Getting habituated to a habit...
There is a competition to live a life that takes you farther from your roots. Our roots are inevitably ecological. Having gained the wonderful experience of knowing ecology from close corners over the last two decades, I behave like an objective chronicler of it. This blog is meant to be a contemporary chronology of ecology, economics and we the being. The blog will have text and visuals. Ranjan Panda
Sushma Swaraj ji: welcome back to a normal life after going through kidney transplantation. Congratulations!
You gave credit for your healthy recovery to the blessings of all MPs in Parliament and support of your 'Krishna'. Among others Uma Bharti ji was also present in Parliament and welcomed you.
Please tell her that water pollution is a major cause of kidney related diseases in millions of Indians and most of the common Indians can't afford treatment.
Please pursue for the same blessings from MPs and Krishna for all of them. We need strong action against polluters, major drives to abate water pollution and well equipped cheap/free public health facilities in the country!
Thanks & regards,
Ranjan Panda Water Initiatives Odisha(WIO) Mahanadi River Waterkeeper
The waters along Tasmania’s north-west coastline have taken on a bizarre, glowing appearance in recent days. Photographs taken off Preservation Bay and Rocky Cape showcase bioluminescent waters caused by a natural phenomenon known as noctiluca scintillans (AKA sea sparkle), which happens when tiny plankton turn blue in self-defence.
The phenomenon, which is best seen in calm, warm seas, is foreboding. “The displays are a sign of climate change,” Anthony Richardson, from the CSIRO, told New Scientist after an occurrence in Tasmania in 2015.
Bulu Reddy, a farmer from Ganjam district's Chikrada committed suicide on 13th March due to crop loss. Ganjam is the Odisha Chief Minister's constituency. As per available reports, he took his life on 10th March owing to crop loss. He had borrowed an amount of 1 lakh rupees (source of borrowing not known as of now) for tomato and chilly cultivation. He got a good production of tomato but the rate for the product had crashed in the market, forcing him not to harvest it but let it die in the field. He consumed pesticide and died. While the government officials, as in other cases, have been trying to find reasons for the suicide and would surely come up with a false and funny reason (something other than crop loss and debt burden), the fact remains that farmers are dying due to governmental apathy. Both the state and central governments have perpetually failed our farmers. Ranjan Panda Water Initiatives Odisha (WIO) & Combat Climate Change Network, India Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Russia's Lake Baikal, a world heritage site, which contains about one-fifth of the unfrozen freshwater on the earth’s surface has got respite from a polluting paper and pulp industry just three years ago. However, the lake fights new environmental battles. An interesting read... https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/13/world/europe/a-russian-lakes-future-hangs-on-tourists-and-toilets.html?_r=0 Ranjan Panda Water Initiatives Odisha (WIO) Combat Climate Change Network, India Email: email@example.com Tweet @ranjanpanda Tweet @MahanadiRiver
Odisha government must learn an urgent lesson from villagers' anger in Kendpali village!
Yesterday, when two govt. officials went to re-investigate the cause of death of Khaenu Bagarthy (who took his life owing to farm distress), they were detained by the villagers for hours and then were asked to write the report in front of them only so that they don't change their report after returning from the village. The officials admitted that Khaenu Bagarty died of farm distress and debt burden.
Earlier, the Bargarh district administration's fake report was exposed as the family members of the victim and villagers challenged the report that was supposedly sent by the District Collector to the Agriculture Minister, based on which the Minister had informed the assembly that the farmer died of family quarrels and not farm distress. Thankfully the opposition united on this issue and cornered the govt. and the lie was exposed.
The govt. of Odisha has the habit of covering up each farmer suicide case and its officials have been submitting false investigation reports each year. By doing this, the govt. has now forced people to take actions such as the one that happened yesterday in Kendpali village.
The government should immediately realise its mistake and correct course without further delay. To restore people's faith in the government in such cases, it must immediately re-investigate all farmer suicide cases (at least for last three years), admit that farm distress is the sole reason for farmers ending their lives, and compensate the bereaved families adequately.
Such re-investigations must be done by an independent expert committee and not just by govt. officials as has been the practice. Ironically, the same officials who are guilty of neglecting farmers' plight do the investigation as a routine affair. This practice needs to change immediately. Or else, the farmers's angers will pile up further and there is every possibility of BJD feeling the heat in next Assembly elections. Its poor performance in just concluded local self govt. elections is just a beginning.
As such also, Odisha needs to take up many innovative initiatives to revive its farm sectors and raise income and living standard of its ailing farmers who are in dire distress now. For this also, the govt. must consult experts and practitioners from all the sectors, not just the ones who have the habit of praising the govt.
Farmer Suicide Clock starts ticking in Odisha again!
The first farmer suicide case of Odisha was reported yesterday from Bargarh district, considered the rice bowl of the state. 55 year old Khainu Bagarti of Kendpali village consumed pesticide and succumbed to death in VIMSAR. Irregular power supply, that failed his bore well, is said to have caused the distress, depression and death.
The Odisha government, that is drowning the state under thousands crores of debt to provide 24x7 power supply to #SmartCities should look inwards at the farmers' plights without any further delay. As such also we are expecting one of the hottest summer ever, such incidences may repeat!
Water Initiatives Odisha (WIO)
Mahanadi River Waterkeeper (Member, Global Waterkeeper Alliance)
Water stress will keep increasing, & even extremist groups would target water infrastructure more & more unless we work towards rejuvenation of our water sources, rivers and water bodies. Instead we are just talking about managing the water that is left with us. Ranjan Panda Tweet @ranjanpanda Tweet @MahanadiRiver Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
It's a huge jump despite the fact that billions have already been spent. What has happened? Where are we lagging behind? Disasters? Find more in my tweet: https://twitter.com/ranjanpanda/status/836571370444177410
Just read a DTE coverage of the 'National Conference on India's Soils: Science - Policy - Practice: Interfaces for Sustainable Futures' held at IIT Delhi. The Conference, as reported by DTE, has rightly diagnosed and discussed some important causes of land degradation in India and has talked about degradation of natural resources, overuse of chemical fertilizers, etc. However, I could not find a mention of role of local climate change triggers such as Thermal Power Plants, extractive industrialization that drain out our water resources, and the combined effect of Desertification. These are some issues we have been harping at. Or may be the Conference debated all that but details are not out yet. Will wait for more details.
I must say, it's a good initiative by the organisers and we need to have more such dialogues that also suggest alternative and remedial measures as the Conference seems to have suggested some.
Find more on it at: http://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/government-policies-must-build-capacity-of-soils-not-promote-agrochemicals-experts-57246
Thanks and regards,
Convenor, Water Initiatives Odisha (WIO)
Convenor, Combat Climate Change Network, India
Mahanadi River Waterkeeper (Member, Global Waterkeeper Alliance, New York)
Most studies on the impact of extreme weather events focus on droughts or rainfall shocks in tropical or dry regions. However, cold shocks in the form of extremely harsh winters can also be damaging for children. While affecting all regions with continental climate and large seasonal variations in temperature, such as Russia, inland China or the Himalayas, these shocks are especially relevant in Mongolia. More here: https://blogs.unicef.org/evidence-for-action/children-bear-the-cost-of-extreme-weather-new-evidence-from-mongolia/
The most in-depth study conducted on the subject so far points at dangerous developments. It's now getting increasingly clear that climate change is burdening our oceans, that absorb more than 30% of carbon produced on land, the most. This study, carried out at Geomar Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Germany, found that ocean oxygen levels had fallen by 2% in 50 years.
This depletion of oxygen in our oceans in our oceans threatens future fish stocks and risks altering the habitat and behaviour of marine life, reports the Guardian.
You can read more details about this report at https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/feb/20/fish-under-threat-oxygen-depletion-oceans-study
Ranjan K Panda
Convenor, Combat Climate Change Network, India
Convenor, Water Initaitives Odisha
Mahanadi River Waterkeeper (Member, Global Waterkeeper Alliance, New York)
[Cairo] Experts and stakeholders in Egypt warn of imminent water poverty as a result of the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which is about to become operational. Meanwhile, agricultural production consumes about 85 per cent of the country’s water resources, half of which goes towards rice irrigation.
Rice cultivation consumes more than 10 billion cubic meters of water annually, or more than one-sixth of Egypt's share of Nile water, Khaled Ghanem, professor of Organic Farming in Al-Azhar University, told SciDev.Net. And this does not account for the water used for cultivation in unauthorized areas, estimated to be about a third of that used in authorized ones, he explained. For more, please read the following link: http://www.scidev.net/global/design/news/egyptian-invention-rice-irrigation-water.html?utm_medium=email&utm_source=SciDevNewsletter&utm_campaign=international%20SciDev.Net%20update%3A%206%20February%202017
We are already sucking up our water resources more than we can replenish. With Climate Change impact taking an increased toll, our water future is surely getting doomed. A latest figure put up by FAOKnowledge in the above graph says it all. Beware and act now. Water harvesting, River Rejuvenation, Biodiversity Conservation are some of the key broad initiatives we need to take up!
Convenor, Water Initiatives Odisha (WIO)
Convenor, Combat Climate Change Network, India
Today seemed to be a day of interviews for me with various news channels. As Hirakud dam, Asia's longest earthen dam and the largest dam on Mahanadi, turns 60; the day is certainly one of reflections.
When this dam was built, immediately after India attained independence, it was considered a modern temple by the then PM of India Jawaharlal Nehru. People who were submerged and were thrown out of their homes and villages could never get properly compensated. It is said, more than 8000 families are yet to get any compensation even though the Dam celebrates 60 years of existence.
The dam has certainly created the rice bowl of Odisha with the command area irrigation, but has destroyed sustainable farming practices and traditional irrigation. It has increased dependence of farmers on poisonous pesticides and invited industries that keep sucking its water without doing anything to recharge the river and replenish the water they draw. The same farmers, who once prospered with Hirakud water, are now fighting a battle for survival as industries snatch away their share of water.
The displaced people were virtually thrown inside the forested areas and were mostly left to themselves to develop their own farm lands and rebuild their livelihoods. Most of them are yet to get the benefit of assured irrigation even though their ancestral lands have been used for irrigating others' fields, to supply water to industries and urban areas.
The dam, that was originally built to control floods in coastal Odisha, has now spread flood menace to western Odisha as well. It miserably failed in power generation targets too. There have been disastrous environmental impacts of the dam, starting from climate change to desertification. However, there is hardly any mechanism in our systems that study the dams' multiple impacts thoroughly. That's the reason, our planners keep pushing for more dams.
The Hirakud dam is old and ailing. It's designed life span is 100 years but several problems, including siltation and cracks, is surely going to end majority of its functions much before that. Chhattisgarh is now blocking more water than before and soon will deprive the dam of water that is needs to stay alive with its multiplicity of functions.
Time the government and people debate these issues and plan a strategy of decommissioning of the dam in a way that does not affect the irrigation and water supply to people at least. Rest of the functions can be done away with!
Ranjan Panda Convenor, Water Initiatives Odisha (WIO) Mahanadi River Waterkeeper (Member, Global Waterkeeper Alliance)
Two world-leading clean energy projects have opened in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu.
A £3m industrial plant is capturing the CO2 emissions from a coal boiler and using the CO2 to make valuable chemicals. It is a world first.
And just 100km away is the world's biggest solar farm, making power for 150,000 homes on a 10 sq km site.
The industrial plant appears especially significant as it offers a breakthrough by capturing CO2 without subsidy.
Built at a chemical plant in the port city of Tuticorin, it is projected to save 60,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions a year by incorporating them into the recipes for baking soda and other chemicals.
Here's how it works:
The plant operates a coal-fired boiler to make steam for its chemical operations.
CO2 emissions from the boiler's chimney are stripped out by a fine mist of a new patented chemical.
A stream of CO2 is fed into the chemicals plant as an ingredient for baking soda and other compounds with many uses, including the manufacturing of glass, detergents and sweeteners.
The owner of the chemicals plant, Ramachadran Gopalan, told a BBC Radio 4 documentary: "I am a businessman. I never thought about saving the planet. I needed a reliable stream of CO2, and this was the best way of getting it."
He says his operation has now almost zero emissions. He hopes soon to install a second coal boiler to make more CO2 to synthesise fertiliser.
The chemical used in stripping the CO2 from the flue gas was invented by two young Indian chemists. They failed to raise Indian finance to develop it, but their firm, Carbonclean Solutions, working with the Institute of Chemical Technology at Mumbai and Imperial College in London, got backing from the UK's entrepreneur support scheme.
Their technique uses a form of salt to bond with CO2 molecules in the boiler chimney. The firm says it is more efficient than typical amine compounds used for the purpose.
They say it also needs less energy, produces less alkaline waste and allows the use of a cheaper form of steel - all radically reducing the cost of the whole operation.
The firm admits its technology of Carbon Capture and Utilisation won't cure climate change, but says it may provide a useful contribution by gobbling up perhaps 5-10% of the world's emissions from coal.
Lord Oxburgh, former chairman of Shell, and now director and head of the UK government's carbon capture advisory group, told the BBC: "We have to do everything we can to reduce the harmful effects of burning fossil fuels and it is great news that more ways are being found of turning at least some of the CO2 into useful products."
Meanwhile, the nearby giant Kamuthi solar plant offers a marker for India's ambition for a rapid expansion in renewables.
It is truly enormous; from the tall observation tower, the ranks of black panels stretch almost to the horizon.
Prime Minister Modi is offering subsidies for a plan to power 60 million homes with solar by 2022 and aims for 40% of its energy from renewables by 2030.
For large-scale projects, the cost of new solar power in India is now cheaper than coal. But solar doesn't generate 24/7 on an industrial scale, so India has adopted a "more of everything" approach to energy.
The firm behind the solar plant, Adani, is also looking to create Australia's biggest coal mine, which it says will provide power for up to 100 million people in India. Renewables, it says, can't answer India's vast appetite for power to lift people out of poverty.
And questions have been raised recently as to whether India will stick to its renewables promises now President-elect Donald Trump may be about to scrap climate targets for the US.
At the recent Marrakech climate conference, China, the EU and many developing countries pledged to forge ahead with emissions-cutting plans regardless of US involvement. But India offered no such guarantee.
Some environmentalists are not too worried: they think economics may drive India's clean energy revolution.
Response to EIL by prominent citizens on 1.7 km stretch that runs through Mula-Mutha riverbank ecosystem
: The western zone bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) issued an interim stay on a proposed portion of the metro rail route passing through the Mula-Mutha riverbed in the city on Monday.
A two-judge bench of Justices U.D. Salvi and Dr. Ajay Deshpande passed the directive acting on an Environmental Interest Litigation (EIL) filed in the NGT on May 26 last year by a group of prominent Pune citizens, which contended that in the proposed metro rail alignment, a 1.7 km stretch passing through the left bank of the Mula-Mutha river could spell the death knell for the riverbank ecosystem along that route.
The petitioners in the EIL included Member of Parliament Anu Aga, senior journalist late Dileep Padgaonkar, architect Sarang Yadwadkar and environmentalist Aarti Kirloskar.
Phase I will be hit
A stay on work on this stretch, which falls on Line 2, will naturally affect work on the entire Phase I of the project. This line, totalling around 15 km in length and linking Vanaz with Ramwadi, is expected to be the first to be built in the project.
The lawyer representing the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) proposed that the Maharashtra Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC), which will implement the Pune Metro project, be made a respondent as well, to which the judges agreed. In the EIL, the petitioners had named the PMC, the Maharashtra Government, the Central government, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation and the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board as respondents.
“This is nothing but delaying tactics on the PMC’s part to buy time,” Mr. Yadwadkar told The Hindu. He reiterated the need for the PMC to come up with an alternative route for this segment of the proposed network, while remarking that the objection in the EIL was specifically with regards to the proposed alignment on the riparian zone of the river, which was bound to be harmed if the project was implemented in its current form.
The project, touted as a panacea for Pune’s nightmarish traffic woes, was recently inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 24 amid much political acrimony between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the opposition Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) scrambling to take credit for it.
Many felt the project was hurriedly greenlighted keeping in mind the rapidly approaching Pune civic polls.
“This is an important ruling, which clearly proves that the inauguration of the project was done in a hasty manner with scant regard for environmental concerns,” said advocate Asim Sarode, who is representing the petitioners.
The next hearing has been postponed till January 26.
Earlier, in September last year, a report by the PMC’s Biodiversity Monitoring Committee had corroborated the objections in the EIL against the Pune Metro, stressing that the present alignment on the Mutha riverbed, from the Panchaleshwar temple to Nava Pul, would allegedly “destroy the biodiversity of what remained of the riparian zone (the interface or space between the existing water and the actual riverbank) still untouched by urban incursions.”
It had noted that the removal of trees to make way for the project would severely rupture the natural habitat of birds of at least 18 different species and adversely affect 63 species of exotic flowering plants.
I celebrated New Year by gifting one of my favourite books to one of my favourite nieces Pragati who is visiting us from the US. She is a sensible person and keeps herself abreast of happenings in India and US. I wish this book of India's realities and contradictions by two of the best authors known to me Jean Dreze and Amartya Sen takes her and people of her generation on a tour of the real India and truth about its growth story. All the best!
Happy New Year to you all again! Let's explore the reality more and more in 2017!!