Monday, May 31, 2010

The perspective :- A Boat ’s Eye View

Seen in the foreground is a catamaran which the local fishing population use for casting net. The pile of rain clouds relieved the monotony and added depth to the sky.
The proximity of sanghumugham beach to Trivandrum city has turned it into a hot spot especially during the weekends. With more and more people pouring in to savour the sunset and sea, the ones seeking solitude, as seen, prefer to take a stroll along the shore to less crowded areas

Photo by Vimal

Thursday, May 13, 2010


We started out on a 2000 year model Mahindra Jeep from Chakkittapara after visiting one of our friend’s home at around 2.45pm. This is the vehicle best suited to kiss the roads over there. Don’t think of making your SUV climb up the road, as he may go on strike mid-way. Or if you are so particular then no comments.
En route to the dam site, the catchment area of Peruvannamoozhi irrigation project offers a feast to your eyes . If SLR is your close companion, then you will sure be gifted with a couple of mesmerizing snaps of nature romancing with meandering river down the mountain set against the beautiful sun. I was helpless then as I felt that my Sony DSC 10Mp 5X had a limit to which it can offer.
Now I ‘ll share something techy. The Kakkayam dam comes as part of the Kuttiyadi Hydro Electric Project & is located at a height of about 2450ft above MSL. It has a total installed capacity of 125MW. The penstock runs down from the dam site and goes through various tunnels and hills to the Kuttiyadi Tail race power house at Kakkayam. Water coming out of this power house joins a river and is utilized for Peruvannamoozhi Irrigation Project.
After a payment of Rs 10 per head at the base near the power house, it took us about 45 min to reach the dam site. When you climb up the winding road, you will not miss a giant old tree, ”Tholaranji” as it is called in Malayalam, standing proudly. It bears a name board which claims she is about 87years old. Her girth & majesty affirms it. Vehicle is permitted only upto the checkpost from where it is a 10 min walk to the dam site. It was written there that you are not allowed to carry cameras and that photography is strictly prohibited. But how could I, when nature is presenting its best before me? It is not just the dam but a gorgeous waterfall and a cliff that adds splendor to this place. This location is about 1.5km from the dam site. You feel the forest getting denser almost forming a canopy over you ,cutting off light by a certain amount as you walk to that spot. The sweet sound of water streams and beauty of forest keeps you calm. This spot is called “Urakkuzhi”, a perfect blend of beauty of the falls and majesty of the rocks. Unlike other falls, at Urakkuzhi viewpoint, a rope bridge stands over the rocks from where the water starts falling down. Literally you are hanging over a cliff. History has some stories claiming that the body of Rajan, REC student at the time of Emergency in the state was pushed down from here, after serious lock up injuries at Kakkayam Police camp. The forest guard had so many stories to tell about Rajan’s demise & he even showed the exact place where Rajan was thrown down. The spirit of Rajan must be making him tell his fate to all the visitors who comes there to enjoy nature’s gift.

I then enjoyed a bath in the nature’s bath tub nearby. No pool could ever give you the coolness and purity of water which this one offers. But I couldn’t swim there for long as it was getting darker and moreover this water body has small fishes and tadpoles and I had only a thin towels to cover me up!! We quenched our thirst from a pure stream of water running down the rocks which left us refreshed.The taste was so natural with a sweetness that reminded me of taking water after having a bunch of gooseberries.
The scheduled train at night and the dusk forced us to say good bye to Urakkuzhi then. The guard there didn’t forget to tell us that they had seen elephants having water from the spot where we had bath. It would have been a National geography channel snap, had some tuskers been there.



Bt brinjal, india’s first GM* food crop is jointly developed by M/S MAHYCO (Maharastra Hybrid Seeds Company) and M/S Monsanto India. It is a transgenic brinjal created by inserting a gene (Cry 1Ac) from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis into brinjal. It is claimed that this will infuse enough resistance in brinjal plant against lepidopteran insects like the brinjal shoot borer(Leucinodes orbonalis) and fruit borer(Helicoverpa armigera),which cause damage to around 50-70% of the brinjal production.
Bt brinjal is held in abeyance after Indian Govt. decided to put a moratorium, overruling the experts of GEAC**which had given its nod for commercial cultivation in October 2009. While many crop and biotechnology scientist have pitched yield and economic gains from these hybrids
many others have deplored it for its lack of independent bio-safety tests, unexpected adverse impact on human health, environmental issues and socio-economic implications. The ban imposed by government raises may questions like whether government succumbed against aggressive protests against it or does it really have serious implications. It also require serious debates about what should have been done to make it better suited for Indian farmer or what should be done to make it beyond reproach?
After dwelling painstakingly on the current issue it is culled out that integrity of approval process is not beyond question and is wedded to several loop-holes. The Testing Process and the data derived on which basis they have given approval are not independent. GM foods are normally tested for allergic reactions, gene transfer — genes from the GM foods transferring, inside the gut, into benign bacteria present there and creating effects such as resistance to antibiotics — and out crossing, jargon for GM crops getting mixed up with normal crops, contaminating them. Much of the data on which GEAC relied to grant approval was generated by the GM companies themselves.

Pros and cons of Bt brinjal

Proponent’s lobby advocates:-

· Average shoot damage will be reduced from 0.12-2.5% in Non Bt brinjal to

0.04-0.30% in Bt brinjal hybrids.

· Percentage damage of fruits will be reduced from 24-58% in Non Bt to 2.5 to 20% in Bt.

· Total production will significantly increase and pesticides requirement will reduce.

· Small and middle class farmer will get economical benefit.

· Food security in India will improve.

Opponent’s lobby argues:-

· Gene inserted into GM food survive digestion process and are likely to transferred into human body which may have adverse effect on human health.

· It would destroy all 2,500 indigenous varieties of brinjals in India which will have adverse impact on biodiversity.

· This would result in a monopoly for US multinational M/S Monsanto, which has secured exclusive rights to market the seeds in India.

· Soil gets contaminated and quality goes down

Of course it would be a great biotechnological feat if it gets green signal by the government .It will serve the resource-poor farmers and proficiently help control the dreaded pest of brinjal. So it imperative for the government to end the current impasse. For that the central government should arm itself with independent scientific evidence to establish consensus among all scientific communities, farmers, and industries. A legal infrastructure that would allow GM companies to be liable for any damage arising from their genetic manipulation should be in place.

GM* -Genetically modified
GEAC**- Genetic Engineering Approval Committee