Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year 2016!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

CoP 21 Update: Leading Scientists call for 1.5 Degree Pathway!

23 IPCC and Leading Scientists Call for Greater Ambition and 1.5 Degree Pathway

A group of 23 leading scientists has called for greater reductions to avoid crossing dangerous thresholds in “cryosphere” – snow and ice – regions, stressing the need for a 1.5 degree pathway to constrain risk.  The statement is based on the findings of the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s Fifth Assessment, but takes into account important research published since that sharpens concerns about dynamics that might be triggered within the next few decades, especially in West Antarctica.  This includes the risk of 4-5 meters committed or “irreversible” sea-level rise that would unfold over many centuries, but could be impossible to halt once begun.

The scientists, 13 of them IPCC authors, others senior and cutting-edge researchers, note, "... This can set into motion very long-term changes that cannot be stopped or reversed, even if temperatures later decrease. Some changes, such as committed sea-level rise from the great polar ice sheets, cannot be reversed short of a new Ice Age.”

These potentially irreversible risks include mountain glaciers, 80% of which can be expected to disappear at current pledges or INDCs; sea-level rise from the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica; permafrost thaw and related carbon release, which may eat one-third to one-half of current carbon budgets at existing INDCs; Arctic summer sea ice loss; and serious polar ocean acidification, which is occurring even faster in these waters than in oceans at lower latitudes.

As a result of these risk-filled dynamics, as negotiations move into their final stages the scientists urge a focus on actions that will lead to temperatures preferably under 1.5 degrees over pre-industrial, for the best chance of limiting these risks.

Source: email from Pam Pearson, Director, International Cryosphere Climate Initiative (ICCI)

Saturday, December 5, 2015

See how Climate Change, Dams and Disastrous Urban Planning caused Chennai Floods!

Climate change; dams; disastrous urban planning that has killed water bodies, rivers and chocked water ways & flood plains are the main causes of Chennai Flood devastation....

Save Rivers, Water Bodies and Ecology to save civilizations!

Friday, December 4, 2015

SC says fair compensation for land is human right of farmers! Some issues to ponder...

Dear Friends/Co-sailors,

The Supreme Court of India has now said it in clear terms that fair compensation for land acquired by government is farmer’s human right. Pasting below (at bottom) a news published in Times of India with further details. My pick from this would be the following:

Right to property is now recognized as a constitutional right by Article 300A, which provides that "no person shall be deprived of his property save by authority of law".

The bench pulled up Rajasthan government for not fulfilling its promise of fair compensation to landowners whose properties were acquired by the state in 2001. The state government had assured landowners allotment of 15% developed land near the acquired land but it resiled from the promise and allotted them undeveloped land in a far off place.

Directing the state to allot developed land with all basic facilities to owners, the bench said, "Right to property, though no longer a fundamental right, is otherwise a zealous possession of which one cannot be divested save by the authority of law as is enjoined by Article 300A of the Constitution. Any callous inaction or apathy of the state and its instrumentalities, in securing just compensation would amount to dereliction of a constitutional duty.

Well, that’s a powerful judgement.  However, we need more teetch to it.  As far as small farmers are concerned, we need to have at least the following, besides what the 2013 LA Act says:

Right not to be evicted forcefully.

Right to property in lieu of property.

Right to own the businesses as legally mandated shareholders in businesses/projects that are build in the lands acquired by them.  This has to come with adequate state guaranteed safeguards.

We can add more and discuss.

Thanks and regards,

Ranjan Panda

The ToI news as appeared @

Fair compensation for land acquired by govt is farmer’s human right: SC

Amit Anand Choudhary,TNN | Dec 5, 2015, 06.46 AM IST

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday said right to property was part of human rights, and landowners had a right to fair compensation for land acquired by the government.

"The right to property having been elevated to the status of human rights, it is inherent in every individual, and thus has to be venerably acknowledged and can, by no means, be belittled or trivialized by adopting an unconcerned and nonchalant disposition by anyone, far less the State, after compulsorily acquiring his land by invoking an expropriatory legislative mechanism," a bench of Justices V Gopala Gowda and Amitava Roy said.

The ruling in a case arising from the demand by a group of farmers in Rajasthan for fair compensation for the land acquired from them by the government marks a step towards elevation of right to property. Recognized as a fundamental right by the framers of the Constitution, right to property was done away with by the 44th amendment to the Constitution in 1978, in what reflected the ethos which had reigned supreme until the 1980s.

Right to property is now recognized as a constitutional right by Article 300A, which provides that "no person shall be deprived of his property save by authority of law".

The constitutional amendment only completed the process which began in the 1960s and which saw the government seeking to chip away at right to property for the professed objective of creation of an egalitarian society.

On Friday, however, the wheel of jurisprudence appeared to be coming full circle when Justices Gowda and Roy, while stressing the constitutional obligation of the government to compensate landowners, called right to property a "prized privilege".

The court said it was the government's constitutional obligation to ensure that the landowner was adequately compensated. It said other rights became illusory in the absence of right to property and the state must ensure it was protected.

"The judicial mandate of human rights dimension, thus, makes it incumbent on the state to solemnly respond to its constitutional obligation to guarantee that a land loser is adequately compensated. The proposition does not admit of any compromise or laxity," it said.

"Though earlier, human rights existed to the claim of individuals' right to health, livelihood, shelter and employment etc, these have started gaining a multifaceted approach, so much so that property rights have become integrated within the definition of human rights," the bench said while referring to its previous verdict.

The bench pulled up Rajasthan government for not fulfilling its promise of fair compensation to landowners whose properties were acquired by the state in 2001. The state government had assured landowners allotment of 15% developed land near the acquired land but it resiled from the promise and allotted them undeveloped land in a far off place.

Directing the state to allot developed land with all basic facilities to owners, the bench said, "Right to property, though no longer a fundamental right, is otherwise a zealous possession of which one cannot be divested save by the authority of law as is enjoined by Article 300A of the Constitution. Any callous inaction or apathy of the state and its instrumentalities, in securing just compensation would amount to dereliction of a constitutional duty.

"The persistent denial of their right to the developed land in lieu of compensation and that too without any legally acceptable justification, has ensued in manifest injustice to them over the years. Neither have they been paid just compensation for the land acquired nor have they been provided with the developed land in place thereof, as assured."


When you kill your water bodies you increase flood occurrences in your city!

(Illustration Credit: Anonymous , sourced from a friend's wall in Facebook) 

What happens when you kill your water bodies in the name of so called 'Development'...

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Chennai Floods: How it is a man made calamity!

Man destroyed it's course, but the River found its way!

Disastrous urban planning killing Rivers, Water Bodies and Ecology has made Chennai Floods a man made calamity. Time we respect the Nature and learn living with it...

Chennai Floods: See what happens when you kill your Rivers!

See what happens when you kill your Rivers in the name of so called "Development."

Please also read the following post I just uploaded in our fb pages:

A lesson to learn?

Oh no, we are so smart actually. We want more coal fired power plants, more unsustainable urban areas, more vehicles; we want to kill all water bodies and construct market complexes and other structures, encroach all flood plains...and everything that finally brings us to this state of affairs where we may have money but no life on earth...

A lesson to learn from Chennai? Or just let the time pass and start destroying the nature again? 

Well, our memory may be short but Nature's isn't!


Ranjan K Panda

Convenor, Water Initiatives Odisha (WIO)
Convenor, Combat Climate Change Network, India
Mahanadi River Waterkeeper (Member, Global Waterkeeper Alliance, New York)

Tweet @ranjanpanda
Tweet @MahanadiRiver

Skype: ranjan.climatecrusader


Fighting water woes, combating climate change...25 years now!

CoP21: Odisha farmers join global mobilization movements to demand a Climate Deal that benefits Small Farmers!

Drought Affected Farmers of Odisha demand definitive Climate Deal at Paris

More than three hundred farmers in Nuapada and Bargarh districts organised a “March To the Crop Field” on the Global Mobilization Day for CoP 21

Sambalpur, India: 29th November, 2015 -

As the global leaders prepare to strike a new deal to fight climate change during the Conference of Parties 21 (CoP21) meeting at Paris that starts tomorrow, villagers from drought affected districts of Nuapada and Bargarh organized a “March to the Crop Field” asking the world leaders to make a definitive climate deal that reduces global warming and greenhouse gases and support small and marginal farmers in adapting to negative impacts of climate change.

This March was organised at two places – Kharamal village in Bargarh district and Kushmal in Nuappada district – where about three hundred villagers – including women and children participated to send out their message to the world governments to save small farmers from vagaries of climate change by signing a strong climate deal in Paris.


The villagers have demanded that:

 1.     Small and marginal farmers are facing the maximum impacts of climate change and as a result are losing on their livelihoods, resorting to distressed migration and even committing suicides due to crop failures and other reasons.  We want the governments at CoP21 to finalize a deal that arrests global warming and helps small farmers to fight the impacts through schemes and programmes suitable for the small farmers.

 2.     We want the governments to support local agro-ecology based farming projects and programmes.

3.     We want the governments to support decentralized water harvesting and management systems.

 4.     We want the governments to end corporate control of the farm sector including their control of our seeds.

 5.     We want the governments to promote organic farming.

 6.     We want the governments to ensure local farm based enterprises owned and operated by small and marginal farmers with all kind of support provided to them.

7.     We want the governments to ensure best remuneration to farmers for their produces and insure all crops and farmers irrespective of land ownership, with adequate and dignified insurance amounts.

8.     We want the governments to provide assured irrigation, cold storage facilities and ensured marketing of farm produces to the farmers.

9.     We want the governments to help the farmers fight with all sorts of disasters such as droughts, floods and cyclones and support farmers in their coping and resilience efforts.

10. To strengthen climate change adaptation programmes like the MGNREGA.

Water Initiatives Odisha (WIO) and Mahanadi River Waterkeeper facilitated this action along with Vikash, Khariar; CANSA and Action2015India as part of a global mobilization day being organized throughout the world by thousands of common people including small farmers, landless labourers, fisherfolks, forest dwellers, concerned citizens, social activists, civil society organisations and others who want the global leaders to take a strong decision to deal with climate change.

For further details, please contact:

Ranjan Panda
Convenor, Water Initiatives Odisha
Mahanadi River Waterkeeper
Convenor, Combat Climate Change Network, India
Mob: +91-9437050103

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 and half decades now.

Mahanadi River Waterkeeper, a member of Global Waterkeeper Alliance, works towards conservation of River Mahanadi in India

Friday, November 20, 2015

What’s common between bureaucrats salaries, business persons tea and farmer suicides in India?

What’s common between bureaucrats salaries, business persons tea and farmer suicides in India?

RANJAN PANDA on 11/20/2015 at 11:54 am


This morning I woke up to few very interesting news.

News 1: Seventh Pay Commission for 23.55 per cent hike in pay of Central Government employees.
News 2: Tomato price skyrocket to Rs 60 (0.90 USD), other veggies on the rise.

News 3: Nita Ambani, wife of India’s richest man Mukesh Ambani, starts her day with a cup of tea that is worth Rs 3 lakh (4,500 USD).

News 4: Odisha’s Chief Minister announces a package of Rs 35000 crore (7.35 million USD) in response to growing farmer suicides and distress.

News 5: 55 year old debt ridden sharecropper killed self in Ganjam district of Odisha, India.

All these seem to be different news but in reality they are not. Spare a few minutes and you would realize they are all inter-connected.  Let’s discuss one by one and then see the interconnection.

Discussion 1

A retired IAS (Indian Administrative Officer) (the highest government post of the country) just posted on his facebook wall the following:

On joining the IAS in 1966, the salary per month we got was perhaps Rs 520 (8 USD) that included DA (Dearness Allowance).  Seventh Pay Commission recommendation would make our monthly pension Rs 112500 (1700 USD) with effect from 1st January 2016.

In 2007, while conducting a farmers’ perception study, an old farmer from Rengali block in Sambalpur district in Odhisa (from where many farmers have committed suicide since 2009) said to me, “When we got independence, salary of a school teacher as well as that of a post master was Rs 6 (0.10 USD).  That time, in early 1950s, a farmer was able to buy 10 gram of gold by selling two bags of paddy (75 kilograms per bag).  Now, in 2007, the salary of the school teacher is somewhere around Rs 22000 (330 USD) and no farmer can buy 10 gram of gold even by selling 22 bags of paddy.”

Discussion 2

Tomato prices have skyrocketed but the real farmers don’t get benefit of this.  It is the stockists, mostly rich businessmen or aided by them, who benefit out of such price rises.  Let’s take the price of dal (lenthils) as an example.  Dal prices has sucked the common Indians too much already and is believed to be one of the many reasons that saw defeat of the ruling party in the centre BJP in recently concluded Bihar state elections.

A journalist friend just posted in his facebook wall the following, and says these facts can be verified:

M/s Adani had formed a Joint venture with Wilmar company of singapore last year for marketing of food products in india. Adani Wilmar Ltd, is the producer of fortune brand food products in India. The JV company aimed to collect agri produces on large scale from farmers in major pulses producing states. They could not do it as there was a cap on mass collection and storage of food items. Last April, Adani could manage to get that cap on three pulses Arhar, Moong and Urad removed thru a government order. And since then the company started collecting 300 tons of pulses every day @Rs30/kg (0.5 USD). They accumulated more than 100 lakh tons of pulses in their large scale warehouses. Perhaps the entire seasons produce from three states were collected by the company. The result. In the market only Adani Wilmar was having stock. The wholesale and retail prices was decided by them. They sold the pulses @Rs220/Kg (3.5 USD). Which was collected @Rs 30 (0.5 USD).

Through the well planned hoarding, the company made windfall profits up to the tune of lakhs of crores. When the nations attention was on other issues, they were silently looting every Indian.

Adani is considered to be the closest business tycoon to the current Prime Minister of India.  In fact, the PM was seen campaigning during 2014 general elections on a chartered flight given by Adani; then this businessman was seen with the PM during most of his foreign visits after being sworn in; and the PM has taken special drive to provide 1 billion loan from State Bank of India to Adani for an Australian coalmine.

Discussion 3

The cost of a tea is a private affair and we are not supposed to discuss.  However, when it’s Nita Ambani, the issue needs to be discussed.  Ambani, the richest businessman of India, has build his business empires at the cost of Indian farmers.  This is same with other business houses as well.  Successive governments, both state and central, have displaced millions of Indians for these business houses to prosper.  Land, forests and water have been given almost at peanuts to these tycoons.  The result, even as the common Indian’s family economy has been gradually slumping, their income has been growing by hundreds of times.  It is now established that top one per cent of the globe own more than 50 per cent of it’s properties.  The case is similar in India.  The Ambanis and Adanis are among the super rich one per cent in the country who own majority of the country’s resources.  They have obviously grown at the cost of the farmers and common Indians.

Discussion 4

Yesterday, Odisha’s Chief Minister and his party organized a meeting of farmers in Sohela of Bargarh district, considered the rice bowl of the state.  This is in response to the growing distress of farmers and ever increasing suicides.  He has announced a Rs 35000 crore (7.35 million USD) package to assure irrigation, waiver of loan, etc. etc.  This is a routine affair now.  However, the farmers’ distress is increasing by the day.  Effective irrigation coverage is not increasing ever since industries have been given with water from irrigation’s share from Hirakud dam that made Bargarh the rice bowl once.  The super rich like Birla, TATA, and others own these industries here and have been given a free loot of the water and other resources.  In 2007, when 30,000 farmers formed a human chain covering Hirakud dam in protest against diversion of irrigation water to industries, Odisha’s Chief Minister made similar commitments.  But farmers’ distress and suicides have not gone down.  Rather, there has been an increase.


There is one thing common in all the above facts and arguments.

India was an agrarian country when it got independence from the British rule, it is still an agrarian country.
Majority of the people depend on farm, farm lands, forests and water for their livelihood and sustenance.  However, while all other sections of the society developed by leaps and bounds, the farmers economy shrunk by thousand of times.

Take for example the IAS officers.  They were appointed to serve the Indians, majority of whom were farmers.  But their salary increased by about 50,000 times.  And we all know what has happened to our politicians/rulers.  Some of them have increased their income by thousands of times just within five years in power.  But the farmers’ economy has tanked by thousand of times.  Majority of them are small and marginal farmers who still depend on the natural resources and supply food to majority of the population.  However, they are still fighting for loan waiver and other sops in order to not commit suicide and stay alive, leave aside living in dignity and as an empowered citizen of the nation.

From the early 1990s, when the new economic policy of reforms was introduced, the trickle down theory was more aggressively propagated and it was said that Indians would soon be rich.  However, all the examples are pointers to who have actually gained riches and who have been marginalized.

Tickle down theory/Credit: Left Wing UK

Well, a small portion of middle class has emerged in this process and have some cash income.  However, the concentration of wealth has gone into the super elite less than one per cent.  Most of these middle class survive on salaries given by these super rich.  The government employees have enjoyed the benefit as well, but the majority of farmers who have diversified into other sectors are still languishing in the unorganized labour market without any income guarantee whatsoever.

In 2007, the same old man of Rengali block who had said given to me an indicator of farmers’ distress by the decreased purchase power of paddy had also suggested a measure to improve the condition of farmers. He had said, “if you want to improve the condition of farmers eliminate the agriculture department.”

The IAS officers, government employees and others who have been serving to improve condition of agriculture and farmers have actually become rich themselves but not the farmers.
Similarly, all others have got rich at the cost of the farmers.

No one would be minding Rs 3 lakh worth tea of Nita Ambani (4500 USD) or Rs 15 lakh (USD 20,000) suit of the PM had the fruits of development percolated down to each farmer of the nation. I have seen how landlords have ended up as labour in factories of Ambanis, Adanis, Birlas, TATAs. While they don’t have basic minimum wages and amenities, Ambanis have built world’s costliest home just for four people to live. And we call it development!!!

Time for supporting a real Indian Farmers and Forest Dwellers economy where the disparity goes down drastically.  It may take time but not impossible.


Saturday, November 14, 2015

To stay clean, are we losing our fertility? This study suggests so!!

Germ-killing bathroom sprays appear to weaken fertility

Cleaning your bathroom? Along with killing germs some products could also be doing a number on sperm production and ovulation 
November 12, 2015
By Brian Bienkowski
Environmental Health News @
Common ingredients in the cleaning sprays for your kitchen and bathroom make mice less fertile, suggesting the compounds could do the same to humans, according to a new study.
Health researchers are concerned about specific chemicals used in cleaners—including popular brands like Lysol, Clorox and Simple Green—called quaternary ammonium compounds, used to kill microorganisms. Recent laboratory work from Virginia Tech University scientists found that when mice are exposed, both males and females have some unsettling impacts, such as weaker sperm and decreased ovulation.
Industry representatives have pushed back on the research, saying federal agencies deem the chemicals safe and that mice were exposed to unrealistically high levels.
Terry Hrubec (Credit:
The study, published today in Reproductive Toxicology, comes as U.S. infertility rates appear to be rising. A growing body of evidence suggests that environmental chemicals are playing a role.
“When we see effects in mice we should be concerned about effects in humans,” said Tracey Woodruff, a professor at the University of California, San Francisco, who specializes in reproductive health and the environment.
Even if you don’t clean, you might be at risk of exposure. Quaternary ammonium compounds are also used in algae-killing swimming pool chemicals, lumber treatments, anti-static laundry products and some cosmetics.
In the study, researchers exposed male and female mice to two common types of the compounds—alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride and didecyl dimethyl ammonium chloride—through their water. Exposed female mice had reduced ovulation and spent less time in “heat”, when they’re most fertile.
Exposed male mice had less concentrated sperm. Also their sperm was less effective at moving through female mice to fertilize eggs.
Terry Hrubec, senior author of the study and associate professor of anatomy and embryology at Virginia Tech University, last year reported that mice exposed to these compounds took longer to get pregnant, had fewer pregnancies and gave birth to smaller litters. The current study aimed to tease out gender-specific problems identified in that earlier research.
The compounds are very effective at keeping houses, hospitals, restaurants and other industries free of microbes and other contamination and are widely used.
There aren’t any human studies monitoring exposure, but the chemicals’ ubiquity has “likely resulted in widespread human exposure,” Hrubec and colleagues wrote in the current study.
“You’re going to get populations with higher exposures … men and women working in janitorial services, or for cleaning companies,” Woodruff said.
Paul DeLeo, associate vice president, environmental safety at the American Cleaning Institute, which represents cleaning product manufacturers, said the study raises “unjust concerns.”
He pointed out that both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration have tested the chemicals and deemed them safe.
“The researchers also overdosed the mice tested in their study with levels of the ingredient at a rate hundreds of times greater than what would be consider a safe use level (based on EPA standards),” DeLeo said in an email.
"When we see effects in mice we should be concerned about effects in humans."-Tracey Woodruff, University of California, San Francisco A task force representing the Consumer Specialty Product Association echoed DeLeo's criticism, adding that the study’s conclusions “ignore 'real world' experience and scientific scrutiny over more than 30 years,” in an email.
Some of the mice were dosed at very high levels, Hrubec acknowledged. But male mice given low doses still had reproductive problems, she said.
In addition, some male mice weren’t dosed at all but rather lived in a cage and room where the compounds were used to clean cages and floors and still had impacted sperm, she said.
Proper functioning hormones are vital for reproduction, and much research recently has focused on endocrine disrupting chemicals, which mimic and alter hormones.
It is too early to speculate why these cleaning chemicals are causing problems for the mice, Hrubec said.
But some of the impacts—such as the reduction in number of “heat” cycles for the females—are “hormonally driven,” raising suspicion of endocrine disruption, she said.
There are many potential causes for infertility, and tracing population trends can be problematic. However, as Hrubec notes in the study, from 2001 to 2010 the artificial insemination rate in the U.S. increased 37 percent.
Meanwhile sperm counts across the world have significantly decreased over the past 70 years.
Dr. Jeanne Conry, an obstetrician and past president of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said most physicians do not understand how little research is done on chemicals prior to being released into the environment. These studies, she said, should be taken into account.
“We walk a fine line between being alarming and being aware,” Conry said. "I tell women eat healthy, live a healthy lifestyle and keep your cleaning as simple as possible, maybe use something like vinegar and water.”