Friday, January 31, 2014

Will Coal kill Coral in Australia? We need to raise our voices fast!

Dear Friends/Co-sailors,

For the 'Coal Kills' section of my blog I take the news report by Sonali Paul just published in the Reuters.  This is too disturbing piece of a news for the environmentalists all over the world as the fragile Great Barrier Reef’s fate hangs in balance for profit of the coal industry.

As the report point outs, this fragile reef is to be doomed if Australians authorities decide to allow millions dumping of millions of cubic meters of dredged mud near it to create the world’s biggest coal port for profit of two Indian firms and Australian billionaire miner Gina Rinehart.

We need to oppose this move with all our strength.  I sincerely appeal my Australian friends to take up this cause and step up the efforts against such a severely destructive act.

Thanks and regards,

Coral or coal decision looms for Australia's Great Barrier Reef

Australia's Great Barrier Reef watchdog is to decide by Friday whether to allow millions of cubic meters of dredged mud to be dumped near the fragile reef to create the world's biggest coal port and possibly unlock $28 billion in coal projects.

A dumping permit would allow a major expansion of the port of Abbot Point for two Indian firms and Australian billionaire miner Gina Rinehart, who together have $16 billion worth of coal projects in the untapped, inland Galilee Basin.

The Galilee Basin could double Australia's thermal coal exports and see it overtake Indonesia as the world's top coal exporter, further fuelling China's power plants and steel mills that have underpinned Australia's decade-long mining boom.

If the permit is not granted it would add to uncertainty over $28 billion in proposed Galilee Basin projects, already delayed due to difficulty raising funds with coal prices down.

The plan has sparked protests from environmentalists and scientists who fear the sensitive marine park will be damaged by the dumping and an expanded port, would nearly double shipping traffic through the reef, increasing the risk of accidents.

"The corals could stop growing or potentially die, depending on how long the mud stays there," said Louise Matthieson, a campaigner for Greenpeace Australia.

Enough mud will be dredged from Abbot Point, that if dumped on land, it would be bigger than the Great Pyramid of Giza.

Approval to dump 3 million cubic meters of mud within the marine park could place at risk the World Heritage-listing of the Great Barrier Reef, one of Australia's major tourism drawcards with an estimated economic value of $5.7 billion.


UNESCO, which awarded the reef its heritage listing, last year postponed a decision to June 2014 on whether to put the Great Barrier Reef on its "in danger" list or even cancel its World Heritage listing. It is awaiting a report from the national government on steps taken to address its concerns.

Australia's conservative government, elected last September, has already approved limited dredging to deepen Abbot Point on the northeast coast to spur development of coal resources.

But the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, an independent government agency charged with protecting the reef, needs to issue a permit to North Queensland Bulk Ports Corp to dump its dredged mud within the marine park.

In 2006, the authority allowed triple the amount of dredging waste from the port of Hay Point to be dumped in the reef.

The North Queensland Bulk Ports Corp says there have been no adverse effects from the Hay Point dumping.

Green groups fear political pressure to allow the Abbot Point dumping will be too great, with the Queensland state government keen to expand ports.

"The real politics of the situation is they have a new environment minister who expects them to toe the line," Matthieson said.

The Abbot Point expansion would add two new terminals for Adani Enterprise's and GVK-Hancock, a joint venture between India's GVK conglomerate and Rinehart's Hancock Prospecting, which have long term plans to export 120 million tonnes a year of coal all together.

Plans for a third new coal terminal at Abbot Point are on hold after BHP Billiton, Australia's biggest exporter of coal for steel mills, cancelled a port project as it cut capital spending as coal prices fell.

If allowed, North Queensland Bulk Ports Corp plans to conduct the dredging in two or three campaigns spread out over five years. But dredging is unlikely to start anytime soon, because the disposal site has yet to be designated and because Adani and GVK-Hancock have yet to line up funding.

"What would be a travesty is if they went ahead with the dredging and the companies didn't build the terminals," said Felicity Wishart, Barrier Reef Campaign director for the Australian Marine Conservation Society.

-          Australia, 31st January 2014

(Reporting by Sonali Paul; Editing by Michael Perry)


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Why Odisha should be worried about the latest UNCCD publication on Desertification!

Dear Friends/Co-sailors,

A just published report from the UNCCD brings to us a fresh note on the global crisis being unleashed by the increasing land degradation process leading to desertification. 

Titled "Desertification - The Invisible Frontline" examines desertification as a cause of global conflict and instability and calls for urgent action to support communities in crisis. You can download this publication at 

More than 1.5 billion people in the world depend on degrading land, and 74% of them are poor. As the effects of climate change undermine livelihoods, inter-ethnic clashes are breaking out within and across states and fragile states are turning to militarization to control the situation. 

The effects of desertification are increasingly felt globally as victims turn into refugees, internally displaced people and forced migrants or they turn to radicalization, extremism or resource-driven wars for survival. 

If we are to restore peace, security and international stability in a context where changing weather events are threatening the livelihoods of more and more people, then more should be done to combat desertification, reverse land degradation and mitigate the effects of drought. 

Otherwise, many small-scale farmers and poor, land-dependent communities face two choices: fight or flight. 

Water Initiatives Odisha (WIO) has been raising alarm bells on the desertification process in the state of Odisha since long.  In fact just about seven years ago we had predicted, how Odisha is fast turning into a desert and the process would take just 150 years!  

In predicting such, we did a simple analysis of government statistics to say how a desert climate is being induced by faulty policies of the government that promotes indiscriminate industrialization leading to rampant destruction of forests, fast degradation of land and rapid decay of water resources.  

Odisha is already witnessing droughts, forced migration and food insecurity among the poor sections.  Conflicts over resources are taking enormous proportions and there doesn't seem to be an end to marginalization of the communities primarily dependent of local natural resources.  

Other species and the ecology at large are at a great loss and fighting a losing battle for survival.

Time we take a cue from such reports and initiate ecologically enriching measures of development rather than going for development that just destroys the ecology.  Or else, the desertification process would get much faster that what we project.

We are hopeful of your attention and action in this regard.

Thanks and regards,


Delhi is more polluted than Beijing!

Dear Friends/Co-sailors,

In today’s pick section of my blog, I am sharing this piece by Gardiner Harris in the New York Times which shows how alarming has become the air pollution situation in New Delhi.

Delhi’s air pollution, the article says, is about twice as bad as it is in Beijing, infamous the world over for its bad air.  However, the article doesn’t limit its scope only to outdoor pollution of Delhi.

It covers a vast range of issues including poor functioning of lungs of Indians, problems due to open defecation, peaking of pollution in mid night due to burning of mosquito coils, etc.

I am hopeful you would find this piece interesting to read.

Thanks and regards,


On Bad Air Days in India, Staying Inside Doesn’t Help

Military force personnel manning a checkpoint in New Delhi in the early morning fog on Jan. 21.
Pic: Graham Crouch for The New York Times

NEW DELHI — Air pollution in this massive city is about twice as bad as it is in Beijing, infamous the world over for its bad air. But Indians’ poor lung function results from more than just outdoor air pollution.

Indians are exposed to high levels of toxic bacteria because more than half of the country’s vast population defecates outside. The ensuing infections stunt growth, reducing lung sizes.

And indoor air quality in India is often poor because many rural households cook with dried dung. A worsening dengue epidemic has also led many to burn mosquito coils, whose nightly smoke in a home can exceed that from 100 cigarettes, according to Dr. Sundeep Salvi, director of the Chest Research Foundation in Pune.

These factors, along with outdoor air pollution, may help explain why Indians have among the weakest lungs in the world – with a recent study finding that Indians’ lung capacities are an astonishing 38 percent lower than those of North Americans and far lower than those of Chinese.

A 2012 study of 11,628 Delhi schoolchildren found that a third had reduced lung function and that the studied children had four times more iron-laden white blood cells in their sputum than children from less polluted locales.

“And I think India’s problems are going to get a lot worse,” Dr. Salvi said.

Delhi’s air pollution tends to peak around midnight. The city bans large trucks from its roads during the day, but they are allowed through at night. The city’s ring road has long since been swallowed by development so the trucks cut through the center of the city.

J.S. Kamyotra, a member secretary of Delhi’s Central Pollution Control Board, said that the construction of the city’s metro rail system should help. “All efforts are being made,” he said.

Dr. Anurag Agrawal, a pulmonary physician and researcher based in New Delhi, decided with his wife in 2003 to move back to India from the United States because they wanted to be near family and thought the air was getting better. He has asthma, as does his 11-year-old daughter, and both his father and grandfather died of asthma.

“But now, when smog makes it difficult to breathe, we think that we may be making a mistake that could seriously affect our health,” Dr. Agrawal said. “Whether we should move out of Delhi, we don’t know.”

At the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi, scores of children and their parents were waiting on a recent day to receive breathing treatments and get seen by doctors. A 2-year-old wearing a Kung Fu Panda sweatshirt and sitting on his mother’s lap grasped an inhaler with practiced ease and breathed in the life-giving medicine, sighing deeply when done.

A 3-year-old girl was next and then a 10-month-old boy in an unending stream of suffering, with each patient getting about five minutes with Dr. S.K. Kabra before the next child was hustled in.

A resident brought lung X-rays of one child and put them on a light panel to show them to Dr. Kabra, but the panel was broken. Dr. Kabra held them up to the overhead light himself. The child had been diagnosed by a quack as suffering from tuberculosis and had been taking antibiotics for months with no effect. Dr. Kabra shook his head. The child had asthma, not tuberculosis.


Kitty Chachra moved back to India from the San Francisco Bay Area in 2004 with her husband and two children. Her 14-year-old son’s asthma gets worse every year and is now a constant source of worry for her, she said.

She believes that a decade of steroid use to treat his breathing woes has left him shorter than he might have been, a known side effect. On summer vacations in North America, her son does not need asthma medications but restarts them upon returning to Delhi.

“I think he would have just grown out of this if we’d stayed in the U.S.,” Ms. Chachra said. “I’m very disillusioned.”

Gardiner Harris’s story on air pollution in New Delhi describes how residents of Beijing appear to be more concerned about the air quality in their country than the residents of India’s capital. Why do you think Delhi’s air pollution has received so much less attention than the pollution in Beijing? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section.



You are right, Mr. President! Govt. is not a charity shop...

Dear President of Govt. of India,

Yes, you are very true, govt. is not a charity shop.

Please stop staying in that lavish and palatial President House that runs with hundreds of crores of public money at the cost of welfare schemes of the poor and common people of India.

Please stop all the charity being done to the Ministers, MPs, IAS officers and above all Corporate Houses at the cost of public welfare and necessities.

Please stop the VIP and VVIP culture in this country. Stop giving free passes to Netas and Babus in entry into everything that happens. Please ask the Ministers, IAS officers and other biggies in the government to buy tickets, as the common people of this country do, to see Taj Mahal, Konark Temple and all other such places and functions.

Please stop buying helicopters for travel of VIPs and VVIPs. Ask them to travel in public transport.

Please ensure treatment of all these VIPs and VVIPs in public hospitals and spend the amount spent in their foreign and private treatments in improving our public health facilities.

Please, please, please.... for democracy sake.... please stop this 'charity' dolled out to the rich at the cost of the poor and common public....

(In response to the President of India's Republic Day speech - 26th January 2014.  The President, as I could make out, referred to welfare schemes dolled out by political parties for poor and common people)

Monday, January 27, 2014

Fly ash pollution: MP asks Essar to shut down a coal-fired power plant. Will Odisha learn from this?

Dear Friends/Co-sailors,

The Madhya Pradesh Pollution Control Board (MPPCB) has asked Essar Energy’s Mahan-I 600 MW coal-fired power plant to stop all operations for the fly ash menace it created to contaminate local streams and water bodies. 

In Odisha, you may recall, Water Initiatives Odisha (WIO) kept asking the Odisha State Pollution Control Board (OPCB) to take similar action against Hindalco, Bhusan, Vedanta and many other coal fired power plants that have been contaminating local rivers, reservoirs, rivulets, water bodies and crop fields.  However, in most of the cases the OPCB officials kept arguing in defence of the companies and not the environment.  Even Ministers of the state government and Secretaries of the concerned departments keep defending these green criminals.

Hope the OPCB learns from their counterparts in MP and ensure closure of all coal-fired power plants until and unless they adhere to the fly ash disposal and management rules.

Thanks and regards,


M.P. asks Essar to shut down Singrauli plant

Large quantities of fly ash discharged was reportedly flowing into areas around the plant

Essar Energy’s Mahan-I 600MW coal-fired power plant in Singrauli district has been ordered to stop all operations by the Madhya Pradesh Pollution Control Board (MPPCB).

During the monsoons in September last, MPPCB’s regional office in Singrauli reported that large quantities of fly ash — an effluent discharged during the combustion of coal — was flowing from the plant into the Garha stream and surrounding areas. In reply to a notice sent to Essars’s local subsidiary — Essar Power MP Limited — the company said that a new ash dyke to store the ash was under construction and that illegal discharge of ash outside the factory had taken place due to unexpectedly heavy rainfall.

Not satisfied with their response, the MPPCB ordered it to stop all operations on January 13. The company has also been asked to build a permanent ash dyke, install a continuous ambient air monitoring station, a sewage treatment plant and a tree plantation. Only on completion of these works can the company apply for permission to restart operations.

Essar has two 600MW power plants in Mahan. While Mahan-I started Commercial Operations in April, 2013, Mahan-II is under construction. Both plants intend to draw coal from the Mahan coal block, which has proven reserves of 150 tonnes of coal, where mining has not yet started as clearances have not yet been granted.

The forest in Mahan is home to 14,000 people, including Agria, Kol, Khairwar, Gond and Panika tribes. Objections were raised by the Union Ministries of Environment and Forests and the Ministry of Tribal Affairs over endangering biodiversity and violation of forest rights ( /news/national/other-states/article4935075.ece)

Despite this, the Rs. 6,500 crore joint venture of Essar and Hindalco to mine in Mahan was granted clearance due to “huge exposure to nationalised banks.” ( article 5151075.ece)

Greenpeace’s Media Officer in Singrauli, Avinash Chanchal told The Hindu that the factory continues to violate rules. “Their ash dyke is just across the road from a settlement. It poisons the water table and pollutes the air causing lung problems.”

Greenpeace and the Mahan Sangharsh Samiti hoisted a banner over Essar’s offices in Mumbai last week which read “We Kill Forests.”

Essar House Limited filed a defamation suit against the activists on Monday. While company sources said it is for Rs. 500 crore, Greenpeace said it was a Rs. 1,000 crore suit.

Essar Energy did not respond to queries from The Hindu.

-              BHOPAL, January 28, 2014


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Coca Cola's beverage bottling plant depletes ground water level in Rajasthan!

Dear Friends/Co-sailors,

In the today’s pick section of my blog, I am sharing this news published in the Hindu from Rajasthan where the villagers are rightly apprehensive about effect of Coca Cola’s bottling plant on the ground water of the area. 

The farmers of the region, as the report points out, blame the drastic fall on the bottling plant set up by Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverage, which allegedly draws far more water than can be naturally recharged.

We are facing similar problems in other parts of India, including Odisha and the issue needs serious attention of policy makers and others alike.

Look forward to your reactions.

Thanks and regards,


At Kaladera farmers battle beverage giant

Farmers in this Rajasthan block blame the drastic fall in groundwater table on the bottling plant, saying it draws out far more water than can be naturally recharged

Till the late 1990s, Bansi Aheer, like all other farmers around Kaladera, used to irrigate his seven-bigha farm, drawing water from a well. “Water was easily available at about 40 feet. But it dropped annually by one or two feet and later by eight or ten feet,” he says.

Today, covered with thorny shrubs, the well appears no more than a relic. Since 2000, the groundwater levels at Kaladera have dropped so sharply that even wells deepened to 80 feet couldn’t satisfy irrigation needs.

In 2002, another farmer, Rameshwar Kudi, had to sink a borewell on his farm to grow water-intensive crops. “I was among the first people to do that. By 2003, most farmers, including the small ones, had borewells dug on their farms,” he says. The initial borewells at Kaladera were 120-140 feet deep, but the new ones are “easily 200 feet.”

Farmers of the region blame the drastic fall on the bottling plant set up by Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverage, which allegedly draws far more water than can be naturally recharged.

Mr. Kudi is an active member of the Kaladera Jan Sangharsh Samiti, an organisation of farmers, that has been demanding closure of the plant, set up in the Rajasthan State Industrial Development and Investment Corporation Ltd. (RIICO) industrial area in 1999 and started operations the next year.

According to data compiled by the Rajasthan Groundwater department, in the 16 years from 1984 the groundwater levels at Kaladera dropped from 13 to 42 feet, at an average annual rate of 1.81 feet. But from 2000 to 2011, the drop was sharp from 42 to 131 feet at the rate of 8.9 feet a year.

While the beginning of Coca-Cola’s operations coincided with the start of Kaladera groundwater getting depleted rapidly, there are several reasons, including increased extraction by farmers through motorised pumps and the setting up of other water-intensive industries such as paper mills.

For the farmers, however, the multinational beverage giant is the main culprit.

Two panchayat samitis — Amber and Govindgarh — have passed unanimous resolutions demanding closure of the plant. Groundwater officials, however, do not see Coca-Cola as the main culprit. “Groundwater levels are dropping rapidly almost everywhere in Rajasthan, especially around Jaipur. But the primary reason for this is agricultural use, not industrial,” says P.K. Parchure, Regional Director, Central Groundwater Board, Jaipur office.

Heera Lal Regar, owner of five bighas of farmland, is amused by comparisons between farmers and Coca-Cola. “We produce food that feeds the country. What does Coca-Cola produce? Is it as important as food?” he asks.

Coca-Cola, however, claims it recharges “at least nine times more groundwater than it uses, thanks to the rainwater harvesting potential created by the bottling plant.”

“Nine times are a lot... but even if they manage to recharge double the amount they use, they are doing a good job,” says Dr. Parchure. “It is difficult to confirm the quantum of recharge as the only way to arrive at a tentative figure is based on the number of recharge structures they build and the recharge potential of these structures.”

Coca-Cola’s plant has two bottling lines — a Returnable Glass Bottle (RGB) line and a PET line — both of which manufacture sparkling soft drinks. The two lines operate for not more than 150 days in a year, according to the company.

“Our plant at Kaladera uses less than one per cent of the area’s available water, which is negligible in comparison to agriculture according to the TERI report of 2008,” a statement by Coca-Cola claims.

The company says it has improved its water usage ratio — defined as litres of water used to make one litre of finished beverage — over the last six years.

“While water withdrawal has remained almost stable — 89,502 kilolitre/annum in 2007 to 89,467 in 2013 — the water usage ratio has improved significantly —from 3 in 2007 to 1.7 in 2013,” it claims.

According to Coca Cola, the decline in the groundwater level is a regional problem and attributing it to the plant will be unfair.

-          MAHIM PRATAP SINGH, January 23, 2014


Benzophenone-2, a chemical used to manufacture shops and shampoos, is killing coral reefs!

Dear Friends/Co-sailors,

For my today's pick section, I am sharing a news based on results of a study about how Benzophenone-2, a chemical used to manufacture daily use products, is killing coral reefs.  

I hope you would find this informative and useful.

Thanks and regards,


Common chemical kills coral reefs

Benzophenone-2, used to manufacture many soaps, shampoos and other products, is killing young coral reefs at concentrations commonly found in the environment.

A chemical found in many soaps, laundry detergents and cosmetics is killing young coral reefs at concentrations commonly found in the environment, according to a new study.

Corals, which provide habitat for a rich array of fish and other marine life, are threatened worldwide. The new study is the first to find that benzophenone-2 (BP-2) is toxic to coral reefs, although it builds upon previous studies that reported that corals are harmed by other chemicals in wastewater and runoff.

Researchers exposed baby corals in a laboratory to different concentrations of BP-2, which is found in hundreds of personal care products. Increased BP-2 exposure caused increased rates of coral death, DNA damage and bleaching, which is when corals turn white, are stressed and more likely to die.

The levels of BP-2 used in the study – ranging from 24 parts per billion to 246 parts per million – are within what has been found in U.S. wastewater effluent.

Once in the environment, BP-2 can quickly “kill juvenile corals at very low concentrations – parts per billion,” the authors wrote.

“What’s worrying is that if this chemical harms young coral, we won’t get coral recruitment around the world,” said Craig Downs, a researcher at Haereticus Environmental Laboratory in Virginia who led the study. “This will create coral zombies -- coral where’s there’s adults but not recruited young, so the reef will eventually go away.”

The Caribbean alone has had roughly 80 percent of its corals disappear over the past 50 years from pollution, development and climate change. Pesticides, petroleum compounds and agricultural nutrients such as phosphorous and nitrogen also threaten coral reef health.

"This is more bad news for coral reefs, more evidence of the pervasive and pressing impacts of land- based sources of pollution,” said Michael Risk, a professor at Canada’s McMaster University in a prepared statement. Risk was not involved in the study.

“The results show that something humans use to protect their skin or toiletries can reach the sea from wastewater discharges, and shut down coral reproduction,” he said.

Downs warned of the economic impact. The roughly 1,200 square miles of coral reefs in the United States generate more than a billion dollars per year due to coastal protection, fisheries, tourism, recreation and biodiversity promotion, according to a 2003 study. The impact is even greater for regions with more reefs area, such as Southeast Asia, which benefits annually from corals to the tune of about $12.5 billion.

BP-2 also has been linked to cancer and thyroid disruption in people.

The chemical is used to protect bath salts, body fragrances, lotions, shampoos, soaps and laundry detergents from ultraviolet light, which make products lose their color. It  is similar to oxybenzone, the active ingredient in many sunscreens, although it is not used in U.S. sunscreens.

Often found in wastewater, it is considered an emerging contaminant of concern by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

-              Synopsis by Brian Bienkowski,  Jan 23, 2014


MSc Water: Science and Governance at King's College of London: Scholarships available for eligible candidates!

Dear Friends/Co-sailors,

Pasting below information on a course MSc Water: Science and Governance being offered by the Department of Geography in King's College of London.  The university also offers scholarships for eligible candidates.

Students following my blog may take benefit of this.

Best of Luck!


Please join our 'Mahanadi River Initiative' to save the river and millions of species dependent on it...


The Department of Geography, King’s College London is accepting applications for MSc Water: Science and Governance andscholarships are available to eligible candidates. 

Drawing on the university’s leading reputation in water research, students are equipped with advanced interdisciplinary training to tackle the contemporary challenges of diverse water environments around the world.  The Department of Geography has a critical mass of ten staff, and students will benefit from lectures and seminars informed by cutting-edge research including those by 2008 Stockholm Water Prize laureate, Professor Tony Allan.  The programme regularly includes guest talks by leading scientists and professionals in addition to a range of research seminars available weekly within the department.  Environmental internship opportunities are offered and dissertations may be developed through placements at relevant organisations.

Scholarship details are available at this link and early applications are encouraged.

The London location offers excellent opportunities for professional networking.  Upon graduation, students enter employment in governmental departments, utility companies, environmental consultancies and NGOs, or continue their research career with a PhD. 

More details of the programme, including student testimonials and profiles of the academic team are available on the website:

The programme is available part-time and mature students are also welcome.   Please circulate to your networks and inform any potential candidates.

For any queries, please feel free to contact Dr. Naho Mirumachi, programme director:


Ranjan K Panda
Convenor, Water Initiatives Odisha, INDIA
Mahanadi River Waterkeeper (Member, Waterkeeper Alliance, New York)

Mobile: +919437050103

Skype: ranjan.climatecrusader

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.

For attn. of Environmental Journalists: World Water Day Media Workshop at Tokyo.

Dear Friends/Co-sailors,

Pasting below an email seeking application from environmental journalists for a Media Workshop which will take place during World Water Day in Tokyo, Japan.

Journalist friends may please apply for this.

Best of luck!

Thanks and regards,


Please join our 'Mahanadi River Initiative' to save the river and millions of species dependent on it...


UN-Water is calling for applications from environmental journalists for a Media Workshop which will take place during World Water Day in Tokyo, Japan. Up to 20 selected journalists will be sponsored to participate in a workshop which will include training and editorial sessions, meetings/interviews with experts and participation in the official UN celebration of World Water Day 2014.

World Water Day, which is celebrated annually on 22 March, is this year dedicated to the theme ‘Water and Energy.’ Water demand could exceed 44% of the available annual resources by 2050 while energy demand could experience a 50% increase by the same date. As a consequence, the World faces a genuine challenge, without energy there is no water and without water, there is no energy.

Water and Energy inter-linkages have an important role in the post-2015 development agenda and the conceptualization of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). There are indeed some main challenges, interconnections and opportunities for realizing synergies and benefits from joint responses on the water and energy nexus, including the design of climate resilience and green economies.

·         Improve media training and understanding of water and energy issues
·         Increase media coverage of the interlinkages, challenges and opportunities of water and energy
·         Increase media coverage of World Water Day and related issues
·         Build a community of journalists interacting and writing regularly about water and energy issues

Eligibility and selection criteria
Application is now open to journalists from developing countries.
To be considered for participation in the workshop, prospective candidates are asked to submit:
·         Curriculum vitae
·         Examples of work (examples in languages other than English should be accompanied by a short summary in English):
o    2 examples of News (written, audio or video)
o    1 example of in-depth analysis (reportage)
·         A letter from the supervising editor indicating why the journalist should be selected and committing to publish the journalist’s articles written as a result of the workshop
·         A one-page motivation letter where the journalist explains its interest in taking part in the workshop and outlines previous reporting on the topic (water, energy, water and energy, environmental issues)

Workshop overview and program
Selected journalists will participate in a workshop, which will include training and editorial sessions, meetings/interviews with experts and participating in the official UN celebration of World Water Day 2014.

Two weeks after the workshop, the journalists will submit the articles, programmes and reportages they have prepared and, if agreed, they will also be featured on the World Water Day and the ‘Water for Life’ Decade websites.

The workshop is open to journalists from all over the world. Up to 20 journalists from developing countries across Asia (North-East, West, South-East and Central Asia) will be sponsored by UN-Water. This means the cost of travel and accommodation for these selected journalists will be covered. The participants will be provided invitation letters as required for obtaining a visa. However, they are expected to make all the necessary arrangements for travel, including visas, health certificates and travel insurance prior to travel. Authorization from the organizers will be necessary before they make travel arrangements.

Time and venue
The World Water Day media workshop is planned for 20-21 March and will be held in Tokyo, Japan.

Deadline for applications
Complete applications should be sent to until 10 February 2014 with the following subject line: Application for WWD Media Workshop. Successful candidates will be notified by 20 February 2014.

For more information, please contact

Pilar Gonzalez Meyaui,
Information management and awareness raising expert
United Nations Office to support the International Decade for Action 'Water for Life' 2005-2015
UN-Water Decade Programme on Advocacy and Communication
Casa Solans
Avda. Cataluña, 60
50014 Zaragoza, Spain

Friday, January 10, 2014

Australia's heavy reliance on coal makes it second most dirty nation among advanced economies!

Dear Friends/Co-sailors,

In the today's pick section of my blog, I am sharing below a news article (published in The Guardian) based out of an OECD report that finds Australia only second to Estonia among 34 advanced nations in terms of greenhouse gas emission intensity per unit of GDP. 

In the craze of GDP development, Australia is burning more coal.  In fact, as the report mentions, while the average OECD country had reduced sulphur dioxide emissions by about 60% since 1990, Australia’s rose by 50%.  And this has impacted the ecology very negatively.

I hope you would find this useful reading.

Thanks and regards,


Carbon emissions: coal reliance puts Australia second on OECD's dirt list

Environmental audit finds country has a poor record in achieving environmentally efficient growth
- Oliver Milman
   Friday 10 January 2014 03.24 GMT

Australia is pumping out more carbon emissions to achieve its economic growth than almost any other major economy, while a quarter of its mammal species are threatened with extinction, according to a major new environmental audit.

A report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) found Australia was second only to Estonia among 34 advanced nations in terms of greenhouse gas emission intensity per unit of GDP.

This measure ranks the ability of economies to grow in an environmentally efficient way, without escalating carbon emissions. Australia’s high ranking is fuelled by its reliance on coal-fired energy.

Australia has the highest per capita emissions intensity of any OECD member, the report found, emitting nearly 25 tonnes of carbon dioxide per person in 2010.

Australia is also lagging behind other nations when it comes to cutting greenhouse gas emissions over the past two decades, according to the data.

Of the 34 nations, only Chile, Mexico, Korea and Turkey have increased their emissions more than Australia since 1990, while the UK, France, Germany and Italy all achieved cuts in that timeframe.

In terms of air pollution, Australia has a high concentration of sulphur oxide and nitrogen oxide compared to other nations. These substances are linked to acidification of soil and water, as well as potential respiratory illnesses in people.

While the average OECD country had reduced sulphur dioxide emissions by about 60% since 1990, Australia’s rose by 50%.

Australia has the highest per capita emissions of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide in the OECD, bar Iceland. About 110kg of sulphur dioxide is released into the atmosphere for every Australian person each year.

Australia performs better on other environmental benchmarks, decreasing the amount of fish it catches by nearly 30% since 1990 and also cutting the amount of urban waste generated since 2000 by more than the OECD average.

However, 24% of Australia’s mammal species are considered threatened, as well as one in 10 of its bird species; 11% of its land is in a protected area, such as a national park; and 28% of its marine areas are protected – the latter more than double the OECD average.

Globally, the OECD said there was “headway” in breaking the link between economic growth and environmental damage, with a 25% average drop since 1990 in the amount of energy needed to create a unit of GDP.

“Yet per capita energy use is still not falling fast enough to safeguard natural resources for a growing and ever more demanding population,” the economic organisation warned. “The overall energy mix has barely changed in two decades, with an 80% reliance on fossil fuels in the OECD bloc.”

OECD countries derive just 9% of their energy from renewable sources. Nations have also failed to meet a promise to reduce biodiversity loss, according to the OECD.

The OECD data is primarily taken up to 2010, prior to the introduction of Australia’s carbon price. Since 2010 Australia has reduced its carbon emission intensity in line with the OECD average, with the offshoring of manufacturing another important factor.

Kellie Caught, the head of climate change at the WWF, told Guardian Australia the figures showed that the Coalition shouldn’t ditch the carbon price.

“Australia’s competitors are clearly doing a lot more to decrease their emissions intensity and decouple it from economic growth,” she said.

“The last 18 months have shown that the carbon price and the renewable energy target [RET] have helped decrease emissions from the electricity sector. We risk losing those gains and keeping Australia among the worst nations for emissions intensity by scrapping the carbon price and potentially the RET too.”

Monday, January 6, 2014

India's thirst for ecologically destructive power will doom Bhutan! ADB is a party to this!!

Dear Friends/Co-sailors,

For my today’s pick section of the blog, I paste below a news published in Times of India that shows how Bhutan wants to be India’s hydel plant destroying its serene ecology.

India’s thirst for ecologically destructive energy grips Bhutan and the Asian Development Bank is a party to this script of destruction.

With lack of proper environmental legislations and regulatory mechanisms, Bhutan; its people and ecology will fall prey to this destructive jaw of power.

There is an urgent need for intervention of environmental organisations and individuals in taking up a regional initiative to check this destruction.

Thanks and regards,

Bhutan seeks to be India's hydel plant

Surojit Gupta, TNN | Jan 6, 2014

DAGANA: Giant cranes scoop out mud from deep inside the mountains. Frenetic construction activity is on as a state-run company in this tiny landlocked Himalayan country races to complete one of the crucial hydropower plants.

Workers at the site of the Dagachu hydropower plant are busy giving final touches to the project which is expected to go on stream by the middle of 2014.

The 126 megawatt plant is the first under the public-private-partnership model and has already connected 9,000 rural households in Bhutan. The plant, located in the remote Dagachu river, has been built under the PPP model and is the first foreign direct investment for the Himalayan country.

This is also the world's first cross-border clean development mechanism (CDM) project. The CDM allows emission reduction projects in developing countries to earn certified emission reduction credits and these can be traded and sold to meet part of the emission reduction targets under the Kyoto protocol.

The state-run Druk Green Power Corporation holds 59%, the Pension and Provident Fund of Bhutan 15% and the Tata Power Company 26% in the project. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is the lead financier and has provided $80 million for the project along with funding from an Austrian commercial bank.

Bhutan is banking on hydropower exports to India to revive the fortunes of its faltering economy. Several large projects are underway and companies such as Jaypee, Larsen & Toubro and Gammon India are taking part in the massive construction underway.

"At this stage of development, we are highly dependent on exploiting the water resources of Bhutan," said Sonam Tshering, Bhutan's secretary of economic affairs.

The urgency for building hydropower plants in the picture-postcard country is palpable.

Bhutan is grappling with a large current account deficit estimated at 20% of its gross domestic product. The sale of electricity from these projects to a ready-and-captive market in India will help it earn precious foreign exchange to sustain its economy. New Delhi has lent a helping hand and, in turn, will receive steady supplies to meet its growing energy needs.

"The best part of the hydel power development in Bhutan is that hydro power projects are all funded by the Government of India through a very generous combination of grants and loans," said Nam Dorji, Bhutan's finance secretary.

In 2010, electricity exports from Bhutan to India amounted to 5.579 kilowatt hour, helping the country earn about $223 million, according to ADB data.

India and Bhutan signed a pact in 2008 to develop hydropower projects in the country and about 10,000 megawatt power would be exported to India by 2020.

The development of such projects augurs well for the region. "Regional trade in energy can help send energy from places that have excess, such as Bhutan, to countries in need of energy like India, optimizing the region's energy resources," ADB said.

"The recently established India-Bangladesh transmission line could ultimately allow energy to go from Bhutan to Bangladesh," the multi-lateral agency said.


Friday, January 3, 2014

WIO wants justice for Mahanadi boatmen at Sonepur: ACT Now!

Dear Friends/Co-sailors,

Water Initiatives Odisha(WIO) has been at the forefront of taking up causes of people and species who are primarily dependent on water resources such as rivers, ponds and other water bodies.  We have been asking the government for proper rehabilitation of boatmen whose age old traditional livelihoods have been impacted by modern development projects such as bridges across rivers.  

Please find below a news of the plight of boatmen who depended on ferrying passengers and vehicles before the bridge at Sonepur across Mahanadi was built in 2003. About 1000 of them are now living a pitiful life and need proper rehabilitation which has has been eluding them despite promises by government officials at different points of time.

We at WIO want justice for these boatmen and urge upon the Govt. of Odisha to immediately take measures to rehabilitate these boatmen and their families.

We need all your support in this cause.  Please take suitable action at your end to put pressure on the government and help the boatmen live a better life.

Thanks and regards,

Ranjan Panda

Convenor, Water Initiatives Odisha


Sonepur Boatmen Lose Livelihood to Development

Around 1,000 members of 150 boatmen families, whose main source of income was to ferry people across the river from Sonepur to Birmaharajpaur, are now leading a life of penury.

Development has spelt doom for a section of boatmen. A bridge over river Mahanadi in Sonepur, known as the fishing hub of Western Odisha, has no doubt bridged the distances but has left hundreds of boatmen in the district marooned.  The bridge connects Sonepur sub-division with Birmaharajpur to facilitate direct road communication with Sambalpur district. It was dedicated to public on May 7, 2003.

Around 1,000 members of 150 boatmen families, whose main source of income was to ferry people across the river from Sonepur to Birmaharajpaur, are now leading a life of penury.

Living on the banks of the Mahanadi for over three generations, ferrying people of around 400 villages to the other side of the river has been their mainstay. The boatmen earned around ` 5,000 by ferrying around 6,000 persons everyday. There are around 150 families of Keuta caste who are Dalits and dependent on boats for livelihood in Tentulighatpada, Tariapada, Talpada, Tikripada in Sonepur block and Hikudi in Ulunda block.

After the bridge came up in 2002, the boatmen, who had their own boats, were rendered jobless. While some sold their boats and invested the money in tea stalls in the town, others worked as daily labourers or vegetable vendors.

Although the then Collector Bishnupada Sethi had mooted to give two acres of land to each boatman family in Kalapathar area to help them rehabilitate themselves and start life afresh, the proposal was pushed to the backburner after Sethi was transferred from the district. Today a few boats are tied to the banks of the river. They only ferry a few tourists who visit Lankeswari temple having presiding deity of the community located at the middle of the river, said boatman Purna Mallick of Taripada.

Even the fish population has dwindled and it hardly makes any sense for them to go for fishing as the catch is too little. The river is home to some rare species of fish, but in the absence of a proper riverine fishery policy, some of the rare species have become extinct. The fisheries officials in the district have recorded extinction of at least seven varieties of fish due to lack of conservation measures.
The affected villagers said youths of the Keuta community should be imparted skill development training in other trades and rehabilitated.

Mallick said though there was a proposal to hand over small water bodies in the town to their community members for pisciculture, the proposal has no takers. However, Sonepur Sub-Collector Faguram Marandi said they have not received any application for pisciculture in water bodies.

sad story

 A bridge connecting Sonepur sub-division with Birmaharajpur was constructed in 2003

 Around 150 boatmen families, whose source of income was to ferry people across the river were rendered jobless

 The then Collector had mooted to give two acres of land to each boatman family to help them rehabilitate, the proposal was pushed to backburner after his transfer


Ranjan K Panda

Convenor, Water Initiatives Odisha, INDIA
Mahanadi River Waterkeeper (Member, Waterkeeper Alliance, New York)

Mobile: +919437050103

Skype: ranjan.climatecrusader

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.