Friday, July 25, 2008

Shiver down IT spine - Chain blasts in Bangalore public places

I think this could only be a warning of what is yet to happen. There can be no control if anyone decides to do this however this can only be prevented with the help of the public. This is nothing new to India or any in any states for that matter. Mumbai rose past these hurdles time and again. But the resilience they had is tremendous. Will bangalore too rise up to the occassion and stand tall against the social culprits who did these sabotages only time will tell. Telegraph reports..

Bangalore, July 25: Eight low-intensity blasts occurring in quick succession shook Bangalore today, killing a woman and wounding seven persons in the first serial bombings in India’s IT capital.

Left near pavement edges, bus stops and roadside walls, seven small bombs went off between 1.30pm and 2.15pm and an eighth around 5.30.
The first of them killed Sudha Ravi at a bus stop and injured her husband and four others. Union home minister Shivraj Patil said in Delhi that a second person had died of his injuries but Bangalore police denied this.
Although no group has claimed responsibility, the police suspect the Students Islamic Movement of India (Simi), many of whose activists were arrested on terror charges in recent months.
Police commissioner Shankar Bidari said each bomb contained explosives equal to “one or two grenades”, was packed with nuts, bolts and nails, and appeared to have been set off by a timer.
The timing has left the police puzzled. “It was a non-peak hour when the blasts occurred,” Bidari said. Six of the blasts had no casualties.
The terror strike, the first in Bangalore after gunmen killed a professor at an Indian Institute of Science seminar in December 2005, left the city panicky. Several IT firms, schools, colleges and cinemas closed quickly as the news hopped from mobile to mobile, leaving phone lines jammed.
“I was on my way to office when we heard a noise,” Arun Daniel told a TV channel. “It sounded like a cracker. The traffic was blocked, everyone was running around. It was not a severe blast.”
Police found gelatin sticks, mainly used in quarry operations, at one of the blast sites. Bomb experts said gelatin sticks and a concoction of ammonium nitrate in fuel oil had been used to cause at least two of the explosions.
One of them was the blast that killed Sudha. The bomb had been placed among shrubs behind a bus stop at Madiwala on Hosur Road.
The only other blast that caused casualties was the seventh. At 2.15, Ravindran and Ganesh were waiting to cross Raja Ram Mohan Roy Road when a bomb went off at a garden where they stood surrounded by lush green plants.
Three other blasts occurred on Hosur Road while the remaining three took place on Mysore Road, including the evening explosion near the Gopalan Mall bus stop, where the damage was limited to a private wall and the gutter below it.

One bomb went off in a gutter near the R.V. Engineering College bus stop that teems with students after 2.30pm, when the college closes. There were no students when the blast took place just after 2pm.

The police had a tough time clearing crowds at the blast sites. “Go back, please, there could be more bombs,” policemen were heard politely telling the crowds till they lost their patience and used lathis.

“Push the crowd back, they are trampling on forensic evidence,” Bidari yelled at his men as sniffer dogs and forensic experts searched for clues.

Karnataka police have in recent months made several arrests and claimed to have foiled terror attacks on the state secretariat, Infosys campuses in Bangalore and Mysore, and Hubli airport. Two Pakistanis were picked up in Mysore, a Kashmiri handicraft seller in Hampi and several Simi activists in Hubli.

The police later busted a Simi hideout in Bangalore and arrested two members, including one who worked for an IT company.

Simi is accused of carrying out a minor blast at a city church in 2001. The same day, a van carrying explosives blew up, killing two Simi activists, police say.

Thorium and the Indian nuclear programme

siddharth varadarajan writes in his blog - Reality one bite at a time

In a recent article in Frontline, my colleague R. Ramachandran has drawn attention to the July 4, 2008 speech by Department of Atomic Energy chairman Anil Kakodkar at the Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore as well as his Founder's Day address last October to suggest the atomic energy chief is diluting his earlier advocacy of thorium use in order to make a stronger case for the Indo-U.S. nuclear deal.

Ramachandran ends his article directly questioning the motive for Kakodkar's arguments:

The juncture at which Kakodkar has chosen to make these remarks can only make one wonder whether the compulsions were political or technical. Thorium science and technology developed within the DAE itself would suggest the former. As [former head of the Indian fast breeder programme Placid] Rodriguez says, “The statement that thorium, which has all along been hailed as the panacea for our energy security and independence, is suddenly discovered to have nuclear properties that do not allow fast growth in power generation capacity, and giving this as an alibi for the Indo-U.S. nuclear deal is surprising, coming as it does from Kakodkar, who is identified in the public mind with India’s thorium utilisation efforts.”

Well, Kakodkar has hit back in today's Hindu in an interview to my colleague, T.S. Subramanian:

Subramanian: You are the father of thorium reactor technology in India. You said in Bangalore recently that if India could import 40,000 MWe of nuclear power between 2012 and 2020, we can wipe out the gap between the demand and the supply of power by 2050 – by building more fast breeder reactors using the spent fuel arising from these imported reactors. But you also said that thorium does not have properties that allow for faster growth of power generation. Media commentators have alleged that this amounts to India abandoning its third stage of building thorium-fuelled reactors.

Kakodkar: Right from the beginning all the way up to now, there is absolutely no contradiction between my statements on thorium utilisation strategies.

These are based on detailed analyses and they remain valid. [Dr. R.] Ramachandran’s article in Frontline (August 1, 2008) is either from a result of lack of understanding or misinterpretation. The three-stage nuclear power development programme based on domestic efforts remains a priority activity and would be implemented unhindered.

To optimise the benefits of thorium utilisation, the timing of the introduction of thorium has to be judiciously planned. In any case, it has to follow significant build-up of nuclear power generation capacity through deployment of fast breeder reactors. The point to realise is the fact that India’s electricity requirements are growing faster. The gap between electricity demand and supply that can be managed on indigenous resources is widening and it would exceed 400,000 MWe by 2050.

The question that one needs to address is how soon we can bridge this gap through the growth potential that is possible with fast reactors. Clearly, this necessitates emphasis on deployment of fast breeder reactors with the shortest possible doubling time. The timing of the introduction of thorium needs to be adjusted such that the demand-supply gap is bridged at the earliest and at the same time, we derive full benefit of the vast energy potential of our thorium resources for centuries to come.

The import of 40,000 MWe of power as an additionality [to the domestic nuclear power programme] bridges not only this gap by 2050 but it would avoid the necessity of import of much larger fossil energy resources and at the same time enable earlier deployment of thorium, meeting the objectives stated above.

The point is even after we pursue the domestic three-stage nuclear power programme, which we will pursue on a priority basis in any case, there will be a gap of 400,000 MWe. If we introduce thorium earlier, this gap will become larger and the three-stage programme will become smaller. On the other hand, if we can get this 40,000 MWe from outside [by importing reactors], we can bridge this gap, and at the same time, we can advance the deployment of thorium.

You can read the full interview here.