Saturday, May 9, 2015

Happy Mother's Day!



Tuesday, April 28, 2015

WIO's Mahanadi River Basin Update - 28th April 2015!

Mahanadi River Basin Update – 28th April 2015
(An occasional update from ‘Mahanadi River Basin Initiative’ of Water Initiatives Odisha and Mahanadi River Waterkeeper)

Theme: Hirakud Dam



The proposed spillways: flood water to factories or flood control in the reality?

People are apprehending submergence of agricultural land and displacement. The government needs to discuss the details with the people first.

The dam woes continue to increase as flood control operations have failed.  Time flood management is done at the entire basin level rather than just the main river flow.

Why World Bank loan for such projects when thousands of crores of water tax and penalties are pending with industries who are drawing water from Hirakud?

Dear Friends/Co-sailors,

We have been hearing from media reports that the government is planning to dig extra spillways to check floods from the Hirakud Dam.  It seems some high level committee comprising of members from the World Bank, the Central Water Commission and the Dam Safety Department has been making surveys; and soon a proposal will be finalized how to construct the spill ways. 

At present there are 98 gates through which flood water is released from Hirakud, supposedly Asia’s largest earthen dam and the biggest structure intercepting Mahanadi waters at the border of Odisha and Chhatisgarh. Of these, 64 are sluice gates and 34 are crest gates. Around 12 lakh cusec water is released from the 98 gates at a time.

This proposal, as can be read from media reports, is to increase the flood water discharge capacity of the dam to one and half times.  Currently, as the authorities inform, the dam’s discharge capacity is 12 lakh cusec of flood water.  This is intended to increase to 18 lakh cusec once the spillways are constructed under a programme called Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project being implemented with World Bank loan.

However, we have our doubts about this process because of the secrecy that is being maintained on the survey and the proposal.  Based on media reports, farmers and other common people have already started apprehending submergence of agricultural land and displacement by the project.   We are therefore urging upon the government to immediately make the process transparent so that apprehensions of submergence of agricultural lands and displacement of people - if any - comes to be discussed in the open.  Hirakud dam, which was constructed in the 50s, is yet to resettle thousands of people it displaced.  There are horrifying stories of devastation the Dam has exposed the locals to.  Any further displacement and submergence will definitely invite a lot of ire from the locals.  The government must therefore be transparent in this process.

In fact, the proposal of spillways also brings to discussion two aspects in which the government always kept giving false impressions.  First, despite repeated failure of the dam in managing floods, it kept boasting of success.  Second that the dam is safe.  Even the Odisha government had said to the honourable High Court that there has not been any lacuna in flood management.  Now, when they are proposing extra spillways construction to manage floods because the dam has failed exposes the government’s lie in these regards.
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The dam has utterly failed in controlling flood in the river Mahanadi and the very design of the dam is responsible for that.  In fact, a dam that was originally built to check floods in coastal Odisha is now causing floods in western Odisha as well.  Sambalpur floods, controlling which is being proposed as one of the main objectives of this spillways construction, is actually a creation of the Hirakud Dam.  We are now experiencing regular floods in Sambalpur for mismanagement of the dam.

Ever since industries were allocated, in a non-transparent manner, water from the reservoir the flood management capacity of the dam has been further failed by the authorities. Now, we are not sure what kind of a proposal they are going to come up with. However, looking at the ground realities and the ways things have gone so far with management of the Hirakud dam, we apprehend these spillways are just an attempt to divert some amount of flood waters so as to fill water needs of the industrial houses that have not been harvesting rainwater despite of government instructions.

It is high time the government made the process open to the public of the area especially because 80 per cent of the cost of this construction would be met with credits/loans from the World Bank. We the people of the state have to repay these loans and hence we should have a say in the planning itself.  We would also like to ask the government as to why it is going for loans from World Bank for water projects while it has failed to recover thousands of crores worth water tax and penalties from industries?.  Better recover the amounts due with the industries and plan flood management and other water projects with that.

Large dams are now outdated concepts and invite several woes and disasters.  The government should therefore refrain from investing further in Hirakud dam, which is already ageing and whose storage capacity is reduced by more than one third.  In fact, the government should now invest in checking flood waters at feeder basin levels and not at the main river.  Management of flood waters in an ecological approach at the entire basin is need of the hour.  It is also vital to free water bodies, river beds and flood plains from all sorts of encroachment.  Forest conservation and restriction of mining zones in the catchment areas are further needed if we are serious about flood management.

For the safety of the dam and safety of the people downstream the government should now look at decommissioning it in a way that protects the irrigation and power supply.  Any investment made in redesigning the dam for this should be more beneficial, we are sure.


For further information please contact:

Ranjan Panda

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

Mobile: +919437050103
Email: ranjanpanda@gmail.comranjanpanda@yahoo.com

Skype: ranjan.climatecrusader

Tweet @ranjanpanda
Tweet @MahanadiRiver

Blog: http://www.climatecrusaders.blogspot.com/

Please join with us in saving Mahanadi, India's 6th largest River...


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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.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Mahanadi River Basin Update - 12th April 2015

WIO’s Mahanadi River Basin Update – 12th April 2015

Theme: Healthy Mahanadi, Happy Cities

Open Defecation too huge a pollution load for Mahanadi at Sonepur:



Open defecation ratio almost 1000 per kilometre of the river bank stretch in the city!

A jaundice epidemic may not be far from being reality!!

Dear Friends/Co-sailors,

As part of its ‘Mahanadi River Basin Initiative’, the WIO along with Mahanadi River Waterkeeper, RARE, Nature for All, Mahanadi Sahitya Sansad and The Ayauskam, organised a day long consultation with media and concerned citizens at Sonepur today. 

Speaking at the occasion Mahanadi River Waterkeeper Ranjan Panda said that the consultation was aimed at sharing findings of a citizen’s survey of Mahanadi pollution at Sonepur and seeking cooperation of the participants in furthering the state wide campaign “Healthy Mahanadi, Happy Cities” that aims at linking urban people to the river so that they can love, respect and protect the Mother River of Odisha.

 This voluntary state wide campaign was launched at Sambalpur on 29th June 2013 and we are trying to cover all cities of the basin.

Sonepur is a very small city but is based at a very important position on the banks of the River Mahanadi.  Our citizen’s survey found out that at least 5000 people - that is near to 25 per cent of the entire city’s population - defecates on the banks of the river.  This makes the open defecation ratio almost 1000 people per kilometre in the bank of river here.  This is too huge considering the small size of the city. (Ranjan Panda)

The city generates at least 17, 50,000 litres of waste water on a daily basis.  This added with about 11.50 metric tonne of solid waste ultimately find their way to the river and pollute that heavily.  Sonepur still has the opportunity to correct these problems and create a good example in talking River Pollution. (Ranjan Panda)


Sonepur has about about 18 bathing ghats in which more than 5000 people bathe daily.  The drains discharge heavily polluted water into theghats exposing the people to severe health hazards.  The garbage and solid waste management of the city is also disastrous and besides polluting the ponds of the city, they are also polluting the river heavily. (Shyama Om Prasad Mishra, Nature for All)

Noted environmentalist Prof. Arttabandhu Mishra spoke about the dying fate of river Mahanadi as a whole and urged upon the Sonepur city dwellers to start a concerted drive without further delay to save it.  “Mahanadi’s capacity to dilute pollution has been chocked by Hirakud dam.  The basin needs efforts to rejuvenate the feeding nullahs and rivulets and all the surface water bodies.  The polluting industries need also be checked from discharging their pollutants into the River.” (Prof. Mishra)

Senior social worker of Sonepur Shri Hara Prasad Ratha presided over the consultation and asked all the journalists and other citizens of the city to join hands in this historic opportunity to save Mahanadi. 

Mr. Ambuj Bihari Satapathy of RARE welcomed the participants and Mr. Benudhar Pradhan of Mahanadi Sahitya Sansad gave away the vote of thanks.

The programme ended with a resolution to take a number of local actions to save Mahanadi from pollution at Sonepur.  A local coordination committee was formed which will work with the Mahanadi River Waterkeeper on these campaigns. 

For further information please contact:

Ranjan Panda

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

Mobile: +919437050103
Email: ranjanpanda@gmail.comranjanpanda@yahoo.com

Skype: ranjan.climatecrusader

Tweet @ranjanpanda
Tweet @MahanadiRiver

Blog: http://www.climatecrusaders.blogspot.com/

Please join with us in saving Mahanadi, India's 6th largest River...



=============
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.


Friday, March 20, 2015

WIO to join World Water Day function at Angul: I shall speak on water crises of industrial towns!


Dear Friends/Co-sailors,

Greetings from Water Initiatives Odisha (WIO)!

For a network like ours that is at forefront of water action, research and advocacy in the state, each day is a Water Day.  However, we try to engage ourselves in some meaningful activity on the World Water Day(WWD) designated by the UN, i.e. 22nd March 2015.  

Last year, we celebrated the day with the fisher folk communities on the banks of River Mahanadi where hundreds of fisher folks took pledge to be part in WIO's 'Mahanadi River Basin Initiative' to save India's 6th largest river from further decay.

We thank you for your support during the last year's programmes and throughout our 25 years of journey in becoming the voice of water in the state.

This year, we have decided to join the WWD function organized by groups of Angul as they have invited me to speak about water crises faced by industrial towns such as this.  I am informed the Member of Parliament will also join the function among others.  

We look forward to a meaningful programme and to strengthen our network and campaigns further.

Thanks and regards
Truly


Ranjan



-- 
Ranjan K Panda

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

Mobile: +919437050103
Email: ranjanpanda@gmail.comranjanpanda@yahoo.com

Skype: ranjan.climatecrusader

Tweet @ranjanpanda
Tweet @MahanadiRiver


==============
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 25 years now.


Thursday, March 19, 2015

My Latest Article on Sendai Framework published in Down To Earth!

Sendai framework on disaster risk reduction disappoints

Author: RANJAN K PANDA
Posted on: 19 Mar, 2015

Goals are without specific time plan and targets
On the midnight of March 18, representatives from 187 UN member states adopted the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 with seven targets and four priorities for action. After the marathon negotiations that preceded the convention,one would have expected a clear cut action plan and commitments from developed nations.  So far, it is understood, only Japan made some funding commitment for this proposal as the five-day-long conference wrapped up.
imageIn 2013 cyclone Phailin ravaged over 300,000 houses in coastal Odisha in India's east coast, which is listed by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change among regions of maximum vulnerability
Earlier proposals for percentage goals were rejected, so the current set looks like vague targets.  The current framework for 15 years replaces the 10 year long Hyogo Framework for Action. The Sendai Framework aims to lower the global mortality rate from disasters between 2020 and 2030, compared with 2005 to 2015, and reduce the proportion of people affected.
Disasters and the related devastations have increased in the last decade despite of the existence of the Hyogo Framework, the current Framework recognises.  During 2005-2015 alone, over 700,000 people lost their lives. More than 1.4 million people were injured and approximately 23 million became homeless due to disasters. 
The world’s worry about disasters, more so due to climate change, has aggravated manifold as more than 1.5 billion people were affected by disasters in various ways during the last decade. Women, children and people in vulnerable situations were disproportionately affected. The total economic loss was more than $1.3 trillion. In addition, between 2008 and 2012, 144 million people were displaced by disasters.
Disasters induced by climate change have in fact increased in frequency and intensity.  While there are more noises around large-scale disasters among planners globally, the conference rightly points out that recurring small-scale disasters and slow-onset disasters particularly affect communities, households and small- and medium-sized enterprises.  In fact, these sections of people face a high percentage of losses. 
While all countries face mortality and economic losses from disasters, in the case of developing countries these are disproportionately higher.  In fact, poor countries face increased levels of possible hidden costs and challenges to meet financial and other obligations.  And, as we know, they are the least prepared to handle the challenges.  Take for example India that faces huge losses due to climate change-induced disasters, so much so that the expenses on adaptation increased from 2.6 per cent in 2012 to 6 per cent of the country’s GDP in 2014. And the country is even not able to assess the real (covering all areas and all intensities) losses and damages due to climate change properly. 
Just take the water crisis faced by the nation, most of which is due to climate change—global and local (growth induced)—and you would realise the vastness of the problem that the country faces now. Eight of the 10 warmest years in the country’s history fell in the last decade; and almost 54 per cent of the country’s geographical areas face high to extremely high water stress.  Things are getting worse and we have not been able to cope with such disastrous situations.
The Sendai Framework recognises that the goals of sustainable development are being outsmarted by the gaps in progress and achievement agenda such as the Millennium Development Goals and have tried to give a perspective to overcome all these so as to contribute meaningfully and substantially to the new era December climate negotiations in Paris, however, the broadness of the goals without specific time plan and targets disappoint us. 
It recognizes the need to develop an action-oriented framework that Governments and relevant stakeholders can implement in a supportive and complementary manner that can help to identify disaster risks to be managed and guides investment to improve resilience.  It also recognizes some vital factors that are contributing to the disasters and rightly mentions about the role of unsustainable urbanisation. 
However, it completely fails to discuss the way we produce our energy and the impacts there from. Fossil fuel, especially coal, continues to be the major source of our energy.  The GDP growth oriented economy, that most of the climate change vulnerable countries such as India are following in fact not only contribute to global greenhouse gas emissions and disasters but also increase lot of local woes that club the impacts and devastate the poor the most. 
The commitments for the Sendai Framework are voluntary but unless the signing countries adhere to green growth models, most of the goals would remain to be addressed in the same light even after 15 years.  A new framework may then be developed but the gaps in implementation and disasters would have grown.
Ranjan Panda is convenor of Combat Climate Change Network, India

Source: http://www.downtoearth.org.in/content/sendai-framework-disaster-risk-reduction-disappoints