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R&M of 7 x 210 MW- A game changer?

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Years back government authorities were in a dilemma. There are approx 150 Russian and German Steam Turbine units in India which have crossed more than 25 years, its useful years. Government wanted to address the acute problem of this ageing fleet going out of service. Replacing it with new units were advisable, but the rising resistance of people to give land and water to these units were becoming a surmounting problem for the government. And the gestation period of most of these new units brought lot of ambiguity. This is when government toyed with the idea of Renovation & Modernisation of old units.

Some pilot projects which were carried out got a mixed response from both vendors as well as utilities. The solution as predicted by a few, including this writer, was that government need to go for a mixed bag of both new plants as well as renovated plants. This was because, the future of coal as a fuel is uncertain because of  international pressure to cut down on fossil fuels. Moreover, renewable energy units are getting cheaper and easier day by day. Hence it made no sense to invest such a huge money on new power plants having a pay back of more than 20 years.

A recent decision of a government body to fully renovate 7 of its old units tilts the balance in favour of R&M. Does it indicate that finally government has decided in favour of renovation and modernisation in a big way? We need to wait and watch.

Nun and the Bandit

 

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Decades back Doordarshan had showed an award winning movie called “The Nun and the Bandit”. It was about a nun being abducted by a bandit and coercing her for sex. She somehow brings the Bandit in to the right path though at the fag end. The bandit was floored by her selfless and humane attitude.

I’m sure all of us either through ourselves or through our near and dear ones have always experienced the goodness of these living angels. Personally for me, I had started my schooling in a school run by the nuns, thereby owing them whatever I have achieved and would achieve in life. You may differ with them on their alleged proselytisation, but never could one take away the credit away from them for their integrity and sacrifice to the cause.

What prompted me to write this was the attached picture of nuns clamouring for justice, that too from a sex predator bishop, who is being protected by the politician-clergy axis. This is a new low for the Indian polity, and also a slap on the face for Kerala state who at every drop of a hat flaunts its full literacy status and the sobriquet of “God’s own country”. It pains me that we have failed as a society when I see the plight of these altruistic women.

And rubbing salt to the wound are sexist politicians like P C George, who is questioning the sanity of complaining after the 13th sexual rendezvous, and not in the first instance. When the sexual offender is somebody as powerful as a bishop, it is natural that the woman thinks not once but many times before crying foul. P C George epitomises the sexist rot which is increasingly becoming the hall mark of Indian society.

And all this is happening in the land which has always believed that a society in which women are not respected is bound to doom. Women do not require your respect, what they need is humanity and equality. Don’t make them goddesses and worship, but allow them to live as humans.

Manes of a Queen

Manes reminiscent of a queen

Shines amidst the sunshine

Smiles light up a million hearts

Glance that pales a thousand Watts

Desire is thy name

Delight in your fame

Stroll like a wave

Still like a dove

Nod your beauty is a craft

God sure is a man of art.

 

God’s Ire or Human Fallacy?

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I just happened to come across a usual rant from one of those doubting Thomases, that isn’t the current ravage caused in Kerala due to the ire of Lord Ayyappa. A battle is going on in the supreme court of India, on whether women in the fertile age should be allowed inside the temple. The temple has a tradition followed from ancient days that women in the age of 10 to 60 are not allowed inside the temple. It is said that the deity is a celibate and women in this age would distract the lord.

The temple is open only during the two months towards the end of gregorian calender year, with the season ending on 14th January.  As a prelude to the difficult trek, devotees are supposed to undergo some strict restirctions in life for 41 days. Footwear not allowed, sex is a big NO, even menstruating women not allowed near, strictly vegetarian simple diet, early morning and evening prayers and the likes. It is said that such strict rituals and the ensuing tough trek cannot be carried out by women in their ripe age. But then how come, girls below 10 years and aged women above 60 years, fit enough to do the trek?

There is another temple near Thiruvananthapuram, called Attukal, where males are not allowed. Though there is no specific reason given for the discrimination, male folks in all their maganimity have accepted the norm and stays away. Why can’t the gender equality clamourers put a case for male entry to this temple, is a question for another day.

My two cents are, even if the age old rituals call for such norms, there is nothing wrong in looking for a fresh perspective. Please remember, such alibis in the name of tradition and God were there for justifying Sati, untouchability, denial of temple entry to dalits, Devadasis, animal sacrifice and so on and so forth. But a vigilant and progressive set of people like RajaRam Mohan Roy, Ambedkar, Ayyankali etc have managed to change the status quo for the better.

India never faced the ire of Lord Shiva when we banned Sati, nobody faced Indra’s wrath when Devadasi system was banned. Then how come a Lord always known for his abundant blessings during Kaliyug, should be blamed for a big calamity. Or are some vested interests crediting the Lord? Either way it would be a disgrace to this literate state to drag the innocent Lord to the sufferings meted out by this incessant rains and defiant floods.

Time is for exhibiting humanity, to help the millions tide over the crisis. Religion and its Gods can wait.

CM’s Distress Relief Fund (CMDRF).
Name of Donee: CMDRF
Account number : 67319948232
Bank: State Bank of India
Branch: City branch, Thiruvananthapuram
IFSC: SBIN0070028
PAN detail: AAAGD0584M
Mailing address: The Principal Secretary (Finance) Treasurer ..
Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund,Secretariat, Thiruvananthapuram-1

Kerala shaves its Moustache

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Let me begin with a disclaimer. I do not consider moustache as a masculine feature or a symbol of male strength and supremacy. For that matter, male supremacy is an oxymoron, as I strongly believe after more than 40 years of life’s experiences and memories as a son and husband, that women are a superior species.

The recent controversy is about the award winning Malayalam author S. Hareesh and his novel “Meesha” (means Moustache), after having published three chapters in Mathrubhumi (a respected magazine of proven predigree in literature), is now withdrawn after the author having asked for it. This could be described as “Shame for Kerala” or “Death of freedom of expression” or whatever. But I’m forced to think of the genesis of this supposedly the last nail in the coffin of secularism in India.

Kerala was described as a lunatic asylum by none other than Swami Vivekananda after having seen the most hirarchial and horrendous caste system in the country. It is said that the distances in feet were defined for various downward castes, that they were supposed to maintain from the Namboothiri Brahmins. No where in India, caste had taken a more uglier turn.

Though the state has progressed in the eyes of the world as a social paradise, the under currents of caste and religion had been always strong. It resembles Periyar river which has a serene look but a nasty undercurrent which has taken many lives. Nothing epitomises the state of affairs than the famous song by Vayalar “Aayirram Paada swarangal kilungi”, a song sung on the beauty of Periyar, but in the film a hapless child gets drowned while the song goes on. This small boy is the state of Kerala, while the world is singing about its social and human development indices.

It is the only state where people gets more worried about Saddam Hussain’s Iraq than India’s own Kashmir. Where a Gabriel Garcia Marquez scores over, leave alone Tagore, but its own M.T. Vasudevan Nair. Where a Maradona or Argentina looms large over its own P.T. Usha or the Indian Cricket Team. Where communism by EMS Namboothiripad had more followers than Nehru’s congress. But if that makes the state different from the rest, so be it.

The reverberations of M.F. Hussain’s forced exile made the maximum impact in this state as support for the maestro was widespread and almost unanimous. This happened two decades back when Hindu communalism was not even at its infancy. Goddess Saraswati being drawn in naked created no heckles in the Hindu minds. While Hussain’s support swelled, there were no takers for two other contemporary artists, namely, Salman Rushdie and Taslima Nasreen, who were also on the receiving side of far right’s ire.

When we fast forward two decades, Hindu right has far outgrown its infancy and is a rebellious adolescent now. So what made them grow? I would not agree that the national trend is being followed here. That was exactly why I took up earlier that the state was always different from what rest of India did.

A few years back a teacher in Alapuzha, a backwater paradise boasting of a forward ideology always, had a gruelling experience. Joseph, as accused by far right, had written a derogatory piece on Prophet Mohammed. What followed, costed the teacher his right hand, which was chopped off. The state was surprisngly silent and never rallied behind the teacher, whose wife eventually committed suicide owing to social and financial woes.

This selective amnesia among the intellectuals and the political leaders was being constantly watched by a society which always took its own deprecation in the right spirit, as part of larger good called freedom of expression. Disorganised and economically feeble, the community tried its best to keep away from the far right who were trying their luck since 50 years without much success.

But today if the monster, though still adolescent, is able to show its ugly face, the blame has to be taken by the double standards followed by intellectuals and leaders.

Harish’s is a rich novel, and only a character was speaking his mind on what that character thought as a reason for Hindu upper caste women who went to the temple many decades back, were to showcase to the society that they have come off age. To generalise it to todays Hindu women going to temple and therefore finding it hurting the sentiments is nothing but a mountain made out of a mole hill.

Harish unfortunately is a scape goat or victim of an indifference the society at large has meted out to the hitherto timid Hindus. To say the least, the proverb of “Ala muttiyaal cherayum kadikkum” ( if cornered even a docile rat snake would bite), has come true. But an established writer like Harish being an unsuspected victim is a sorry sight for the state.

Killers of Chernobyl!

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Reference document : http://chernobylgallery.com/chernobyl-disaster/cause/

It was a chilly night in the Ukrainian village of Chernobyl on 26th April 1986. Chernobyl name comes from the peculiar variety of grass/plant called Artensia vulgaris. It means the place of this grass/plant. The nuclear power plant there came into operation in the early eighties as one of the nine places shortlisted by the erstwhile USSR. The four 1000 MW units were installed one by one.

Unlike a thermal power plant, power shutdown in a nuclear power plant can take dangerous propositions. That is because in case of thermal power plants the boiler is heated by coal and you just need to stop the coal feeding and run the circulation water till the boiler cools down. But in case of Nuclear plants the residual heat is generated too fast if the absorbing medium is cut off. Since a sizeable nuclear fuel is already fed into the reactor, the only way is to control the reaction through control rods and the absorbing medium like heavy water/ circulation water as the case may be.

The circulation water was being pumped by three pumps of roughly 1.7 MW each. Once the power supply goes off, the DG sets were standing in as standby, and they would take 45 seconds on an average to supply this power of 5.5 MW to the circulating pumps. Till that time if the flow is not maintained it would create bubbles in the water due to heat accumulation. These bubbles were called voids. Due to these voids, the temperature further shoots up. Unfortunately the designed fission reaction of Chernobyl was a positive void reaction, i.e. if the temperature increases, the rate of reaction also would increase.

But the plant designers had a plan to fill this gap of 45 seconds. The 1000 MW Turbine and generator are mammoth machinery and it would be running at a huge momentum unless it is at a load of say less than 70%. Hence the system requirement was that the turbine and generator should be able to supply this miniscule 5.5 MW of power for a short duration of 45 seconds with their mammoth momentum. But this failed thrice during testing and the operators were looming large at an acute safety lacuna in the system. They got an ultimatum from the regulatory authorities to test it once more and if the problem persists, then go for urgent remedial measures.

On that fateful night of 26th April, the unit operator took a decision to test it for a fourth time, but without taking formal consent from the authorities and therefore without proper planning. The unit was running at more than 60% load and the power was shut off. The Turbine and Generator as usual did not deliver 5.5 MW of power till the DG sets took over. In the meantime disrupted flow caused void formation and the temperature shot up, increasing the reaction rate. There was a panic button to be pressed in case of such an emergency which would lower additional cadmium rods into reactor which would have slowed down the reaction at once. The panic button would bring down the rods into the reactor, but while doing so displaces the cooling water. To make things worse the rods had a tip of graphite instead of cadmuim, hence during this displacement time neither water nor cadmium absorbed the neutrons.

First there was an explosion due to high pressure built up in the water circuit which lifted the 2000 ton upper lid of the reactor dome. This explosion made all the water in the circulation system to escape and the reactor was running dry now. This was followed up by a built up of immense heat enough to generate 33 GW (33000 MW) of power for a unit designed to generate just 1000 MW. No need to furhter explain what would have happened if such high levels of energy are built up within a few seconds. Most of the victims were hapless rescue team members from the army who never knew what they were up to. 4000 people was the official estimate of casuality.

The iron curtain (euphemism for the tight veil of communism), made sure nobody in the free world knew about what exactly happened. Worse was the fact that no real culprit underwent any scrutiny not to speak about any conviction. Other than a few operator engineers every one went scot-free. As per my opinion the following real culprits should have been taken to task:-

  1. The Turbine-Generator manufacturers who could not deliver as per design the requisite momentum to feed Cooling water pumps for just 45 seconds.
  2. The regulatory authority who allowed the plant to run with such a gruesome safety lapse.
  3. The authorities who asked hapless armymen to do the rescue act without adequate safety gears.
  4. The chief engineer who took the decision to do the test without informing the regulatory authority.

Chernobyl gives a great lesson to human kind on laxity could create a debacle. If Fukushima was a technical failure, Chernobyl was a human failure. If we could perenially put Union Carbide on the grill for Bhopal gas tragedy, why shouldn’t we grill the companies responsible for Chernobyl?

These are some of the children who died without knowing who took their lives. It could have been our children as well, are we really bothered? Are our nuclear plants safe? How do we think so when the real culprits are roaming free? I recently did my little bit to prevent these culprits enter India again. Now it is your turn!

#Chernobyl #Nucleardisaster #Nuclearenergy #Atombomb #Sovietunion

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