Sunday, January 20, 2008

News on Ganapatipule, Jaigad (The Economic times)

Explore the natural beauty of Ganpatiphule beach
20 Jan, 2008, 0018 hrs IST, TNN
While droves of people from Mumbai head out to Goa every New Year’s Eve, eager to replicate the city’s endless traffic jams, crowds,
congestion and frayed tempers in a more exotic location, a few choose more offbeat destinations. Ganapatipule is a perfect retreat for
someone who wants a beach along the same coastline, minus the frenetic crowds putting considerable effort into having a good time.
On New Year’s Eve of course Ganapatipule is anything but desolate — it’s a touch and go getting accommodation at the MTDC’s large
resort complex on the beach. But it’s not packed either — there’s still enough space and beach to go around without people being in each
other’s hair all the time.
While there are several other resorts that dot Ganapatipule, MTDC has most of them trumped on location. Apart from being spread
across a very impressive stretch of the coastline, the MTDC resort is right next to what’s perhaps the biggest attraction — a Ganapati
temple that the place derives its name from.
According to local legend, the deity is ‘swayambhu’ — manifested of its own accord instead of actually being carved and installed.
And yet, Ganapatipule holds attractions for the secular visitor as well, unlike Tirupati for instance, where gawkers and tourists just out for
a good time are not welcome. First off, there’s the main beach, clean and well maintained.
Just a few kilometres away, there are several other beaches entirely devoid of the trappings and clamour that every big city beach is
encumbered with — even the almost mandatory coconut water guy is absent from some of these.
Jaigad Fort is a mere 35 kilometres away, an archaeological marvel that time and poor maintenance have done very little to diminish the
splendour of the fort. With the sea on three sides, Jaigad is one of the most visually spectacular destinations in Mahrashtra. What’s
lacking though is any attempt at giving the place a historical context.
For a traveller spoiled by the European and American tendency towards guided tours that are chockfull of trivia and history, it’s a bit odd
having to walk around and rely on conjecture and a DIY approach to figure out the how’s and why’s of the place.
It could be argued though that the lack of explanation leaves nothing to distract one from the sheer impact of the fort, and its ramparts
that overlook the sea.
Ganapatipule is among the few places where hotels by and large still focus on the local cuisine and have mostly not been pummelled into
an indistinguishable mix of South Indian, Chinese and Punjabi food. Modaks stuffed with a jaggery and coconut filling, freshly brewed
kokum sherbet/solkadi, distinctly flavoured vegetarian fare and a fairly extensive seafood menu are all exclusive to the place.
One eccentricity of all the restaurants that outsiders will have to adjust to is the fact that not everything is available all the time — items on
the breakfast menu for instance cannot be had as an after -dinner snack.
A mere eight hour drive from Mumbai, and well connected by buses from Ratnagiri, Ganapatipule is the perfect destination for a stressfree
weekend where the lack of an overwhelming number of tourist attractions enforces a lazy relaxed pace

Sunday, January 13, 2008

1,320Mw (660 X 2) thermal power plant near Tirora in Maharashtra.

Adani arm to start work on 1320Mw project soon
Business Standard, Monday Jan 14, 2008

Vinay Umarji / Mumbai/ Ahmedabad January 14, 2008

Adani Power Maharashtra Private Limited (APMPL), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ahmedabad-based Adani group’s Adani Power Limited (APL), will soon start work on its 1,320Mw (660 X 2) thermal power plant near Tirora in Maharashtra.

The company has lined up investments to the tune of Rs 5,280 crore for the plant, which forms the first phase of its power project in the region.

“Fuel has been tied-up for the plant and the construction work will begin soon,” said a company official.

The coal-fired Tirora plant will mark APMPL’s foray into power generation, followed by a second phase plant of 660Mw in either Maharashtra or some other region later.

Expected to be commissioned within 40 months from the day the construction starts, the power generated from the plant will be bought by beneficiary government bodies like electricity boards, said the official. The company is believed to be in advance stages of procuring power generation equipment from a Chinese firm.

For the fuel, Adani Power Maharashtra will be procuring coal from the Loharu west mines. It is likely that the power generated from the plant might also be traded through AEL’s power trading division.

APL, on the other hand, is in the process of setting up a 2640Mw coal-based thermal power plant at Mundra. The project is expected to create a synergy between APL’s existing business and its growth plans.


Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Are the govt’s green clearances a farce?

Many projects could have been approved based on inaccurate environmental impact assessment reports

Padmaparna Ghosh reports,

New Delhi: On 29 December 2006, the Union environment ministry signed off on the environmental clearance for a bauxite mining project located in Ratnagiri, Maharashtra, to be operated by Ashapura Minechem Ltd, a listed Indian firm that is on the verge of starting the mine.
On the face of it, the clearance, given by the ministry on the recommendation of an internal expert appraisal committee on mining, consisting of 11 members, was fairly routine but vital to Ashapura moving ahead on the project.
But, it turns out that the critical environmental impact assessment, or EIA, the basis on which the expert group gave its approval, was based on data simply copied from a Russian bauxite mine report that had nothing to do with Ratnagiri’s vegetation or ecology.
Interviews with activists, officials in the environment ministry and companies, coupled with a review of documents obtained through the Right to Information Act (RTI) suggest that Ratnagiri may be one of many projects cleared by the ministry based on inaccurate environmental assessment reports.
Environmental activists maintain that several other projects have EIAs that are also faulty. Others say that an overburdened expert group and lack of standards for environment consultants who help write these reports is leading to some projects being approved without an accurate assessment of environmental and social costs.
“In the few years that we have started challenging faulty EIAs, we were clear that bulk of the EIA reports by even the most reputed organization are a ‘cut and paste’ job, based on secondary data... Most, if not all, got cleared by the ministry of environment and forests,” alleges Ritwick Dutta, an environmental lawyer and convenor of Legal Initiative for Forest and Environment, or Life, a New Delhi-based non-profit that obtained the Ratnagiri information through RTI.
If true, this would also mean that several ongoing projects could end up in legal jeopardy if environmentalists are able to prove their case.
While there is no independent means of verifying how many EIAs were faulty, in the Ratnagiri mining case, the ministry admits that approval was given without any independent assessment of the “facts” in the report.
Consider what the report said about the environment in Ratnagiri district: “The primary habitat near the site, for birds, is the spruce forests and the forests of mixed spruce and birch.”
Turns out, such tree species are found only in northern temperate regions, such as Alaska, Norway and Russia.
“There could be misjudgement on the part of the ministry in this case but the onus does not lie only on the ministry,” concedes a member of the expert group on mining that cleared the Ratnagiri project. He didn’t want to be named citing the need to follow the ministry’s protocol.

Original Article: