Sunday, January 29, 2017

Scary Water Withdrawal Rates that may doom us!

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!

Ranjan Panda
Convenor, Water Initiatives Odisha (WIO)
Convenor, Combat Climate Change Network, India

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Friday, January 13, 2017

As Hirakud Dam turns 60!

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)

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

India's double first in climate battle: Roger Harrabin, BBC

India's double first in climate battle

  • 41 minutes ago
  • From the sectionBusiness
A zero-emissions plant to make soda ash
Image captionThe Tuticorin zero-emissions plant to make soda ash
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.
How CO2 is turned into baking soda - inforgraphic
Here's how it works:
  1. The plant operates a coal-fired boiler to make steam for its chemical operations.
  2. CO2 emissions from the boiler's chimney are stripped out by a fine mist of a new patented chemical.
  3. 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.

Zero emissions

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.
Image captionThe plant is projected to save 60,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions a year
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."

Solar farm

Meanwhile, the nearby giant Kamuthi solar plant offers a marker for India's ambition for a rapid expansion in renewables.
The world's largest solar farm
Image captionThe world's largest solar farm at Kamuthi in southern India
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.
The Kamuthi solar farm
Image captionWill India stick to its renewables promises with Donald Trump as US president?
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.
Roger Harrabin presents Climate Change: The Trump Card on BBC Radio 4 at 20:00 GMT on Tuesday, 3 January.
Follow him on Twitter @rharrabin

NGT does the right thing to stay metro rain work on riverbed in Pune!

Well done NGT! In fact, no such 'development' projects be allowed on river beds and even on flood plains.

Time the govt. of India as well as state government wake up to the sorry plight of our rivers and their flood plains!

Ranjan Panda
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NGT stays metro rail work on riverbed in Pune

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.


Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year 2017! I celebrated by gifting a book. You?

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!!

My New Year Message: 

In 2017, let's conserve more water together!