Monday, January 31, 2011

Thought of the day - 1st February 2011

Many times our mind makes us lose a game even before we have played it.  It’s either because we were not prepared to play it or simply because we did not deserve the win…

Ranjan Panda

Extra U. N. climate talks set for April in Bangkok.

Extra U.N. climate talks set for April in Bangkok

Date: 31-Jan-11
Extra U.N. climate talks set for April in Bangkok Photo: Gerardo Garcia
World Wildlife Fund (WWF) activists light candles representing the earth as they demonstrate on the sidelines of the UN Climate Change Conference COP16 in Cancun December 5, 2010.
Photo: Gerardo Garcia
Climate negotiators from almost 200 nations will hold an extra session in Bangkok in April to try to unblock work on a successor to the U.N.'s Kyoto Protocol for slowing global warming, officials said on Friday.
They said that 2011 is likely to mark a slowdown in the overall number of U.N. meetings about climate change after a rush of talks since 2007 failed to come up with a treaty.
"The session...will be held in Bangkok from April 3 to 8," according to an official who took part in a video conference meeting this week. The Bangkok talks will gather senior government negotiators.
The meeting adds to an existing schedule of a June session in Bonn, Germany and annual talks among environment ministers in Durban, South Africa, at the end of 2011. Another session is likely to be added between Bonn and Durban.
In Mexico last month, ministers agreed steps including a deal to set up a new fund to channel aid to developing nations as well as a goal of limiting any rise in temperatures to below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 F) above pre-industrial times.
Officials say talks in 2011 will try to fill in the details of many of those plans, including greenhouse gas cuts meant to help avert ever more floods, heatwaves, droughts and rising sea levels predicted by the U.N. panel of climate experts.
The biggest unsolved issue is finding a successor to the U.N.'s Kyoto Protocol, which obliges almost 40 developed nations to cut greenhouse emissions by at least 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 during the period 2008-12.
Japan, Russia and Canada have said they will not extend cuts beyond December 31, 2012 unless all major emitters -- led by China and the United States -- sign up for a binding deal. The United States never ratified Kyoto, arguing it would cost U.S. jobs and wrongly omitted binding goals for emerging nations.
Developing nations say that rich nations, most responsible for burning fossil fuels that emit greenhouse gases since the Industrial Revolution, must extend Kyoto while they sign up for less strict curbs on their rising emissions.
Many nations doubt that a legally binding pact can be agreed soon, partly because of opposition in the U.S. Senate to calls by President Barack Obama for cuts in U.S. emissions by 2020.
Obama promised measures to promote clean energy in his State of the Union address on Tuesday but did not once mention "climate change."
Source: Reuters.

Is POSCO decision a Death Certificate to MoEF itself?

Dear All,

We are shocked by the decision taken by MoEF minister Jairam Ramesh on the POSCO plant in Odisha.  Please find attached the decision that came today.  Some of the people who had been thinking Mr. Ramesh a champion of Environment and that of MoEF would find it surprising that he has in fact issued a death certificate for his own ministry by the way he has given clearance to the POSCO plants.  

We call India a democracy and here two independent committees detailed the fraud in clearance (forest and environmental), and two of the three statutory committees recommended against the coastal and forest clearances granted (only the Environmental Clearance Committee gave a somewhat questionable OK to it) , the Environment Minister has left it to the Odisha Government to give an "assurance" that the Forest Rights Act is not violated.  The same government who has been found cheating is now given the task to judge the theft?

This is a clear cut indication of the Ministry being sold out to Foreign Direct Investment and can be said that this decision challenges the very existence of the Ministry of Environment and Forests itself.  No balancing act between environment and development this; rather its a complete sale of natural resources to be destroyed by unsustainable industrialization.

The additional conditions that Mr. Ramesh has put are merely eye wash.  Further, the way it vests all the monitoring to be done by the state government and the other regulatory agencies (the ones who have pathetically failed to regulate and monitor pollution in this state) is a clear cut indication of the eye wash.  There is no condition laid out for the company and state government to return the land to the displaced people and environmental condition to the 'previous stage' if the conditions are not met by the government.

We had been demanding fresh EIA for the project since there was no comprehensive EIA done keeping in mind the various places and spheres of resources to be affected by the project.  Even the government of Odisha had itself said that it was assessing fresh the water allocation from different locations than the Jobra barrage.  However, there is no consideration of it given and serious environmental concerns have been conveniently ignored.

On January 21st this year news papers reported how visiting South Korean Trade Minister, Kim Jong-Hoon, on Thursday said India should not “disregard” the importance of the proposed $12-billion Posco steel project as the project would bring in a great deal of value for industry in the country and generate thousands of jobs.  And as we all know Mr. Ramesh was under pressure from almost everyone, including the Union Steel Minister.  So, finally, he has succumbed to the pressure of trade and given a ditch for his own environment.

We strongly urge upon him to reconsider this decision and order for fresh independent environmental appraisal of the projects that POSCO is proposing.  Or else, we are sure, he is just clearing the path of issuing a death certificate to his own Ministry.  This is a biased and political decision under pressure of capitalism.  This cannot be termed as the decision of the Environment Ministry.

Thanks and regards,

Ranjan Panda

Black Day for India's Environment!

As Jairam Ramesh, our so called Environment Minister succumbs to the pressure of huge foreign investment, and  sells out the Environment for a company's profit, I have only to say the following:

Come POSCO, come VEDANTA... 
come.. come the WORLD.. 
Our FORESTS, our WATER, our AIR and our PEOPLE are on a SALE. 
We have got a perfect SALESMAN in our very own JAIRAM RAMESH... 
Come take the opportunity, 
take our ENVIRONMENT, 
just give some crores to Party Funds and 
to kiths and kins of the politicians....

Sunday, January 30, 2011

An Update on Diarrhoea in Odisha, India.

Diarrhoea outbreak: 73 affected in Salepur

Express News Service First Published : 30 Jan 2011

SALEPUR: As many as 73 people have been affected by diarrhoea in Baselikata village under Narasinghpur block. Nonofficial sources, however, put the figure at more than 150.

Receiving information, a fourmember medical team rushed to the village and set up a medical camp.

Today, another eight patients were admitted to the temporary medical camp and one of them was shifted to Athagarh subdivisional hospital after his condition deteriorated.

Chief District Medical Officer (CDMO) Manorama Dei also rushed to the village and took stock of the situation. She attributed the outbreak to consumption of contaminated water and said the situation has been brought under control and there is no fear of epidemic. She added that medical officials have been kept on alert and required medicines stocked to contain the disease. RWSS authorities have also started disinfecting all water sources in the village.

Source: New Indian Express, 30 Jan 2011

Five die of diarrhoea in Orissa

PTI, Jan 4, 2011,

BHUBANESWAR: At least five persons, including three children and a woman, have died of diarrhoea in two districts of Orissa within the last 24 hours, officials said.

While two adults, including a woman, died in the coastal Puri district, three tribal children succumbed to the water-borne disease in the tribal-dominated Nabarangapur district.

The deceased in Puri district were identified as Rupai Pradhan (75) of Tenthapur and Kumar Bhoi (45) of Bir Balabhadrapur village, Narahari Maharana, the chief district medical officer (CDMO) at Puri said.

A report from Nabarangpur said that Phul Kumar Bhotra (8), Manindra Bhotra (10) and Monobadha Bhotra (12) of Purla village under Jharigaon block of the district suddenly fell ill and three of them died last night.

More than 200 people have been affected by the disease, Maharana said.

Three medical teams along with adequate medicines have been sent to the affected villages under Puri Sadar area, he said.
Another 13 persons, including 4 women and 2 children, were suffering from the disease and admitted at a government hospital at Umerkote, where their condition is stated to be serious, officials said.

Source: Times of India, 4th January 2011


Orissa has 183 diarrhoea deaths in 2010

Bhubaneswar, Dec 16 : Diarrhoea and other water borne diseases have killed 183 people in Orissa since January this year, state Health Minister Prasanna Acharya said Thursday.

The highest number of 123 deaths were reported from seven districts of Rayagada, Kalahandi, Gajapati, Nuapada, Nabrangpur, Ganjam and Malkangiri. The remaining 60 deaths were reported from other parts of the state, Acharya told the state assembly.

The state government took prompt and appropriate measures immediately after the outbreak, Acharya said while replying to an adjournment motion in the assembly on the issue.

He said the government is preparing a long term comprehensive action plan, which would help prevent deaths by diarrhoea and other water borne diseases. –IANS


Thought for the day - 31st January 2011

Privileged are those who are loved.  But love is not only for the privileged ones, because a loving and caring heart does not distinguish between rich and poor…

Ranjan Panda

Climate Change News: India

Global warming may rob basmati of its fragrance
Parakram Rautela, TNN, Jan 30, 2011

NEW DELHI: An experiment by Indian agriculture scientists points to the enormous effect global warming could have on the fragrant basmati rice. Basmati, Sanskrit for the fragrant one, may lose not just its aroma, the famous long grains may get shorter, say scientists.

H Pathak, principal investigator of Indian Agricultural Research Institute's Climate Change Challenge Programme, told TOI the Tarawari basmati grown in research fields in Delhi did not grow long enough and wasn't as fragrant as it should have been when cooked.

He said global warming may be to blame for the disappointing basmati produced in the 2006-2007 experiment. Temperatures that year crossed 26 degree Celsius in September when the basmati flowers and, 15 to 20 days later, when the grain begins to fill out, because of which a shrivelling of the grain was seen.
The extra heat, he said, prevented the food stored by the plant from travelling to the grain. Consequently, it failed to grow to the right length. The heat also destroyed fatty acids stored in the grain which give the basmati its distinct fragrance when cooked.

No field studies have been done so far but if true, global warming may have enormous implications for India's prized basmati crop, which stood at 4.5 million tonnes last year.

Pathak says the IARI has been receiving complaints from farmers about a sudden warming damaging rice crops. But Dalel Singh, who heads Haryana Agricultural University's Rice Research Station at Kaul, says his scientists have not observed the phenomenon seen at IARI, at least in harvests from 2007.

Pathak says temperatures in the 700 acres that make up the IARI campus in the heart of Delhi are similar to those in Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh which grow Tarawari basmati. Therefore, what the scientists saw at IARI will be replicated in these areas.

Pathak says the best solution would be to bring planting dates forward, so that high temperatures in September don't affect the crop. The other solution would be to develop a new, heat-resistant basmati variety, though they generally have smaller yields.


Do we really have an Environment Minister?

Dear All,

See the following news on our Environment Minister's approach to save environment.  This and his recent turns on Vedanta and POSCO gives me ample reasons to believe that he may have done all the 'championing the environment's cause' type behaviour only to give a hint to the industries to contribute to the party funds or to some other private purposes.  I really smell a huge scam in this but am sure by the time this scam unearths neither Mr. Ramesh would be there nor the environment will be in a shape to qualify to have a separate Minister.  As such also the Environment Ministers are doing their jobs on behalf of Coal, Mines and Industry ministries!

Lets wait and see or lets raise our voice.  Choice is ours!

Ramesh saved Damra project
Chetan Chauhan, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, January 29, 2011

Damra Port project in Orissa escaped action as environment minister Jairam Ramesh took a lenient view despite his officials pointing out flaws in the clearance granted in 2000. The project is a joint venture between Tata Steel and L&T. “Had the construction (of the port) not commenced, we could have taken a decision unequivocally not to let the project proceed at the site whose forest status is disputed,” Ramesh said in a file noting in September 2010, overruling the view that action should be initiated against the project proponents.
The Damra project got environmental clearance in 2000 from the surface transport ministry, which then had powers to clear minor projects.

The Tata Group said they have nothing to do with the clearance, as it was taken by then project proponent International Sea Port Ltd, which later withdrew. Tata Steel entered the picture only in 2004 when it signed an agreement with L&T.

S. Mahapatra of Damra Port said: “As the matter is in court, I will not like to comment. For us, it is not forest land.”

In January 2010, several groups lodged a complaint with the environment ministry saying the project was being developed on land for which no clearance had been taken. Ramesh then ordered an inquiry.
The ministry’s regional office at Bhubaneshwar found that the land was “unsurveyed, unclassified and undemarcated” and as per records, it should have been classified as forest land. The Orissa government strongly refuted the claim of it being forest land, but admitted it was unsurveyed and unclassified.
Accepting the report, Ramesh overruled action on two grounds: First, the port was near completion and second, the goodwill of Tata Group of Companies in corporate social responsibility.

 The file noting of September 2010 was the basis of the ministry’s affidavit in Supreme Court — which was already hearing a petition filed by environmental groups in Orissa — for not initiating action.

 Convinced there was ambiguity over status of land, Ramesh, however, refrained from blaming his officials. If the project would have come for approval now, the minister made it clear that forest clearance would have been required.

Finally, Ramesh said it was not open and shut case, which has been made worse by the incontrovertible fact that the land used is unsurveyed, unclassified and undemarcated.


Saturday, January 29, 2011

Thought of the day - 30th January 2011

We often come across people saying they love frankness and truth.  But when they encounter frank and truthful persons they just cannot bear them.  This is turning out to be a norm for the society and time we live in…

Ranjan Panda

Friday, January 28, 2011

How corporates rule our state?

Dear All,

Here is one of the millions of examples to show how corporates rule our state.  

Newspapers have come out with the report how the local Biju Janata Dal (ruling party of the state) workers had to go for a public demonstration in front of the Bhusan Steel and Power Ltd. at Thelkuli in Rengali block of Sambalpur district demanding provision of drinking water to the Khinda, Lapanga and Thelkuli areas.  It is reported that the Bhusan company was to provide drinking water to these areas and foundation stone for a drinking water supply project was laid two years back(already after so many years of neglect).  But the company, backed by the history of its non compliance of all rules, had yet to do anything.  Many people's agitations have been seen here for long but without any fruit.  Now the party thats ruling the state has to go and sit on a Dharna before Bhusan company to provide what it has been mandated by the rules to provide.  

Bhusan has been one of the forerunners in flouting environmental and other laws of the land.  It has also been in the news for maximum number of worker deaths.  At Bhusan, the government, the pollution control board and all other mechanisms seem to have seized to exist.  It has become the king.  And our government says, industrialization such as this is helping Odisha progress. There are many more notorious hats that Bhusan company wears.  It has given a big damn to local employment despite several promises.  Each time there is an agitation by local people the district administration assures that it will talk to the company.  As if the company is God.  Why cant they enforce?  Time Odias ask this basic question: "who rules the state?".

Thanks and regards,


Thought of the day - 29th January 2011

We are not individuals for the sake of being one.  We are part of a principle of existence.  The more we defy this principle, the faster will become our path to nonexistence…

Ranjan Panda

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Thought of the day - 28th January 2011

For creation of a beautiful society we need clean minds, clear hearts and constructively curious brains…

Ranjan Panda

Thought of the day - 27th January 2011

If you are surprised by someone’s true words, friendly gestures or innocent behavior; you are due for a date with children…

Ranjan Panda

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Thought of the day - 26th January 2011

When we pursue our goal rather blindly, we often don't learn from others; not even from our own experiences...

Ranjan Panda

Climate Change News: Global.

Cost Of Natural Disasters $109 Billion In 2010: U.N

Date: 25-Jan-11

An earthquake survivor walks through the city center after it was destroyed by a massive earthquake and ensuing tsunami, in Talcahuano March 4, 2010.
Photo: Mariana Bazo

Natural disasters caused $109 billion in economic damage last year, three times more than in 2009, with Chile and China bearing most of the cost, the United Nations said Monday.

The 8.8-magnitude earthquake that struck Chile in February cost $30 billion. Landslides and floods last summer in China caused $18 billion in losses, data compiled by the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) showed.

Although Haiti's January 12 earthquake was the deadliest event of 2010, killing 316,000 people according to the government in Port-au-Prince, its economic toll was $8 billion. The July-August floods in Pakistan cost $9.5 billion.

Margareta Wahlstrom, the U.N. assistant secretary-general for disaster risk reduction, said fast-developing countries were facing increasing price tags from natural disasters.

"The accumulated wealth that is affected by disaster events is growing," she told a news briefing in Geneva, where most of the U.N.'s emergency and aid operations are based.

Cities are particularly vulnerable to big economic losses when poorly-maintained infrastructure is rattled by earthquakes or exposed to big storms, Wahlstrom said.

"With more extreme weather events, and more earthquakes in urban areas, the state of repair or disrepair in urban areas is really critical," she said.


The most populous cities on earthquake fault lines include Mexico City, New York, Mumbai, Delhi, Shanghai, Kolkata, Jakarta and Tokyo, according to the U.N.'s International Strategy for Disaster Reduction.

Many people also live in parts of urban areas vulnerable to landslides and floods, which are anticipated to occur more often as a result of climate change, Wahlstrom said, also warning of rising risks from "silent events" like droughts.

Of the 373 disasters recorded last year, 22 were in China, 16 were in India and 14 were in the Philippines, CRED said.

The storms, earthquakes, heatwaves and cold snaps affected 207 million people and killed 296,800, according to the data, which does not incorporate an increase of Haiti's death toll announced earlier this month by Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive.

The global toll estimates that 55,736 people died from a summer heatwave in Russia which led to crop failures and helped drive up food prices.

It also says 2,968 people were killed in an April earthquake in China and 1,985 died from the Pakistani floods.

The 2009 economic price tag of $34.9 billion was unusually low because of the lack of a major weather or climate event in the period, which nonetheless saw floods and typhoons in Asia and an earthquake in Indonesia.

A major earthquake in China in 2008 caused $86 billion in damage, bringing that year's economic toll to approximately $200 billion. In 2005, the hurricanes that struck the southern United States drove up the global disaster toll to nearly $250 billion.

The economic cost estimates are based on data from national authorities as well as insurance companies including Swiss Re, Munich Re and Lloyd's. CRED is part of the University of Louvain in Belgium and maintains a database of international disasters for the United Nations.

Source: Reuters.

Thought of the day - 25th January 2011

Humans, by nature, are biased.  Those who are biased towards the rich and powerful have hit the history lines as villains, but people who are biased towards the poor and weak have been remembered as Heroes…

Ranjan Panda

Monday, January 24, 2011

Climate Change News: Global.

La Niña Related Impacts Likely to Continue

As of mid-January, moderate-to-strong La Niña conditions continue to exist in the tropical Pacific. Scientists at the International Research Institute for Climate and Society expect these to linger, potentially causing additional shifts in rainfall patterns across many parts of the world in months to come. These shifts, combined with socioeconomic conditions and other factors, can make some parts of the world more vulnerable to impacts. However, La Niña conditions do allow the IRI and other institutions to produce more accurate seasonal forecasts and help better predict extreme drought or rainfall in some parts of the world. This enhanced predictability could help societies improve preparedness, issue early warnings and reduce any potentially negative impacts from La Niña.

"Based on current observations and on predictions from models, we see at least a 90% chance that La Niña conditions will continue through March 2011," says IRI's chief forecaster, Tony Barnston.

The term La Niña refers to a period of cooler-than-average sea-surface temperatures in the eastern and central equatorial Pacific Ocean that occurs as part of natural climate variability. This situation is roughly the opposite of what happens during El Niño events, when waters in this region are warmer-than-normal (see our past story on El Niño). Both are part of a larger climate cycle known as the El Niño-Southern Oscillation, or ENSO. Because the Pacific is the largest ocean on the planet, any significant changes in average conditions there, such as those that occur during La Niña or El Niño, can have consequences for temperature, rainfall and vegetation in faraway places.
Climate scientists have found La Niña's signature in the widespread flooding that occurred in Pakistan last year, as well as flooding in West Africa, South Africa, and most recently in Queensland, Australia, where an area estimated to be the size of France and Germany combined was left underwater. Places such as Indonesia and northern South America have also been receiving above-normal rainfall. But La Niña probably isn't to blame for the recent flooding in southeastern Brazil, says Barnston. The more likely culprit there was a pocket of above-average sea-surface temperatures in the southwest Atlantic that promoted low atmospheric pressure and an increased tendency for heavy rainfall.

La Niña can be associated with droughts as well. It's keeping east Africa drier-than-usual, sparking food-security concerns in areas lacking irrigation, including parts of Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Tanzania. Areas in southeastern South America, central southwest Asia, and the southern U.S. may also see lower-than-normal rainfall for the first quarter of 2011.

Since 1950, the world experienced six major La Niña events, which were linked to widespread flooding in some areas. For example, in Bangladesh, La Niña was implicated in four out of six devastating flood events documented since 1954 (read more here). In 2000, floods associated with La Niña affected 400,000 people in southern Africa, caused at least 96 deaths and left 32,000 homeless. Of course, such events can also occur during non-La Niña years. What La Niña does is increase the likelihood that certain areas will get above-normal or below-normal rainfall (see map on this page for more details).

Once developed, La Niña conditions typically persist for 9-12 months, peaking sometime during November, December, or January. But 2010 was an interesting and lively year for climate scientists. For the first four months of this year, El Niño conditions prevailed in the tropical Pacific, but that quickly changed, and by June, a La Niña pattern had emerged.

"Last year's transition from El Niño to La Niña was about the most sudden we've ever had," Barnston says. "When we had rapid flips like this in the past, we sometimes ended up having a two-year La Niña, such as right after the El Niño episodes of 1972/73 and 1997/98." Barnston cautions that the likelihood of this happening with the current La Niña is unknown. "Even if we do have a second year of La Niña developing in northern summer 2011, we expect at least a brief return to neutral conditions from May to July of 2011."

Source: International Research Institute for Climate and Society 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Thought of the day - 20th January 2011

If you cannot shed your anger, make it an Art instead. Anger

can be beneficial only when controlled doses of it are used for

ushering positive changes in society and individuals...

Ranjan Panda

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Thought of the day - 19th January 2011

We are future eaters.  We have already eaten up our ‘water future’ and ‘water present’ of our future generations…

Ranjan Panda

Monday, January 17, 2011

Todays News Pick: Blame industry, not cars, for pollution

Blame industry, not cars, for pollution

Chetan Chauhan, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, January 17, 2011

A new government study has broken the popular belief that vehicles are the major source of Particulate Matter (PM) air pollution. Instead, industrial emissions and road dust are the prominent causes, says environment ministry’s Source Appropriation Study in seven big cities of India.

Particulate matter was the fastest growing pollutant in most Indian cities but its sources were not known. 
The only study of its type, first reported by HT in June 2010 and reviewed by an inter-ministerial group said that vehicles are the highest contributor to PM 10 (particulate matter of 10 micros or more) levels only in Bangalore. They were found to be third or fourth contributor in the remaining six cities, Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Pune, Kanpur and Chennai.

“Despite the large fleet of vehicles in Delhi, the share is less due to presence of other significant sources such as power plants, road dust re-suspension,” the report vetted by air pollution experts in Europe and United States, said.

Vehicular contribution to PM pollution was only seven percent whereas road dust contributed about 50% to total PM 10, which was found to be highest in Delhi among the cities surveyed.

Road dust re-suspension is primarily because of undone payments, roadside eateries and construction activity without pollution control measures.

Industrial activity was found to be the highest contributor for PM 10 pollution, which triggers lung ailments, in Mumbai and Kanpur. Large industries were the cause in Mumbai whereas small-scale industries produce high particulate matter in Kanpur. Power plants within city boundary limits were the primary cause for industry contributing 22 % in Delhi.

The study also found that domestic use of Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) was also a cause for particulate matter pollution. Including PM 2.5, a fine pollutant whose repeated exposure can trigger heart attacks.

Another startling revelation was that vehicles are not the major contributor to nitrogen oxide (NOX) pollution in Delhi and Mumbai. The fumes from diesel vehicles were considered the major source of rising levels of this gaseous pollutant in Delhi, where industries have been blamed for his high concentration.

However, the study found that in transport sector heavy-duty vehicles, especially those running on diesel, were the biggest contributor to pollution levels.

Thought of the day - 18th January 2011

Humans are fascinated by stories of societies that collapsed, but reluctant to take learning from those.  That is why we keep repeating actions that lead us to doom by limiting our vision to a ‘Present Selfish Life’…

Ranjan Panda

11 new farmer suicides haunt this part of Orissa

11 new farmer suicides haunt this part of Orissa

Sampad Mahapatra, Updated: January 17, 2011 16:28 IST

Bhubaneswar:  In a small village in Orissa's Sambalpur district, in a small house, a family looks to its neighbours for support. 61-year-old Shukla Chand killed himself by drinking pesticide. In this part of Western Orissa, this has become a frighteningly familiar story. Since November, 11 farmers from here have killed themselves.

Farmers have been catapulted from one crisis to another in Orissa since 2009. Floods, drought, and then exceptionally heavy rainfall last year before the harvest. The deaths of 100 farmers have officially been registered as suicides. The state government says it wasn't their failed crops that drove them to their death.
For farmers whose crops were wiped out by pre-harvest rains, the Centre has sanctioned Rs. 400 crore for Andhra Pradesh and another Rs. 600 crore for Maharashtra. No compensation for Orissa has been announced so far.

The state government, led by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik of the Biju Janata Dal, has offered to pay farmers Rs. 400 per acre for rain-fed areas and Rs. 800 per acre for irrigated land - only if the farmers can prove he has lost his entire crop. But farmers point out they invest at least Rs. 9,000 per acre for their paddy crop.  So the compensation being offered is worthless.

For farmers like Shukla Chand, it seems like there's no one on their side. His suicide note says after his last crop of paddy failed just before the harvest, the loans he owed seemed insurmountable.  He had cultivated eight acres of paddy with an initial investment of Rs. 80,000.  He then took a bank loan of five lakh to buy a tractor, and another three lakh from private money lenders. When heavy rains destroyed his standing crop in November last year, he could no longer cope.

"The Centre and state are playing a cruel joke on our farmers. The policy to compensate for losses due to calamities has not kicked in. There are thousands of farmers like Shukla Chand who are not dead as yet, but on the verge of death," says Saroj, the leader of a local cooperative of farmers.

Vedanta Group Chairman Anil Agarwal meets Ramesh.

Dear All,

Please read the following news to know how Odisha's real God now meets Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh as his worshipers and agents in the state fail to do that job.  I am sure a hefty bribe must be in cards as the eco criminal tries to pursue for the licence to kill Niyamgiri's pristine ecology and species that abode those.  The real test for Mr. Ramesh is now.  It would be interesting to see if the Minister succumbs to the Villain or punishes him for the blatant violations he has already done of the environmental laws of the land.  

I am sure the Swabhimani Odias of the state will also oppose this move of a fraud who did not even restrain from grabbing Lord Jagannath's land in fraudulent manners.  Or our love and respect for the Lord is only limited to restricting some white skins from entering into the premises of the temple?  Time the people of the state and the real Netas recognize this dangerous element and teach him a good lesson for all the violations he has already made.

And for those who still feel that he is the God and is the messiah of Odisha's development (even some have started lobbying as to how schools, hospitals, roads and nothing is possible with out the Vedanta group in Kalahandi and other parts of Odisha), please have a look at the news to know who goes to whom?  It is our government who is supposed to provide us all these and no Corporate. And even if it is some corporate it cannot be the ones who are blatant violators of the laws of the land.  

Ranjan Panda

Vedanta Group Chairman Anil Agarwal meets Ramesh

Press Trust of India / New Delhi January 17, 2011, 17:35 IST

Vedanta Group Chairman Anil Agarwal today met Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh and sought clearance for Vedanta Alumina Limited's (VAL) Stage-II bauxite mining project in Orissa.

Sources in the Ministry said the Vedanta chief requested Ramesh to reconsider his decision to reject its Stage-II bauxite mining in Niyamgiri Hills for Lanjigarh refinery.

The Minister pointed out the case filed by VAL challenging the Centre's decision was currently before the Orissa High Court but asked Agarwal to "make a fresh application" before the Ministry, sources said.

Later, when asked about the meeting and whether the project was discussed, Agarwal said, "we discussed it."

The Orissa High Court will be hearing the case on February 2.

Besides the VAL, Orissa government too has filed separate petitions relating to the case while several PILs, including one by Lanjigarh Anchalika Vikash Parishad, were also filed in the HC seeking to quash the October 22, 2010 notice of Environment Ministry.

Disallowing mining in Niyamgiri Hills of Kalahandi district, the Ministry had scrapped the proposal of six-fold capacity of the refinery from one million tonne per annum capacity to six million tonne per annum.

The Ministry had stopped sourcing raw material for Vedanta’s Lanjigarh refinery from mines for not having environmental clearance.

The Ministry had asked Jharkhand government to ensure that mines from the state supplying raw material to Vedanta refinery get environmental clearance.

The Centre had ordered the Vedanta to immediately halt expansion work of the refinery project asking the company to fulfil a number of conditions before operating its existing alumina refinery.

It was alleged that Vedanta was in illegal possession of 26 hectares of forest land and it was in an expansion mode to enhance its capacity.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Thought of the day - 17th January 2011

We cannot leave it to ‘Luck’ and ‘Others’ to take care of the problems we see around us…

Ranjan Panda

Photo - Sunset at Hirakud

Earnest workers of Mother Nature

They don't contribute to Green House Gases but bear the maximum brunt of it.  Still the emitters think they are best teachers of ecology... Greed and arrogance at its best!

Ranjan Panda 

Thought of the day - 16th January 2011

Ego and anger make one loose peace, happiness and people…

Ranjan Panda

Friday, January 14, 2011

Thought of the day - 15th January 2011

Anger and restlessness are two arms of a mental calamity.  People who suffer from these can prove fatal for themselves as well as their loved ones…

Ranjan Panda

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Thought of the day - 14th January 2011

Don’t make your size and looks describe your being.  Instead, let your contributions justify your existence…

Ranjan Panda

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Thought of the day - 12th January 2011

For our survival and progress it’s necessary for us to stay human beings; for that of the greedy corporates it’s essential that we become consumers who can eat up everything including ourselves.  Make the choice now or be ready to perish…

Ranjan Panda

Monday, January 10, 2011

Thought of the day - 11th January 2011

As children of Mother Earth, we need to keep justifying our existence with truthful intent and genuine respect for her.  She will take care of the rest to keep our race going…

Ranjan Panda

Thought of the day - 10th January 2011

It is not always ambition that leads one to go for more than one can chew.  Deprivation sometimes too can play the same role.  Overconsumption, in both the cases, may be disastrous and even fatal…

Ranjan Panda

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Thought for the day - 9th January 2011

As human beings, if you have to be biased, be biased towards the survival of Mother Nature and those who are directly dependent on her for their survival...

Ranjan Panda

Monday, January 3, 2011

IWRM in Orissa: People's own agenda.

“Believe us, we are best managers of our water resources”

A large number of Farmers conveyed an agenda to the Government of Odisha in India in a public consultation titled “Integrated Water Resources Management in Odisha: A People's Charter.”

IWRM is good but the plan that is being pushed by the ADB in Odisha is actually biased towards industries and if implemented it will ensure corporate control of water resources of the state. Photo by Avilash Roul/ForumSAMBALPUR, 22 Dec 10 -- Farmers in Odisha, India proposed a water management and governance system of water resources by the people themselves instead of the one being pushed by the government of Odisha under a technical assistance (TA) from the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

In a day-long public consultation organized by Water Initiatives Odisha (WIO), said TA report titled “Institutional Development of Integrated Water Resources Management in Orissa: India” was put on the table for a thorough discussion and dissection.  After discussing the TA the farmers, who attended from remote and far off villages and also from command areas of irrigation projects along with academicians, researchers and civil society organization representatives, rejected   the ADB’s proposed Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) plan for Odisha.  

“We, the people of the state, are capable of designing and implementing our own IWRM and we propose to do this through our own structure like ‘River Parliaments’ for each river basin and a state level ‘Water Parliament’ for the overall management of water resources of the state,” voiced the participants.  

IWRM is good but the plan that is being pushed by the ADB in Odisha is actually biased towards industries and if implemented it will ensure corporate control of water resources of the state. Photo by Avilash Roul/ForumThe participants urged upon the governments of Odisha and India not to consider industries as a stakeholder in water plans and decision making.  They further emphasized that water is an ecological resource and is a fundamental right of the people of the state.  No external agency but the people of the state should be its owners. This can be ensured through formation and strengthening of River Parliaments, which resolved at the end of the consultation.

“At a point of time, when more and more farmers are resorting to committing suicides owing to farm distressed fuelled by water shortage and climate change, the proposed IWRM plan will bring further disasters to the farming community as the plan proposes cost recovery mechanism as the only solution to water management and favors corporate control over water resources,” said Ranjan Panda, convener of WIO, who coordinated the organizing of this consultation. 

All the speakers emphasized on guaranteed right for the people of the state over its water resources. The TA has been strongly rejected on the basis of lack of public consultation organized by the government on this important aspect of life.  

IWRM is good but the plan that is being pushed by the ADB in Odisha is actually biased towards industries and if implemented it will ensure corporate control of water resources of the state. Photo by Avilash Roul/Forum“Neither people of the state nor the active farmers’ organizations have been consulted.  The report, which will impact the farmers the most, has only narrated concerns of the industries and corporate,” argued Mr Lingaraj, Convener, Paschim Odisha Krushak Samanwaya Samiti (a coordination organization of farmers’ organizations of the state). 

“This is clear cut evidence that the plan is to smoothen the path of unsustainable and blind industrialization the state is now carrying out at cost of its own people and environment,” vented Lingaraj. 

IWRM is a concept that the world has learnt from the age-old practice in India and others. The concept of IWRM is good but the plan that is being pushed by the ADB in Odisha is actually biased towards industries and if implemented it will ensure corporate control of water resources of the state. 

“For a proper IWRM plan you need to have complete and up-to-date data on the quality and quantity of water in the state for current as well as future year scenarios.  However, the plan that the TA is prescribing is based on incorrect and insufficient data.  This is not acceptable,” said Panda.

“Water is not government’s property as it has not created it.  People of the state are traditionally the users, preservers and therefore the owners of it. The current system of decision making by the government on water management is influenced by corporate interest and will lead to privatization of water.  We don’t need external agencies to prescribe on water management.  People of the state are capable enough to plan our own IWRM where the government and other technical agencies can at best play assisting role. The government should stop playing a facilitator role for industries and should stop behaving as owner of water.  It’s only the watch group of it,” said Saroj, Researcher and farmer activist.

Majority believed that this plan of the ADB will strengthen the privatization drive of water resources in the country that has begun at the behest of the World Bank in 2001-2002 through its ‘water consolidation project’.
In place of River Basin Organizations that is being proposed by the ADB , the public consultation resolved to urge upon the government to form River Parliaments where people of the state will be the only stakeholders.   

“In no circumstances industries should be considered a stakeholder in the management plans.  They are the predators as they not only extract water in unsustainable manner but also pollute it to irreparable extent,” discussed the participants.   

The consultation resolved to take the debate to the villages and make people aware about these dangerous plans of privatizing our water resources by the ADB and the government.  The participants urged upon Water Initiatives Odisha to organize public consultations in each district of the state and push for participatory water management.   A people’s agenda on IWRM was prepared that will be sent to government of Odisha as well as will be discussed at various forums for garnering further support for the recommendations made.