Bay of Bengal

Pathfinder Foundation and Carnegie India organized a conference on connectivity. I was asked to speak on air connectivity, which I was happy to do, it being a rather neglected subject. The paper is still not ready for prime time, some of the data not having yet been provided by the Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka. But here is the conclusion: There may be marginal possibilities for increasing passenger and freight movements between India and Sri Lanka through reforms in air travel and visa policies which could possibly be included in the proposed Economic and Technical Cooperation Agreement (ETCA). The construction of additional international airports, such as those in Jaffna and Trincomalee, where significant Sri Lankan Tamil populations live may also contribute.
We have been engaged with broader connectivity issues in the region since 2010, when Abu Saeed Khan and I started working to move ICT connectivity issues up on UN ESCAP’s agenda, embedded in other forms of connectivity. Much of what we’ve done in this area recently has been on the demand for connectivity developing in the Bay of Bengal. But thanks to the Trincomalee Consultation organized by Pathfinder Foundation and Carnegie India, I look at the supply side, with focus on Trincomalee. Here are the concluding comments. When conclusions are drawn from maps and anecdotes, it seems obvious that Trincomalee is ideally positioned to serve as a maritime gateway to the Bay of Bengal region.
According to Twitter, some people are without Internet in Bangkok today. Today's Tot internet failure from flooding wouldn't have been if only it were a mesh rather than point to point as @samarajiva has advocated — Don (@smartbrain) January 10, 2017 India is also supposed to have experienced problems with the Tata Indicom Cable connecting Chennai and Singapore. But they had back up options, running traffic through Bangladesh. The report below indicates that this resulted in higher bandwidth use (good) and a discernible degradation of Internet service quality (bad) for Bangladesh users. This is possibly because Bangladesh still primarily depends on SEA-ME-WE 4 to connect to the outside.
I was asked to select a topic when I was invited to deliver the keynote at the APNIC 42 conference that was moved from Dhaka to Colombo because of the terror attacks. APNIC people usually get their jollies by debating things like the pros and cons of IPv6 versus IPv4. I had no comparative advantage on such esoterica. So I thought I’d try to broaden their horizons a little. Little attention is paid in these kinds of gatherings to what make it possible for the packets to flow: the fiber cables and the spectrum.
It was a problem in the country that gave its name to the Bay of Bengal that caused the main APNIC conference to shift its location to Colombo. So, when I was asked to deliver one of the two keynotes, I proposed a talk on connectivity in the Bay. Now that SAARC has taken a hit to its gut, there are many who think regional cooperation should focus on the Bay that unites us rather than the land that divides. Here is what the keynote is about: Much is changing in the region’s ICT infrastructure. China Unicom is building a cable station in Ngwe Saung on the Myanmar coast, solely for the purpose of connecting Western China to the world through the AAE-1 cable.
Below is an excerpt of the write-up of the 2nd BIMSTEC Foundation Lecture I gave on the 24th of August. As the economies of the littoral states grow, the need for connectivity will be heightened. Greater connectivity will make possible increased economic interactions and thereby further accelerate growth. With four of the littoral states among the 10 fastest growing economies in the world as shown in Figure 2 based on IMF projections. If the adjacent states of Cambodia and Laos are included six of the 10 fastest growing economies are in the region.
That is the title of the talk I will be giving on 24th August at 0900 hrs as the 2nd BIMSTEC Foundation Lecture at the Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok. Here I present (incomplete) evidence of the historical connectedness of the Bay of Bengal, reasons why the connectivity decreased after the Second World War, and information on current major developments in multiple forms of connectivity, including fiber optic cables. The slides are here.
I was asked to speak about Sri Lanka’s economic strategies and the Maritime Silk Road, here at the Shanghai Institutes of International Studies – Pathfinder Foundation symposium today. I am not sure this is just about Sri Lanka, but connectivity, if it is to be effective, has to work for all who are connected, so it does not have to be. I guess I could do a slightly different version of this for Myanmar and Bangladesh. Anyway, here‘s what I presented in eight minutes. It covers marine, aviation and telecom connectivity.
In 2007 Smith Dharmasaroja, the former disaster czar of Thailand, pointed to the dangers posed by mountains of mud deposited by the Ganges in the Bay of Bengal. What the research below raises is the danger of soft material combined with earthquakes. Are these not high priority research areas for our scientists? In a paper published today (24 August 2012) in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Professors Dan McKenzie and James Jackson of Cambridge’s Department of Earth Sciences describe for the first time the added factor that may have made this tsunami so severe: a huge collapse of soft material on the sea bed resulted in a far greater movement of water than would have been caused by the earthquake alone. Full report.
Governments need to pay more attention to the costs of false warnings.  It’s not that this has not been said before.  But now we have real evidence from the region. Gulfnews: Cyclone victims ignored repeated warnings A false tsunami alert two months ago led thousands of Bangladeshis to ignore warnings as Cyclone Sidr approached, costing many lives, villagers and officials said on Tuesday. “This time we did not take the number 10 danger signal seriously because the government has been issuing these warnings quite often.
The victims of cyclone in Bangladesh are poorest among the poor. Their views about effective warning system “lacks credibility” to the concerned bodies.But it is a real bad news when the merchant mariners have slammed Bangladesh Meteorological Department (BMD) for suddenly raising the cyclone’s severity within an hour. It clearly demonstrates the BMD’s professional incompetence. Reuters provides the chilling details.
Six water pressure sensors placed on the seabed in the southern Bay of Bengal and northern Arabian Sea will act as sentinels in India’s tsunami early warning system, which was formally inaugurated today. The sensors — four in the Bay and two in the Arabian Sea — will look for changes in ocean water level and send readings via satellite to the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) in Hyderabad, the hub for the system. The Rs 125-crore early warning system will also use a network of seismic stations, tide gauges and computer simulations based on seabed studies to issue alerts about tsunamis — waves sometimes triggered by undersea earthquakes. Continue reading “Tsunami sentinels on duty under sea – Six sensors in place, six more to be added”
:The Daily Star: Internet Edition Sarvodaya, Sri Lanka’s largest community-based organisation, and LIRNEasia, a regional ICT policy think-tank, collaborated on a 32-village pilot project that sought to identify the best technologies for reaching villages; to identify the significance of organisational strength and training for risk reduction; and to assess the participation of women in these activities.The community-based approach implemented in the project is different from a public-warning approach, but has lessons for government communications with first responders and for community organisation and training as well. For example, the project field tested addressable and remotely activated satellite radios that have coverage over the entire Bay of Bengal region. Other equipment deployed included Java and Symbion enabled mobile handsets capable of generating loud alarms and multi-language alert messages. The Bangladesh Network Office for Urban Safety (BNUS) of the Department of Civil Engineering, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) is co-organising a workshop with LIRNEasia entitled “Sharing Knowledge on Disaster Warning: Community-based Last Mile Warning Systems” to discuss the findings of the Last Mile Hazard Warning System (Hazinfo) Pilot Project as well as share the lessons of community-based last mile warning systems in Bangladesh.
BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Tsunami concern for Bay of Bengal Now, Phil Cummins, lead author on the Nature paper and a geologist at Geoscience Australia, believes this is not the case.He said: “I reviewed the geological literature and found the evidence for a lack of tectonic activity along the Myanmar coast was not compelling.” Historical evidence Recent GPS data, he said, suggested that the plate boundary was at sea in this area, hidden below thick layers of sediment.
Smith Dharmasarojana is a hero to those in the disaster risk-reduction field. He was the Met Chief who raised the flag re a tsunami hitting Thailand well before 2004 December. He lost his job as a result. When the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami did hit, he was recalled and made the disaster-preparedness czar. Because of his drive, Thailand is among the best prepared for a tsunami or similar disaster today.
LIRNEasia is undertaking a project to provide disaster mitigation training and last-mile connectivity to tsunami-affected villages along the coast of Sri Lanka. The effectiveness of training and five different ICT technologies that will be deployed will be assessed with a view of rolling out the most successful strategies and technologies in 226 tsunami-affected Sarvodaya villages. This IDRC funded project is partnered with Sarvodaya, Vanguard Foundation, Dr. Gordon Gow, LSE, UK, TVE Asia Pacific, Sri Lanka and the Community Tsunami Early-Warning Center (CTEC) at Peraliya. In the aftermath of the Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004, it was evident that if Sri Lanka along with the other affected countries had an effective disaster warning system in place, many lives could have been saved.
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