Monday, November 28, 2011

Invitation to Consultation on IWRM and Baitarani River Basin

Water Initiatives Odisha

BaitaranBanchao Abhiyan, Keonjhar & NGO Forum onADB, Philippines

      Invityou to the Consultation on

Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) inBaitarani River Basin: How far and for whom?

Date: 9th December, 2011; Keonjhar

Dear Friends/Co-sailors,

As you are aware, the state of Odisha, with support of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), has been engaged in water governance reforms programme in the Baitarani River Basin through IWRM In December 2010, we at Water Initiatives Odisha(WIO) had organised a state level consultation to build a “People’s Agenda on IWRM”, in which about 100 people including farmers, fishermen, civil society groups, academia, media and other sections of the society participated, deliberated and rejected the IWRM proposal of the Govt. of Odisha in its present form. We strongly pointed out several technical faults and loop holes in the document. We warned that such plan was actually meant to serve the interest of the mining and industrial houses rather than the people of the state and the rivers’ ecology including wildlife who are dependent on the rivers.

Even while the date for receiving public comment on the IWRM document was open, the Government went ahead with notification of the Bairarani River Basin Organisation (RBO). We again urged upon the Govt. not to go ahead with the RBO in this river which is already critically polluted and at stressed due to mindless mining and indiscriminate withdrawal for industrial use. In Baitarani River, farmers and other dependent communities and species including the trees and wildlife are fighting a losing battle for their rights over the water. Even though the RBO has not yet been established, perhaps because the govt. found reasons in the crucial issues we have raised since the beginning, we feel the need for discussing the IWRM plans to manage the Baitarani River Basin has become more important than ever before.

We have witnessed how in the absence of a proper management plan and its implementation, the floods in our rivers are becoming more devastating; and how mining and industrialization is taking away more and more water – both due to faulty allotment principles and illegal withdrawal by such profit making groups, at the cost of farms, farmers, fishermen, and most importantly the river itself including the biodiversity it supports.

In our December 2010 Consultation, we had proposed formation of River Basin Parliaments with people of the basin as the major decision makers, where in govt. officials and other technical experts could help as advisers only. We had strongly opposed the inclusion of any mining, industrial and vested interest group to be included in any decision making body. We had also asked for updated information on water availability and had demanded a status paper of all rivers after conducting a thorough cumulative ecological assessment of the carrying capacity of the rivers. However, nothing has been done so far but the tempo and speed of signing MoUs with more and more water guzzling and polluting industries is going on.

With this in background, Water Initiatives Odisha (WIO), in association with Baitarani Banchao Abhiyan (BBA) and NGO Forum on ADB is organising a day long Consultation on the above subject at Keonjhar on 9th December, 2011 to discuss the following:

- The IWRM Approach of Govt. of Odisha and ADB: Challenges Ahead.

- RBO in Baitarani River Basin: Issues and Challenges.

- Alternative to RBOs: River Basin Parliament for River Basin Management putting riparian rights (including rights of the River, its ecology, biodiversity and wildlife): Discussions by people and groups from the Basin.

If you have been working on these issues and have an interest to participate and actively contribute to the process and our Network, please write back.

Look forward to hear from you and your active participation.

Thanks and regards,

Ranjan Panda
Convenor, Water Initiatives Odisha 


Water Initiatives Odisha: Fighting water woes, combating climate change... more than two decades now!

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Water Initiatives Odisha (WIO) is a state level coalition of civil society organisations, farmers, academia, media and other concerned, which has been working on water, environment and climate change issues in the state for more than two decades now.

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