Saturday, February 28, 2015

Budget: India to do away with Environment Ministry soon? - Ranjan Panda

(Image: from FB, anonymous)

As soon as the current government at centre was sworn in to power last year, I had predicted how - keeping with the tradition followed in Gujarat (when the current Prime Minister was Chief Minister there) - the Environment Ministry may be done away with; sooner than later.  My apprehension, I am afraid, is turning into reality.

The budget presented yesterday, that has all tall talks about creating an enabling environment for Business in India, shows the sign of a gradual dismantling of the Ministry to protect Forests and Environment. 

Please look into the following link to find how India's finance minister, in his first full budget, has cut allocation for the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) by nearly a quarter to Rs.1,681.60 crore in 2015-16 compared with the amount budgeted for the current fiscal year.

One thing is for sure: we should not expect any good days for the common Indians depending on forests and environment for their lives and livelihood, and for the other voiceless species. 

I can only predict more conflicts surrounding resources and further deprivation of the above communities.

Sunday Morning Thought - 1st March 2015!

When a situation such arises that one has to defend between the Master and Truth, the real person stands for the later...

Good Morning!

Have a Wonderful Sunday!!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Good Morning Thought - 27th February 2015!

If you are healthy, you are wealthy; if you are unhealthy, your doctor becomes wealthy...

Good Morning!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

See how we have failed in reading moods of our Rivers!

Dear Friends/Co-sailors,

This special documentary in NDTV-India, one of India's leading news channels, gives a very good account of how we have failed to understand the moods of our Rivers.  It talks the Himalayan Rivers in context of the June 2013 Uttarakhand tragedy that shook the entire nation.  

You can find the video in the following link:

High time we understood why our Rivers are getting aggressive, if we are serious about sustaining our civilizations.

Thanks and regards,


Good Morning Thought - 26th February 2015!

EU climate pledge for UN climate deal may undermine 40% domestic climate target by 5%: Eva Filzmoser

Announcement of EU climate pledge for UN climate deal may undermine 40% domestic climate target by 5%

24 February 2015

The EU is expected to sign-off on its official international climate pledge – the so called Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC), with an announcement on 6 March at the next meeting of the EU’s Environment Ministers.

This announcement will make the EU the first region to flesh out its pledge following the Lima UNFCCC meeting. In doing so, it will kick off a wave of contribution announcements from countries over the course of the year which will build momentum towards the Paris agreement set to be delivered in December.

Ahead of the 6 March meeting, a number of important events are planned:

Tomorrow, 25 February, the European Commission will on release a paper as part of a wider set of documents with the collective title of the “Energy Union Package”.

As part of that package, the EC will outline it’s vision for the Paris agreement and will offer a perspective on what could be  in the European intended nationally determined contribution under the heading “A blueprint for tackling global climate change beyond 2020.” This is not, however, the final INDC as it needs to be agreed and discussed by national environment ministers.

The EU’s climate pledge will be based on the EU 2030 climate and energy framework, including an “at least” 40% greenhouse gas reduction target.

The final INDC will be brokered on the basis of two separate draft INDCs that have been prepared by the Latvian Presidency and the European Commission. 

However, there are in particular two key issues that remain controversial and could significantly weaken the 40%:

 1) Inclusion of land use and forest management could reduce climate target by up to 5%

 The way land use emissions are addressed in the EU’s emission reduction target will be critical because the land use sector does not only contribute to emissions, it also removes carbon from the atmosphere. Some EU Member States, notably Finland, Ireland, Poland and Germany have  to include rules on land use and forest management that could reduce the headline figure by as much as 5%, as suggested by a leaked memo from the German government, meaning that the real impact of the EU's efforts would be no more than 35%.

 However, given that heads of states agreed to “at least” 40% emission reductions, allowing the land use sector to compensate for reduction obligations in other sectors would not be in line with the political decision that has already been taken. It would also be seen as “backsliding” from the originally presented 40% target and would set the EU off on a bad start towards agreeing on an ambition international climate treaty in Paris in December 2015.

 To avoid this situation, the EU must be clear that it will address emissions from LULUCF, but in such a way that it does not undermine the integrity of the overall target. Emissions and removals from LULUCF sector must be treated separately and on top of the EU's ‘at least’ 40% domestic target. This sends the right signal to other countries as they prepare their INDCs. Some principles for how the EU should include LULUCF in its climate policy are laid out in a briefing by NGOs.

 2) Allowing the linking of Emissions Trading Systems could undermine domestic nature of EU’s climate target

 Although the ‘at least’ 40% GHG target was clearly presented as a domestic target, the current INDC drafts are ambiguous on whether the EU’s climate target allows for the use of international carbon markets.

The reason for this is that there is no unanimous EU position amongst the European Commission and Member States on the role of international carbon markets, e.g. some countries still want to use international offsets on top of their 40% domestic share but there is no agreement amongst the EU’s Member States to increase the 40% target with international offsets.

Another reason within the 40% GHG target is that the current EU Emissions Trading System covers several jurisdictions, including Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. The EU is currently also discussing linking its EU ETS with Switzerland.

 However, using allowances from other jurisdictions outside of Europe to count towards the 40% GHG target would effectively allow “foreign” allowances inside the EU and undermine the domestic nature of the EU’s climate target. This is also problematic because to date the EU does not have safeguards for the linking of emission trading systems to protect the EU’s carbon market from offsets entering and being laundered through other ETS systems.

-    Eva Filzmoser, Director, Carbon Market Watch

Monday, February 23, 2015

Real Life Chili: the latest in my Common-o-n-sense series!

I have extensively travelled in different parts of the world, have met people from all walks of life.  Attended hundreds of meetings and heard some of the greatest minds that matter.  None have attracted me as much as the common person, be it the one who begs on the street or the one who pulls a cycle rickshaw for a living.  Wisdom shelters there, sense prevails in their talks.  Most of them, I repeat most of them, have humanitarian values still alive.  Well, being below the survival margins may have helped them in this.  They have no money to be spoiled, but lack of it has not demonized them either.  They struggle each moment with their lives, but have not corrupted their minds as yet.  Whenever they speak, they teach an important lesson of life.  They are what they have lived; no puzzle, no hypocrisy.

Amazed by their great words of wisdom and experience, I have decided to borrow quotes from my conversations with many of these real common persons of the world.  I don’t remember names of most of these invisible human beings, but can’t escape the powerful messages they have shared with me.

O’ real common person, I have learnt from you a lot.  Time to spread it among friend humans.  I know many of your common sense sound nonsensical to the people in power, who occupy the positions that influence your lives and their situations. However, I am sure, the reality of life is best taught by you and has to reach there – sooner than later….

A common man’s perspective on India's yearly budget exercise!

The Indian budget exercise is typical.  Each year it targets to achieve somewhere between 5 to 10 per cent of growth for the country on an average by following a formula where the Super-Rich are given all possible incentives and subsidies, and right to loot natural resources and the poorest of the poor, so that they achieve a growth by hundreds of times and then throw some peanuts for the rest of the country.  

The peanuts percolate down to the next few categories of riches, keeps thinning to virtually vanish at the level of middle class.  

The people at the brink, who have suffered all the losses due to the free loot given to the Super-Rich, suffer a huge slump in their economies and are pushed to further margins.

We can generally comment that, to achieve a national average GDP growth rate of 5 per cent we have to make the Super-Rich grow by 500 per cent and degrade the Super-Poor by 500 per cent.  

Pick any industrial house owned by India’s Super-Rich families and you will understand this economics.

Ranjan Panda

Good Morning Thought - 24th February 2015!

Many so called best-informed persons could actually be literate yet uneducated ones. The market forces benefit the most out of the growth in such ignorance...

Good Morning!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Huma, Mahanadi's Important Eco-Religious Shrine neglected on Big Day!

Huma Temple, located on the bank of River Mahanadi at about 22 kilometer downstream of Sambalpur city, invites lakhs of visitors throughout the year for two reasons: 1. It is one of the most important Shiva Shrines in western Odisha, and 2. It is a sacred grove in Mahanadi basin as the Kudo (local name) fish finds a protection here.  

Being a Shiva Shrine, Mahashivaratri is the most important religious festival of the year for this temple.  On this occasion, a Mela (fair) for seven days is organized by the temple administration with help of the local Gram Panchayat and support of the District Administration in this small village.  

We made a visit to the Mela yesterday (Sunday, 22nd February 2015) to realize that at least 25 thousand people from nearby and far off places visited the Mela on Sundays and the Shivaratri Day.  Rest of the days, the foot fall of visitors would be somewhere between 10-12 thousand people.  

What shocked us was to see that the Mela had no proper arrangement to provide basic facilities such as drinking water and toilets for such huge number of visitors.  There were only a few temporary urinals set up, but most of them were not preferred by people.  The place has only 4 toilets, two for men and 2 for women.  Open defecation was seen at large.  

The Sambalpur district administration has banned packaged drinking water in small plastic pouches.  Many welcomed it but alleged that the administration did not do anything to make safe drinking water available.  Local tube wells are in bad shape and the few drinking water outlets opened by panchayat/temple administration/locals are serving water from either the local tube wells or the Mahanadi river.  No one was sure of the quality of the water.  Many visitors from the villages were found drinking water from the Mahanadi directly.  

The Sambalpur district administration did not also seem to take its learning from the jaundice epidemic it is fighting now.  There was no effort to ensure proper food quality of the several open air food and drink stalls.  

The Administration, as the locals complained, has also left the Huma Temple wanting for a white wash and any decoration.  Previous years, the temple would be colored for this Great Day/Week.  The temple looked old and dilapidated as several construction and renovation works are going on for years.  Locals complained, the works are being done without consulting local people and are taking much longer than usual time.  Many tourists have to face inconvenience due to waste and debris that have been dumped all around.  

What shocked us the most was when we saw the Kudo fishes had vanished from the sight because of the huge gathering.  There seemed no effort by the administration to ask people to refrain from feeding the fishes.  As a general practice, people who visit the temple throughout the year feed the fishes which flock the banks in thousands.  

This a best case of the governmental apathy not only towards tourism in western Odisha but also towards health of the Mahanadi River and its biodiversity.  

Ranjan Panda

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

Mob: +91-94370-50103

Good Morning Thought for 23rd February 2015 and previous day!

Shrinking open spaces including water bodies and playgrounds are detrimental to healthy physical & mental growth of the children...

Good Morning!
Joy is in watching children at play...

(Thought for 22nd February, 2015)


Friday, February 20, 2015

Good Morning Thought - 21st February 2015!

Shit, a bad word in humans’ vocabulary, is in fact a great resource...

Good Morning!

Have a Great Weekend!! 

Mahanadi River gets a new Friend in Prof. Didier from France!

It was so wonderful meeting Prof. Didier, an Architect from France who just visited me to understand Rivers and Water Bodies. It was so very important to know from him how the professionals in France have a day devoted in every week to 'public interest'. He is so hopeful about the great Indian middle class and thinks if they can go beyond consumerism to spare time for society and work for 'public interest', India can truly prosper and that would be good for the entire world.

I am happy Mahanadi River has got a new friend. Me too!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Good Morning Thought - 20th February 2015!

Land right to women is must if we are serious about their empowerment...

Good Morning!

I will go live on News7 this evening, to talk on jaundice epidemic in Mahanadi Basin!

@ 6.15 PM this evening (19th Feb), I shall go live (over phone) on News7 (Odia news channel) to discuss issues concerning jaundice epidemic in Odisha.

Time permitting, please watch. Thanks.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Good Morning Thought - 19th February 2015!

If you make it a habit to learn from all you come across, you become an ever evolving being...

Good Morning!

Met Cheryl Colopy, author of Dirty, Sacred Rivers...

Last year, when I read the review of the book 'Dirty, Sacred Rivers: Confronting South Asia's Water Crisis' in downtoearth, got tempted to buy that immediately. However, had problems with finances as my budget for books in that month was already overspent. Kept on listing the book in subsequent months but the purchase never materialized for this or the other reason. The wait ended during my Kathmandu trip and in a style. Got the book as a gift from none else than the author herself. I could not have aspired for any more actually. So happy...

Thanks Cheryl Colopy, for giving to us such a wonderful account of your encounter with the Ganges.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Good Morning Thought - 18th February 2015!

Each human being is blessed with a third eye, that is Conscience.  For humanity to prevail, most need to open it...

Good Morning!

Shiva and the poison story - Happy Shivaratri Day Wishes!

Mythology says it that Lord Shiva swallowed all the poison to save mankind. Sadly, the same mankind is now forcing itself and all other species swallow poison day in and day out, all in the name of progress...

Wish you all a Happy Maha Shivaratri!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Good Morning Thought for 17th February 2015 and Previous Thoughts!

Humility is Humanity...

Good Morning!

(17th February, 2015)


Simple food is always healthy, never loses its deliciousness...

Good Morning!

(16th February, 2015)


More than Laws, the Love for Mother Nature can help us tide over the acute water crises we are facing at the moment...

Good Morning and Happy Valentines Day!

@Cuttack, to speak on 'Water and Law' at the National Law University Odisha...

(14th February, 2015)


In negotiations, the facilitators should ideally be biased towards the weak parties. Teansboundary water negotiators should pay attention to this...

Good Morning from Kathmandu!
(13th February, 2015)


(12th February 2015 @ Kathmandu)

Monday, February 9, 2015

Good Morning from Kathmandu - 10th February 2015!

The nexus of resources provided by environment creates a unique and marvelous governance structure that humans live in. A lot of its intricacies are beyond our understanding, but we have been doing everything to destroy this nexus only to script our own doom...

Good Morning from Kathmandu!

Arrived here yesterday to be part of an international workshop on 'Water-Energy-Food Nexus' organized by Fulbright from 10th to 12th Feb 2015!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Sunday Morning Thought - 8th February 2015!

We live in a society where people get more irked by few drops of a bird's shit that may spoil their dresses or a parked vehicle, but are indifferent to birds being eliminated en masse by the toxic wastes they themselves generate...

Happy Sunday Morning!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Good Morning Thought - 7th February 2015!

Thankfully Trees, Rivers, Mountains & the Oceans didn't have the ability of organising themselves into any religions or caste systems...

Good Morning!

Enjoy the Weekend!!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Essar Plant Puts Bairatani River in big trouble!

Dear Friends/Co-sailors,

Sharing below a letter written Kendujhar Citizen's Forum to the CM of Odisha on problems that are going to be faced by common citizens of Baitarani River Basin in Odisha due to Essar plants' drawing water at Basantpur.

The government have a transparent and democratic dialogue with the basin communities in taking such critical decisions.  

Baitarani is already a dying river and won't be able to bear more burden of industrial and mining activities.  

We at Water Initiatives Odisha have been demanding that an ecological balance study of the Basin be done with involvement of the people and relevant experts/institutions before committing more water to the extractive industries.

Hope the government listens.

Ranjan Panda
Convenor, Water Initiatives Odisha
Kendujhar Citizens’ Forum
Shri  Naveen Patnaik                                                        03 Feb 15
Hon’ble Chief Minister of Odisha
Sachivalaya, Bhubaneswar 751001     


       Please refer our recent letter dated 26 Jan 15 where in we brought to your notice many aspects of this project at its early stage in 2009, and many suggestions of remedy. Now after 6 years, serious clashes of interest among the stake holders namely the domestic users and the agriculturists with the industrial users at Basantpur on Baitarani River has proved our logic. Water is being drawn by Essar under police protection and their plant is running with a kind of political patronage.

      The members of Citizens’ Forum sat down to analyze the terms and conditions of allocation of water and the legal provisions of the agreements in our month end general meeting and consensus developed around the following short comings:-

a.     No Beneficiation is being done by the Essar Plant at Dubna to upgrade the low grade Iron ore. This was against the main objective of this facility.

b.    ‘A Telling pond’ is yet to be created to handle the solid waste, for which funds have been provided in the project proposal.

c.    Yet, before the completion of the plant, OSPCB has given ‘Consent to Operate’ only to transport ore by use of water in pipes.

d.    Reasons why only ‘High Grade’ ore have been allowed by this ‘Slurry’ transportation system, remains obscure. This action circumvents the ”Need for the Project” as at Para 1.2 of EIA/EMP report submitted for Environment clearance.

e.      For lean and ‘Non monsoon’ seasons, the plant has been directed to store “At Least” two months of their water requirement in ‘Storage Tanks’. Simple arithmetic of 1200m3/hr will need a tank size of 173 Ha to a depth of 1meter. Such tanks are nowhere in the project proposal. This shows that the plant has no intension to store water for ‘Lean’ period

f.     The “Lean Flow Period” of Baitarani River has been deliberately kept ‘Undefined’, by the engineers of WR dept such that even in February, 4 months after the rainy season, the plant continues to draw water from a deficient and weak upper Baitarani. There is no dipstick or a flow structure to know the lean flow for every body to see. There is no assessment of Domestic, Ecological, and agricultural needs of the ‘Riparian’ villagers who are now protesting the injustice inflicted on them.

g.    The comparison of Upper Baitarani with ‘Sileru’ River is simply “untenable” because the 25-30 feet wide and ankle deep Baitarani can be crossed by foot now, where as a recent boat tragedy in Sileru drowned 3 people. We can only imagine the difference in flow.

h.     The location of the ‘Telling Pond’ proposed right on the River bank raises doubts that the solid wastes would be discharged to the river. Consequently, the life of the reservoir of Kanupur major irrigation project, 20 km downstream is likely to be seriously impaired. Incidentally, our Forum has suggested that the telling be returned for filling of many abandoned mines.

i.     Our Forum had also suggested extensive water harvesting in the entire Baitarani basin upstream of the water pumping station, to supplement the flow in the River, effectively lessening the “Lean period”. This has not been done and the plant continues to draw from a seriously deficient river.

     These and many more points of contention need to be discussed with all stake holders for peaceful technical solutions to the current imbroglio. Besides Our Forum feels that    Baitarani RBO will justifiably attempt to allocate this vital and seasonally scarce natural resource in a way that will pass the test of being fair, reasonable, non-discriminatory, transparent, non- capricious, unbiased, without favoritism or nepotism and equitable in public interest; all the principles enshrined within Article-14 of the Constitution.

  Our Forum, therefore seeks a compressive dialogue among the Govt, corporates and experts with the other stake holders in order to reach a justifiable solution.

Yours Truly,

(Kiran Sankar Sahu)
Wing Commander (Retd)
President, for and on behalf of All Members of Citizens’ Forum

Good Morning Thought - 6th February 2015!

The food that we waste is a lot of water wasted, many lives impacted...

Good Morning!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Good Morning Thought - 5th February 2015!

We already pay for the air we breathe. Cut more trees and the cost of air will go unaffordable...

Good Morning!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Good Morning Thought - 4th February 2015!

We have developed a practice of praising people who have transformed their lives from misery to prosperity, but have conveniently forgotten the ways & means of such transformations. Our ability to explore the reasons would benefit the society more than our acts of praise...

Good Morning!

Good Morning Thought - 3rd February 2015!

A society that still thinks girls are born to serve the males and destined such, will not be able to save the girl child by slogans & symbolism...

Good Morning!