Thursday, August 30, 2012

Good Morning Thought - 31st August 2012

Truthful people don’t have to swear by their words.  Even a hundred swear can’t validate a liar’s words… 

Ranjan Panda

Monday, August 27, 2012

Stop blind push for Coal Fired Power Plants in Odisha!

Dear All,

Even as the state of Odisha continues its destructive move of establishing more and more coal fired power plants, the local people have upped their agitation against these destructive demons.  

Today, about three thousand villagers joined in a protest rally at Birmaharajpur of Subarnapur district against the proposed KU Power Plant at Pitamahul.  These villagers are from the four proposed villages to be displaced as well as nearby villages who are going to be severely affected by pollution and water scarcity if at all this plant comes up.

This proposed plant of 1320 MW is coming up in an area which is a parched region faced with acute water shortage during the non-monsoon months of the year.  The farmers here have been demanding assured irrigation but their demands have fallen into deaf years of the government. So, they are opposing the proposed power plant which is a water guzzling plant and will not only suck up all available water in the area but also will pollute the remaining water in the already water starved Mahanadi river.  

The local people of this area seem to be having more knowledge about impacts of the coal fired power plants than the Pollution Control Board officials and other officials of the government who have turned to be agents of the company and aggressively pushing through a coal fired power plant in an area where the local environment and water can never sustain such a power plant.  This is why the people of the area had strongly opposed the first public hearing that was held for this plant on 21st May this year.  The villagers complain that the company's hired goons and even the police department has been harassing them since then.  The leaders of this democratic people's agitation have been booked under several false charges.  

Today, as the villagers reported from the rally, the police as well as MVI officials did all that they could to harass and block the people from coming to the rally.  All vehicles leading to Birmaharajpur were interrogated and people who were commuting in groups in vehicles were stopped on way.  As a result, many people had to walk several kilometers on a sunny and humid day to participate in the rally.  Despite of all this tricks however people's enthusiasm could not be sabotaged by the company sponsored administration, as the agitators reported.  

In fact the government is planning to go ahead with the plant despite local people's opposition.  So, they are planning another public hearing on 1st of September in Subalaya, that is 6 kilometers away from the proposed site, and in a different Gram Panchayat. This will make the task easier for the government to debar the real people from attending, as it happens in almost all the public hearings in this country.  

We at Water Initiatives Odisha (WIO) strongly oppose such a move by the government and urge upon it to not move ahead with such polluting plants in an undemocratic manner. We have the following questions to be asked to the government and the Pollution Control Board (OPCB) in this regard:

1.  Mahanadi is already a water starved river basin and the proposed plant site does not have sufficient water during the non-monsoon months, that is almost 8 to 10 months.  Can you make public the water balance analysis of Mahanadi at that place giving us detailed analysis of all the pressure (both present and upcoming) that Mahanadi has to bear due to all the power plants and other industries.  

2.  Can you justify the setting up of such a water guzzling plant in an area where you have not been able to provide assured irrigation to all farmers?  Further, can you also justify the plant in such an area where water scarcity is acute during the summer?  If you recall, this summer, the fire brigade could not get water to douse the fire which devastated two villages not very far from the proposed plant site.  

3.  There is a ruling of the National Green Tribunal that all upcoming power plants must undertake Radiation Impact Assessment besides the existing practice of Environment Impact Assessment.  Where is the same for this proposed power plant?  Don't you think you are violating the NGT order in going ahead with the public hearing without conducting a Radiation Impact Assessment?

4.  It is evident now that fly ash management has emerged as a major problem for all coal fired power plants of the state.  The recent incidences of Hindalco, Shyam Metalics, Bhusan and Vedanta are cases in point.  You are yet to come up with a solid policy with regard to fly ash which is starting to pollute the environment in a devastating way.  How can you go in for any further power plant while you have miserably failed to manage the pollution of the existing power plants?

We have been warning that investments and MoUs must not be the basis of establishing coal fired power plants.  There is an urgent need of undertaking a cumulative ecological impact assessment study of all the existing power plants before going in for further plants.  And we urge upon you to do this with reliable independent experts not involving your Pollution Control Board.  Evidences are already enough that the OPCB acts for interest of the industries and not of the state and its environment.

Odisha's ecology, water to be specific, cannot bear the burden of the 75000 MW that you plan to generate in the state.  Despite knowing this, the way the government is pushing through this plan, it makes us believe that the government is trying to fuel agitations such as the one that is now growing around the KU Power Plant site. Further, the government is all set to make Odisha a water starved and severely polluted state in a few years. 

We urge upon the government to immediately scrap the MoU with KU Power Plant as well as all other plants which are coming up in areas which cannot bear the burden of such plans and where the local people are opposing to such plants for genuine reasons.  

Finally, stop selling Mahanadi river to corporate bodies!

Thanks and regards,

Ranjan Panda

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

Mobile:             +919437050103      
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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.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Good Morning Thought - 27th August 2012

Mind is forgetful, heart is not.  So, many times even when you stop thinking, your pen stops writing and your hands stop working; your heart keeps fuelling your inner being.  So, the subconscious you are alive, awake...

Good Morning & a Great Week!

Ranjan Panda

WIO Update II on Hindalco ash pond breach : 25th August 2012

Why is the Odisha Pollution Control Board (OPCB) favouring Hindalco by demeaning its own existence?

In a quite unfortunate development, the Odisha State Pollution Control Board (OPCB) has kept on hold its order of closure of all Captive Power Plant (CPP) units of Hindalco company at Hirakud, whose serial ash mount breach has already put the local people and environment at risk of severe health and environmental hazard.  What we could find out from media reports, the OPCB on Friday the 24th August, has eaten up its own decision of complete closure and has allowed the company to run two units of power production. 

This is complete surrender to the black mailing technique of the private company.
Despite closure order of all its power plant units, the company officials never closed all the four units but kept on giving public statements in media that they can’t close all the units because that is going to affect the production of the aluminium smelter plant.  As per reports available, the company has so far closed only two out of the four units.  While the OPCB officials never took action on that, to justify the company’s profit interests, they say they have conducted an expert enquiry into the matter now.  This expert committee, comprising of an ex-General Manager of Nalco and a professor from IIT Kharagpur, as mentioned in media reports, have reportedly recommended that the smelter plant should not be let closed since it will have severe environmental impacts on the local soil and water.

We cannot accept this report for three reasons:

1. Nalco has been a known culprit so far as ash pond breach is concerned and it has several times been shut down by OPCB.  So, having an ex-GM of Nalco in the expert committee is a biased act;

2. There is no comparative assessment of damage done by the OPCB between the pollution created by the ash pond breach and that is supposed to be created by the closure of the smelter.  Without doing this, no conclusion can be drawn about which one is a lesser evil and hence continuing the power plant is not justified; and

3. The so called expert committee has given a ‘green’ signal to Hindalco’s temporary arrangement of ash pond management while the entire closure notice was based on the breach of ash pond and also in response to the temporary and dangerous management of ash mounts by the company, among other things. 

This hurried act of the OPCB clearly shows that it is not acting as an institution to check pollution but to facilitate pollution and related devastation.

We find it laughable stuff when the OPCB says that the current order to hold the closure notice is to check environmental hazards that may occur due to closing down of the smelter. We question, “If there is environmental hazard of even closing down a smelter, why was this not considered by the OPCB while giving the closure notice earlier?” 

“Further, why at the first instance, such plants are given license to operate, which pollute while running and even after being shut down?”, we would like to question. 

We would also like to ask the OBCB to tell us if it can guarantee that no aluminium smelter of the state will ever be closed because they will have polluting impacts? 

Further, “Why is the board silent on the remedial measures of closing down a plant and why not they recommend the Hindalco take such measures while shutting down the plant?” 

We are sure the OPCB cannot guarantee this and hence are sure that the “OPCB is admitting that it has no role to play with pollution control, rather it is there to support private and polluting plants to run at cost of the people and environment of the areas they operate in”. 

It is time the OPCB comes clear on its role or else shuts down because with the recent order it has demeaned its own existence. 

If in reality the institution was concerned about abating pollution, it would have conducted a thorough enquiry about the several ecological dangers of the fly ash mount’s breach on local people, crop fields and water bodies rather than rushing for an expert committee visit to justify the plant’s smelter to operate.

If you have teeth, show it.  Close the power plants.  Hindalco’s loss is not your concern.  You are there to check pollution, not to take political decisions. 

Immediately conduct an open and independent inquiry into the pollution and radiation impacts of the ash pond breach and ban the temporary ash mount arrangements of the company and stop its power plants from operating and polluting further.

The OPCB will be held responsible if there is any further breach in the ash mount and related environmental damage done to the crop fields, soil, water bodies and other species due to its recent order.

For further details, please contact:

Ranjan Panda

Convenor, Water Initiatives Odisha (WIO)
Cell: 94370-50103

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.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Good Morning Thought - 23rd August 2012

Rich have an unrestricted license to acquire further riches, into a select class.  And poor free passage to oblivion, into a lost identity of ‘poverty at large’.  That’s what is called a free market nation…

Ranjan Panda

Monday, August 20, 2012

WIO Update I on Hindalco's Ash Pond Breach: 20th August 2012

Pollution Control Board is playing with community health and water sources

A team of Water Initiatives Odisha(WIO) consisting of its Convenor Ranjan Panda and renowned environmental lawyer Bibhu Prasad Tripathy along with other members made a visit today to the affected areas by the breach of Hindalco company’s ash pond.  To their utter dismay, they found out that the Odisha State Pollution Control Board (OPCB), despite knowing the gravity of the problem chose to remain silent until the ash pond breached and caused severe damage to crop fields amounting to about 50 acres directly and at least 10 thousand acres by polluting the canal of the Sambalpur distributary.  The team found out that it is in fact the OPCB which has facilitated the disaster and still continues to remain silent as the company is found to be doing knee jerk patch up works.  The team found out that the company is just doing an eye wash through patch work and there is every possibility that the faulty ash pond is going to breach in near future again.

“If the Odisha Pollution Control Board is really serious about controlling pollution, it should have found out the faults in the ash pond design during regular monitoring. Such huge breaches don't happen accidentally. So, the recent breaches are not accident but deliberate ones happening with supports from the pollution control boad officials,” found out the team.

Fly ash from coal fired power contains several toxic elements.  They are: arsenic, beryllium, boron, cadmium, chromium, chromium VI, cobalt, lead, manganese, mercury, molybdenum, selenium, strontium, thallium, and vanadium, along with dioxins and PAH compounds. These tox elements now have been released to local water sources and farms. There are no studies to find out their exact amounts. So, such breaches have serious health issues for the local communities.  World-wide there have been evidences of thousands of people getting critical health problems due to pollution from coal-fired power plants.

Just giving away compensation to people for spilling of fly ash into farm land is not enough.  The company must be held accountable for the toxicity it has spread to soil, water, human and livestocks.  It is an environmental crime.

Fly ash has severe radiation impacts and the National Green Tribunal has already ordered the government to consider these impacts while permitting any thermal power plant.  However, the state government has turned a deaf ear to this.  The government must immediately do a thorough analysis of radioactive impact of Hindalco’s ash pond breach in the soil and water of the locality and charge the company with severe punishment.

The Odisha State Pollution Control Board ordered closure of the Hindalco power plant on 18th August. But the company is yet to act on it. Sources point out that out of the 367.5 MW of captive power that is being generated burning coal for the plant, it has only shut down the unit generating 67.5 MW. This is too little and too late.

The recent ash pond breaches point out to a larger policy issue in the state.  Almost all the power plants in the state are getting permission to run on the basis of undervalued calculation of land requirement. In reality almost all of them need more land for disposing off the fly ash.  However, to get clearance easily they give an undervalued account of land requirement.  That’s the reason each power plant of the state is encroaching upon common spaces as well as private land to dispose their ash dumps illegally and in environmentally hazardous manner.  Lack of any clear cut policy in the state that takes into account the site specific as well as cumulative impact of fly ash pollution makes it easier for the power plants to flout environmental laws.  The state government has been urged upon to immediately come up with a clear cut policy on this issue in discussion with the people and experts.  Without this such cases will keep repeating and the environmental criminals will keep running scot free.

For further details, please contact:

Ranjan Panda

Convenor, Water Initiatives Odisha (WIO)
Cell: 94370-50103

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.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Thought on Eid !

Love is no dummy affair.  It’s not business of your mood that swings.  It’s a feeling that stays, that enriches and enlightens you.  It’s your permanent being that essentially grooms care and humanity…

Eid Mubarak!

Ranjan Panda

Thought on World Photography Day - 2012 !

Photography is not merely an act of Art.  It’s a reflection of your character; the dedication you have towards your passion.  It’s an act of both evolution and evaluation at the same time…

Happy World Photography Day 2012!

Ranjan Panda

Friday, August 17, 2012

Good Morning Thought - 18th August 2012

Sorrows have a consistent placement in our lives.  However, permanent and rooted are the relationships that are built on trust and mutual respect.  They counter sorrows and bring joy…

Good Morning, Great Weekend!

Ranjan Panda

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Thought for 17th August 2012

The basic difference between a barking dog and a howling person is in the outcome.  While the dog barks in self-defense, the individual does that to harm relationships...

Ranjan Panda

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Good Morning thought for 16th August 2012

Life is not what it appears but what you bear.  That confuses the mind and so life is a struggle each moment…

Ranjan Panda

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Thought for Independence Day - 2012

Independence is not a human’s domain.  We cannot enjoy freedom unless we realize our existence and survival is dependent on the Mother Earth.  To celebrate Independence, therefore, we need to respect and value ‘Inter-Dependence’.  Independence otherwise would be a selfish word where humans continue to abuse the Mother for grooming their inhumanly greed…

Happy August 15th, Indians!!

Ranjan Panda

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Good Morning Thought - 13th August 2012

The thinking animal finds its smartness in being competitive rather than respecting the value of complementarity.  Civilizations are thus in decay…

Ranjan Panda

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Good Morning Thought - 9th August 2012

Nobody is ‘nobody’.  Each one is ‘somebody’.  And the miracle happens when somebody suddenly becomes ‘everybody’ to us.  This is no ‘body shop’ business but the way stars play their games, I guess…

Ranjan Panda

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Good Morning Thought - 8th August 2012

Making life a matter of froufrou appearance is equal to existence sans thy roots…

Ranjan Panda

Monday, August 6, 2012

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Good Morning Thought - 6th August 2012

Honesty and commitment cannot be episodes that come in stages and phases.  These are platforms around which we should build our character…

Ranjan Panda

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Friendship Day Thoughts - 5th August 2012

Monsoon melanin:

I confess, I can't survive without Earth, Water and Photography!

And of course, without Friends!!

I wish you 'Happy Friendship Day' today, even though I consider each day to be one!!!

Ranjan Panda

Friday, August 3, 2012

Good Morning Thought - 4th August 2012

Passion drives us run agee.  But following passion increases our joy exponentially.  The only thing that needs to be taken care of is to make the mind work in harmony with its multitasking abilities…

Ranjan Panda

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Good Morning Thought - 3rd August 2012

Any relationship that asks you to shun basic humane principles and your core values of life, is not going to last…

Ranjan Panda

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Govt. shuns God's Children:

For a few children born to rich and urban families, Doctors exist at finger tips. For the millions born to the poor and villagers, fate falls sort of its own luck in helping them. Doctors don't exist for them. Wish God was there in the million of temples and road side orange stones that we find more interesting to nurture.

(The boy in picture is neither a disaster victim nor that of an epidemic. He is victim of the apathetic and non-existence health service systems in this country. He is from the mineral rich Kendujhar district where both white and black income from mining come in billions. A story will follow shortly)