#India – Farms robbed of water, farmers livelihood


Thursday, May 30, 2013, 7:49 IST | Agency: DNA
Yogesh Pawar
High-powered committee on water reallocates 1983.43 million cubic metres of water from 51 irrigation projects to coal-fired power plants, finds a study conducted by non-profit organisation Prayas.
A high-powered committee on water seems more interested in diverting water from irrigation to highly water-intensive coal fired power plants. This, despite the stress that this reallocation places on drought-prone regions in the state.
This revelation has been made by an analytical report put out by non-profit organisation, Prayas, on the basis of the minutes of meetings that high-powered committees have held over a decade. Such committees consists of ministers and bureaucrats.
Drying up fields
Terming the committee’s decisions as ‘opaque and undemocratic’, the report states that it had reallocated 1983.43million cubic metres of water from 51 irrigation projects for non-irrigation purposes, thus reducing irrigation potential by 3.23lakh hectares.
Analysis of minutes of meetings shows that of the total water reallocated by the panel, 54% was allotted for domestic purpose while 46% was for industrial purpose. Besides demand for drinking water, industrial water demands are equally responsible for reduction of water for irrigation. This debunks the general belief that industry requires less water and water allocated to it shouldn’t cause much of an adverse impact.
Of the total water allocated for domestic use, 96.94% was routed to municipal corporations in cities like Mumbai, Pune, Nashik and Nagpur. Of the rest, 1.75% went to municipal councils with 0.88% to rural pockets and 0.42% diverted to other schemes like water supply to educational institutions. It is apparent that private companies, including power plants and special economic zones, used the committee’s regime most effectively in availing water reservations.
Of the total water reserved by the committee for industries, a maximum share of 64% is allocated to thermal power plants. Of the 15 power plants which demanded and got water reservation from the panel, 13 are privately owned.
Besides power plants, the panel allowed water to be reserved for Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (19%) and special economic zones (14%).
Dodging the law
The report states that the committee did not consider farmers’ interests and even sidetracked the state watchdog – Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory Authority.
“…this would require adherence to law and the decisions would have to be open, transparent, systematic, and rational with consideration of implications of these decisions on local beneficiaries”, the report mentions.
The report states that involvement of the regulator would make public hearings mandatory, spurring exchanging of ideas on looking at alternative sources of water for industries.
The report notes that thermal power plants, which require cooling, were provided with water-based coolers instead of air-based coolers which would have help scrimp on water.
Here’s how the report explanains this anomaly. “It would not have allowed the functionaries in the committee to make arbitrary decision favouring certain interested parties…
Activists filed two petitions in the high court and the regulatory body, challenging the committee’s decisions to divert water from a couple of irrigation projects for non-irrigation purposes. However, the state government did not await the verdict.
“The illegal decisions were legalised… using a weapon of ordinance… As a result, farmers lost their right to challenge the illegal decisions forever…” says the report. “The water reallocation from irrigation projects to non-irrigation is grabbing of water resources for industries and big cities at the cost of livelihoods of farmers.”
Advantage politics
The report points out how the allocation policy has been captured by dominant political forces emerging from rapid urbanisation and industrialisation. “These forces are capturing the policy space and thereby the vital natural resources like water at the cost of life and livelihoods of the rural farming community. There is an urgent need to close the gaps in the policy framework and evolve strong regulatory mechanisms to create a counter-political force capable of protecting the interests of the disadvantaged sections of the society,” it recommends.

 

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.

 

#India – Report on Lower Suktel Project and People’s Protest


April 21, 2013

By Amitabh Patra

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Lower Suktel:
Suktel is a tributary river of Mahanadi in Odisha, flowing in the districts of Bolangir & Sonepur. The state Govt. has been trying to build a dam named “Lower Suktel Irrigation Project (LSIP)” at G.S. Dunguripali. CWC (Central Water Commission) allotted a sum of Rs. 217.13 Crores at 1994 estimate for the same later revised to Rs. 1042 Crores in 2009. State Govt is said to have spent Rs. 300 Crores for land acquisition, of which more than 60 crores has been mis-appropriated as pointed out in the CAG Report and is under recovery process. The project is said to irrigate about 31000 hectares of land, whereas the FRL will submerge more than 4000 hectares of already existing multi-crop agricultural land, forest, best kendu (tendu) leaf production area, vegetable and paddy production area and self-reliant 30 villages of the drought prone dist.

The supporters of the project – mostly the demand coming from the Bolangir town. It is being told by the affected villages of submergence area that many of the powerful people of the town and outsiders to the region, rich man with money and muscle have purchased huge patches of land and have converted that to make profit from the compensation money. A few powerful and influential political leaders of the region have purchased hundreds of acres of land as “Benaami” (anonymous) downstream keeping in view of the future mineral processing of Iron Ore, Thermal Power Plant, Bauxite, Lead and many other valuable minerals, including gem stones.

The question arises here: an irrigation project, why is it being opposed?

Resisting villagers have given the alternate proposals – that instead of the said 30 meters tall dam, small height multiple barrages be done at multiple stages across the river. That will not submerge the fertile agricultural land, productive forest, won’t uproot people and villages, are less expensive and low maintenance in the long run. That will be more effective for irrigation, keeping drought in control of a much larger region than the big dam, and maintain the bio-diversity. Large dams not only cause big displacement, but they also create water deserts. The biggest example is Hirakud Dam in the state, where the loss incurred to the people and environment is enormous. The huge reservoir is a big water desert of the region.

Possible Falsification of Facts by the Construction Company & Govt.:
In a fact finding journey to five villages, it was found that, the figures presented by the officials are misleading and full with lies. Some of the villages which the survey report states as partial submergence, checking on ground at those villages with GPS device, it was found to be under 8 meters of water during FRL, at the highest point at middle of the village. Also as with experience we have seen in Hirakud that the villages where there was never before submergence, flood of 2011 August, they were washed off, on the upper region of Hirakud Dam due to Back-water. So partial submergence is a myth during the monsoon.

Compensation issue:
People in some villages have been paid up compensation for their land, house, trees etc. The maximum amount that has been paid for per acre of agricultural land is Rs. 55,000/- + Rs. 10,000. With this price, it is almost impossible to purchase equivalent land at elsewhere. The burning example is displaced people of Tikhali Dam near Nuapada/ Khariar. Only a handful of the displaced about 10% have been able to settle at a new place. Remaining 90% people have lost their culture, society, rights to common land, cattle grazing land, forest and other common resources of human civilization. The displaced people are looked upon in an inferior manner at the new place where they go. Some pro-displacement people argue that they should move to nearby towns and live happily; but while saying so, they forget that it is impossible to live up without a neighboring society. As said by the uprooted at gunpoint people of the Tikhali (Lower Indra) dam project – “where ever we go, people kick us out. They say that we are detached flying leaves.” In a recent bizarre incident, the villagers did not even let the dead body of a displaced person being burnt at their mortuary. The dead body had to be brought back to a distance of 13 kilometers for the last rites. Many villagers still have not received any compensation whereas the dam construction is over by 70%. Those who were displaced are preferring to even come back, and rebuild their houses at the old place. Since past 5 years over a hundred school going children have been deprived of their basic right to education

Displacement by large scale water logging causes extinction – of culture, people, species, societies, forests, insects, birds, animals, reptiles, civilizations and brings in destruction, oppression, desertification, diseases, and deaths. Smaller is better, bigger is worse.

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Government of Odisha Status Report on Lower Suktel Irrigation Project[PDF]

#India-Critique of Lok Satta party’s views on #FDI


 

 

Lok Satta is a political party in India founded by Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan It was launched on October 2, 2006 by the Lok Satta Movement. From 1996 to 2006, the Lok Satta Movement fought for administrative and political reforms, including constitutional amendments regarding elimination of defections, reduction in the size of the cabinet, the Right to Information Act (RTI), disclosure of criminal records and assets by all candidates and others

 

English: Portrait photo of Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan

English: Portrait photo of Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

The Champions of Farmers

 

 

 

In recent past, two articles appeared in “Andhra Jyothi” by Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan (or JP as he is known), the chief of Loksatta Party. These were two part articles that talked about two major issues, failure of governments to protect the interests of farmers and the need to bring in access to foreign / export markets for the farmers and also the know how in post-harvest technologies. His as well as his “farmers group” leader Mr. Chengal Reddy’s argument is that farmers are unable to access export markets and are losing out on making big profits as they don’t have the necessary infrastructure – like cold storages, post harvest technologies etc.

 

 

Their view point is that by inviting FDI in retail it shall be a win-win situation for the farmers of India as they will have access to good storage facilities, infrastructure for post harvest technologies, processing industry and finally have greater access to export markets. In one television debate on DD some days ago, Mr. Chengal Reddy says, “Now “we farmers”, have huge stocks lying idle in the godowns, if we get FDI we will have access to cold storages and export markets and we will be able to sell at a better price. Therefore, “we farmers” are inviting FDI. See, you have allowed competition in TV and have so many channels as opposed to DD, and then due to private enterprise we have so many varieties of gadgets, why do you deny the farmer to have access to a variety of traders?”  It is another matter that this spokesperson of “farmers”, has given up on agriculture as a profession a long time ago. When questioned as to why this huge produce lying idle can’t be made affordable / accessible to the millions that die of hunger everyday, which will solve the issue of the farmers and the poor, he had no response.

 

 

And the other champion of farmers Dr. JP somehow never talks about the other issues that are plaguing the farmers of this country. For example, it’s a well known fact that climate change has become the greatest enemy of agriculturists. And one of the major arguments is that there is a need for reduction in energy usage for restoring stability in the environment. And it is precisely for this reason and also for the reason that the pollution and radiation from Thermal power projects adversely impacts agricultural production besides hugely increasing local temperatures that we (NAPM) have been arguing against these projects. However, Dr.JP has critiqued our stand in a public meeting in Naguluppalapadu mandal in Prakasam district, in Aug.2010, where the local people had been campaigning against a thermal power project being set up there. His stand was that setting up a Thermal plant in that area was not good as it was an agriculturally productive area with good irrigation from the Lift Irrigation project that he was instrumental in setting up, when he was a collector. But then, he added that while setting up thermal plants in that area should not be allowed, our opposing thermal plants all over is foolish. And asked that if we oppose Thermal Projects everywhere, then where should one establish these industries? “In the sky?”

 

 

Dr. JP was addressing a public meeting in a constituency where he was an erstwhile collector. But if his concern for farmers is so strong then why is it that he doesn’t speak of the farmers who are losing their agricultural produce due to the pollution of NTPC in Parawada, another project that he was instrumental in establishing? When he is questioned on this, he says that it’s the fault of the NTPC which is not controlling the pollution. But then, as he has claimed to champion the cause of the farmers, why has he not campaigned/ protested on the issues of the pollution that is destroying the lives of people in Parawada? Why has he not taken up the cause of the farmers of Nellore, who are going to suffer total destruction due to the cumulative impact of 35,000 MW of thermal power projects? By his own definition, thermal plants should not be established in fertile agricultural areas. Therefore, these projects should not be set up in Nellore district which too is a rich agricultural, productive zone as also most of the coastal areas, where thermal plants by the dozens are being established.  Why oppose in Prakasam and not talk about it elsewhere? What are the dynamics that are preventing his taking a stand on this issue?  Forget about the pollution, in most places farmers have to fight to save their lands from Land acquisition, for SEZs, mining projects and various other industries. And this is no small number, why has he been silent on this issue?  In fact, his take on SEZs is that farmers lands have to be consolidated in the SEZs and out of the developmental profits, farmers should be given a share! Seems fine to hear, but who will ensure that it is followed inside these “deemed foreign territories” where the Indian Constitution has not teeth? And what if the farmers don’t wish to give away their lands? What about the state repression regarding the various projects and the land acquisition process? Without referring to any of these, he has presented a beautiful, idyllic picture of Indian agricultural conditions, with “large areas of cultivable land, plenty of sun light, and good rainfall” etc, which goes to show that either he is not living in reality or simply trying to brush the truths under a carpet. In the past years what we had was erratic climate, and not good rainfall – it was either less or excess. But if he accepts these, then he has to come into the climate debate and then has to defend his stand on thermal power projects. Of course, he has a solution for climate change which he mentioned in a Kisan Swaraj Yatra meeting held in Hyderabad on 8thNovember 2010: “Indian agriculture contributes hugely to global warming, because the dung of our cattle emits methane. To over come this we have a solution. The gene in the stomach of Kangaroos controls this aspect. That is why the dung of kangaroos doesn’t emit methane. So, if we can use this gene and genetically modify our cattle so that their dung doesn’t emit methane, it would be a win-win situation”. He mentioned this in support of his argument that GM technology is “Oh! so good for us!”

 

 

Dr.J.P’s articles in Andhra Jyothi sound very concerned for the farmers and seem to be providing pragmatic and practical solutions, but look beneath the surface and his idea is to promote FDI in retail and leave the farmers to the mercy of private investors. True, the government mechanisms have failed to deliver to the farmers – a proper system of input supply and robust marketing support. True also that the entire government machinery is rife with corruption, but will this be solved by the entry of foreign / retail players? Are they holier than the government agencies?  Have we not seen in the recent past post liberalization, the kind of corruption that ran into lakhs of crores of rupees which involved major corporate bigwigs in this country? Have we not seen how the US government involved itself in the way the then Petroleum Minister Manishankar Iyer was removed from his ministry? And the way Reliance played its role in the ousting of Jaipal Reddy just a few weeks ago? Are we not seeing how big corporations are arm twisting governments to suit their demands? In this context, assuming that Big Retail chains armed with their colossal money bags who have ruined small traders and small farmers with their predatory practices elsewhere, and who are instrumental in the framing of policies not just in the US but also in other countries, would work in the interest of  small farmers; is either naïve or deliberate. Knowing that Dr.JP is an intelligent person, his solution of bringing in big retail into the country and to remove all protection in trading commodities, seems more like a deliberate act to promote the interests of big corporations rather than a real concern for the farmers.

 

 

In the same vein he champions that farmers elsewhere have benefited from GM seeds, but the farmers in India are being deprived of this benefit, due to unscientific claims by activists. In his third article, he claims that India has benefited hugely by using Bt Seeds. And that pesticide usage has reduced very much and thus protected the environment. (Which itself is not true, because there has been an increase in various other pests which were hitherto dormant, after the use of bt cotton targeted for Bollworm. In many places the bt cotton was not effective even on the Bollworm). He also claims that people have been feeding animals on cotton crops and that they have been using cotton seed oil and their health has been perfect and this has been proven ‘world over”. And he says the way forward is to promote GM technology in India. In his article while he talks about the farmers suicides pre-bt cotton, he doesn’t speak of the continuing suicides of farmers, especially cotton farmers, post Bt Cotton. Has he not seen the reports that it was Bt Cotton that has resulted in the increasing number of farmers suicides? Or the reports of the AP Animal Husbandry Department which has linked the death of animals to grazing on bt cotton fields? Or the fact that farm labourers end up with rashes on their skin and faces when they are working in the Bt Cotton fields? He and his dear friend Mr. Chengal Reddy claim that there have been no adverse effects on people consuming GM food and cotton seed oil (in Indian Context). I had asked this question earlier to Mr. Chengal Reddy and I am asking this question now to JP, “Have they done any epidemiological studies in India, regarding the consumption of GM food?” On what basis are they saying that there have been no harmful effects? There have been studies conducted in many universities abroad, and it has been found that there have been harmful effects on health including damage of internal organs and in a recent study that was done on rats over a span of 2 years, it was found that regular consumption GM food was even causing cancer. Like nuclear radiation the impacts of this technology on health may not happen over night, but it takes time for its effects to show up.

 

 

But whatever may be the facts, people like Dr. JP conveniently overlook these facts. The way he overlooks the fact that while the production of the grains due to green revolution may have increased, but the impacts on the soil and people’s health has been enormous. Also the increase in the cost of inputs, the use of chemicals has consistently increased over a period of time resulting in catastrophic effects on human health. Has he ever heard of the “Cancer Express” that takes cancer patients from the “hub of green revolution” Punjab, to a free cancer hospital in Rajasthan? While talking high about Norman Borlaug’s Green Revolution it would have been good if he considered these facts also. But Dr.JP conveniently keeps these facts out and paints a rosy picture about green revolution the way he now does about GM technology. I want to ask whether he eats GM food daily or does he eat organic food? I want to also suggest him to be on a special diet of GM food for the next two years and if after that he still wants to claim that this is absolutely safe, and then we will look into the matter. But for now, we rather trust the various scientists who have been cautioning people about the harmful effects of GMO’s.

 

 

Talking about the issue of monopoly by seed companies, he says, that we should not say no to this brilliant new technology, just out of fear of monopoly by MNCs. He says we are confusing the two things. But the real reason why the seed companies have brought in GM seeds and GM organisms is to Control the entire “food market and seed market of the world”. He suggests that in order to contain the seed companies, we should put in place control mechanisms that will ensure that farmers are provided seeds at reasonable rates while the “seed producers” get fair remuneration. Citing the example of how Loksatta fought to get the seed prices reduced in 2006, he says we should be doing similar things but not say no to the Technology. It took 3 years for the decision to reduce the prices to come about in 2009. What happened to farmers in these 3 years? Should then the farmers who are victims of these companies continuously run after courts to do this? Or will he (JP) be able to fight the cases of all the farmers in the entire country? For surely farmers don’t have either the time or the means to be running after courts for fair trade practices or compensations. On patents, he says we should amend our law in order to control the monopoly practices of the seed companies. I wish to ask if Dr.JP will he demand for scrapping the Patents on living organisms? Because it is the patents on seeds and living organisms that is encouraging companies like Monsanto to control seed markets. However, he specifies no clarity on this matter.

 

 

He seems to overlook the fact that once the seed is contaminated with a GMO then the farmer has lost his choice to use the seed that he wants to use. Further, he will be forever paying to the company for the use of the seeds, because almost every other seed would be contaminated by the patented gene and thus the companies claim royalties. He also seems to forget that once the biological contamination happens we cannot call it back from the ecosystem. Nor can it be controlled by putting up borders – wind, insects, birds – none of these know the physical borders or the buffer zones! They would go for hundreds of kilometers taking the contaminated pollen, contaminating the fields of unsuspecting farmers, as happened with Bt cotton in India, GM Canola in Canada, GM maize in Mexico to cite a few examples. Dr. JP seems to be unaware of the fact that companies like Monsanto slapped multi million dollar cases against ordinary farmers in North America, claiming that they have used Monsanto’s seeds without the company’s permission; while their only fault was that the pollen from their neighbouring farmers fields’ contaminated their crops due to the wind. Or that there is a big movement across the US demanding for GM Labelling, as it has been proven to cause various diseases.  And consumers now feel cheated and want to know what they are eating.

 

 

Saying that GM technology and Big Retail helps farmers’ interests is the most vulgar lie ever told! In this country, farmers who have been left high and dry at the mercy of fluctuating international prices and who have been made dependent upon the private fertilizer, pesticide and seed companies, are committing suicides in thousands of numbers and the situation will only get even worse with the entry of both Big retail and GM seeds in other crops. The hitherto self-reliant farmer has been turned into a beggar by making him/her dependant on these companies. While in earlier times the demand and supply was based on local demands, now the farmers have to contest with the rapid changes in international markets. The problems started more because of this opening up of markets which has brought in cheap imports. It is thus, the commercial crop farmers like tobacco, cotton and other such crops, who are directly dependent on the “commodity trading international markets”, are the ones who commit suicides. Those who grow food crops meant for the local consumption in their nearby towns and villages are the ones who are in a better situation. Instead of asking for FDI in retail would Dr.JP demand for a ban on futures trading in commodities?

 

 

Farming and small trading / retail have been the largest private enterprise in this country and also the largest employment generating occupations of this country. But these are not seen as such and have no access to the kind of “red carpet” facilities including access to land and credit which an ITC or a Walmart would receive. While farmers have to run around for loan waivers and compensations from pillar to post, big time defaulters like big corporations are given waivers to the tune of hundreds of crores of rupees. Small landless poor have to struggle for decades to get access to some land, and governments don’t have land to give to farmers’ markets, but big retailers like Reliance and Walmart will be given access to land of their choice and given all facilities – even if it means to oust the existing farmers. Why doesn’t Dr. JP talk of this?

 

 

What our farmers need is access to credit, allowing them to use their own wisdom and making them more and more self-reliant. We need not go any further than see the experience of Gujarat where the farmer’s co-operatives own everything from godowns to fertilizer companies (Kribhco). And for a change I saw farmers with as little land as 5 acres being prosperous, because they fight with their collective strength and also have the protection of their collective wisdom. Promoting local procurement for local Public Distribution System managed by community groups was successfully demonstrated in Medak District. Also successful was the Dairy co-operative of Mulkanoor in Karimnagar, run by women’s groups. This protects not only the farmer but also the consumer. However, people like Dr. MMS and Dr. JP will always feel that our people are incapable of solving their own problems. They always feel the need to beg foreigners to lift us out of our misery. And we have seen where this begging and dependency on “foreign wisdom” has led us to. The need of the day is to strengthen the local communities – farmers’ co-operatives and farmers markets where the farmers can sell their produce directly to consumers and it is the real solution to remove middle men. And Big retail is nothing more than that – A big middleman.

 

 

At present, the farmer at least has the choice of either selling in his own village, town or to a wholesaler or retailer. When once these big retail chains come in with their big money, small traders will be wiped out and the farmer will have only one choice – to sell to these hegemonic powers. In many situations too, small farmers sell their produce directly also. Will these people be able to compete with the low prices of big chain stores? Dr. JP and Mr. Chengal Reddy feel that as we need cold storages and infrastructure facilities, we need to bring in big money. But my question is why can’t these infrastructures be built by the government agencies and give the management responsibilities to local communities or at least give them the right to question any kind of mal-functioning? Where is the guarantee that these private owned cold storage and other such infrastructures be easily accessible to farmers? Like the Toll Gates that have now made ordinary travel from one district to another exorbitantly high and like the private health care and private education, wherein, all the public utilities have become exorbitantly out of reach of the common person, these infrastructures too will not be open to farmers unless they pay through their nose or become a part of the contract farming system and live according to the dictates of these companies.

 

 

All this is assuming that these retail chains in true spirit buy the produce from our farmers. In one of its clauses the FDI Decision says the companies are obliged to source only 30% of the produce from local farmers. And that it will be under self-monitoring system. Who will check these guys whether they are purchasing that 30% at least? The corrupt govt. officials who can easily be bribed? And what about the rest of the 70%, that could easily be a way for cheap imports from other countries? In that case what happens to the 70% produce of our farmers here? We have seen what has happened to small industry and weavers across the country, due to cheap imports and products by highly subsidized big industry. Now it’s the turn of the farmers and small traders. As I write this article the decision on FDI has already been made. Only time shall tell us what is in store for us. And how far will Dr.JP ensure that fair practices are enforced in this country!

 

 

But one thing has become clear: it is easier to deal with loud, uncultured, corrupt politicians for we know what they are. The soft spoken, seemingly people-friendly and “intellectual” politicians who hide their true intentions behind the façade of honesty are the real danger, due to their capacity to influence the educated classes’ perceptions by their seemingly authentic arguments. We have already seen what happened to this country for having trusted one such predecessor – Dr. Manmohan Singh (Dr.MMS)!

 

 

Saraswati Kavula

 

National Alliance of People’s Movements

 

06/12/2012

 

 

 

 

Green tribunal asks environment ministry to make info on projects public


PTI | May 27, 2012, 11.23AM IST

NEW DELHI: Stressing on greater transparency, the National Green Tribunal has asked the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to bring in public domain the relevant information regarding ventures in eco- fragile zones.”We also feel there is need to have more transparency in the EIA process and as such, whatever relevant information regarding the projects are used during the time of appraisal of the project from environmental angle by the Environment Appraisal Committee (EAC) and MoEF should also be made available in public domain including the executive summary of specific studies.

“Therefore, we direct the MoEF to make available relevant information other than EIA reportand report of the public hearing considered during the appraisal of the project through its website,” a bench headed by Tribunal’s Acting Chairperson A S Naidu said.

The bench, also comprising G K Pandey as an expert member, passed the directions while suspending the environmental clearance (EC) granted to the proposed 3,600 MW coal-based thermal power plant developed by IL&FS Tamil Nadu Power Company Ltd, at Cuddalore district in Tamil Nadu.

The tribunal also directed MoEF to upload “from time to time the compliance status of various stipulated conditions during the grant of EC to projects so as to bring compliance status in public domain in case of all the projects granted EC under EIA Notification, 2006”.

It said the concerned project proponent must also upload the compliance status of EC conditions, including the executive summary of the specific studies done in respect of the project and update the same periodically.

Immediate Release- Police atrocities on Farmers on Rise in M.P


PRESS STATEMENT

  • Police Atrocities on the Farmers and Nature Based Communities on the Rise in Madhya Pradesh

  • One Killed in Police Firing in Raisen; and 53 Arrested in Anuppur while protesting Land Acquisition

New Delhi, May 8th : Farmers and those dependent on the land and other natural resources are constantly at the receiving end of the police violence these days. Land conflicts are the order of the day and it seems they are here to stay given the corporates hunger for the land, water and forests for commercial exploitation and profit. We strongly oppose and condemn any such forceful acquisition of these scarce resources from people by the government and corporations. NAPM has demanded and continues to struggle for the repeal of the Land Acquisition Act and enactment of a national Development Planning Act. The proposed Bill which is now with the Parliamentary Standing Committee doesn’t address all the concerns raised by us, hope the Committee will take note of the suggestions given by us. India as a nation can only have a healthy growth and development if we look after the interests of the farmers, peasants, landless workers, dalits, divasis and those living on the margins of the society.

Police Firing in Raisen

We strongly condemn the death of Harisingh, 35-year-old former sarpanch, yesterday while a group of farmers blocked traffic in Raisen protesting the suicide by another farmer a day before and shortage of gunny bags. Bhagwan Singh Rajput, a farmer who was not able to sell his wheat for past several days, committed suicide in Barni Jagir village of Raisen on Sunday. It is ironic that while the farmers continue to die the state and central governments rather than providing relief and taking action are blaming each other. Farmers have been agitating since April 16th on this issue but finally it is the death of farmers which has nudged the governments to act. It is extremely unfortunate that the dead body of Mr. Harisingh was not handed over to the relatives after post mortem and police in their presence burnt it on their own. The situation is tense in the villages since police is making arrests and has imposed curfew in the region.

Police Action in Jaithari, Anuppur

In another instance on May 5th, farmers protesting against the forceful land acquisition and demanding higher compensation and jobs for the land acquired for the 1200 MW Moser Baer Thermal Power Plant in Jaithari Tehsil were lathi charged and arrested. Nearly 27 people have received serious injuries and many more are injured. Farmers here have been agitating against the land acquisition for a long time under the banner of Bhartiya Kisan Union. The land was acquired from the farmers at the rate of Rs. 65,000 per acre, whereas, the farmers have been demanding a much higher compensation rate. There have been ongoing negotiations but the company has failed to keep the agreement. Jagdish Singh, Rampal Singh and 16 more have been slapped with serious charges under Section 307 and others, while more than 150 people have been arrested.

Mose Baer is currently developing the first phase of 1200 MW (2X600 MW) for which it has acquired 996 acres of land including 93.6 acre of forest land. In the second phase they intend to add 1320 MW additional capacity. It needs to be noted that Anuppur district has a high tribal population (36.4%) and as per the clearance given they need to seek forest clearance under EPA, settle the rights if any under FRA. The Environmental Clearance was also challenged in the High Court citing irregularities and non-compliance with the PESA provisions since the land is in 5thSchedule. Anuppur is a water stress region but even then a thermal power plant of this magnitude has been sanctioned. The EIA report mentions that the 290 families will be displaced by the project but the status of Resettlement and Rehabilitation is also not known till date.

We believe there is a need to do a thorough review of the project, resettlement and rehabilitation, settlement of rights of the adivasis, if any, and pay adequate compensation to the farmers and others who have lost their livelihood due to the project.

Even as we denounce the heavy handedness and the police action against protesters we demand action and a judicial enquiry in both the instances and adequate compensation to the victims and stop harassing the farmers and unconditionally release all those in jail. It is unfortunate that while MP Government claims to be bringing in prosperity for all but the farmers and nature based communities continue to suffer due to large number of thermal power plants coming in Chhindwara, Singrauli, Jhansi and the dams on the Narmada and other rivers. It is high time that Chief Minster, Shivraj Singh Chauhan listened to the people and not sacrificed their lives for the needs of ‘development’ of the other regions. The attack on farmers and commons, and pursuit of neo-liberal policies will only severely impact the food security of the nation and also is a worrying sign for the shrinking democratic spaces for those protesting these.

 

Medha Patkar, Dr. Sunilam, Prafulla Samantara, Dr. Sandeep Pandey, Gautam Bandopadhyay, Anand Mazgaonkar, Bhupendera Singh Rawat, Rajendra Ravi, Vimal Bhai, Madhuresh Kumar

NAPM – National Alliance of People’s Movements
Tel: 91 11 2437 4535
napmindia@gmail.com | http://www.napm-india.org/

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