Fishermenâ€™s catch will go down drastically: ZSI Director
Nearly 2000 trees, many of them more than 100 years old were chopped down for widening the road connecting Dharwad and Hubbali. As per the Environmental Clearance given by Ministry of Environment and Forest, Govt. of India, about 4000 Trees are to be planted along the new widened highway. However, the project proponent, DULT / KRDCL and the Forest Department are pointing fingers at each other and haven’t yet made the plan for the avenue plantation.
The trees that were cut included banyan, mango, neem, pipal and tamarind, many of them more than 100 years old, were destroyed for widening the road to 4-lanes. The girth (diameter) of many of the trees KILLED was as big as 5 metres and has affected the ecology of the region adversely.
Neither DULT / KRDCL nor the Forest Department have any plan for the Avenue plantation along the highway, although the project is due for completion by Apr. 2013.
We appeal to Shri Indu B. Srivastava (Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Karnataka) and Ms. Manjula (Commissioner, DULT) and concerned to take immediate steps to implement the Avenue Plantation (as per the Environmental Clearance).
For more information visit – http://rastr.in/M4KTrees.html or call me at 9916135836
Shri Indu B. Srivastava,, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (HOFF), Karnatak
Deputy Conservator of Forest, Dharwad, Deputy Conservator of Forest, Dharwad
Shri Srinivas, Managing Director, KRDCL
Shri Mahesh Shirur, Conservator of Forest, Dharwad Circle
Ms. Manjula, Commissioner, Dept. of Urban Land Transport, UDD, Govt. of Karnatak
Managing Director, Managing Director, Hubballi-Dharwad BRTS Company
Shri Siddaramaiah, H’ble Chief Minister of Karnatak
At the outset, we congratulate you for assuming highest office in the Government as Honorable Chief Minister of the State. We are sure to have a person in highest office to redress the problems of Hubballi Dharwad twin cities.
This Memorandum of appeal is from the Citizens of Hubballi Dharwad to protect millions of lives. We are sure, you being one of the prominent citizens of Hubballi Dharwad would appreciate our efforts in conserving the age-old beauty of Hubballi Dharwad. Hence we are drawing your honorable attention to the irresponsible acts of Karnataka Road Development Corporation Limited (KRDCL) and the Forest Department.
As you know well KRDCL is in the process of development of State Highway 73 from Dharwad to Hubballi for the last 2 years albeit at snail’s pace. The old road covering almost 20 Km was having ancient native trees like banyan, tamarind, guava, mango, chikku, pipal, etc. along side in full stretch. You may appreciate that with a view to develop this road the trees, many of whose girth (diameter) was more than 5 metres were cut for the purpose of widening the road.
As you regularly travel Dharwad Hubballi you must have observed that the age old trees have been cut along side the Hubballi – Dharwad State Highway 73, which created substantial environmental imbalance. The prime damages are as under.
Decrease / Loss of Oxygen generation.
Loss of Shelter / Habitat to Species of various Birds, Reptiles and Insects.
Substantial climatic change.
Moreover, we would like to bring to your kind attention that the Environmental Experts including Mr. Suresh Heblikar (Eco Watch) had pointed that this act of rampant cutting of the trees along the highway between Hubballi Dharwad will effect the sensitive environment of this region resulting in adverse impact to Soil, Climate and the Rainfall. In addition ground water resources also would be affected.
It will affect the Bio –Diversity of the region, thereby affecting the Agricultural and Horticultural crops too.
The temperature will soar adding to the electricity bills.
Hubballi-Dharwad is experiencing the shortage of water invariably. The loss of tree cover will further worsen the situation by critically disturbing the hydrological pattern and groundwater especially.
For a lot of agricultural families, people who sell mangoes and guavas and fodder and also shepherds, these trees were the shelter. Also the migratory birds, aquatic birds took shelter on these trees. The bird population will also dwindle affecting pollination and the local biodiversity
In fact lot of these trees would have been saved and still the road could have been widened. All said and done the precious environment has already been affected thus resulting in future economic fall out.
In view of this, the time has come to save the remaining ecosystem by planting new trees. In our opinion minimum 20,000 trees are required to be planted in compensation of the trees cut.
As per records with the citizens of Hubballi – Dharwad the responsibility of compensatory avenue plantation at the rate of one tree on either side per 10 meter road length is that of KRDCL. However KRDCL has neither initiated afforestation work nor appears to be interested in doing so at the earliest in the first instance. No land is available or identified along the highway for the purpose. The ball is rolling between Deputy Conservator of Forest (DCF), Dharwad and DULT/KRDCL as to who is responsible for plantation of trees. However, it is clear that it is the responsibility of DULT/KRDCL to comply with conditions of Environmental Clearance for the project accorded by SEIAA, Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India. It has to work with the Forest Department for the purpose and the Forest Department, being the custodian of the floral/green wealth of the state, has to support this effort.
Ecology is of prime importance in today’s times. The State Government is time and again making hue and cry over the drought and systematically neglecting environmental imbalances are being done by the Government Departments. It is our sincere request that the Government at your highest level intervene in the matter to ask DULT/KRDCL or the Forest Department as the case may be to own their responsibility to plant the requisite trees along the highway against the green wealth it has destroyed. The Forest Department must be directed to reconsider its permission to allow DULT/KRDCL cut these trees without any condition of real compensatory afforestation and ask DULT/KRDCL to grow 10 times the number of trees cut for the project.
Sir, we will be obliged if you direct KRDCL
TO PUBLISH A PLAN TO PLANT AND PROTECT TREES WITH TIME FRAME
It would be appropriate if a Team of observers is formed with representatives from local environmental Groups and Civil Society to monitor the work of plantation and protecting trees by KRDCL or the Forest Department. This is important and essential since KRDCL or the Forest Department have so far not acted upon the responsibility to be discharged and moreover the plantation of trees should be in accordance with the ecological system. The tress to be planted must be native to the region and are specifically Banyan, Tamrind, pipal, mango, guava and so on, which can last for centuries and help conserve ecology.
We, the citizens of Hubballi Dharwad are sure that our efforts would fructify in your tenure as Honorable Chief Minister of the state and you would be saviour of environment of your native region.
The opinion of people is getting momentum against the lethargy of the Government Departments and lackadaisical attitude of KRDCL in the entire ecological issue thus making this case fit for Public Interest Litigation to bring in the judiciary to intervene. This would unnecessarily lead to the adverse opinion of the localities against the present day government and its leadership.
All said and done, it is our humble request to remedy the situation at the earliest to save the millions of lives of Hubballi Dharwad and surrounding towns and villages.
The Citizens of as undersigned
Memorandum submitted to in-charge Collector
An open letter from Madhav Gadgil says Kasturirangan panel report will rob the region of its biodiversity
Dear Dr. K. Kasturirangan,
J.B.S. Haldane, the celebrated 19th-century scientist and humanist who quit England protesting its imperialistic invasion of Suez to become an Indian citizen, once said: “Reality is not only stranger than we suppose, but stranger than we CAN suppose!” I could never have imagined that you would be party to a report such as that of the High Level Working Group on Western Ghats, but, then, reality is indeed stranger than we can suppose!
In our report to the Ministry of Environment & Forests, based on extensive discussions and field visits, we had advocated a graded approach with a major role for grassroots-level inputs for safeguarding the ecologically sensitive Western Ghats. You have rejected this framework and in its place, you advocate a partitioning amongst roughly one-third of what you term natural landscapes, to be safeguarded by guns and guards, and two-third of so-called cultural landscapes to be thrown open to development, such as what has spawned the Rs.35,000-crore illegal mining scam of Goa.
This is like trying to maintain oases of diversity in a desert of ecological devastation. Ecology teaches us that such fragmentation would lead, sooner rather than later, to the desert overwhelming the oases. It is vital to think of maintenance of habitat continuity, and of an ecologically and socially friendly matrix to ensure long-term conservation of biodiversity-rich areas, and this is what we had proposed.
Moreover, freshwater biodiversity is far more threatened than forest biodiversity and lies largely in what you term cultural landscapes. Freshwater biodiversity is also vital to livelihoods and nutrition of large sections of our people.
That is why we had provided a detailed case study of the Lote Chemical Industry complex in Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra, where pollution, exceeding all legal limits, has devastated fisheries so that 20,000 people have been rendered jobless, while only 11,000 have obtained industrial employment. Yet, the government wants to set up further polluting industries in the same area, and has therefore deliberately suppressed its own Zonal Atlas for Siting of Industries.
Your report shockingly dismisses our constitutionally-guaranteed democratic devolution of decision-making powers, remarking that local communities can have no role in economic decisions. Not surprisingly, your report completely glosses over the fact, reported by us, that while the government takes absolutely no action against the illegal pollution of Lote, it had invoked police powers to suppress perfectly legitimate and peaceful protests against pollution on as many as 180 out of 600 days in 2007-09.
India’s cultural landscape harbours many valuable elements of biodiversity. Fully 75 per cent of the population of lion-tailed macaque, a monkey species confined to the Western Ghats, thrives in the cultural landscape of tea gardens. I live in the city of Pune and scattered in my locality are a large number of banyan, peepal and gular trees; trees that belong to genus Ficus, celebrated in modern ecology as a keystone resource that sustains a wide variety of other species. Through the night I hear peacocks calling, and when I get up and go to the terrace I see them dancing.
It is our people, rooted in India’s strong cultural traditions of respect for nature, who have venerated and protected the sacred groves, the Ficus trees, the monkeys and the peafowl.
Apparently, all this is to be snuffed out. It reminds me of Francis Buchanan, an avowed agent of British imperialism, who wrote in 1801 that India’s sacred groves were merely a contrivance to prevent the East India Company from claiming its rightful property.
It would appear that we are now more British than the British and are asserting that a nature-friendly approach in the cultural landscape is merely a contrivance to prevent the rich and powerful of the country and of the globalised world from taking over all lands and waters to exploit and pollute as they wish while pursuing lawless, jobless economic growth. It is astonishing that your report strongly endorses such an approach. Reality is indeed stranger than we can suppose!
– Madhav Gadgil, Chairman, Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel
India Water Week 2013: Another evidence of MoWR working like a big dam lobby?
It is well known that India’s water resources ministry in India and its offices like the CWC and NWDA work more like a big dam lobbies, now increasingly working for the private sector business organisations, rather than the communities that they are supposed to serve. If an additional proof was needed, it has become available in the form, content, inclusion and exclusion of the concerned groups in its India Water Week being organised at Vigyan Bhawan in Delhi during April 8-12, 2013.
Ministry of Water Resources, Govt of India, along with organisations likes Central Water Commission, Central Ground Water Board, National Water Development Agency, some related ministries of Govt of India are collectively organising India Water Week during April 8-12. Sponsors of the week long show include some state dam and irrigation organisations to private sector business organisations like L&T and Jain Irrigation and also hydro power company from neighbouring country like the Punatsanchu Hydropower Authority of Bhutan. The theme of this year’s event is: “Efficient Water Management: Challenges and Opportunities”.
The official website (http://www.indiawaterweek.in/) says about the event, “Ministry of Water Resources, Government of India have established a key annual policy and technology showcase event… The event is targeted at International and National audience comprising of policy planners and technologists involved with water resources management in all key sectors of economy”.
Further elaborate statement (http://www.indiawaterweek.in/html/aboutus.html) says something different, “the Ministry of Water Resources, Government of India have made a comprehensive plan for creating a unique platform for deliberating the issues involving all stakeholders including decision makers, politicians, researchers and entrepreneurs of water resources not only from Indian arena but also from International avenues”. So all stakeholders involved in India water sector are supposed to be participating in this. However, we see no sign of any scope for the most important stakeholders: farmers, women, tribals, fisherfolk or even critical voices from civil society. The organiser claims to have made efforts “for effective civil society involvement too in the consultative processes of India Water Week 2013”. We have not noticed any, but that must be our fault.
The registration fee: Who can afford? The fee is nominal: only Rs 8000/- per participant. Needless to add, the stakeholders have to make their own travelling and staying arrangements, not included in this registration fees. 99% of Indians cannot afford such fees, but we guess its not for them. The trouble, however, is that this is happening at public expense by the government of India agencies, in the name of people of India, most of whom cannot even participate it it.
The programme page of the official site (http://www.indiawaterweek.in/html/programme.html) opens with a telling statement: “Keeping in view the priorities of the Government of India towards making optimal usage of all the available water resources”. So, very interestingly, whatever the organisers are doing, is not only on behalf of water resources ministry and its subordinate offices, but the entire Government of India.
Commodification of Water That the event organisers equate water resources with water is apparent when they say: “the water resources are a single entity, which are shared by all the above sectors out of a common pool of utilizable water”. They simple do not seem to understand that water is an ecological good, embedded in the ecological entities and when water is taken out, it has consequences.
Enlightening definition of wide consultations What the Ministry understands by wide consultations is abundantly clarified by them. The Programme page says: “The theme for the event has been decided after wide consultations amongst the national and international level stakeholders and workers in the field. You can view the deliberations here.” When you click to view the deliberations, it takes you to: http://www.indiawaterweek.in/pdf/programme1.pdf. This page contains minutes of the meeting held on April 30, 2012, chaired by the Central Water Commission Chairman. It actually includes the list of 15 participants, and no prize of guessing that all, each one of them happen to be government officers! It is thus quite enlightening to know what is the meaning of wide consultations. Obviously those mortals who are not government officials have no place in the consultations.
National Water Policy It is learnt from the statements of the Union Water Resources Minister Harish Rawat that he will launch the new National Water Policy from the inaugural function on April 8, 2013. Here it should be noted that people of India have yet to see the final version of the new NWP, but those who pay the registration fees, will be first to see it! More importantly, it may be recalled that majority of the states that participated in the National Water Resources Council meeting held on Dec 29, 2012 opposed the policy. If one were to go by the latest draft available on MWR website (see: http://mowr.gov.in/writereaddata/linkimages/DraftNWP2012_English9353289094.pdf), the new policy is likely to advocate treated water as an “economic good”, encourage private sector to be service provider in public private participation mode and largely support business as usual practices rather than learn any lessons from past experiences. For more detailed comments on the new NWP draft, see: http://sandrp.in/wtrsect/Letter_to_NWRC_on_New_National_Water_Policy_Dec2012.pdf.
Buyer Seller meet for Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project There is an interesting session in the event with above sub title. DRIP is a World Bank funded programme managed by CWC for rehabilitation of some 243 dams that are more than 50 years old. The official programme website says, the objective of the event is to facilitate state dam agencies to get “exposure to state of the art technologies and solutions”. Its bit of a mystery what is going to be bought and sold, since even contours of the DRP programme are not in public domain. We hope, it is not about buying and selling of the old dams, as seems to be the case from the title of the session.
Hydropower A quick look at the detailed programme (see: http://www.indiawaterweek.in/html/event_plan.html) shows that the event will have four sessions on hydropower: 1. Water Availability and issues in development of hydro / thermal power 2. Hydro Power Green Power 3. Hydro Power Generation – Impact on Environment 4. Accelerated Development of Hydropower. The formulation, description and available names of moderators of these sessions clearly show how the MWR is acting like a big dam lobby.
For example, the page on first session (see: http://www.indiawaterweek.in/pdf/IWW-2013-IB2_30.pdf) does not talk about water availability issues at all, but about the huge untapped hydropower potential, like any lobbyist would do. The moderator is Mr A B Pandya, who is known to be proponent of big dams.
For the second session on Hydro Power Green Power (see: http://www.indiawaterweek.in/pdf/IWW-2013-IB2_49.pdf) the very title says that it is going to play the usual pro hydro jingle. Not surprisingly, the moderator is Mr Dasho Chhewang Rinzin from Bhutan’s Druk Green Power Corporation Limited. The session description includes, “Environmental Impacts of Hydro Projects need to assessed in proper keeping in view all aspects”. While former environment minister Jairam Ramesh, Assam Power Minister and many others are on record to have said that almost all EIAs in India are mostly dis-honest, cut and past jobs, to expect Managing Director of Bhutan corporation to moderate such a session is clearly inappropriate decision. It is open secret that Bhutan, in spite of its slogan of Gross Happiness Index, gives scant regard for social or environment issues of hydropower projects. Only where you can do that, can you get away with calling Hydro Power as Green Power.
For the Third Session on Accelerated Development of Hydro Power, (see: http://www.indiawaterweek.in/pdf/IWW-2013-IB2_42.pdf), the session is, to be moderated by the Chairman of Central Electricity Authority, which has been sanctioning every hydropower project that comes its way, without even fulfilling its duty under Section 8(2) of India Electricity Act 2003, which asks CEA to evaluate the impact of the projects on basin wide context.
For the fourth session on Impact of Hydro Power on Environment (see: http://www.indiawaterweek.in/pdf/IWW-2013-IB2_15.pdf), the description actually talks only about positive impacts of hydropower on environment! Even about negative impacts, it says, “These impacts, however, may not necessarily be characterised as negative impacts”. The description actually shows how ostrich like the organisers are: “there is no universally accepted methodology for monitoring the downstream, reservoir or upstream ecological responses of the river systems”. They would not even like to acknowledge the existence of the report of the World Commission on Dams.
Session on Environment Flows It is indeed welcome to see the session titled: “Case for setting aside gains for environment flow”, though the title should be talking about gains from and not for environment flows. More worryingly, the organisers could not find anyone more credible than former Power Sector Shri Anil Razdan to moderate this session. Mr Razdan clearly has no environmental credentials and is rather known for his advocacy for more hydropower projects. This shows how insincere the organisers are on such vital issues.
There is only one more session on “Water Management and Sustainable Ecosystem” where there is likely to be some discussion on Ecosystem (see: http://www.indiawaterweek.in/pdf/IWW-2013-IB2_28.pdf). The session is to be moderated by Ms Sui Coates, Chief, WSH UNICEF. Good to see some representative of fairer gender at last. We hope UNICEF will in future speak up when dams destroy rivers, forests, biodiversity and livelihoods in future, which they have not done in the past, even though they are active in India.
In Conclusion: No-Water-weeks in India’s Drought Prone areas Even as the mandarins of water resource establishment host this multi crore water week, very large parts of India, including parts of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala are facing drought and crores are people are suffering no-water-week, week after week. The organisers of India Water Week have clearly scant regard for these crores of unfortunate people. They may in fact join in chorus with Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar (see: http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/ajit-pawar-apologises-for-shocking-remark-if-no-water-in-dam-do-we-urinate-in-it-351163) in mocking at these people. It would however be useful to remind them that Maharashtra is the state of India that has the highest number of big dams, more than a third of India’s big dams are in that state, and yet that state is claimed to be suffering drought worse than the 1972 drought, when the rainfall is much higher than the 1972 drought in most drought affected districts (for details see: http://sandrp.wordpress.com/2013/03/30/how-is-2012-13-maharashtra-drought-worse-than-the-one-in-1972/) and when the states has built close to thousand big dams in these 40 years. Big dams are not going to be solutions of India’s Water Future, they are actually going to create more problems and we need to find real solutions, beginning with some honest review of past experiences, which is what such event should start from. But the organisers of India Water Week seem in no mood for any such exercise.
Himanshu Thakkar (email@example.com, 09968242798)
South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers & People, Delhi (www.sandrp.in)
Manoj Mishra (firstname.lastname@example.org, 09910153601)
Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan, Delhi (http://www.peaceinst.org/)
Dr Latha Anantha (email@example.com)
River Research Centre, Thrissur, Kerala
Parineeta Dandekar (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Shripad Dharmadhikary (email@example.com)
Manthan Adhyayan Kendra, Pune
Once considered a hot spot for fishing, the coast of Mundra in Gujarat is reporting dwindling fish catch. Reason: increasing sea temperature and sea water contamination, caused by the economic activities, mainly power projects being developed in the area.