Newsletter to enable information coordination for Relief and Rehabilitation of Tsunami Affected Victims

Issue 2: 10 Jan. 05: Bangalore

Dear Friends,

Our first Tsunami Relief Update of 30 December was found helpful. Since then we have been attempting to put together a second one. This task has become increasingly complex as reports were many and their formats varied; at times information was also repetitive and not coherent. Rather than attempt to streamline them, a synoptic view of what relief effort is needed is provided, mainly by extracting from some of the inputs. In the meantime there have been many significant efforts at coordinating relief and rehabilitation, and also of making online resources available. We haveattempted to highlight these too.

We hope this update continues to assist those who are actively engaged in the affected areas in relief and now, the much needed rehabilitation. As wehope to come up with at least two updates every week from now, we request agencies and volunteers involved in the affected areas to continuesending updates for us to collate and disseminate widely. Please email your response and all updates to tsunami@esgindia.org

In solidarity,

Environment Support Group ®
S-3, Rajashree Apartments, 18/57, 1st Main Road, S. R. K. Gardens,
Jayanagar, Bannerghatta Road, Bangalore 560041. INDIA
Telefax: 91-80-26341977/26531339/26534364 Telefax: 91-80-51179912
Email: tsunami@esgindia.org or esg@esgindia.org
A partner in the Bangalore Citizens Initiative for Tsunami Victims

Contents of this update:

1. What relief is required?
2. Who should go?
3. How to send? A free offer from Safexpress Courier
4. Tsunami and after: An ESG perspective
5. Relief and Rehabilitation Updates
a) Field Report on Dalit Relief Activities - Srinivas Mirle, Association for India’s Development
b) Tsunami relief: understanding the fisherfolk ? Guide Team
c) Tsunami Update from Bhoomika Trust and Recommendations on Interim Shelter Policy, on behalf of NGO Coordination Group,
Nagapattinam Dt., Tamil Nadu
d) Another perspective on Nagapatinam Tsunami Impact and Relief Activities with special emphasis on Dalit communities ? National
Campaign on Dalit Human Rights
e) Delhi Tsunami Relief Committee Appeal
f) Exnora International’s 3 point Action Plan
g) Some Tsunami Relief Coordination organisations
h) Bangalore Citizens Initiative for Tsunami Victims ? Donation and Contact Points
6. Union Home Ministry relaxes Foreign Contribution procedure for Tsunami Relief
7. How Radio Officer Abdul Razak saved many lives in Teressa Island
8. Media Reform: A Central Part Of Reconstruction After Asian Tsunami ? International Federation of Journalists
9. Blocking Aid to Andamans and Nicobar Islands ? A Protest letter to President of India
10. Important Environmental And Social Issues For The Reconstruction Process In The Andaman & Nicobar Islands ? A note by Kalpavriksh
11. Tsunami Waves ? Old Japanese Story
12. Tsunami Underlines importance of CRZ ? Debi Goenka, Mid Day
13. Elephants and Wildlife Escape Tsunami ? Gehan de Silva Wijeyeratner, Jetwing Eco Holidays

1. What Relief is required?

When affected communities have to rebuild their lives and livelihoods, having lost everything, the clear answer would be to say everything that is neededto make life work for them. But this is easier stated. From a variety of field reports, we gather that:

a) In Andaman and Nicobar Islands, water purifying tablets are a critical need. Companies which manufacture these are especially requested to donatethese in large consignments.

b) Clothes, if only clean, neatly pressed, for children (with age groups and whether for boys or girls, mentioned) is acceptable. Sarees for women andLungis for men are accepted. (In Bangalore, volunteers have had a tough time sorting out clothes, even ironing them, before they are sent. Disaster affected communities do not lose their dignity, and the least they expect is rejected clothes.)

c) Blankets are an urgent need, everywhere.

d) New women’s undergarments (the simple type) are an urgent need, everywhere.

e) Food grain is stocked up in most areas for a few weeks, but this has not reached Dalit communities. So giving food grain, especially rice, dhal, tea, sugar, and such other essentials is welcome.

f) Medicines are required, and the listed medicines especially.
- Paracetmol
- Brufane
- Amoxycillin
- Ranidin (stomach pain, vomit)
- Antacids
- ORS powder
- Tetramycin eyedrops
- Multivitamins
- Norfloxacin (diarrhoea)
- Dichloromine
- Derephyllin Tabs
- T.NORINS-TZ for adult (diarrhoea)
- NEGAMAT suspension syrup for child (diarrhoea)

Other Medical Aid required
Infant feeding tubes
Dressing trays
Surgical scissors
Bandages, Cotton dressing material
I. V. N/ Saline , 5% Dextrose
Surgical & plastering knife
Injuries Dressing - Cotton, Bandgaes etc.
Sanitary Napkins,
Disposable Gloves (for relief workers)
Face mask (for relief workers)
Bleaching Powder
'phenoil' liquid

2. Who should volunteer?

Simply put, anybody who is willing to stay and work with local relief agencies, doing anything that is required, for at least a week. Doctors, nurses and counsellors are particularly requested to spare time for relief work. There are many who are willing to volunteer for a couple of days, but this is counterproductive for relief agencies. Volunteers must go with adequate preparation and should to the maximum extent possible be self sustaining. A website to help coordinate volunteering for Tsunami relief is set up and it would immensely help if organisations who require volunteers and people who wish to volunteer could use this site to make the task easier:

Please equip yourself with the geography of the local area before you go, and also have clear plans listed out for yourself and leave them with your close family, particularly your contact details. Look up maps and other geographical information located at: http://indiatogether.org/relief/tsunami/

Students are strongly advised to volunteer with written permission from parents/ward and Principal/Director of their institutions. Copies of these letters are best carried on person.

3. Safexpress Courier extends free pick up and delivery for Tsunami Relief work:

Safeexpress has extended its support for the Tsunami Relief work by extending free pick up and delivery of relief material to the Bangalore Collection Point at St. Joseph’s College, Langford Road, Bangalore. Safeexpress is considering picking up relief material from any of its 510 points across the country, and also the possibility of delivering it in the affected regions. The company does not cover Andamans and Nicobar Islands. The standard protocol and procedure in declaring items for shipping will be followed here too. Safeexpress will provide documentation of receipt and delivery of items. Parcels should not exceed 1000 kgs. For further details pl contact: Ms. Anantha Lakshmi on 080-25731381 or 080-51119900.
Or write to:
Sr.Area Sales Manager
48/7 Kudlu Road
Off Hosur Road
Ph#25731381, 51119900
Email: rajesh.blrro@safexpress.com

4. Tsunami and after: An ESG perspective

As another week closes in on the Tsunami affected communities across South and South East Asia, the numbers of those dead and missing continue to swell. In the words of UN Humanitarian Chief Jan Engeland, "The 150,000 dead figure is a very low figure. It will be much bigger."

As volunteers return from affected areas, they bring stories of massive devastation, and of communities shattered. Contributions, both monetary and material, continue to flow.

For the first time in modern history, public donations have far exceeded government commitments in the week following this catastrophe. A clear sign of our times: people simply expect a world far different from what governments are willing to deliver.

It is in times such as these that one expects the government to accommodate peoples support in a very big way, to open up channels of communication and funnel the enthusiastic response of people in a manner that the pain suffered by the affected communities is minimised. A hand extended in help should not be wasted in such times.

Yet there are plenty of accounts of the stiff manner in which the Indian government, the Centre and States included, have played their part. Individual officers and teams of officials have excellently responded, particularly from the Defence Forces, but one wishes this was systemic rather than the uncoordinated administrative behaviour generally observed.

In the first two days after the disaster, most affected communities had very little support. They were by and large on their own. Survivors are also painfully realising that the terrible waves did not wipe away social schisms that prevail in Indian society. While there is plenty of evidence of people’s generosity, it is also a stark reality that relief was extended along caste lines. Dalit communities are still the worst affected, with relief reaching them late and not comprehensively. In fact, retrieving fast decomposing dead bodies was a task thrust on sanitary workers who were brought in from other cities, reinforcing caste distinctions, as these workers are from the lowest of low castes. They were not informed what they were to do. They were brought in and told to do what even the highly resilient Indian Army was unwilling to. And this without any protective gear whatsoever.

It is heartening though that many teams of volunteers mobilised by cultural and religious groups and civil society organisations have lent a hand in tackling the most immediate crisis. Of removing the dead and providing them a modicum of respect in at least mass burials. But documentation of the dead is patchy, and there is really no credible account of the dead and missing.

In the midst of all this, across Tamil Nadu, many affected communities fear that relief camps would be shut down by Pongal festival, January 14. As the season to follow is considered auspicious for marriages and other celebrations, most Kalyana Mantaps (marriage halls) that are taken for relief, must be returned for celebrations. Whatever public space is available has been taken for relief shelters, and this includes, temples, churches, mosques, schools, roads, etc. And there is no guarantee that this will continue for too long.
So where do the shattered people return, if this were indeed the case?

Their villages are destroyed and their livelihoods stolen by the very sea that sustained them. Families are fragmented. Communities are decimated. Andyet we do not have a comprehensive strategy for relief, leave alone rehabilitation. By most accounts, the natural devastation is likely to be deepened byineffective response of the State.

Immediate official relief for a household in Tamil Nadu is a pittance. Rs. 4000/- (US $ 80) is the monetary compensation per household to return to normalcy. At a time when people all over the world are overwhelmingly giving to help the affected, skimpiness has become the hallmark of government relief policy. Public donations only to the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund are hovering around the Rs. 500 crore mark (US $ 100 million approx.).

In Andamans and Nicobar Islands, security concerns have completely blocked off any civil society attempts to step in a big way to help those in need.

Numbers of dead and missing accounted by the Government, in no way compare with independent accounts. Some estimates put the dead in Nicobar alone at over 20,000! With only the defence and civic authorities being allowed to move in with relief, return to normalcy for the affected population is not likely soon. Such policy of secrecy is intolerable in times of such massive devastation, and must be resisted staunchly.

It is one matter that the scale of this tragedy has the government unprepared for immediate response. But once the massiveness of this task is recognised, the objective must be to gear up all resources required to extend relief and make rehabilitation a top priority. Clearly there is no sign this is happening yet.
In light of all this, it is cruel realisation that the "US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) suspected that a deadly wave was spreading through the Indian Ocean", and decided to inform its Naval Station at Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean thus preventing any loss of life there.
But the agency did not inform any of the countries in the impact zone. Some believe this is criminal negligence.
(More info at:

If protocol prevented picking up the phone and calling all governments in the region to get people out of beaches and onto higher ground, the US agency could have easily spoken to its own media. Had CNN reported, BBC would not have been far behind. South and South East Asia is extensively covered by radio, TV and other forms of communication. In no time the message would have been relayed over and over again. This could have egged individual governments to act, in some manner or the other and urgently. In this context, it is a tragically admitted fact that the Thai Government whichhad advance warning of the possibility of a Tsunami chose not to issue a warning for fear of adversely affecting its tourism industry.
It is also now revealed that the possibility of a Tsunami being triggered by an earthquake in the Indian Ocean was a subject of discussion in a major conference on disasters organised by US National Aeronautical and Space Administration, and the Indian Space Research Organisation, in Bangaloreduring June 2004. To be forewarned is to be forearmed, it is said. In that sense to not act on such knowledge is criminal negligence too.
(More infoprovided by Prof. Roger Bilham at: http://cires.colorado.edu/~bilham/IndonesiAndaman2004.htm or http://freelogs.com/stats/r/rogerbilham)

We raise these issues in such stark manner in this bulletin, so it is highlighted that nature’s occasional devastating surprises do damage our lives. What little knowledge we have of such occurences must flow freely, especially amongst the scientific community and to key decision makers, so risk is minimised. The Tsunami and its aftermath have once more highlighted lack of preparedness in governance for saving peoples lives and livelihoods. It is distressing therefore, that the Government of India refused international aid as its first reaction to international response to help communities in need. What guided the Indian Government to act in this manner may be debated for a long time to come, and many accounts indicate that this was to
present India as a resilient nation capable of handling its own. However, this only worsened the conditions of affected communities, especially in Andamans and Nicobar Islands. Here relief did not reach affected areas for days, with even local home grown NGOs not being allowed to extend what little relief they could. Needless to state, it was a clear NO for credible international non-governmental agencies with specialised skills to work in such situations.

As we slowly realise the massive rehabilitation effort that is demanded, an open approach to receiving help is demanded. The Indian estimate for rehabilitation is about Rs. 8,000 crores, approx. US $ 1.7 Billion. (This does not include the Rs. 5,000 crores, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa wants, including from the World Bank as loan, to build a sea wall along the state’s coast.) Estimates from other affected countries, especially Indonesia and Sri Lanka, are yet to emerge.

In view of the enormity of the challenge in raising these resources and building back livelihoods, the international community has to deliver in the context of its very poor past record. For instance, the Bam Earthquake in Iran a year ago had over US $ 2 billion in commitments for relief from the international community. Only 17 milliion dollars was actually received a year later. Governments cannot be expected to be very different now. The lethargic response of the Bush administration is indicative. Tony Blair was away in Cairo, when British citizens were out there raising millions of pounds. (Over £100 million, twice government's response.)

In the background of Iran’s experience, the Indian Government may have had a point in refusing international aid. But when people, independent of their governments, from all over the world are willing to help, it is truly unnecessary for our government to use this tragedy to demonstrate India’s prowess
as a regional power. Perhaps India is. But those devastated are very fragile, and could do with all the help they can get to rebuild their lives, and on their terms.

For a fisherman who returns to find his wife and children dead, India’s status in the international community matters the least. It is not pride when government policy comes in the way of reaching available relief to those affected. Such policies and politics have no place in today’s world, where natural disasters always have debilitating impacts given our disregard for nature’s ways.

People are connected on this planet. Governments are keeping the divisions, unnecessarily. To regain the dignity and respectability those affected enjoyed a moment before the Tsunami struck them is their fundamental right. It is our fundamental duty to ensure this happens.

Environment Support Group
10 January 2005

5. Relief and Rehabilitation Updates

a) Field Report on Dalit Relief Activities
by Srinivas Mirle, AID-Cincinnati, Jan 9, 2005

Dalits comprise about 17% of India's population and continue to struggle to be included in mainstream India. They have been marginalized in India for ages and, surprisingly, they are not faring better even in the aftermath of the tragic tsunami disaster. This was evident from field visits that I made today with Ms. Shabnam Hashmi of ANHAD to the tsunami-affected areas of Velankany, Nagapattinam and Kesavanpalem in Tamil Nadu. Ms. Shruti Parthasarathy, a volunteer from Bangalore who is working with AID on coordinating relief activities in the village of Kuttiyandyur, has also observed the Dalit denigration.

In the tsunami affected areas of Tamil Nadu, there are about 8000 Dalit families who live in about 95 hamlets. About 30 hamlets were severely affected and about 5000 huts have been washed away, according to Mr. Vincent Manohar of the NCDHR, National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights.

Velankany is renowned for its magnificent church and devotees come from far and wide. There was a significantly larger number of devotees on the beach near the church the morning after Christmas when the tsunami struck. About 2000 people perished and of these dead, about 200 people were local residents.

In the Velankany area, there are about 2000 Dalit families in about 60 villages and they were not provided any shelters, according to Mr. Ayapillai, a Dalit activist. It was only after a HRFLD (Human Rights Forum for Liberation of Dalits) leader, Mr. Ravi Chandran, was interviewed on TV networks that the government machinery cooperated with NGO's in providing shelters.

In Velankany and other areas, Dalit municipal employees (so-called "scavengers") from several cities such as Coimbatore and Tiruchirapalli were brought in to clear the dead bodies. Strangely, these workers were not provided basic safety equipment such as gloves, masks or boots as they waded in the slush or trod in the mangled debris. According to Mr. Manohar, personal protection equipment was provided to other non-Dalit relief workers and even worn by officials who were largely supervising the operations.

For a long time, the well-organized fisherman group has apparently prevented Dalits from sea fishing. For the Dalits who eked out a living by fishing, they had to fish inland where the catch was typically less. For the Dalits who worked on agriculture, their future is uncertain as the soil has become saline and its fertility is still being assessed. Even so, 90% of the Dalits worked on land owned by others before the tsunami and do not know what the future holds for them.

After the tsunami, that Dalits were chased away by fisherfolk when Dalits tried to enter the relief camps, according to Manohar. To add insult to injury, the government machinery was also slower to react to Dalit needs. For example, drinking water supplies reached non-Dalit areas but were tardy or negligent in reaching Dalit areas. According to Manohar, FIR's (First Information Reports) to document missing people were not readily filed for Dalits as they could then become eligible for the one lakh rupees issued for each casualty by the government.

In Kuttiyandyur, Parthasarathy found that the panchayat does not acknowledge that the Dalit hamlet of Chinnamanikapanga is part of the main village. Kuttiyandyur has a population of 1014 and 23 Dalit families live in Chinnamanikapanga. The Chinnamanikapanga families have received none of the immediate relief provisions provided by the government. AID has worked with denizens of both the village and the Dalit hamlet, while taking care to not alienate the Panchayat and thereby lose its cooperation. Parthasarathy and other volunteers have worked in Kuttiyandyur and are now ready to move on as systems are in place and the village can manage on its own. AID will continue to provide much-needed supplies to Chinnamanikapanga. It is important that the government and other relief agencies reach out to Dalit hamlets such as Chinnamanikapanga, which have existed under difficult conditions and are struggling to cope even more after the tsunami.

In the Nagapattinam/Karaikal area, the tsunami was particularly devastating. There have been thousands of deaths and estimates range as high as 14,000. Of these, 113 dead were believed to be Dalits. 1914 Dalit homes were also destroyed by the tsunami. The Dalits were not able to stay in the relief camps that sheltered non-Dalits and the Dalit relief camp had to be set up several kilometers away from their former dwellings.

In Keshavanpalem, 83 Dalit homes close to the shore were washed away and nine Dalits died. According to Mr. Karuappan, a retired IAS officer who is very active with Dalit causes through organizations such as NCDHR and HRFLD, the Dalits have no shelters. They staged a peaceful dharna (protest) in front of the local officials who promised action in an hour. More than two days have since passed and the shelters remain an empty promise. The Dalits occupy the sites of their destroyed homes during the day and then go wherever they can, possibly the homes of their relatives, for the night.

The tsunami has been a colossal disaster and has affected people from many nations and many walks of life. Just as other communities have suffered, the Dalits have also borne tragic losses. It is sad that age-old discriminatory practices prevail even in this crisis situation and the tsunami tragedy has been made more difficult to bear for the long-suffering Dalits.
Source: http://www.aidindia.org/CMS/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=126&Itemid=63

b) Tsunami relief: understanding the fisherfolk
By Guide Team
Date: January 5, 2005

Let fisher people decide

Eight days after the black Sunday, the situation is still bleak for the fisher people. Everywhere the good hearts all over the country and even from outside, immediate help is flowing in in the form of cooked food, clothes, groceries, utensils, sheltering materials and medical help. Some NGO were even providing psychological support for the traumatized people.

In some places, the government authorities have advised the NGO to leave the materials in their hands for distribution. What is thus brought is reported to be lying in the centers. It is also reported that the distribution is caused disturbances: both by the other villagers by way laying or by the community
itself, when the supply is not sufficient to distribute to all in the village.

We have a precarious situation.

Many outsiders, both those who are been frequenting the area as volunteers or those who follow the media - printed and electronic - been passing a comment. "These villagers are refusing food and clothing: they are too proud to accept doles" is what they say. Some even think that they are ungrateful.

This makes us very concerned. This attitude could tarnish the effort that the many good hearts putting forth. As a team with understanding of the coastal communities, we need to explain. The fisher people, unlike the farmers, are those who live by daily earning. They do not seed and cultivate ? their job is to harvest. They dare the sea and in fact, they dare more when they are told not to venture - because it is then that they would make a better catch in the troubled sea. The assets they have made so far, are made over a few decades of hard and daring work. Tsunami has taken all these in a few minutes, just like lightning.

They are shocked:
- at having lost everything in a minute
- at having lost those who were always there on the shore, worrying about them when they were out in sea
- at having reduced to be houseless
- at having made to stay away from the sea on which they never hesitated to sail unless it is so rough.

They are not hopeless. They know what should happen.
But every thing else is happening.
They do not need mercy. They do not need doles in the forms of goods.
They only need assistance to build back their livelihood. They want their boats / kattamarans and nets.
They want the government to make sure that the ban to fish to be removed.
They want the advice "do not eat fish" to be removed.
No other sign of mercy is needed.
Let us understand them.
Let us not scorn at their lack of gratitude.
Let us give them their gear.
They will build back their world in no time.

In solidarity,
Gilbert Rodrigo
And all the GUIDE team.

c) A Tsunami Update from Bhoomika Trust, Chennai
January 5, 2005

This Report is based on the latest field visits by Bhoomika volunteers to villages near Chennai, Pondicherry, Cuddalore, and Nagapattinam; their observations at the NGO Coordination Meeting of January 4th at the Nagai Collectorate; a visit to the Cuddalore Collectorate; and telephonic input from other sources on the ground. This updates some of the important issues that came up at the January 2nd Information Exchange Meeting in Chennai, as documented in our report, Seven Days Later…in Tamlinadu. If you do not have a copy of that report, please go to: www.tsunami-india.org/meeting.htm

We are sharing this assessment of the latest situation in Tamilnadu Tsunami-affected areas with a wide audience, with the sincere hope that this may be of help in channeling the overwhelming support from all over India and other parts of the world into more productive avenues. (There have been numerous reports of unproductive efforts by well-meaning groups--inevitable, perhaps, when there are as many as 160 organizations of various kinds in the area--which may be placing undue pressure upon the affected communities, and upon NGOs and the district authorities on the ground, who are trying to prioritize and organize relief and rehab efforts under very difficult circumstances.)

Please keep in mind that this is only one group’s perspective, and there are sure to be other points of view from the affected areas. For Questions or Comments, please contact Raju Rajagopal at rajagop@pacbell.net or call Bhoomika Trust at 044-5204-1505 or 094444-51267, or e-mail us at
bhoomikaindia@yahoo.co.in, especially if you wish to be added to our mailing list.


1. The need for Emergency Relief has come to an end for the most part. Several unserved or underserved pockets have been identified, and relief and medical supplies have been delivered to them over the last 48 hours by several organizations. In fact, there are examples of multiple groups coming to the aid of the same community—e.g. one question raised at the Nagai Coordination Meeting was the need for a mechanism to preclude the possibility of different medical teams giving shots to the same people! Our volunteers report some people completely unaffected by the disaster trying to garner or corner supplies.

2. NGOs are pushing the government to formally announce the end of the Relief Phase, so that donor organizations do not keep dumping supplies in villages. This is to ensure that communities begin to get into the ‘rehabilitation’ mind-set, and to ensure that donors get OUT of the ‘relief and charity’ mind-set. Also, one can’t underestimate the possibility of resentment building among other poorer communities unaffected by the Tsunami, who are seeing the massive levels of aid going mainly to one community (we have already seen some signs of this). We would urge prospective donors to be patient for a few days and evaluate how they can be of assistance in the massive rehabilitation phase yet to come: starting with an interim shelter
phase, which the NGOs are hoping will be clearly defined by the government in a way that the govt-NGO-community partnership roles are clearly delineated (e.g. who finances, who supplies material, who overseas, and who actually builds interim shelters). We refer you once again to the Interim Shelter Policy recommendation from NGOs in Nagapattinam, which has now been formally submitted to the T.N. Government. (Please see our website if you have not received it.)

3. In order to have some semblance of control over hundreds of relief trucks going into villages, some without any clear destinations, the local authorities have instituted some procedures. We are told that these procedures are not meant to stop supplies to the needy, but to reduce chaos and duplication: e.g. they are asking supply trucks to first register themselves with local authorities, with a copy of the inventory (e.g. at DRDA, District Rural Development Authority in Cuddalore), and to get a proper ID badge or token from them.

4. For those without a clear destination, dropping off supplies at the NGO Coordination Center at the Nagai and other Collectorates may be a better option than delivering them to places where the needs may have already been met, and face the risk of supplies falling into local politicians or power brokers’ hands. Another alternative is to deliver supplies to regional centers being run by NGOs like AID and SIFFS, who can then systematically evaluate the needs of the community in their areas and deliver them to the neediest.

5. Some international relief workers are arriving unannounced, with skills entirely inappropriate for this disaster assistance. As community workers emphasized in the Sunday meeting in Chennai, the immediate needs are: Volunteers willing to roll up sleeves and clear debris and dead bodies (as the military is doing in some places, and Dalits, NGO volunteers, and even some corporate employees are doing in other places);

Women volunteers with Tamil skills, who are willing to stay with communities for some time, acting as companions to bereaved women; and Organizational support to NGOs and the NGO Coordination Center--for e.g. to record and transcribe minutes (even here, knowledge of Tamil is preferred); and back office support to install IT systems in a hurry, to enter data (e.g. surveys being conducted by various groups), to maintain databases, and to communicate with other coordination points such as Chennai, Pondicherry, etc. Another need that has been expressed are Tamil speaking (preferably women) volunteers to serve as data
gatherers in a possible NGO-lead comprehensive damage assessment survey

6. "You ask for bread and you get a bakery," was one observation heard today that aptly describes some of groups who, in their well-intentioned desire to help, are offering anything from advanced power intensive water-making machines from the air, to advanced therapy techniques, to a planeload of milk, to disaster management training courses, and even scuba divers! As we heard in the Sunday meeting, the need to help may already be overwhelming the need for help. There are groups with loaded trucks and volunteers ready to go to the affected areas from various cities, but without a clue as to where they are headed, and what they are going to do to help. We are getting many calls that fall in this category, and our advice is: "Please
do not go now, but wait for a few days until the shelter and rehab needs are better defined, which will surely require a lot of help. If you must go, please be ready to plunge into debris clearing work, or link up first with someone already on the scene who knows exactly how and where you can help, or with
those who may need to be relieved after several days of hard work."

7. Some of the Needs coordinated by Bhoomika since the January 2nd meeting will give some idea of the latest needs:
a. More tippers and volunteers to clear debris (some groups were willing to clear debris, provided they did not come in contact with bodies.)
b. Water purification tablets and 2 tons of water for hospitals in the Andamans, which was coordinated with the Air Force at Tambaram
c. More preassembled rations kits and vessel kits for villages near Karaikal, Pulicat, Kalpakkam, and Pondy
d. We are CURRENTLY organizing:
i. 100 Cell phones and SIM cards for volunteers working in the relief efforts
ii. Financial, IT, and human resources for back office support, and damage and needs assessment surveys
iii. Large quantities of disinfectant for to use in post-cleanup of debris and bodies in villages (has already been sourced by TTK in the UK)
iv. Women’s undergarments

8. Rehabilitation of Villages: NGOs are strongly advising the government against allowing the concept of ‘adopting’ villages, which carries certain patronizing implications that drive the approach towards rebuilding and rehabilitating the communities (based on experiences from other disasters, where there were even some attempts to change the names of ‘adopted’ villages to donor-friendly names!) They are urging that the government invite groups to take ‘responsibility’ for certain villages in an organized manner, and in consultation with the community--more as a long-term partnership. We hope that this and other similar issues will also be spelled out soon in a recommendation to the government.

9. Rehabilitation of Livelihoods: Continuing discussions with the fishing community indicates that the approach to restoration of lost crafts and nets is likely to be quite complicated. Any discussion of replacing lost or damaged catamarans could have huge supply and environmental implications (one fishing group reported that 35,000 out of 50,000 catamarans--cost of Rs. 15 to 20,000--may have been lost or damaged.) On the other hand, any plan to replace catamarans with motorized fiber glass boats (cost of Rs. 85,000 and are made in several parts of the South) could have huge financial and sourcing supply implications (the same fishing source reported that there were 2,500 motorized boats before the Tsunami.) Also, we are told that there are ten different types of fishing nets used in Tamilnadu, based on the time of the year. We mention these notes, not unverified by Bhoomika, only to underscore that hurrying to donate boats or catamarans or nets, without a proper Needs Assessment, dove-tailed the policy and compensation plan by the government may be unproductive and disruptive. Also, given the enormous coverage that the plight of the affected fishing communities is getting in the press, we would like to note that there are a significant number of non-fishing villages which are also affected, and whose livelihood and rehab needs may be vastly different.

10. Desire to Seek Alternative Livelihoods: We have also heard instances of fishermen, already frustrated in recent years by what we are told is the diminishing catch in the seas, who may be looking at this disaster as an opportunity to seek alternative livelihoods. This certainly adds another dimension to the rehab plans, turning the age old adage, "Don’t give them fish; teach them how to fish" on its head. In this instance, relief agencies have not only NOT given them any fish (but lots of rice and dhal and sambar powder!) over the last ten days, but we may have to teach some of them not to fish!

For Bhoomika Trust
Raju Rajagopal

Subject: Interim Selter Policy Recommendations to TN Govt
Attention of Donor Agencies, NGOs, Community Groups, and Business Groups Wishing to Assist in the Interim Rehabilitation Phase in Tamilnadu: The following policy recommendations have been worked out by the NGO Coordination Group in Nagapattinam, in consultation with local community leaders and with government representatives in Nagapattinam. It is going to be presented formally tonight at the NGO/Govt Coordination Meeting. In the mean time, it is extremely important that NGOs and Donors who are not in Nagapattinam also endorse the principles herein and communicate to their staff the need to follow some of the recommendations, which are not only based on lessons learnt from recent disasters, but has been tailored to meet the needs of the TN disaster-affected communities. Bhoomika Trust is sending this message on behalf of the NGO Coordination Group in Nagapattinam and we will take any responses and pass them onto the group as received. Please send your comments only to this e-mail and put in the subject Interim Shelter Policy so we can quickly sort the incoming e-mails. We also request that you forward these recommendations to your field personnel and any relevant NGO personnel who are not included in this
Thank You,
Raju Rajagopal 098410-73650
on behalf of Bhoomika Trust, Chennai

NGO Coordination Center
Nagapattinam Collectorate Office,
Nagapattinam District,
Tamil Nadu.
'(04365) 252800 / 251992
E-Mail: tsunami_ngp@rediffmail.com

Recommendations for Interim Shelter Policy from the NGO Coordination Centre

(Based on feedback from village communities in the south, north and central Nagappatinam, and discussions with local NGOs, and Donor partners)

1. It is recommended that the Government, NGOs and Donors encourage, (through their interim policy, and implementation methodologies), the communities to put up their ‘keeth’ houses with casuarina poles and thatch. We recommend this for the following reasons:

a) Groups discussions with SHG groups and a rapid assessment of community viewpoints has suggested that given a choice people would prefer to be supported for their traditional housing. (It was also observed that when any NGO or donor asks the people whether they would like tents etc, they tend to agree because they would like to get whatever they can, quickly, and this is not necessarily a reflection of what they would ideally prefer). However, given a choice and adequate support they would prefer the thatch structure (Keeth).

b) The thatch structure can be constructed very speedily and it takes less than 2 days for a unit to come up. It can sustain for the entire interim period which could be upto 5-8 months before their permanent structures come up. On an average the thatch structures can cost upto 8-10,000. It is therefore quick, cost effective and more sustaining in an interim period, than other options such as tents, tarpaulins, tinsheets, etc.

c) Most important, from experiences of other disasters, it has been observed that communities, who actively engage themselves in reconstructing their interim structures, psychologically rehabilitate faster. It is extremely important that communities are encouraged to rebuild their homes and lives immediately, and that they are not placed in a situation where they are watching while organizations put up tents, prefabricated houses, etc - material and technologies which they themselves are not familiar with.

2. It is suggested that the Government support the affected families with an ex-gratia amount of Rs. 5,000 for their interim shelters. And it is recommended that this amount is distributed through the SHGs, if this is administratively possible. In cases where a temporary relocation will have to be undertaken, the Government should allocate the land where the temporary housing can come up. Clear procedural guidelines for the communities and organizations as to how to access this land would be necessary.

3. While providing the temporary land access, it would be important to state the time period for which that land is being allocated. To ensure that the temporary settlement does not become a permanent settlement, a notification to each of the affected families receiving the ex-gratia payment could be made, which specifies that they will be liable to receive compensation for the permanent housing, but will be able to do so when they move out of the temporary settlement, and move to the land allocated for the permanent settlement in the stipulated period.

4. The implementing NGOs and their donor partners will take the responsibility in different villages, to invest upto Rs. 5000, in the thatch material, sanitation etc, and immediately provide support for the interim housing (thatch, poles, etc). Organizations have expressed their commitment to ensure that the communities utilize their ex-gratia payment (toward the hiring of labour,) for the construction of their houses. For instance, in Nagappatinam District, alone, different organizations will be allocated villages where they take the above responsibilities. And there is a clear assurance that every village would be covered between the different agencies. The NGO Coordination Centre, with the District Collector will ensure that the matching of villages with organizations will take place. A similar system could be followed in the other districts also.

5. Thus through a combination of the Government’s ex-gratia amount, and the organizations providing material, the communities will be supported through a public-private partnership to rebuild their houses within the next two-to three weeks. While this is recommended as the basic approach and methodology framework, it is possible that some organizations or donors would want to do something independent of the policy. This cannot be stopped, but the above approach will ensure that broadly, the interim rehabilitation phase, which is an extremely significant phase, remains owner-driven, discourages dependency approaches, and generates a more sustainable pattern for the overall rehabilitation.

d) Another perspective on Nagapatinam Tsunami Impact and Relief Activities with special emphasis on Dalit communities - National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights

Raveen Satkurunathan
Executive Director
Center for Justice and Peace in South Asia
A Minority rights organisation
Places Visited
District: Nagapattinam
Tharagampadi - Fisherfolk village
Kesavapalayam - SC (Adi Dravidar/Parayar) hamlet
Thudari Pettai - Relief Camp - 513 families - 4 SC villages
Nagapattinam - Town area
Velanganni - place where the pilgrims/tourists/visitors were killed
Vanigiri - Village where Fisherfolk and Dalits habitate
Thiruvayur -place where Manual Scavenging Community is gathered for clearing carcasses.

1. Loss of life mostly among the fisher folk in the places where we visted.
2. Loss of property also seems to be among the fisherfolk in terms of boats, nets and total washout of house and the property.
3. There are villages/hamlets of SC (Dalit) communities, which have also been totally washed out. Total houses/huts washed out, all the property destroyed. No one is staying in those villages anymore. About 513 people who are SC victims of Tsunami from the above mentioned four villages - Kesavapalayam, Veli Palayam, Karan Thoppu, Pudu palayam are being given shelter in the ICDS community hall and the adjoining TELC Emmanuel Church in Thudari Pettai, which is also an SC village.
4. When asked why they have not gone to the government relief camps nearer to the affected villages, the SC community has expressed their fear of discrimination and caste conflicts in the government relief camps.
5. In Vanigiri, the Dalit victims have complaint with much grief and desperation that they are starving as the relief food materials are not being allowed to be distributed to the Dalits. The food being distributed by the State government also is not allowed by the fisher folk to be taken by the Dalits.
6. In the same village the Dalits also complaint to the Police in our presence that the Fisher folk have buried unidentified bodies right next to the houses of the Dalits. We could smell the stench coming out.
7. The victims from Kesavapalayam, also say that no government officials have come to enquire the loss of life and destruction of property in their camp.
8. Food is being provided to them by local bus operator- Nivedhita transports (belonging to a non-Dalit community), local SC villages and some NGOs.
9. Christian Medical College and Hospital has provided emergency medical aid.
10. DPI (Dalit Panthers of India) party leader, Thirumavalaven has visited their villages and has organised two persons team of their cadre to stay and help the victims.
11. There have been deaths in these villages - in the three villages
a. Kesavapalayam - 9 deaths - 1 (body yet to be recovered)
b. Karan Theruvu - 6 deaths - 1 (body yet to be recovered)
c. Pudu palayam - 1 death
d. Vanigiri - 1 death
12. The SC deaths have not yet been registered by the police or the revenue officials - No FIR so far on the deaths
13. Loss of property including the destruction of the houses is not yet registered by the revenue officials.
14. The response of the Tehsil office is "we are just now able to focus only on the dead bodies and emergency supplies. We are not yet able to look into the relief and registration.
15. The revenue officials say they asked the SCs to come into the other camps and as they are not doing so, they do not have additional resources to reach them, not looking into the fear of violence or discrimination
expressed by them.
16. The psychological trauma is severe as families have lost members and most of all parents/mothers have lost children.
17. One of the great concerns parents have expressed is the washing away of all books and school materials of their children, who now will have to soon face the final exams. 'Our life is something, can you somehow help the studies of our children?'
18. NDTV has highlighted the issue of scavengers who have been brought in from other districts in Tamil Nadu to Nagapattinam to clear the dead bodies stuck in the sand. Even the army is not willing/able to do so. They are doing so with their bare hands or torn gloves for a mere Rs.75/ day, not fearing for their own health hazards.
19. The Safai Karmachari Andolan (Movement for Elimination of the Practice of Manual Scavenging) has begun to contact these communities that have been brought from various parts of the state to asses the forced labour/discrimination at work place/menial work they may experience.
20. There has been great response in providing relief from NGOs and civil society. The need for medical supplies and psychological support is still a gap.

Suggested Action
1. Scan the status across the coast line of TN (HRFDL, CAN, Prepare, ASA, PW-TN, others ...........), AP (DBSU, DBF,.....), KL (State NCDHR and DHRM coordinator....) ?
2. Situation report on the life loss, property loss. Documentation on a standardised format - responsibility being shared by various groups and NCDHR or state NCDHR to consolidate and document.
3. Monitor the immediate relief being organised in the camps - equal access and whether any discrimination in the camps
4. Process of registration of the life loss and property loss by the state to enable the relief and rehabilitation for the SCs and STs - to monitor closely
5. In the cleaning of the debris and carcasses the discrimination through engaging manual scavenging community and the SCs only as others are refusing to handle them. The impact of this to be assessed.
6. Access to medical services, clothes and food to the SCs - to monitor
7. Have an anti discrimination cell at each state to follow up reports on any form of discrimination against the SCs and STs
8. Present a report to the state on the steps to be taken in the relief and rehabilitation and also to the Central Govt.
9. Make this report available to the media especially NDTV, BBC and other language channels.

N. Paul Divakar
National Convenor
National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights
942, Bakaram Street No. 7
SBH Officers Colony,
Hyderabad - 500 080
ph: +91 40 3090 5312
J. Vincent Manoharan
General Secretary, NCDHR
Phone: Off: 011 258 63 166; Off: 011 309 66 234; Mob: 093441 35856


e) Delhi Tsunami Relief Committee Appeal


Friends, as the year draws to a close and while people in other parts of the country are looking forward to a weekend of festivities, thousands in Andaman & Nicobar, Tamilnadu, Pondicherry, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh are staring into a bleak future. The killer tsunami - giant tidal waves unleashed by an undersea earthquake in the Indian Ocean - that struck the South Indian coast on 26 December has left a trail of death and destruction in its wake. Thousands have died, many more have lost their loved ones, their homes and their hopes.

Reports and assessments of the exact damage are still coming in. Preliminary reports from local sources suggest that at least 15,000 people have lost their lives, of whom one third are likely to be children. Many thousands more are missing. The lives and livelihoods of at least 300,000 families have been

The damage is the worst in the Andaman & Nicobar Islands and Tamilnadu. Kerala, Pondicherry and Andhra Pradesh have also been affected. In all these States, it is the fishing communities that have been hardest hit. Already struggling with poverty and an uncertain livelihood, they now find themselves completely destitute. Their dwellings are destroyed, their boats, nets and livelihoods lost, their families devastated.

A large number of volunteers from local social action groups, community organisations and Government agencies are working to provide immediate relief to the affected communities. People from other parts of the affected States have rallied in support and have mobilised to provide food, medicines and shelter materials to those in need. In Delhi, a consortium of concerned organisations and individuals has come together to form the Delhi Tsunami Relief Committee to coordinate assistance and support to local organisations involved in the relief efforts.

While immediate necessities are being met from local sources, the greater need is for economic rehabilitation and restoration of livelihoods. The affected communities do not want to beg for aid ? they are independent fisher-people who are proud of their skills and confident of their abilities to rebuild their lives. The money that we in Delhi are able to raise will be used to support affected families in replacing the boats, nets and other productive assets which they have lost, and which will enable them to regain their livelihoods.

Our priorities for support will be the worst affected villages and hamlets in Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu. We will be channelling support through local organisations who are working directly with affected communities for rehabilitation and restoration of livelihoods.

We appeal to you to contribute generously to the Tsunami Relief Fund and help the affected communities to rebuild their lives and live with dignity.

Cheques should be made out to "Delhi Tsunami Relief Fund". Cheques and cash donations can be sent to: Indian Social Institute, 10, Institutional Area,
Lodhi Road, NEW DELHI 110 003. The Bank details are
1. S. B. A/c No. 29670

2. Name and address of the Bank
Indian Overseas Bank, Lok Kala Manch Branch, 20, Institutional Area,
Lodi Road, New Delhi ? 1100 03

All India Students’ Federation
All India Trade Union Congress
All India Youth Federation
Centre for Education and Communication
Christian Aid, Delhi
Delhi Forum
Environics Trust
Gandhi Peace Foundation
Guild of Service
HAQ: Centre for Child Rights
Human Rights Law Network
Hind Mazdoor Sabha
Indian Social Institute
JNU Students’ Union
JNU Teachers’ Association
Labour File
National Fishermen’s Forum
Pakistan-India Peoples' Forum for Peace and Democracy
Research Foundation for Science and Technology
The Other Media
Worldwide Fund for Nature
Youth for Peace
For more information contact:
Centre for Education and Communication: 32270650; Delhi Forum: 26680914 & 26687724; JAGORI: 26257140 & 51643134; Indian Social Institute:
24622379 & 24625015 and The Other Media: 51652451 & 51652452

For tax exemption on donations, contact: Indian Social Institute, 10, Institutional Area, Lodhi Road, NEW DELHI 110 003.

f) Exonora International has chalked out a 3 point action plan for the relief work:

Immediate Relief -

Family start up Kit
Soon after the tragic occurrence, relief material flooded the affected areas, a sort of a "relief Tsunami" took place but the benefit didn’t go to the victims since there was insufficient manpower to sort out the material and reach it in a systematic manner to all victims. Exnora, in consultation with other voluntary organization, therefore came up with the idea of a "Startup Family Kit" containing basic kitchen utensils, provisions etc to help affected families restart their life. This has been well received by the people and also the Government officials as it avoids wastage of material. The standard family start up kit consisting of essential kitchen utensils, essential provision, basic bedding and other household deeds costs Rs.1,350/-. This is especially useful in remote fishing hamlets where governmental relief measures don’t reach in time or in adequate numbers. Resources are required for putting this kit together.

Bulk of the Victims are traumatized, especially children and women who have lost their entire family. The Government officials report that even the slightest noise from the sea creates a panic. Exnora intends sending teams of experts to the affected areas and relief camps for counselling the victims. WE REQUIRE VOLUNTEERS FROM THE MEDICAL PROFESSION FOR counselling.

Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Reconstruction:
Resettlement and CRZ:
Bulk of the damage occurred within half a Kilometre from the high tide mark, in other words, within what we call "Costal Regulation Zone" (CRZ). As per law, development activities are supposed to be restricted within the zone, but in fact the rule was seldom enforced. Nature has taught a bitter lessen that there is logic in the CRZ concept and this zone is best left untouched. Many of the affected villages are in this zone and many victims are scared of going back to their villages/home. Instead of recognizing the reality that homes in this zone is unsafe, there are attempts to persuade and "counsel" the affected people to go back to their costal villages. While we don’t advocate forced resettlement outside the CRZ, we would certainly not like to force the reluctant victims to go back but rather find alternative location, in consultation with them for resettlement in safer places. This requires resources for land acquisition, construction and providing viable access to the sea for people dependent on the sea.

Four categories of people were affected

the middle class whose purses will pinch due to loss but who are not helpless and can take care of themselves through Insurance claims etc., some counselling and personal assistance.

Fishermen, whose livelihood has been affected in terms of lost boats, fishing nets and homes. They need help to rebuild homes, re-acquire tools of their occupation and capital to carry on their trade.

Women fish vendors who have lost all their stock and capital and are in debt. They have by and large been by-passed in relief assistance to restart their trade since his activity is yet to be recognized as one of the victims of the Tsunami. Capital in the form of grants and soft loans through Self Help Groups is need to rehabilitate them.

Non fisherman marginalized people living in costal villages who have lost all but who tend to get discriminated against for relief assistance. Funds are required for counselling, vocational training and rehabilitation of these often neglected people. (The discrimination is not necessarily government inspired
but often by the more vociferous and influential victims themselves)

c. Reconstruction
Identification of real victims and help in reconstruction of homes and shops using appropriate technologies which would withstand to and extent earthquakes, cyclones, Tsunami and other natural calamities. While government has come forward with offers of assistance for reconstruction, past experience is that local realties are not considered while planning such reconstruction. It would be essential to work with the affected communities and help them choose appropriate technologies and techniques for the reconstruction. This can be done only by trained social worker, working in coordination with technical experts.

d. "Change Makers"
A holistic approach to rehabilitation, resettlement and reconstruction of affected areas requires more than a government grant in the heat of the movement. It requires close contact with the community, mentoring and guiding them and involving them in participatory planning. Exnora proposes placement of trained social workers who will be known as "Change Makers" in select villages and settlements affected by the Tsunami for about a year.

Exnora has the capacity and expertise to take up this task but this requires placement of trained Social workers in selected Villages to work with the community for up to one year on a nominal fellowship. The social worker designated as "Change Maker" will be mentored by Exnora and will work on counselling and rehabilitating the local community liaise with governmental and other agencies on the one hand and the community on the other in channelling appropriate aid and assistance in the task for reconstruction and resettlement promote Self-help Groups to further the income generating opportunities of the community
help in activating participatory democratic practices in the Village Panchayat working towards total sanitation solutions for the community address the other felt needs of the local communities

We seek your assistance for
Planning the rehabilitation, reconstruction and resettlement
Sponsoring the salary of Change makers (any number- the present requirement is 200 Change makers) for one year. The fellowship for a change maker will be Rs.3000/- per month plus Rs.250 per month towards travel, communication and training (equivalent to USD 75/-) per month.
Sponsoring the Family Startup Kits
Your help will go a long way in healing the wounds of the Tsunami, simultaneously providing job opportunities.
Yours Truly
Exonora International
20, Giriappa Road
T Nagar
Chennai 6000017
Tel: 91-44-28153377/52121673
Email: info@exnora.org

g) Some Tsunami Relief Coordination organisations
Tamil Nadu Science Forum and Association of India’s Development network in India has extensively reached out to affected communities in the Tamil Nadu region. There is a big need for volunteers provided they can work for a few days. Familiarity with Tamil would be a big help.

Contact details:

AID help line is 044-2835 0403, 044 5561 5629. Volunteers will be present throughout the day. Please deposit all material between 10.00 and 6.00 AM. Address: 20, Ratheenam St, Gopalaupuram, Chennai-600086 Check http://survivors.aidindia.org for latest requirements, contact points in other cities in India, as well as abroad.

Contacts in Cuddalore: Balaji - 94440 61033, Cuddalore - K.P.Narayan 04142-229108, Damu - 94442 41918 Nagai: Jagadish - 98403 79889, Ranganathan - 94440 18590 Pondicherry: 0413- 2290733 .

The National Fishworkers Forum is reaching out to the affected communities through their extensive network all along the Indian Coastline. Contact details are:
NFF Contact Persons in the Tsunami Affected areas for Identifying the Fisherfolk Settlements Affected

T Peter, Trivandrum (for southern Tamil Nadu coast and Kerala) Tel: 0471-2415239 R, 0471-2501376 (O) Mobile: 9846063461
Jesurathinam, SNEHA, Nagapattinam Tel: 04365-222907, 240622
Ramalingam and Jawahar, C/O SNIRD, Ongole, Andhra Pradesh Tel: 08592-232008, Cell: 9849212816
Fr. Arulalandum, Ramnad Tel: 9448042704
M Subbu, Chennai and northern Tamil Nadu coast Tel: 9444010014
T S S Mani, Chennai Tel : 9444271908
Vivekanandan, SIFFS, Trivandrum 9847084840
S Santiago, Kanyakumari Tel: 04651-237297
Vincent Jain, Kanyakumari Tel: 0471-2343178, 2343711
For any other information, please contact
National Fishworkers Forum, Trivandrum Tel: 0471-2501376
Harekrishna Debnath Tel: 011-26680914 Mobile: 9434039599 Email: harekrishna.debnath@gmail.com or nffcal@vsnl.com

h) Bangalore Citizens Initiative for Tsunami Victims

Bangalore Citizens Initiative for Tsunami Victims is accepting donations. Please make your cheques in favour of "Citizens Initiative" and drop your cheque C/0 Principal, St. Joseph’s College, Langford Road, Bangalore 560027. Tel: 080-22272299

If you wish to give online in the US or wish to contribute material, please check the special Tsunami page on AID website for details:
http://www.aidindia.org/CMS/ Also check:

If you wish to avail tax relief under Sec. 80G of the Income Tax Act, you could make your donations in favour of "Environment Support Group" and mark your cheques for "Tsunami Relief Fund". Please contact ESG for details, or visit its website atwww.esgindia.org

Relief Material Collection Points in Bangalore
St. Joseph’s College, Langford Road, Bangalore 560027. Ph: 22272299, 22211429
Environment Support Group ®, S-3, Rajashree Apartments, 18/57, 1st Main Road, S. R. K. Gardens, Jayanagar, Bannerghatta Road, Bangalore-41.
Ph: 26534364, 26531339, 26341977. Email: tsunami@esgindia.org; Web: www.esgindia.org
Servelots, 3354, "Pankaja", KR Road, Bangalore-70. Email: tsunami@servelots.com Ph: 26762963
Pedestrian Pictures, Prakruti Mudrana, 52, 29th Cross, 9th Main, Banashankari II Stage, Bangalore - 70.Ph: 9448371389, 26713894
Jaiva, 8, Hospital Road (Bowring), Behind Safina Plaza, Bangalore - 1.

6. Union Home Ministry relaxes Foreign Contribution procedure for Tsunami Relief
UBD. PCB. Cir.No.32/12.05.00/2004-05

January 05, 2005
The Chief Executive Officers of All Primary (Urban) Co-operative banks

Dear Sir/Madam,
Receipt of foreign contributions by Associations/organizations in India Under Foreign Contribution(Regulation) Act, 1976

Please refer to our circular UBD.No.BSD-I/PCB/18/12.05.00/98-99 dated January 30, 1999 advising banks to ensure compliance with the various provisions of Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 1976 in connection with the foreign contribution received by associations/organizations. The banks, in particular, are required to ensure that prior permission of Government of India has been obtained by the recipients of donations/contributions before actually affording credits to their bank accounts.

2. In view of the severe Tsunami that affected coastal areas in Andaman & Nicobar islands, Andhra Pradesh, Tamilnadu, Pondicherry and Kerala, Central Government, Ministry of Home Affairs vide its notification No.II/21022/11(19)2004-FCRA I dated December 30, 2004 (copy enclosed) have
exempted, with immediate effect and upto 31st March 2005 all associations (other than a political party) having a definite cultural, economic, educational, religious or social programme, from the provisions of section 6(1-A) of the Act ibid to accept foreign contribution, in cash and kind, for providing relief to
the Tsunami victims without obtaining formal approval of the Central Government, subject to the following conditions :-

(a) Each such association would open a new bank account for this purpose;
(b) The said account would be designated as the 'Tsunami Relief Account";
(c) The association would receive foreign contribution only in the said designated bank account;
(d) The association would maintain a separate set of accounts and records in respect of the foreign contribution received in the said designated bank account;
(e) The association would submit its particulars in Form FC-IA to the Foreigners Division of the Ministry of Home Affairs within one week of the opening of the said designated bank accounts;
(f) The association would make an intimation regarding receipt of foreign contribution in form FC-3 and in form FC-6 in respect of articles, duly certified by a Chartered Accountant, within 4 months of the closure of the year to the Foreigners Division of the Ministry of Home Affairs in the manner prescribed in
the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Rules, 1976.

3. You are requested to issue necessary instructions immediately to your branches in the matter.
4. Please acknowledge receipt to the concerned Regional Office of RBI.

Yours faithfully,
Chief General Manager

II/21022/11(19)2004-FCRA I
Government of India
Ministry of Home Affairs
Foreigners Division
Lok Nayak Bhavan
Khan Market
New Delhi - 1100023
Dated the 30th December, 2004
Whereas no association having definite cultural, economic, educational, religious or social programme shall accept foreign contribution unless such association registers itself with the Central Government or obtains the prior permission of the Central Government under section 6 of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 1976, hereinafter referred to as the "Act".

2. Whereas in the aftermath of the severe Tsunami affected coastal areas in Andaman & Nicobar islands, Andhra Pradesh, Tamilnadu, Pondicherry and Kerala, a number of foreign sources have expressed a desire to send contributions, in cash and kind, to various agencies working in these areas and in other parts of the country to assist the victims of the Tsunami.

3. Whereas the immediate arrival of this assistance is of paramount importance to provide succour to the affected persons and it is in the public interest to dispense with the procedure prescribed for the acceptance of foreign contribution in the said Act, as a special case for this purpose only.

4. Now, Therefore, in exercise of the powers conferred by Section 31 of the said Act, the Central Government hereby exempts, with immediate effect and upto 31st March 2005, all association (other than a political party) having a definite cultural, economic, education, religious or social programme,
from the provisions of section 6(1-A) of the Act to accept foreign contribution, in cash and kind, for providing relief to the Tsunami victims without obtaining a formal approval of the Central Government, subject to the following conditions -

(i) Each such association would open a new bank account for this purpose;
(ii) The said account would be designated as the "Tsunami Relief Account";
(iii) The association would receive foreign contribution only in the said designated bank account;
(iv) The association would maintain a separate set of accounts and records in respect of the foreign contribution received in the said designated bank account;
(v)The association would submit its particulars in Form FC-1A to the Foreigners Division of the Ministry of Home Affairs within one week of the opening of the said designated bank account;
(vi)The association would make an intimation regarding receipt of foreign contribution in form FC-3 and in form FC-6 in respect of articles, duly certified by a Chartered Accountant, within 4 months of the closure of the year to the Foreigners Division of the Ministry of Home Affairs in the manner prescribed in the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) rules, 1976.

5. The forms can be downloaded from the Ministry of Home Affairs Website http://mha.nic.in/fore.htm.

Joint Secretary to the Govt. of India

7. How Radio Officer Abdul Razak saved many lives in Teressa Island

Dear All,

This is Abdul Razak, a Radio Officer, in the Port Management Board posted at the Port Control Tower, Teressa Island. He knew about Tsunami from watching TV and hearing wireless messages in general. On the 26th early morning, he was at the control tower when he heard on the wireless that an 8.9 intensity earthquake has taken place near Sumatra. He wondered whether this could trigger a Tsunami. While coming down on the ladder, he looked at the sea and thought that the sea appeared to be boiling. He feared that a Tsunami was coming. On his moped, he went all around the island warning people to move to a higher ground. This saved the lives of many human beings on Teressa.

We salute him.
"Society for Andaman & Nicobar Ecology" <sane@andamanisles.com>


IFJ letter to UN Secretary-General:

BRUSSELS (IFJ/Pacific Media Watch): The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has written to the United Nations calling on media reform to be a central part of the reconstruction effort following the devastation of the Asian earthquake and tsunami. The president of the IFJ has written to the Secretary-General of the United Nations calling on him to remind world leaders at Thursday's Jakarta summit on tsunami aid of the importance of a free, independent and open media.

"In the reconstruction of the affected areas, we ask that you urge all countries to continue to build on the process of transparency and democracy," said IFJ president Christopher Warren in the letter to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan. "We welcome the decision of the Indonesian Government to open up Aceh to both local and foreign journalists. This is an important step in the continuing democratisation of that country," said the president of the IFJ.

The IFJ represents more than 500,000 journalists in 130 organisations in 105 countries - including Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, India, Sri Lanka, Somalia, Mauritius and Kenya.

"We also welcome the withdrawal of treason charges against four leading democracy activists in the Maldives," said Warren. "However, it is not too much to say that the inability of journalists in some of the affected countries to simply do their job has cost lives -- whether it be through the lack of external journalistic scrutiny in Aceh, the continued repression in the Maldives or the interference in government-run media in Sri Lanka.

"As the world community moves to the needed reconstruction in the affected countries, it is essential that that reconstruction go hand in hand with the continued process of media reform.

"That's why I am writing to you in advance of this week's Jakarta summit on aid to the affected areas to ask that you convey a simply message: a free media, independent public broadcasters and democratic societies are among the most significant safeguards - now and in the future," said Warren in the letter.

Journalists around the world have united in support of their colleagues in those Asian and African countries ravaged by the tsunami that struck on 26 December 2004. In response to the tragedy the IFJ launched a global appeal among journalists' organisations to assist journalists and their families.

"Journalists and media workers have not been immune from the tragedy and we already know that many of our friends and colleagues from the countries affected are dead or missing," said Warren. "Many have had to confront the immensity of the tragedy in bringing news of the disaster to their local communities and to the world."

* For further information, please contact Christopher Warren on +61
411 757 668.
The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries.

9. Blocking Aid to Andamans and Nicobar Islands - A Protest

To Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam
The President of India
Rashtrapati Bhavan
New Delhi

Dear Sir,

Half the population of the Nicobar Islands is swept away, and many smaller islands and shores remain inaccessible to this day. Bodies are yet to be disposed of. Thousands of people are living in daily contact with decomposing bodies, with little food, water or fuel, or access to news of their loved ones. Relief materials are piling up in Port Blair and at Chennai and Kolkata, but utter confusion prevails in their distribution. Ships cannot dock on any of the Nicobar Islands, so that dinghys are being used to approach the islands through rough waters, leading to woefully inadequate aid.

Even on Little Andaman, a few hours from Port Blair, where 25,000 people are living on very limited amounts of water, food and fuel, no relief materials reached for at least five days. The armed forces are doing their best, but they are not equipped to deal with a humanitarian crisis of this magnitude. A
dire need prevails for doctors, experts in body disposal, water desalination, and other emergency relief providers. Injured, hungry, cold and thirsty people stranded on the Nicobars are no doubt dying by the hour. Crocodiles are feeding on corpses in Little Andaman and attacking the living. Added to this is
the fact that a cholera epidemic hit the Nicobars in 2002; the bacillus exists on the islands, and for all we know is already taking hold.

Ships from Chennai or Kolkata typically take five days to reach Port Blair. Once there, materials need to be sorted and channeled onto ships and aircraft for ferrying to the Nicobar Islands. A command center has been set up, but will take days or weeks to overcome the bottleneck caused by overwhelming need and bureaucratic apathy, if it ever does. The aftermath of other disasters such as Bhopal generates little confidence that the administrators have the organizational and logistical capacity to discharge the enormous burdens they have assumed.

Mainland volunteers eager to help with expertise and materials are not being permitted to provide relief at the Nicobar Islands. They must be immediately allowed into Port Blair and also given the means to get to affected areas. We also urge you to reconsider the decision of Indian authorities not to allow foreign aid. International aid agencies are already ministering to survivors in Sumatra and Thailand, and even in Aceh the situation is coming under control. A US desalination ship is providing clean water in the Maldives; such a ship could be saving lives in the Nicobars. Materials and experts are daily flying from Thailand onto a US aircraft carrier off Sumatra for the relief effort onshore. From Thailand it would have taken-would take-no more than a few hours for international aid agencies, which are experienced in dealing with disasters, to airdrop supplies such as drinking water onto the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and to send medical help and experts for cleaning up the islands and making them habitable again.

India presumably does not want foreigners in this region because of defence concerns. But what is the point of defence if not to protect citizens? What security concern can possibly outweigh the need to save the lives of thousands?

In 1942, when a massive cyclone hit southern Bengal, killing more than 10,000, the British authorities did not send aid for weeks, and also prevented private agencies from functioning there. Their concern was security. Later, during the Bengal famine, they refused offers of grain from other countries, saying they had the situation under control; in truth, more than 2 million people died.

Today we are appalled at such callousness. Why should Indians in turn be handed the burden of similar guilt? The Nicobar catastrophe has the potential to double in magnitude. The government of India does not have the resources to deal with this crisis, and needs to put aside its pride and accept help if thousands of more lives are not to be lost.

Yours most sincerely,

Mahasweta Devi
Rupa Ganguly
Dr. Sita Venkateswar
Author, Development and Ethnocide: Colonial Practices in the Andaman Islands
Dr. Madhusree Mukerjee (lopchu@att.net)
Author, The Land of Naked People: Encounters with Stone Age Islanders


A note by Kalpavriksh
a) Disposal of debris and waste:
Debris: The large scale destruction caused by the waves means that there is now a lot of debris of the fallen buildings, jetties and such constructions that have been damaged. When the clearing work of this starts as the first step in the reconstruction process, the big issue will be the dumping of this debris.

In normal course it will be the easiest option that will be taken up and all the dumping is likely to happen either in the mangroves in these islands or the coral reefs and coastal areas. This is something that will have to be clearly guarded against and a mechanism will have to be worked out for this Plastic waste: With most relief materials being sent in plastics, huge amount of plastic is said to be piling up in Port Blair and some of the other places where the relief camps have been set up. This is another major concern, which will certainly have long term impacts on the islands, particularly on the marine systems.

While dealing with this might not appear to be a priority at this point of time, its vital that a plan for this be drawn up immediately. A mechanism is immediately needed by which all this can be collected and shipped back to mainland. Unless this is not done from the very beginning, soon we will be left with no solutions to offer.

b) Reconstruction work:
The large scale damage means that reconstruction work will have to begin in right earnest. There are various aspects within this that will have to looked at and dealt with very carefully

i) Construction materials and technologies:
This is very critical and links very well with the orders of the Supreme Court that had asked for the use of appropriate construction technologies and materials. It is a well known fact that the best buildings in earthquake prone regions are of a combination of timber and bamboo and not the concrete buildings that have proliferated Port Blair in the last few years.

National and international agencies and individuals who have the expertise and experience in this field should be tapped for this and if needed even be given charge of the work that will be taken up. In the unfortunate disaster that has happened, we have an opportunity of ensuring the losses that occur in the future could be minimised. The best use should be made of this.

ii) CRZ:
Efforts are also needed towards a better and more strict enforcement of the provisions of the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) notification. The present disaster has made one thing very clear: the CRZ needs to be further strengthened, not relaxed. This policy direction has to be clearly spelt out.

c) Rehabilitation of natural protection; Coral reefs, mangroves and sand beaches play a critical role of the natural protectors of the coastal systems and are even more important in the case of an island system like in the A&N islands.

i) An immediate moratarium has to be brought in on any further mangrove destruction

ii) Sand mining from the beaches should be made to strictly confirm to orders of the Hon. Supreme Court and should be allowed only where absolutely necessary.

iii) Simultaneously efforts need to be initiated for the regeneration of mangroves where they have been lost. There is a lot of national and international expertise in this matter and for that matter the A&N Forest Department itself has done some very good mangrove restoration works in parts of the islands like Wrightmyo in South Andaman. Activities like these need to be given the highest priority within the mandate of the FD and adequate resources should be immediately made available

iv) Similar efforts can be made for the rehabilitation of coral reef systems where they were already damaged or have suffered in the aftermath of the recent tsunami.

d) Involvement of the Nicobarese in the reconstruction planning and implementation Considering the fact that the Nicobars and the Nicobarese have been the most badly hit, this will be the region where reconstruction and rehabilitation work will be taken up on a priority. What will be crucial to ensure that this process is successful and sustainable in the long term is that the Nicobarese are made key partners in this whole process, whether it is the location of the reconstruction sites, the size and designs of the houses and materials that should be used. The process should be carried out with the full consent, and involvement of the community, and it should be ensured that nothing is thrust upon them.

e) Dealing with the other indigenous tribes:
Reports received so far seem to indicate that all the other indigenous communities in the islands, the Great Andamanese, Onge, Jarawa and Sentinelese (in the Andamans) and the Shompen in Great Nicobar have escaped virtually unscathed.

It is vital to keep in mind that the present tragedy does not become an excuse to initiate a process of either their relocation or for that matter even for their further assimiliation. Doing this might appear to be in their benefit in the immediate future, it will be disastrous for them in the middle and long term

Apt. 5, Sri Dutta Krupa
908 Deccan Gymkhana,
Pune 411004
Tel: 020 - 25654239 / 25675450
Fax: 25654239

11. Tsunami Waves - Old Japanese Story
From: Natural History of South Asia - General discussion and research [mailto:nathistory-india@Princeton.EDU On Behalf Of Robert Grubh
It is an interesting tsunami story that I read in a textbook during my schooldays.


Far, far away in Japan, there was once an old man who lived up on a
mountain with his grandson. The ground was flat all around his little house
on the mountain. The ground was also very rich. So rich that all the rice
was planted up there on the mountain.

Many people lived in a village at the bottom of the mountain. They
would come up the mountain and work in the rice fields everyday. Every
morning and evening, the old man and his grandson would look down
from the mountain at all the people who were working in the village. They
would also watch the blue sea that was next to the village.

There was no place to grow rice down at the bottom of the mountain
because the sea was so near. The only things between the mountain and the
sea were people and houses. That was why all the rice was grown on the

The little boy loved the rice fields. The rice was tall and
beautiful. The boy knew how delicious the rice was that came from the
fields. He loved to help his grandfather watch over them.
One day, the grandfather was standing alone in front of his house.
He was looking far down at the people, and out at the sea. Then, he saw
something very strange far away where the sea met the sky. It looked like a
large cloud was growing up out of the sea. It was like the sea was growing
up high into the sky.

The old man put his hands to his eyes and looked again. He looked
and looked as hard as he could. Then he turned around and ran to the house.
"Grandson! Grandson!" he cried, ìhurry, get a burning stick from
the fire!"

The little boy did not know what his grandfather wanted with fire,
but he always listened. He ran quickly and got the burning stick. The old
man already had one, and he was running to the rice fields. The boy ran
after him. But it was terrible for the boy to see his grandfather throw his
burning stick into the dry rice field.

"Oh, Grandfather, Grandfather!" screamed the little boy, "what are
you doing?"

"Quick, set fire to the rice field" Throw your stick in!î said the

The boy was thinking his dear grandfather had become crazy. He
started to cry; but a little boy always listened. Even as he cried, he ran
to the rice field and threw in his burning stick. Hot fire ran up the dry
rice. It was burning red and yellow. In no time, the field was on fire.
Thick black smoke grew up the mountainside. It went up in a terrible black

Quickly the people at the bottom of the mountain saw that their
beautiful rice fields were on fire. Ah, how they ran! Men, women, and
children ran up the mountain, running as fast as they could to save the
rice. Not one person stayed in the village.

And when they came to the mountain top, and saw the beautiful rice
fields all on fire. It was too late to help. They cried out, "Who has done
this? How did it happen?"

"I set the fields on fire," said the old man, very sadly.
Still crying the little boy said, "Yes, it was Grandfather that set
the fire."

The people were very angry. They came all around the old man
saying, "Why? Why?"

The old man only turned and pointed to the sea. "Look!" he said.
They all turned and looked. And there, where the blue sea had been
so quiet, a giant wall of water, reaching up, up high into sky, was coming
in. No one could cry out, so terrible was it to see.

The wall of water, a giant wave came in on the land. It went right
over the place where the village had been. It hit with a loud crash on the
mountainside. The whole mountain shook. One wave, and then one more, came.
Then all was water, as far as they could look. At the bottom of the
mountain, the village where the people had been was under the sea. But the
people were all safe.

When they saw what the old man had done, they honored him over all
men, for his smart thinking had saved them all from the 'tidal' (sic) wave.

Robert Grubh

12.'Tsunami underlines importance of CRZ' By: Debi Goenka January 2, 2005

Whilst we are still grieving for the tens of thousands who died as a result of the tidal waves that hit the coastal areas of southeast Asia, our Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF), is busy working on destroying the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) notification.

This exercise commenced a few months ago under the guise of rationalisation of the CRZ notification.
"What is the scientific basis for 500 metres?" I was asked, by no less than the Secretary to Government of India, Mr Prodipto Ghosh, a few months ago.

The thinking seems to be to use the argument of science to dismantle the CRZ.

At a workshop held in Chennai on June 18 and 19, 2004, all state Governments that attended the hastily-convened meeting backed the MoEF to the hilt.

Each and every state Government official as well as representatives of the other Central Ministries that attended pointed out numerous problems that they had with CRZ.

No one, except the handful of NGO representatives who had been invited as a fig leaf for "consultation", seemed concerned about the environmental consequences.

The impact of climate change, global warming, sea level rise, as well as the increase in frequency of extreme climatic events were dismissed within a few minutes.

Pleas to safeguard the coastal areas for the benefit of the fisherfolk and the local inhabitants were also dismissed. What was more important was the implementation of the agenda of the previous Government — India has to continue to shine — was the message!

The MoEF has set up a Committee under the Chairmanship of Dr M S Swaminathan to examine and review the CRZ notification. Significantly, in line with the MoEF agenda, no environmental groups are represented on this committee.

In fact, the MoEF has gone to considerable lengths to ensure that the Committee did not meet the environmental groups. A meeting in Delhi in November was attended by representatives of only two environmental groups since only three days notice was given.

At the meeting itself, presentations had to be rushed through since the conference room was apparently required by the Minister and there was no other space to accommodate all the participants!

The tsunami, and the thousands of lives that have been lost, has underlined the importance of protecting our coastal areas and ensuring that vulnerable portions are protected rather than given to builders and hoteliers under the guise of "development".

One can only pray that this tragedy has given the Union Cabinet enough reason to rethink and reverse the decisions of the previous Government.

Gehan de Silva Wijeyeratne, CEO, Jetwing Eco Holidays
6 January 2005

> The scale of the human tragedy is so vast, the impact on the wildlife,
> almost does not warrant concern. Certainly it seems of almost little
> consequence in a tragedy which saw so many lives lost.
> A little comfort in the tragedy is that the Yala National Park and its
> animals have survived the Tsunami almost unscathed. There was some
> confusion in the minds of the public that there was heavy damage to
> the park because there was a terrible death toll of humans.
> However, during the four days (26 - 29 December) I spent looking for
> survivors and the dead, I did not see any dead animals, except for a
> dead fish. The park officials I spoke to also confirmed the absence of
> dead animals. Why this maybe so, I will answer later.
> Within the park, tragedy struck at Patanangala, a bowl-shaped
> depression where the Patanangala ridge, slopes down into the sea.
> This is a popular picnic site where people come to stretch their legs
> after a morning game drive. From around 8.30 am, people who have
> finished their morning game drive start to arrive at Patanangala, to
> enjoy the beach. Patanangala and another site besides the Menik River
> are two designated places where people are allowed to alight from
> vehicles in Block 1 of Yala National Park.
> Before 9.00 am, Wicky Wickremesekera, arrived at Patanangala with his
> client, a lady on a Leopard Safari. Wicky is one of the top
> Naturalist Chauffeur Guides with Jetwing Eco Holidays. He has
> accompanied me on many a wildlife quest from photographing the endemic
> Red-faced Malkoha in our rainforests to searching for rare migrants on
> the island of Mannar. At the wheel was Kalu (one of two Kalu's), one
> of my favourite jeep drivers, who is well versed in my idiosyncrasies
> as a wildlife photographer. The client photographed fishing boats and
> enquired as to whether the sea was always this calm? Wicky says the
> thought of taking a swim may have even crossed her mind.
> Wicky declined a cup of tea and Kalu took only one sip. Around 9.10am,
> they began to drive up the slope. Wicky heard a roar and looked back
> to see a wall of water, wall of death thundering down onto the beach.
> He heard a group of seventeen Japanese, simultaneously scream. Another
> forty or so, Sri Lankans were also on the beach. Wicky yelled at Kalu
> to pull away and as they did, he saw the water go over the roof of a
> restaurant being constructed at the site. The restaurant roof is an
> estimated 60 feet in height. A 'funnel effect' by the bowl shaped
> depression may have resulted in the waves reaching this height as it
> swept over the restaurant which is at least 50 meters from the shore
> line. The timing could not have been worse for those at Patanangala.
> Two hours later and no one would have been there. For Wicky and Kalu,
> one more sip of tea, would have been fatal. Wicky could only look in
> horror as the waves engulfed the people on the beach.
> Sea water surged into the park through low lying areas especially
> where there was a lagoon mouth to the sea. As Wicky and Kalu sped
> away, they warned away other jeeps heading to Patanangala. After the
> waters subsided, they returned with others to Patanangala and found
> only four survivors. Subsequently, with his client safely sent to
> Colombo, Wicky bravely stayed on with me and my colleagues for the
> next four days assisting in the search for survivors and the dead.
> Miraculously, on the 28th December, a 13 year old boy was found, still
> alive, by a search team. By the 29th December, the park warden told me
> that over 50 bodies had been recovered.
> At the same time, the wave hit Patanangala, a forty foot high wall of
> water slammed into the Yala Safari Game Lodge, exacting a terrible
> death toll. Two 'funnel effects' seemed to happen in parallel, with
> water coming from the cove near Browns Beach Safari Motel and the Goda
> Kalapuwa lagoon-mouth creating two high velocity jets of water.
> Uditha Hettige was in the restaurant and says he ran about 50 meters
> before he was hit by the water which felt like it was travelling at 40
> plus km per hour. In his description of events he says "........then I
> was submerged about 5 feet below water and my sandal snagged on a
> tree. I managed to hold my breath while struggling to release my leg.
> Somehow I removed the sandal, but the pressure of the water was so
> great that I could barely move my hands. It felt like 10 to 15 people
> were pushing me down. It was like I was glued to the tree. I remember
> seeing figures of all my family members. I used all my strength to
> release myself from the tree by pushing with my legs.
> The water carried me off again .........".
> Six of the eight rooms at the nearby Browns Beach were booked by a
> single group who thankfully escaped by being in the park. I heard a
> rumour of one staff member surviving by using a can as a flotation
> device. At the Game Lodge, out of a total of 229 people known to have
> been at the Yala Safari Game Lodge on that morning, 174 people (75%)
> are confirmed to be alive. Some guests survived the Tsunami because
> they were in the park or had checked out. 9 staff (and three family
> members of staff died), out of a total of 80 staff members. We are
> devastated at the loss of lives, but thankful that many lives were
> also spared. I went down with senior colleagues as soon as we heard
> of the tragedy and spent four days working with search teams. Many
> Game Lodge staff joined the search and despite Tsunami warnings on the
> 26th, kept searching under risk. The Yala Village, another hotel, few
> kilometers away was protected by sand dunes and suffered damage to
> three chalets. Thankfully, there were no casualties or injuries.
> Within the park, the Patanangala Bungalow was badly damaged and two
> members of staff are believed to have lost their lives.
> Despite the heavy loss of lives, the park's fauna and flora suffered
> very little physical damage. As expected the coastline has been re-
> shaped. I found entire banks of sand have moved around, rivulets were
> running where there were none before. But the few hundreds of meters
> of coastline that were affected, is a minuscule percentage of the
> square area of the Yala protected area complex. Many of the larger
> trees have survived. A few smaller ones had snapped.
> The lagoons have many broken branches, but otherwise the untrained eye
>will not see much damage.
> The coastline is an important habitat for invertebrates. However, very
> few vertebrates (e.g Mammals) are found on it.
> Certain species
> such as the Sand Lizard (Sitana ponticeriana) may have suffered losses
> in certain places, but would have survived in other places.
> So how did the wildlife survive?
> Sixth senses aside, one simple reason why animals survived is that the
> few hundred meters beside the coastline is an arid habitat. It is
> generally sparsely populated by large, visible animals, relative to
> the habitats further inland which has fresh water pools and grassy
> meadows fringed by scrub of woodland.
> Another reason could be the so called sixth sense which allowed many
> animals to 'hear' the arrival of the Tsunami. The seismic activity
> which generated the Tsunami would have generated energy waves at long
> wavelengths. Long wavelengths carry great distances, which is why
> radio communication uses long wavelengths. The human ear hears within
> the range of 20 - 20,000 Hz. Many animals have a wider auditory or
> hearing range. Elephants have been studied for a number of years on
> their use of communication with infra sounds, wavelengths longer than
> which the human ear is able to hear. They are also known to stomp
> their feet and create seismic waves which can be picked up by other
> elephants over 40 km away. In November 2003, I remember being in Yala
> with Lyn Hughes, the Managing Editor of Wanderlust Magazine. A
> distressed family of elephants touched and nuzzled each other whilst
> keeping up a chorus of deep rumbles. I also guessed they were
> communicating in infrasound, with other members of the family. Mature
> bulls are usually solitary, but one bull may have been tailing the
> family because one of the cows were in heat.
> Suddenly there was a
> crash in the undergrowth and a big tusker emerged 'stomping' his feet,
> sending seismic waves announcing his arrival and might.
> In "Leopard and other wildlife of Yala, Charles Santiapillai et al
> write "The feet of elephants are filled with vibration sensors known
> as Pacinian corpuscles, which have a structure similar to an onion,
> with a shiny gel between each layer. Vibrations from the ground are
> picked up by the feet and passed on to the brain through these
> sensors. Thus, they are able to detect infrasound which we cannot
> hear, and communicate over very large distances".
> The so called sixth sense is probably in many cases a wider hearing
> range which allowed them to pick up wavelengths which the humans did
> not hear. In a sense they heard the arrival of the Tsunami. This could
> have been airborne infrasounds or seismic waves (also in the
> infrasound range). Even noise audible to humans would have been
> detected earlier by animals who have more sensitive hearing. A few
> seconds or minutes of extra warning would have given them enough time
> scramble to safety. Sometimes all that was need was to climb a tall
> tree or flee a few hundred meters.
> Animals such as lizards and snakes who are sensitive to vibrations may
> also have picked up tremors as the Tsunami approached the shore.
> Nadeera Weerasinghe, one of the naturalists of the Yala Safari Game
> Lodge reported seeing snakes and lizards sharing the trees which human
> survivors had climbed.
> Birds which migrate long distances and turtles have a sophisticated
> mechanism for detecting subtle changes in the earth's geomagnetism.
> Seismic activity could produce changes which animals can detect. But
> it is unlikely that birds in Sri Lanka were alerted by geo-magnetic
> changes. As the tidal wave struck the east and south coast, oblivious
> to it, I was in the Kotte Marshes, a wetland on the outskirts of
> Colombo. A flock of over 100 Lesser Sand Plovers and Golden Plovers,
> winter migrants gave no hint of impending devastation. Purple
> Swamphens were engaged in bitter territorial warnings. There was no
> hint of danger from the wildlife around me.
> It seems that the birds in Sri Lanka picked up the danger, visually by
> seeing the tidal wave and not by geo-magnetic changes or changes in
> atmospheric pressure.
> Uditha Hettige in his account of survival e-mailed to me wrote "In the
> morning, about 20-30 minutes before the tsunami hit Yala, I saw flocks
> of birds (Black-headed Ibis, Painted Storks, Openbill Storks,
> etc) flying inland. That does not prove that they sensed the tsunami.
> I have seen them behaving like this before due to other reasons.
> I was at Yala at the time the tsunami hit the Yala area. I was having
> breakfast at that time, while looking at the lagoon.
> A group of birds
> (Cormorants, Egrets, Terns, etc.) took off suddenly and I knew that it
> was not because of an attack by an animal (e.g.
> raptor or bird of
> prey). At the same time I looked at the estuary of the lagoon and saw
> water coming from the estuary of the lagoon. And at that point it
> occurred to me for water to come this far, it must be a tidal wave as
> the beach is about 100m away and 5 feet plus lower than the level of
> the hotel. I could not see the sea because my view was blocked by a
> row of rooms. I stood up, even without grabbing my camera bag and
> shouted "Tidal Wave" and started running and everybody around started
> running".
> The birds probably picked up an acute alarm call from birds in the
> air. Birds have a varied vocal repertoire which serve different
> purposes. In the rainforests of Sri Lanka, one can hear the Sri Lanka
> Crested Drongo uttering a 'flock gathering' call to form a mixed
> species feeding flock. I have heard the same bird utter an alarm call
> and observed how the whole forest falls silent as animals freeze for
> safety. Uditha's account supports the view that many of the birds
> escaped by other birds raising the alarm after visual detection.
> Perhaps Sri Lanka was too far from the center of seismic activity for
> geo-magnetism to have played a part.
> On the 28th of December, I noticed one of the Giant Squirrels at the
> Game Lodge back in its old territory. The sounders of wild pig were
> back. Animal life had returned to normal. For us humans, we will
> forever be scarred by the tragedy of the great wave which swept away
> many lives. We still have hope and determination to re-build a
> shattered nation. Recognising the need to help the local communities
> who are dependent on wildlife tourism and because the damage was
> minimal, the park was officially re-opened on 5 January 2005.
> Wildlife conservationists and animal lovers can help the local
> communities by travelling to Sri Lanka's national parks and reserves.
> The park is ready for visitors and so are all of the places providing
> accommodation at Tissa (and the Yala Village hotel).
> Everyone from safari jeep drivers, to wayside kiosk owners to room
> boys and restaurant waiters, need the dignity of employment to face
> the future. Many tour operators and clients have responded positively
> and confirmed their travel plans from mid January onwards. A British
> film crew have also confirmed that they will go ahead with their plans
> to arrive in January 2005 to film for seven days to produce a
> documentary on Yala National Park.


Pl reply to tsunami@esgindia.org