Saturday, April 26, 2014
Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Are you comfortable with the heat? If not, wake up; set the agenda for your future…
Ranjan K Panda
Heat is peaking up in our state yet again. And this time, it coincides with the election heat. Election, as I say, is a new season altogether and a flooding time for false promises. The leaders, most of whom reside in their comfort zones of air conditioning homes and cars, will now encounter the real heat the common people of the state are forced to live with; mostly because of a visionless leadership which does not recognize that its wrong development plans are driving Odisha fast into a heat chamber and desertification.
Memories of the leaders and planners are the shortest and they forget the heat as soon as they go back to their comfort chambers. However, we citizens have a responsibility to remind them the reality. We have to keep reminding them that crossing 40 degree C in March itself is now an established weather condition for the state and that last year only we had to lose many people to sun stroke. Odisha is a now a globally known as a climate change hot spot. Temperature hovers above 45 degree C for most of summer and we also have the record of crossing 50 degree C several times in recent past. Our leaders, who beg votes each five years, need to recognize this as a real issue and not engage in lip service activities.
They also need to understand that we have invited this disaster by our deeds. While we cut down our trees, we cement up our roads and concretize our cities, we forget that we are at a defining moment in world’s history of existence when we need to respect the Mother Earth the most. But we do the opposite. We have to stay in all possible comfort that we can buy and that are necessarily anti-nature. We are the modern society. We don’t need trees but air conditioners. And while we fight for our right to drinking water, we don’t bother to see where from the water comes to those taps. What we should be concerned most is that an increased condition of heat, the most impacted would be our water resources.
In a recent warning five hundred scientists have said that the majority of the world’s population are going to face irreversible water crisis just within a space of two generations. This is due to climate change, pollution and over-use of freshwater resources, and is going to be catastrophic. According to these scientists, more than half of the world’s nine billion people already live within fifty kilometres of an “impaired” water resource. Impaired as they warn are sources that are running dry and are polluted. And about a billion are using the non-renewable ground water resources. We are running out of water or towards filthy water that cannot support life. Odisha, as we have been warning repeatedly for more than one and half decades now, is a hot bed of climate change. Its unique placement at head of the Bay of Bengal makes it more vulnerable to climate’s vagaries.
Globally, as well as in Odisha, the way we are urbanizing has a major contribution in the catastrophe that stares at our face. Cities are growing awfully fast and vast, and that too at the cost of our villages and natural resources. Gross Domestic Product driven economic growth has outsmarted the natural resourced based sustainable economies of this country. Farm lands shrink, farmers die or move to cities in search of survival. Neither they get a good life nor their knowledge of sustainable management of natural resources are integrated in city planning where concrete becomes the mantra. So, in nutshell, we impoverish them yet lose the opportunity to learn from them. We are a gross failure in planning our cities. We have covered up all the natural spaces with concrete structures. We find water bodies as real estate opportunities. We make rivers our dumping grounds. And we don’t even spare our flood plains. Construct, construct and construct wherever there is an inch of space available. And city life is a major culprit in causing climate change both directly and indirectly.
After abusing all surface water sources, we are now exhausting our ground water resources. As a result, cities are becoming water insecure and are increasingly dependent on the villages – both nearby and far off – for their water requirements. And this means more conflict between the urban and rural areas. Irrigation would further shrink and cities would receive more influx of villagers. We have to relook development of landscapes in a complete new perspective. Without promoting centralized ecologically destructive and water insensitive and insecure cities, we should promote cities based on principles of sustainable management of water and ecological management. We still have to learn from the villagers such principles. Cities should secure their own water resources by properly planning city as ecological landscapes rather than cementscapes. The farmers and forest dwellers in villages should get rewarded for their traditional knowledge and wisdom of conservation and ecological restoration. Dignifiedly remunerative price for agro and forestry products; and providing all basic amenities including education, health care, drinking water and sanitation in villages could help build the cities healthy and happy.
A citizen driven initiative has already begun to build a healthy relationship between city dwellers and Rivers. We are calling it “Healthy Rivers, Happy Cities”. We are asking questions to the political leaders about their agenda on these issues. Are you asking?
Monday, April 21, 2014
Tuesday, April 15, 2014
In an unjust society, might of the rich is marketed as fate of the masses; words that please the powerful become rules; and, voices of truth are considered as dangers. Sticking to truth alone can demystify this illusion called 'democracy'...
Monday, April 14, 2014
Sunday, April 13, 2014
Saturday, April 12, 2014
Thursday, April 10, 2014
A visionary leader is not the one who snatches land from common people and gives them away to a few corporate houses; and bargains a few 'wage earning servants' in return. A real leader ensures land, water and forest sovereignty to common people for their dignified living for generations to come...
I can only request you to vote for individuals, or else use NOTA:
Dear friends, by now we know most of the parties are indulged in wrong and illegal practices to fetch votes. The fact that we hardly have any choice in our electoral system disturbs us. But we have to vote.
My sincere request to all my friends is to vote by applying their mind while voting. Please make it sure, as much as you can judge, not to vote any communal, criminal, corrupt and corporate puppet.
Please try to vote for good people, those who you feel represent common people, irrespective of party lines.
If you don't think any contestant is fit to represent you in the Assembly and/or Parliament, better use the NOTA option.
The system won't change unless we start infusing some goodness into it.
Let's start our bit of positive action! Let's vote for good people!!
Good luck India! Good luck Democracy!!
I am delighted to share a good piece of news from the ecology front.
As you can see from the following news, the Supreme Court monitoring committee formed by the ministry of environment and forests to study 24 proposed hydro projects on the Alaknanda and Bhagirathi rivers in Uttarakhand has unanimously decided not to recommend 23 of the new projects, worth 2683.6 megawatts.
The 13-member committee, that composes of experts from various fields comprises experts, has rejected these projects as they are proposed in either eco-sensitive zones or within forbidden zones of wildlife sanctuaries or parks, in habitats of rare, endangered and threatened species.
Thanks and regards,
SC committee rejects 23 of 24 proposed Uttarakhand hydro projects
Seema Sharma,TNN | Apr 9, 2014, 07.20 AM IST
DEHRADUN: The Supreme Court monitoring committee formed by the ministry of environment and forests to study 24 proposed hydro projects on the Alaknanda and Bhagirathi rivers in Uttarakhand has published minutes of meetings on the MoEF website, and unanimously decided not to recommend 23 of the new projects, worth 2683.6 megawatts.
The committee was set up in October 2013 after the SC took note of a Wildlife Institute of India report that pointed the extensive threat to biodiversity because of these projects. The court directed the MoEF to set up a committee to examine the projects. The committee's recommendations could hit Uttarakhand's ambitious plan for self-sufficiency in the power sector.
"We compute the cost of producing one megawatt of power at anything between Rs 8 crore to 10 crore," a senior Uttarakhand Power Corporation Ltd official told TOI on condition of anonymity on Tuesday. By his reckoning, the cost of shelved projects could be as high as around Rs 20,000 crore. The minutes of the meetings were uploaded on UPCL website a few days ago.
Members of the committee approved only one of the 24 projects, Kotlibhel (195mw), saying it was in a "comparatively low biodiversity sensitive area", and would not significantly impact wildlife. However, they noted that the project could impede the free flow of the river up to 20 km downstream.
The 13-member committee comprises experts from various fields. Member-secretary YKS Chauhan told TOI that immense pressure is being exerted on members from various quarters not to recommend closure of the projects. The committee has rejected most of the projects, as they are proposed in either eco-sensitive zones or within forbidden zones of wildlife sanctuaries or parks, in habitats of rare, endangered and threatened species.
Some are in ecologically sensitive zones. The site of the proposed Rambara Project (24mw) on Mandakini river was washed out during the June 2013 deluge. Alaknanda project (300mw) and Khairon Ganga (4mw), are proposed within 10 km of the Valley of Flowers National Park, a World Heritage Site, in violation of SC directions.
Lata Tapovan project (170mw), Malari Jhelam (114mw), Jelam Tamak (126mw) and Tamak Lata (250mw) on Dhauliganga river also fall within the Nanda Devi National Park, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Two projects on the Rishi Ganga river, with a capacity of 105mw, have also been proposed within a 10-km radius of Nanda Devi National Park. Hemant Dhyani, a member of the committee, said, "These 24 projects will leave a serious negative impact on the biodiversity of the surrounding areas. The state government should revoke these projects immediately."
Speaking of other projects not listed along with these 24, the members expressed concern that approval was granted to Lakhwar (300mw) and Vysai (120mw) recently, without the mandatory clearances, and also without an approved disaster management plan.
Tuesday, April 8, 2014
Awareness is not merely about checking expiry date of the medicine you buy, but about understanding the policies and programmes that affect your health conditions. You are a citizen, don't limit yourself to a consumer...
Monday, April 7, 2014
What’s your ecological manifesto?
Water Initiatives Odisha (WIO) asks to all political parties contesting in the general elections 2014
WIO volunteers met about two thousand people in both urban and rural areas to find out what are the leading water, sanitation and climate change issues that should be addressed by manifestos of the political parties contesting in the general elections. This update is a result of the same. We have already shared this with political parties and media earlier. This is to update you with the same.
Water Initiatives Odisha (WIO) is concerned about the health of the candidates, their supporters and campaigners who are out in the streets in both urban areas and villages to campaign during the ongoing general elections. The temperature is soaring and it is going to be higher in the coming weeks. We wish all of you to take care of your health and save yourselves from the excessive heat.
Heat wave has killed thousands of people in the recent decades and ever increasing summer temperature is drastically reducing water availability in the state. This is all due to rapid industrialization that involves mining and promoting industries that destroy our forests, rivers and other water bodies. Our blind rush for burning coal to be one of India’s power hubs is another major reason. Unless we have a plan to restrict the dirty coal and go for green energy sources the state will continue to be a heat chamber and kill people and other species sooner than expected.
Odisha is on a fast track of desertification for all the above reasons and we want the political parties to tell us what plans they have to arrest this? We have been warning that Odisha’s land degradation is among the fastest in the nation and we are already experiencing a desertification process which is not only reducing our land productivity but also pushing our farmers to commit suicide and other miseries. It is high time the political parties come out with clear plans to combat desertification and stop farmers from dying and getting further marginalized.
Farmers, forest dwellers, fisher folks and all people who primarily depend on the natural resources of the state are in impoverished conditions. Diversion of water from farming to industries and urban areas is a major problem faced by these communities. The political parties should tell us what their agenda to stop this diversion is?
Natural forests are vanishing fast, rivers and other water bodies are dying and decaying in this state. There is no effort to protect them from encroachers and abusers. Ponds and tanks in large numbers in each urban centre have been diverted for other purposes such as real estate, market complex, parks and other such things. River beds and flood plains have also been encroached causing thereby more devastations during floods. We would like to ask each political party to detail their plans to free these vital water bodies from encroachment. What are your plans to save Rivers, Forests and Biodiversity of this state?
Urbanisation in Odisha is creating many of the pollution woes. Urban sewerage, garbage and other wastes are a major polluter and encroacher of our Rivers and Water Bodies. Urban areas have no forests left and have no ecological plans either. Pedestrians and cyclists in the urban areas are facing lot of problems while commuting as the urban landscapes have been designed only for motor vehicles. We want to know about your agenda to build green and sustainable urban centres; and to build the cities green with forests, parks, pedestrian and cyclist commuting routes, urban agriculture hubs, waste recycling and management done in decentralized manners.
Urban areas should have mandatory water harvesting and conservation plans and should be water secured within their geographical territories. In no case they should encroach upon Rivers and Water bodies of rural areas for their water needs. Similarly, urban garbage and other wastes must not be dumped in rural areas. At the moment, almost all the cities of the state are dumping their wastes illegally in adjacent rural areas thereby polluting their farms, encroaching upon their common lands and killing their water bodies. We want to know your agenda with regard to all these problems.
Rural people in general and slum dwellers in urban areas are facing acute water scarcity. They are neither getting sufficient water nor quality tested water to drink. The political parties should tell us their plans to provide quality tested drinking water to all the people of the state not as a matter of a charity but as a Right of the people to get these from the government.
Similar is the fate of sanitation and hygiene. Tell us what your plans on this are as well.
Odisha’s coast line is vulnerable to sea rise and other vagaries of climate change. Villagers in some parts of the coastline are always living with the fear of ingress of the sea. The government of Odisha has so far failed to mitigate these woes and have failed in rehabilitating the climate refugees of the state properly. Please disclose your plans to deal with the sea rise and related problems.
People need to know your plan to deal with polluting industries; industries that are illegally drawing both ground water and surface water; and industries that are failing to comply to environmental regulations.
WIO is open to discussion with any political party that would be interested to know more about these people’s ecological issues that we have charted out after discussion with the people across the state.
Key highlights -
- Ever increasing heat is a result of indiscriminate mining and industrialization; forest destruction and decaying of Rivers and Water bodies in the state.
- We want to know the agenda of political parties with regard to green energy, sustainable urbanisation, waste management and many such ecological issues.
- WIO volunteers met thousands of people in both rural and urban areas to know their environmental issues.
- The questions raised in this release are based on the discussions we had with the common people including farmers, fisher folks, forest dwellers, slum dwellers.
For further information, please contact:
Convenor, Water Initiatives Odisha
Mahanadi River Waterkeeper (Member, Waterkeeper Alliance)
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, April 6, 2014
Saturday, April 5, 2014
Who said India is lagging in economic growth rate. Pick affidavits of any of the contestants in the current election and you will find that the income and properties of these so called people's representatives have grown by 100-1000 (and even more) times in the last ten-five years.
It's a different matter that Indian farmers' (the majority of India's population) income has slid down by same number of times...
India is growing in pockets of our leaders!
Meditation is not about closing your eyes to reality, but waking up to them. It doesn't instill blind faith in you, but opens your senses and helps you attain the real awareness - a state of mind which enables you to fight against injustice done to the weak by the powerful...
Have a Great Sunday!!
I just heard Murari Bapu's big brother showing his concerns on uprising of the common Indians. Very natural no? If the common Indians rise, their 'dharm'(read adharm') business of fooling people with support of corporate houses' bad and black money will be doomed...!
A man is known by the company he keeps, says an English proverb. Satsang, that's good company, would influence your behaviour in a positive manner. Only a strong hypocrisy present in you can defy this impact...