Monday, April 7, 2014

What's your ecological manifesto? WIO asks political parties contesting in general elections 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:

Ranjan Panda

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

Mobile: +91-9437050103/9937561700

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

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