Saturday, January 13, 2018

Hirakud Dam completes 61 years of existence, dying faster than thought!


Today, Asia’s longest earthen dam and Mahanadi River’s largest dam, enters into 62 years of age.  And it’s seriously ailing.  The Dam, that’s fighting a battle for its own life is also the epicentre of conflict between two major riparian states.   

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 61 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. Its 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)

Mobile: +91 9437050103
Email: ranjanpanda@gmail.com

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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Welcome back Sushma Swaraj ji: common Indians now need your help in healing their kidney diseases due to water pollution!

Sushma Swaraj ji: welcome back to a normal life after going through kidney transplantation. Congratulations!
You gave credit for your healthy recovery to the blessings of all MPs in Parliament and support of your 'Krishna'. Among others Uma Bharti ji was also present in Parliament and welcomed you.
Please tell her that water pollution is a major cause of kidney related diseases in millions of Indians and most of the common Indians can't afford treatment.
Please pursue for the same blessings from MPs and Krishna for all of them. We need strong action against polluters, major drives to abate water pollution and well equipped cheap/free public health facilities in the country!
Thanks & regards,
Ranjan Panda
Water Initiatives Odisha(WIO)
Mahanadi River Waterkeeper
Email: ranjanpanda@gmail.com
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Tasmania's glowing coastline is a worrying signal of Climate Change!

Pick from a Guardian Report!
The waters along Tasmania’s north-west coastline have taken on a bizarre, glowing appearance in recent days. Photographs taken off Preservation Bay and Rocky Cape showcase bioluminescent waters caused by a natural phenomenon known as noctiluca scintillans (AKA sea sparkle), which happens when tiny plankton turn blue in self-defence.
The phenomenon, which is best seen in calm, warm seas, is foreboding. “The displays are a sign of climate change,” Anthony Richardson, from the CSIRO, told New Scientist after an occurrence in Tasmania in 2015.
https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/mar/15/australian-coastline-glows-in-the-dark-in-sinister-sign-of-climate-change

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Ranjan Panda
Water Initiatives Odisha (WIO)
Combat Climate Change Network, India
Email: ranjanpanda@gmail.com
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Odisha Farmer Suicide Clock - 2017 from WIO: 3rd Death

Bulu Reddy, a farmer from Ganjam district's Chikrada committed suicide on 13th March due to crop loss.  Ganjam is the Odisha Chief Minister's constituency. 

As per available reports, he took his life on 10th March owing to crop loss.  He had borrowed an amount of 1 lakh rupees (source of borrowing not known as of now) for tomato and chilly cultivation.  He got a good production of tomato but the rate for the product had crashed in the market, forcing him not to harvest it but let it die in the field.  He consumed pesticide and died.

While the government officials, as in other cases, have been trying to find reasons for the suicide and would surely come up with a false and funny reason (something other than crop loss and debt burden), the fact remains that farmers are dying due to governmental apathy.  Both the state and central governments have perpetually failed our farmers.

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

Email: ranjanpanda@gmail.com

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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Lack of toilets and more of tourists: Lake Baikal's new fight for survival!

Russia's Lake Baikal, a world heritage site, which contains about one-fifth of the unfrozen freshwater on the earth’s surface has got respite from a polluting paper and pulp industry just three years ago. However, the lake fights new environmental battles. An interesting read...

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/13/world/europe/a-russian-lakes-future-hangs-on-tourists-and-toilets.html?_r=0

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

Email: ranjanpanda@gmail.com

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Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Odisha Farmer Suicide Update - 8th March 2017

Odisha government must learn an urgent lesson from villagers' anger in Kendpali village!
Yesterday, when two govt. officials went to re-investigate the cause of death of Khaenu Bagarthy (who took his life owing to farm distress), they were detained by the villagers for hours and then were asked to write the report in front of them only so that they don't change their report after returning from the village. The officials admitted that Khaenu Bagarty died of farm distress and debt burden.
Earlier, the Bargarh district administration's fake report was exposed as the family members of the victim and villagers challenged the report that was supposedly sent by the District Collector to the Agriculture Minister, based on which the Minister had informed the assembly that the farmer died of family quarrels and not farm distress. Thankfully the opposition united on this issue and cornered the govt. and the lie was exposed.
The govt. of Odisha has the habit of covering up each farmer suicide case and its officials have been submitting false investigation reports each year. By doing this, the govt. has now forced people to take actions such as the one that happened yesterday in Kendpali village.
The government should immediately realise its mistake and correct course without further delay. To restore people's faith in the government in such cases, it must immediately re-investigate all farmer suicide cases (at least for last three years), admit that farm distress is the sole reason for farmers ending their lives, and compensate the bereaved families adequately.
Such re-investigations must be done by an independent expert committee and not just by govt. officials as has been the practice. Ironically, the same officials who are guilty of neglecting farmers' plight do the investigation as a routine affair. This practice needs to change immediately. Or else, the farmers's angers will pile up further and there is every possibility of BJD feeling the heat in next Assembly elections. Its poor performance in just concluded local self govt. elections is just a beginning.
As such also, Odisha needs to take up many innovative initiatives to revive its farm sectors and raise income and living standard of its ailing farmers who are in dire distress now. For this also, the govt. must consult experts and practitioners from all the sectors, not just the ones who have the habit of praising the govt.
We need you to intervene Mr. Naveen PatnaikNaveen Pattnaik Fan Club
Ranjan Panda
Water Initiatives Odisha (WIO)
Mahanadi River Waterkeeper

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

First Farmer Suicide case of 2017 from Odisha reported! Timely action needed!!

Farmer Suicide Clock starts ticking in Odisha again!

The first farmer suicide case of Odisha was reported yesterday from Bargarh district, considered the rice bowl of the state. 55 year old Khainu Bagarti of Kendpali village consumed pesticide and succumbed to death in VIMSAR. Irregular power supply, that failed his bore well, is said to have caused the distress, depression and death.

The Odisha government, that is drowning the state under thousands crores of debt to provide 24x7 power supply to #SmartCities should look inwards at the farmers' plights without any further delay. As such also we are expecting one of the hottest summer ever, such incidences may repeat!

Ranjan Panda

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

Email: ranjanpanda@gmail.com

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