Thursday, May 31, 2012

Thought for 1st June 2012

All simple and truthful beings have at least two things in common: a natural smile and sound sleep...

Ranjan Panda

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Support the National Strike...

With 7.5% of the total CO2 emissions coming from transportation sector in a country that is the 5th largest emitter of GHGs in the world, a day of strike (bandh) can bring a huge relief to Mother Earth...

So, I support today's bandh...

Thought for 30th May 2012

For the spirited soul, money does not determine functions...

Ranjan Panda

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Thought for 30th May 2012

With money as central point in a relationship, trust withers away.  With trust as the fiber, both money and relations stay...

Ranjan Panda

Monday, May 28, 2012

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Thought for 18th May 2012

Life is the simplest as well as most mysterious concept.  Some spend their whole life to demystify its complexities; some simply live it...

Ranjan Panda

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Thought for 17th May 2012

Our minds share a unique common space to co-exist in cohesion.  The moment 'consensus' ends between two minds, one becomes vulnerable to dominance or even abuse by the other.  Or simply, they split...
Ranjan Panda

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Thought for 16th May 2012

The only culture that stands the tests of times is that of Conservation.  Don't delay, start respecting & nurturing the 'culture of protecting & preserving Mother Nature'...

Ranjan Panda

Monday, May 14, 2012

Thought for 15th May 2012 !

A grain, as a brain, is plural.  It has many roles and multiple benefits.  Moving towards Grainlessness, as we are now, is an act of Brainlessness...

Ranjan Panda

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Coal regulator Bill likely

Coal regulator Bill likely to be on Cabinet table today

The Union Cabinet, on Wednesday, is likely to consider a Bill for an independent regulator for the coal sector that will have a firm say in allocation of blocks and ensure strict enforcement of mining regulations.

Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal, in a recent note to the Cabinet, had said that an independent regulator was needed considering the near-monopoly the producers in the coal industry enjoy and the fact that regulation was currently done by agencies closely associated with the government as well as the same producers.

The move follows the Comptroller and Auditor General’s (CAG) observations on the coal sector, which had sparking off a controversy in the recent times.

“Now that the concerned ministries have vetted the Bill, it is high time that we have an independent regulator,” a senior coal ministry official said.

The Independent Coal Regulatory Authority Bill, 2012, seeks to empower the proposed regulator to decide the fuel’s prices and to suspend or cancel authorisations of errant coal producers. The authority would also specify standards of performance and operational norms for coal companies and monitor the same.

“The proposed authority would determine the price of raw coal, washed coal and by-products,” Jaiswal had said in the note.

The Centre’s role would be restricted to policy-making while the regulator would ensure implementation of the policy, Jaiswal stated. However, it would advise the Centre on formulation of the policies.

To ensure independent functioning of the regulator, the ministry has also proposed a Coal Regulatory Authority Fund. Sources said the coal ministry’s role would be largely defined by the regulator and it would try and adhere to the advice extended by the regulatory mechanism. Once the Bill gets Cabinet approval, it would be likely tabled in Parliament in this Session or in the Monsoon Session.

- Priyadarshi Siddhanta : New Delhi, Wed May 09 2012, 00:58 hrs

Sanitation now under NREGS too

Dear Friends,

This is a good news for people advocating for rural sanitation.  Please see the following  news and the bold lines in that.

Thanks and regards,


30 new activities brought under NREGS

The government on Tuesday informed the Lok Sabha about the expansion of the scope of activities permitted under the rural job guarantee scheme by including 30 new activities. These will supplement agricultural and animal husbandry operations along with flood management and sanitation-related works in rural India.

According to the copy of the government notification put before the Lok Sabha on Tuesday, the government has amended Schedule-I and Schedule-II of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee (MGNREG) Act, 2005. The amendment will provide for inclusion of vermi-composting, liquid bio-manures, creation of poultry and goat shelters, construction of pucca floors for cattle, development of public water bodies for fisheries, construction of fish drying yards and rehabilitation of minor, sub-minor and field channels for irrigation among the permissible activities to benefit the agriculture sector.

The amendments into the Schedule, which do not require the approval of Parliament, also include sanitation-related activities like construction of soak pits and recharge pits, individual household latrines, toilet units in schools and anganwadis as another set of permissible activities. The move is expected to supplement government’s Total Sanitation Campaign in rural areas.

In another major change, the government has empowered gram panchayats to set the priority of the works that should be undertaken in respective panchayats, by doing away with the existing criteria where the priority of works was fixed from the Centre. The decision was taken at the insistence of Nitish Kumar-led Bihar government’s suggestion that had highlighted the difficulty of the state government in undertaking flood management-related works as they fell way down the priority list fixed by the Centre.

“The order of priority shall be determined by each gram panchayat in meetings of the gram sabha and the ward sabha,” read the changes brought into the Schedule-I of the MGNREG Act.

NRHM complaints received from many states: Azad

Apart from Uttar Pradesh, the Union Health Ministry has received complaints about irregularities in the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) from Assam, Bihar, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Orissa and Rajasthan. In reply to an unstarred question in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday, Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said the complaints have been forwarded to state governments and they have been asked to take appropriate action and also submit a report.

-          Express news service : New Delhi, Wed May 09 2012, 00:37 hrs

Ranjan K Panda

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

Mobile:             +919437050103      
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Skype: ranjan.climatecrusader

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Water talks to me, I speak for Water...
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.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Water and toilets still distant dreams

Water and toilets still distant dreams

Ranjan K Panda

A substantial chunk of population still has no access to water and toilets. This issue linked to sanitation and hygiene needs to be addressed on a priority basis

There is hardly anything to cheer about the Census 2011 data on water and sanitation. A country whose leaders have been reassuring their support to reforms and which wants to be a global economic super power, still fails to prevent millions of women from walking kilometres to fetch water, a lifesaving resource that is supposed to be provided as a matter of ‘right’.

Toilet, an essential tool to fight against health and hygiene hazards, remains a distant dream for almost half of the great nation! There are contesting figures available which find almost two-third of the country without toilets.

Access to water, as the Census claims, is much better. However, what is most important to note is that majority of the country still use taps that are common and are outside their premises. A substantial chunk – almost 17 per cent - of women of rural India has to walk at least half a kilometre to fetch water. Only 43.5 per cent of people of the country use tap water, almost about 25 per cent of which is untreated.

In so far as amenities available with the households, 43.5 per cent are using tap of which 32 per cent of water is treated and 11.6 per cent remains untreated. 42 per cent use handpump or tubewell, 11 per cent use well of which only 1.6 per cent of well are covered and rest are uncovered.

Lastly 3 per cent use other source for drinking water. In rural areas 51.9 per cent of the Households depend upon hand pump/tube well followed by 31.8 per cent has tap water. While only 47 per cent of the households have source of water within the premises, 36 per cent have to fetch water from a source located within 500 meters in rural areas, 100 metres in urban areas and 17 per cent still travel to distant places.

58 per cent of the households have bathing facility within the premises, showing an Increase of 22 points over 2001. It means 45 per cent and 87 per cent rural and urban respectively have bathing facility. 47 per cent of the households have latrine facility within premises with 36 per cent households have water closet and 9 per cent households have pit latrine. There is an 11 per cent decline in households having no latrine from 64 per cent to 53 per cent in 2011.

From a simple analysis of the data it can be concluded that there has been an improvement in access to water but the progress with regard to sanitation has not been that encouraging.

Dr. Indira Khurana of Water Aid, a charity working on water and sanitation, which has released an analysis of the Census data, said, “the progress on sanitation needs to be accelerated. Poor sanitation has direct linkage with the consistent anaemic levels of children under five as well as women. It also has a direct impact on the morbidity and mortality of children, especially those under five”.

Poor sanitation has a direct link with the consistent anaemic levels of children as well as women. It also impacts the morbidity and mortality of children

The country is still vulnerable to huge health hazard risks. Even though the Census puts the people defecating in the open at 49.2 per cent, the Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) of Millennium Development Goals (MDG) assesses it at almost 61 per cent. This March, the MDG target for water and sanitation was released by UNICEF and WHO, reconfirming that sanitation is still a challenge and India is lagging by 11 years to meet MDG target by 2015. There is need for a better monitoring system.

Figures in this country have always been controversial and has become a big challenge in planning, implementing and monitoring all such programmes. If we go by the JMP reports, a whopping 626 million people still defecate in the open! This in a country which, to become a superpower, is pushing through economic reforms at the cost of everything including its water resources, environment and even people.

The Census data puts it at marginally less but the issue here is that half of the country still defecates in the open and this is not a good sign. Reasons may be many. The sanitation distress we face today not only speaks of the underdevelopment we are in but also indicates how the poor in this country continue to bear the brunt of this.

It easily shows how our poverty statistics heavily discount the people without sanitation and safe water supply. Poor water supply and sanitation alone speak volume of distress as we observed in the findings of some recent reports. Women, among the vast majority of water-sanitation deprived population, bear the maximum drudgery as they are in charge of fetching water for their families.

The Lancet Study published in the British Medical Journal in August 2011 said how the country continues to be plagued with high anaemia amongst the women and children. It alarmed how almost 40 per cent of the 5 year olds are anaemic in India. The HUNGama Report in December said 42 per cent of children under five are underweight and 59 per cent stunted. It further reported that the prevalence of underweight among low birth weight children is 49.9 per cent while that among children who were born with a normal weight (2.5 kg or more) is 33.5 per cent.

Everyone in this country has suddenly got fancy about the fact that we have more cell phones than toilets. ‘‘Women are not demanding toilets’’, said Jairam Ramesh recently. A cell phone can be maintained without water, but not a toilet. The question is why would a woman fetch water from a long distance for using the toilet rather than defecating in the open? The same question is relevant for men as well. Water supply has to be ensured for toilets too, if the country wants sanitation coverage for all.

India has begun to recognise that water and sanitation are basic human rights, as has been proposed in the Draft National Water Policy 2012. However, segregation of water and toilets in our plans and programmes would not help, at least till when we don’t devise alternatives like ‘waterless toilets’. What we need is an enabling environment to integrate these.

What is also important is to accord, in legally enforceable terms, priority of water allocation to sanitation and livelihoods. This is necessary if we are serious about converting the toilet geography of the country from ‘open defecation’ to ‘defecating with dignity’.

The writer is a water researcher and practitioner.
-          Editorials By Others, India,  2nd May 2012 12:51:38 PM