everywhere - conservancy workers alone can't manage - the corporation has gotten people from other cities to come in to help - here is a bunch of folks from trichy - I saw teams from Cbe and Madurai too - if you bump into them do acknowledge and just say "thanks Anna" ad see them beam 

smile emoticon


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Between the land and the sea - Notes from #ChennaiRains 8

1. Ravi Udupa ‪#‎postsforshare‬ People, every ration card is eligible for Rs 5000 for flood relief. Even if you don't need it, pls claim it and donate it for a good cause. 

2. Shyami Sathiaseelan
When the first bout of rain started, I got messages from friends about looking for online help! As someone who didn't live in Chennai all I could do was any kind of virtual job and I did a couple of things for Chennai Rain Relief 2015. I am a homeschooling mother of two and I have no help in anything that I do, so it was business as usual for me, with just dropping everything that was not important to find time to volunteer. I thought things were getting better when the second bout of rains came along and real help was needed this time. I posted out saying I was ready to volunteer and when I got no response, I guessed they didn't want anyone that was not out in the field! I was a bit upset, only for a few hours as I started getting a list of people to call and confirm if they need any kind of help and if they were safe! For someone with Skype and high-speed internet, it was easy peasy job! The only problem was that network was down in Chennai and nine out of ten times my call would not reach the person! In the past two days I would have made at least 350 calls or more. I had my friend Raj helping me from US, and a forum friend who I haven't even met, Viggi (Vigneshwaran Shanmugam) helping me from India.
I was getting help from everywhere... my cousin Michael who works for Railways and who was constantly forwarding us Special train information which I was posting to the groups. Then there was Prabha, whose husband was stuck in rains, and she was out there in Coimbatore constantly helping people organise things and passing on the right information. There were other volunteers that I contacted like Pandian from TCS - he personally offered to check on a friend in Madipakkam and made sure that I had spoken to him, I actually called him in the middle of the night and he answered patiently. He runs an NGO called PadikattugaL! Shree Vidhya Sampath who wanted to make sure that my friend was rescued and safe before she closed the case! Arun from the control room who gave me his personal number to follow up on the case! None of them lost their cool. Most of them were probably overworked, hadn't slept or eaten for hours in the past few days and yet they were there saying it was their duty to do whatever they were doing. My friendManjubashini, who took efforts to be out on the field helping others. My cousinVicky who was out there taking care that all family members were safe, who took all their phones to office and charged it so that they could contact others in case of emergency, he also went out personally to check on others in the heavy rain and floods. My brother Dinu who was constantly sending me messages with information, cross verifying rumours before he posted them out and was calling people constantly to help! My cousin Mathavan was posting out information regarding help required/help offered.which I was constantly forwarding to other forums. My sister Rama, was also forwarding important messages, even though she hardly had internet connection or power!My nephew Saravana (Chintu) who was ready to offer his help as soon as he got back on the network! My classmate Thirumoorthy who went out and organised food. napkins. medicines when I asked him to and took it out personally to distribute them. My cousin Vinitha Satish and her husband Sathish, who are both doctors have contributed in terms of time, money and effort too!
I should also mention about my brother in law Surendiran who hasn't gone home in four days, helping people with power problems! And my sister Asha Ashok and Asokan Chandran mama for sending out stuff from Vizag!
I can see Vj Suriya and Charuprabha Thiruchelvan getting into this today as well! Join the group guys and do as much as you can!
Oh yes, Vidhya Rajan R who was out there helping as well needs to be mentioned! Chetana Ajit: thanks for collecting stuff and sending from Bangalore. Thanks to the entire CSV family that gave their support by collecting things and sending truckloads of stuff to Chennai. Charu, it was so nice of you to spend your time in helping others even though you were very busy with your own things!
I should mention that I made some lovely friends while I was calling to make sure people were fine. There was Rama from Chetput who offered help! So did Karuna Miriam! I should say I called people late at night and early in the morning and not one of them spoke with an angry tone! They were all glad to hear someone asking about them and while some were safe, they didn't stop at that, they were asking that their neighbours and friends to be rescued! There were people who said their neighbours needed attention because there was a small baby or an old sick person! And when I posted out the information in the Tamilnadu Flood - Support group, many times someone would respond immediately!
All these people should be proud of themselves! Big hugs from me to all the wonderful people who went out that extra mile to take care that everyone was safe! To all those people who thought it was their duty to go out and help their fellow human beings! A big Thank you from me! I hope I have not left out anyone in this post! If I did, please let me know and I will add them! smile emoticon
Thanks to Vaishnavi Jayakumar and team for giving me the opportunity to help!
Last but not least, a big thank you to my family, especially my two children for understanding and adjusting the last few days! smile emoticon The house is a mess, but my heart is happy!

Chennai goodness meter like our auto meters is on fire (soodu pudikithu)
A bunch of us are collecting for the adolescent girls home. And some dynamic ladies went to T Nagar to buy much needed innerwear for the children at the home who have lost all their clothing.
When told where his clothing was going, the store owner opened cartons of newly arrived clothing, handed over materials and REFUSED TO ACCEPT PAYMENT.
When told we were not an NGO and therefore could not give him a receipt or offer any it exemption certificate s, he offered to transport the material in his truck upto adyar again for free.
I am speechless. Chennai you rock!

Friends here is a song that is our prayer for Chennai. Do contribute by subscribing this as caller tune. The money will go to the fund as aid. Please share this on your timeline. Pray for Chennai. Let us arrange drinking water for the people in distress.
Let’s move, Come & extend your hand to quench their thirst.


Between the land and the sea - Notes from #ChennaiRains 7

1. Manivannan Ias
CHENNAI FLOOD: IMPORTANT update by the 24 x 7 Bengaluru Control Room (CRRC): 6.45 pm, 8th December:
If you have wanted to donate relief materials, and not yet, please donate NOW!
1. There is a HUGE GAP between the quantum of supply for relief material and the need. The requirement is 15 times more than the supply! (Please check our public dashboard:http://rainhelp.pyrumas.com
2. You can TRACK where your material is going, and which NGO is handling it in our dash board. The 5 NGOs working with us are: (Aid India, Art of Living, Arapoor Iyakkkam, Agni India, and Rotary International). They are escorted/supported by the local admn, so, it will reach the needy and would not be diverted or pillaged.
Our 24x7 helpline will provide you any information round the clock. As our helpline numbers are NOT temporary, but PERMANENT for the KUWSDB, we can provide information anytime in future, even after 3 months or 6 months. You can in-fact view the working of the CRRC here:http://ipcamlive.com/56657a9b4b797
3. We may close down the relief operations in next 7 days, and thereafter do only the follow up actions, as we may not have the economies of scale.
Please contact us thru any of these channels:
1. Email: crkuwsdb@gmail.com
2. SMS: 9220092200 (prefix WATER leave a gap and then type the details of the persons to be rescued and then include your name and number, in case the teams need more information from you)
3. Telegram messenger: 7259760333
4. WhatsApp messenger: 9880655555
5. Phone (landline): 08040001000.
Let’s join hands to provide the maximum relief to the affected people of Chennai and other parts of Tamil Nadu.
Kindly share this post widely!
Thank you very much for your support! 
Sending out one lot of clothing, blankets, bedspreads, toiletries and biscuits contributed by many of you and transported to us. This is going to Tree foundation, which is coordinating relief work among marine and fishing communities in various pockets from Neelankarai to Villupuram.
About 200 volunteers are on ground packing and sorting clothing - Neelu spoke to me saying that there is an urgent need for blankets and clothing here.
I do not know Neelu personally but she has been vouched for by Praba Ram - so for speed of response I am depending on my friend network to identify excellent distribution points.
If you have reasonable quantities of decent, well mended clothing (for both genders and age groups), towels, blankets and any toiletries do speak to Neelu and send some supplies here.
Neelu's husband Saeef can be reached on 8939151205 or 9790878888.
Thank you Nandini Sivakumar and Siva for coordinating and reaching so much of these relief materials to us.
R, our employee will be handing over the materials and taking pictures of operations at the facility.
p.s: Neelu's relief operations have been hampered by relief trucks being muscled in on and being diverted elsewhere. Volunteers everywhere, please be discreet. Do not display the goods. and pretend that you know where you are going - asking directions excessively is leading to a lot of on ground chaos.

The chennai floods has shown us how Strong and responsible we are and at the same time shown us how stupid and irresponsible we were/are.
I am pretty sure none of us want another such disaster in Chennai or anywhere, but are we ready to work towards it??Can we now accept that CLIMATE CHANGE is for REAL!!!
The prime reason we were quite successful in bringing Chennai back to its feet is because our youngsters did not wait nor did any of us who volunteered wait for Government instructions or aid. Can we NOT wait for Government to tell us how to rehab and live going forward to avoid such a disaster ???
Can we as an individual change the way we live life
- Avoid plastic bags ( refuse, reduce, reuse , recycle should be our mantra) take our own reusable cloth bags, use our own containers to buy groceries or get take out food??
- can we compost our kitchen wastes etc instead of tying thm in plastic bags and dumping in the landfills??
- Avoid disposables of all kinds( napkins, diapers, plates, cutlery etc ) instead switch to reusable options( cloth pads, cloth diapers, etc)
- can we car pool or use public transport more ??
- can we avoid pouring toxic cleaners like vim lysol harpic etc which are slow poisoning us and other living things ?? Instead shift to baking soda vinegar , activated effective microorganism and other natursl cleaners??
From our tooth brush in the morning to the mosquito coils at night so many things that are toxic disposable and choking Mother earth and Us. Can we stop using them ?? There are ecofriendly alternatives , I am sure our great grandparents lived without all these and were healthier.
Yes so much we can do instead of waiting ..,
The real problem is I am unable to be as honest in my writing as I want to be, without worrying about possible people that I might offend.
But many of us have to admit collective responsibility, even possible culpability.
I look at my reports from 2005, they can be reproduced in full today, and even passed by changing a few names here and there.
It is total humbug that the mess today is caused by the rains.
Rains and floods were all nature, yeah, but the mismanagement of the city is all man-made.
I hope my friends investigate a few points in the coming days.
1. Was the Chennai Corporation's "Disaster Management Plan" which should have factored in major floods, put to effect? Why were there no govt. boats and which were the govt. community halls/central kitchens that were pressed into service?
2. Given the highly centralised regime in this State - with every one waiting for "approval", were there possible delays that led to the culminated release of 70,000 cusecs from the lake on a single day?
3. Did MET department fortnightly forecasts reach the PWD and why did they brutalise the city's waterways all at once?
4. Can we look into serious data on what were the floods that damaged the city? It was not rain from the sea, but the water from downstream the riverways.
5. In specific instances like Mambalam, I would encourage friends to look at super specific data. When was the Mambalam canal last desilted? How many times was it desilted in the last 10 years?
6. We keep talking mostly of the slum tenements on waterways when it comes to encroachments. When was the last time any concrete structure was pulled down?
7. How many cases are even pending in the courts over hearings as government identified encroachments on water ways?
This is a brilliant opportunity for journalists to hone their investigative skills. Collect all data from the past two months, and sift through them. I guarantee you this is a chance to take your reporting to another level - not just reactionary but something way more.