Greenpeace slams Maharashtra for diverting water


MUMBAI, May 31, 2013

The Hindu

Despite the drought in Maharashtra, the State government diverted water to thermal power plants in scarcity regions, said Greenpeace on Thursday. Releasing data on water diversions from dams, Jai Krishna, a Greenpeace campaigner, said that an analysis of water consumption by coal-fired thermal power plants during the worst drought in 40 years has exposed instances of wrong prioritisation.

Four State-owned power plants — Bhusawal in Jalgaon district, Parli in Beed district, Paras in Akola, and one in Nasik with an installed capacity of 3,680 MW — are in drought-affected districts. While the Parli plant has been shut from February 15 this year, the government had approved in December 2012 a provision of 5,000 million litres of water from the Mudgal barrage in Parbhani, which had reported zero storage in December 2012, said Mr. Krishna.

The Bhusawal and Paras thermal plants used 10,350 million litres from January to March 2013.

Two reservoirs in the region, Jayakwadi and Majalgaon, were nearing dead storage levels. While the Bhusawal plant gets water from Hatnur dam, Paras is supplied water from private barrages on the Mun river. Eight talukas in Jalgaon suffer acute water scarcity and even Jalgaon city has no water as two dams are completely dry, Greenpeace said.

In view of acute scarcity of water, the government resolved in January that water from big, small and medium projects would only be used for drinking purposes.

However, the government proposed power plants with a capacity of 13,120 MW in these drought-affected areas and water for them was granted by a high-powered committee. In Vidarbha too, power plants with a capacity of 55,000 MW have been proposed. Greenpeace listed eight plants with a total capacity of 9,440 MW in water-scarce districts. Water supply from dams had been approved for these plants.

Mr. Krishna said that to generate one MW of coal-based power, 4,000 to 5,000 litres of water are needed per hour.

Greenpeace has called for a cumulative water impact assessment in the river basins, halt to diversion of water, and an energy policy which is less water-intensive.

“No wastage”

However, a spokesperson for Mahagenco, the State’s power-producing utility, clarified that water for drinking was the first priority, and all seven of its power plants had their own recycling plants and did not waste water.

In Parli, the situation is such that there cannot be any more water supply from other sources.

He also said power too was essential in the State and the utility could not shut down plants across the board.

 

Political Cartoonist charged with #sedition ready to surrender


Sagnik Chowdhury, Posted: Sep 06, 2012 at 0325 hrs IST

Charged with sedition and insulting national emblems in his cartoons, Aseem Trivedi — a political cartoonist based in Kanpur — claims he will travel to Mumbai and surrender to the police in a couple of days. The Mumbai Police’s cyber wing had blocked Trivedi’s website, http://www.cartoonsagainstcorruption.com, last December, sparking a debate on freedom of expression in India.Cyber Crime police officers in Mumbai, however, said they “did not recall” such a case, as objectionable sites are blocked routinely by them.

Trivedi, 25, is a freelance cartoonist and 2012 recipient of the ‘Courage in Editorial Cartooning Award’ of Virginia-based Cartoonists Rights Network International. He shares the award with Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat who is on Time magazine’s list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World. Controversial cartoons parodying national symbols and emblems were displayed by Trivedi during the anti-corruption protests led by Anna Hazare at the MMRDA grounds in BKC in December 2011, leading to private complaints being filed against him.

In January, a case of sedition was filed against him at the Beed district court. In another case before the Bombay High Court, Trivedi has been charged with insulting India’s national symbols under the State Emblem of India (Prohibition of Improper Use) Act 2005, which attracts a two-year prison sentence and a fine up to Rs 5,000.

According to Trivedi, a Mumbai Police team visited his residence in Kanpur on August 30. “I was not at home, but my parents were taken to the local police station. By the time I reached the police station, the police team had left. It was only after I made calls to the Mumbai Police that I was told about a complaint filed by advocate Rajendra Pratap Yadav. The police did not send me any notice earlier,” Tiwari told Newsline.

One of Trivedi’s cartoons depicts the Parliament building as a toilet, while another shows the Asoka pillar, which has bloodthirsty wolves instead of the four lions and the words Bhrashtamev Jayate in place of Satyameva Jayate. Yet another, titled ‘Gang Rape of Mother India’ features ‘Mother India’ wearing a tri-colour sari, about to be raped by a character labeled ‘Corruption’.

“I am in New Delhi for some work at present. I intend to arrive in Mumbai in the next two days and surrender before the police. I will not seek anticipatory bail. If I am held guilty of sedition in my own country on account of my cartoons, then it’s better not to fight any case at all. We saw what happened at the Jaipur literary festival with regard to Salman Rushdie. In Kolkata, a professor was arrested for merely e-mailing a cartoon that poked fun at the CM. These incidents pose a serious threat to artists,” Trivedi said.

After his website was blocked by the Mumbai Police, Trivedi started ‘Save Your Voice’, a campaign for internet freedom. “On December 27, 2011, I came to know from the domain name registrar that my site had been blocked by the Mumbai Police Crime Branch. Later, I learnt that cases had been filed against me in the Beed district court and the HC. I have not received any notice,” said Trivedi.

A senior Crime Branch officer said, “I can’t recall the details of this case. We receive several complaints and routinely block websites.”

Nand Kishore More, senior inspector, Cyber police station, said, “I am not aware of the case.”

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