Friday, March 28, 2014

The future is dark

Akhil knelt on the field and touched to feel those cracks that clearly were formed by drought over years. They were so rough that he felt it could cut into his soft skin. He looked up to where his parents and grandparents were standing and went running to them. He ran into his grandmother and hugged her by the legs. She looked down and bent down to reach for his face, beads of perspiration trickled down along the sides of his small face, wiping them off she asked him “Remember the picture I showed you from my album of those lush green fields, and a canal running along the sides? Well decades ago this used to be that place.”
 Akhil turned to those fields and looked back at his granny in bewilderment. “Same? But this place is so dry Grammy, and so hot, look I can squeeze out at least a bucket from my tee”.  He was twirling the fabric around his tiny fingers and trying to show how much water he could squeeze from them.  
“The ground is so cracked up; I can feel the dryness in my throat. There is no sign of life at all in this place. I don’t like it here. Let’s go back...Pleeeeaaase.”  He ran into the car, turned on the air conditioning and decided not to step out. Akhil’s dad too followed and decided to give his wife and her parents some private time.

Surely the sight was not of any interest to the 8 year old boy. But his Grammy and grandpa were reminiscing in the memories they had once of this place. When they were in their prime they had hoped for better things to happen here, they were promised a better future and they felt miserable about how it turned out to be.  A place that was once the hub of agriculture, a place that once provided food for its neighboring states was now abandoned. There was no sight of any life even for miles; nobody could survive the wrath of nature.
Her thoughts were interrupted when her daughter held her hand and together they walked to her husband. “Appa I am sorry. I know it breaks your heart to see this place turn into a barren land. Surely you did your best, there was nothing you could have done had you and your family stayed back here. Look around everybody left. The place is a ghost now.”

Her father stood there thinking of his past. He remembered the same spot he was now standing decades  ago, his father and others from the community assembled for days together and revolted against the Govt , to stop a project that they knew would do no good to the place. They were fierce and the fire amongst the revolutionists was spreading to all the nearby cities as well. There were protests everywhere, seeking the suspension of the ongoing project that involved in production of methane gas. The govt had signed a contract to allow a private company to dig down the Cauvery delta region which was a rich source for lignite and methane.  The protests were held on one side and the project continued its work on the other.
 In spite of being warned that during the operation the release of methane could increase Global warming, in spite of knowing that to get to the coal beds they have to drill to depths below the underground water and that to extract the methane from the cracks the water will have to drained completely and this could create droughts and earthquake, and knowing this would be no more a fertile land , and that farmers would no longer have a job the Govt mercilessly gave them the license to drill wells that disrupted nature’s way.  

The wrath it has unleashed on these lands today, this is exactly what they had feared. A desert has its charm too, but this place was robbed of everything possible, it was now not even worth a rag to step foot on.
“It is getting late Appa.If you have finished going down the memory lane, let’s go.” said his daughter who was now starting to feel exhausted by the scorching heat. For one last time he looked over what used to be his farm, he remembered walking through the swamp mud and checking for his foot prints. But today even as a tear rolled down his cheek and hit the ground there was not a tiny impinge of it.

The END.

This is purely fictional. And I hope it remains a work of fiction. I hope my bizarre imagination of the future is never proved to come true. And that no family of ours have to leave their roots and migrate to a foreign land because of the fear that it would impossible to survive in a place that cannot provide for us.  This was just how I envisaged after reading this piece of article here .The coal bed methane project as of today is suspended. But if it were to take place, God save us. A lot of people put their heart and soul into discovering various other alternatives to produce fuel, which brings no harm to nature. They are discouraged; some are even put in jail(That’s another story). A little support from the Govt in encouraging and experimenting with these methods may help us a lot rather than investing in methods that only leads to destruction. Do take the time to read the article else find the key points below.
Key notes from that article:
  •  Landscape to extract Methane gas:Thiruvidaimaruthur, Kumbakonam, Orathanadu, Papanasam taluk of     Thanjavur district and Kudavasal, Valangaiman, Needamangalam, Mannarkudi taluk of Thiruvarur district.
·         Steps to extract Methane
It’s present between the pores or cracks or on the surface of lignite rocks. At Mannarkudi region, underground coal seams are found from 500 ft. to 1650 ft.beneath the ground water. To extract the gas, a steel-encased hole is drilled into the underground coal seams and dewatered through pumping, which reduces pressure and releases trapped gases up to the well head. By such methods, ground level water around Cauvery delta would go below 500 ft and underground water sources around the Mannarkudi area would also go dry. There are also chances for Earthquake and sink holes.
·         Adverse impact of the project
The company would identify area to drill wells, would need pipes to connect wells, build roads and compressor stations, need vacuum devices and bore well machines. It would need space to store all the required materials to implement the CBM project, which will make the mineral rich Cauvery delta a trash filled dry area. On the one hand, the destruction of ground water and on the other hand, the impact of salt rich waste water pollution will turn Cauvery delta into a desert. (Earthquakes, land retreat and other natural disasters have happened in the areas where Methane is taken, in the United States of America). Agriculture and the society dependent on agriculture will be ruined if this project is implemented. They are planning to extract coal from underground using this chance to their best.Disaster is not only for Mannarkudi, but also for entire Tamil Nadu.
·         As with all carbon based fossil fuels, burning coal-bed methane releases carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere and contributes to global warming.Methane is rated as having 72 times more effect on global warming than CO2 over 25 years, so there are significant concerns about the ultimate effect of CBM production.

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