Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Nonsense About Clean Coal Exposed

As Treehugger, my favorite renewable energy and environmental blog broke this story which some may have missed, here is a reprise based upon their follow-up on this story: http://www.treehugger.com/files/2008/12/tennessee-coal-ash-sludge-lawsuit-news.php

A dyke holding coal ash broke in tennessee two days ago leaking 2.6 million cubic yards of coal ash sludge and destroying 400 acres of farmland, 12 homes and a train and leading to lawsuits worth $ 165 million against the Tennessee Valley Authority. Leave the lawsuits aside - I think the landowners deserve every penny of what they are asking for - the filth that has escaped into the open contains mercury, selenium and arsenic, though, in its infinite wisdom, the EPA does not consider it hazardous.

Now, my qiestion, especially because Coal India Ltd has gone overboard buying coal mines in Pennsylvania, Utah and Wyoming, is this: do you want a similar disaster in India? In a country where the average farm is 15 acres in size and provides barely more than subsistence to the farmer? Just imagine if this happened in the rich agricultural town of Neyveli which already has several thermal power plants and is planning to build several more. Would be great for the already poor food supplies, wouldn't it? India imports wheat these days. How about importing rice as well once the fields get destroyed in Northern Tamil Nadu from an environmental disaster of this kind?

Stupidity will never cease. I guess that is why Mirza Ghalib wrote (referring to India, his beloved country and to Delhi, his dear city) in the 19th century: "Iss duniya mein bewakoofon ki kami nahin hai Ghalib / Ek dhoondho to dus hazaar milte hain." Roughtly translated into English, this means, "There is no shortage of fools in the world. If you go looking for one, you are certain to find ten thousand instead."

3 comments:

Mohanakrishnan B said...

The green revolution has not been a total success in India.It has improved the production of food grain though we still have to turn to other nations to meet any shortfall.This year we have had a bumper crop in Punjab so perhaps imports will be minimal.Some things that concern me are the use of poisonous chemicals used indiscriminately to improve crop output,introduction of GM food (there was a protest outside Coimbatore Agricultural University recently by Greenpeace activists because consumption of GM food can make people infertile)and the poor storage conditions available in Food Corporation of India godowns.A friend of mine who used to work for Pest Control India and now has his own firm told me that he had seen huge rats sitting and munching on the grain stored in the FCI godowns.

Mohanakrishnan B said...

We have always ignored Israel.There is so much that we could learn from them especially in farming.Recently there was a very nice article on rediff.com (I believe I sent you a link)about the differences in agricultural methods in India and Israel.They get the maximum yield with minimum resources while we get minimum yield with maximum resources.

Mehul Kamdar said...

Mohan,

India produces more food than it needs. The problem is improper storage. If the government came up with a proposal to encourage agricultural co-operatives in every district that bought grain silos and stored grain in them themselves or leased them to FCI, the farmers would have a source of income from returns on their investment in lean months and grain would not get wasted. The government of India estimates that 30% of the grain produced in the country is destroyed by vermin. Unofficialestimates are that as much as 70% is destroyed by vermin, fungi and adverse climatic conditions when the grain is stored in the open under tarpaulins.

NABARD has more than $ 200 million in financing available from Kreditanstalt fur Wiederaufbau and the Swiss Development COrporation for non farm loans. They have not used this for mroe than 10 years. The reason for this is simple - Ministers for Agriculture make money by way of bribes whenever an import contract is issued. It is a cynical game and the biggest problem in this is the Indian media who have been too stupid to see where the money is being made in all of this.