Sunday, January 27, 2013
Friday, January 25, 2013
Thursday, January 24, 2013
Water Initiatives Odisha (WIO) has just got hold of the letter of the Comptroller & Auditor General (CAG) to the State Govt. of Odisha’s Department of Steel & Mines, in which it clearly mentions how the government has been blindly signing MoUs with steel and mining companies and committing to give away precious natural resources of the state without following due diligence and without making any proper assessment of the availability of natural resources to be used by these industries.
MoUs signed, resources not taken into account - In the report dated 11th December 2012 with respect to ‘Performance Audit of ‘Commitments made in the MoUs for setting up of industries in the State and acquisition/allotment of land thereof’, the CAG has slammed the government for ‘signing of MoUs making commitments to provide land, water and minerals without any prescribed guideline, feasibility study and inadequate monitoring thereof’.
The CAG letter says that, “We observed that out of total 93 MoUs signed by Government, Steel and Mines Department has signed 49 MoUs with different promoters for setting of steel and mines industries in the State and land was allotted in favour of 34 promoters. But, no policy/guidelines for assessing the need as well as other inputs like land, water, minerals etc… attracting entrepreneurs to the State thro-ugh open competitive bidding etc, signing of MOUs with promoter companies for setting up industries in the State was formulated. Pre-requisites for signing of MOUs was also not prescribed. Besides, monitoring mechanism on implementation of various commitments by both State Government and Private promoter made in these MoUs was also not prescribed”.
Constitution’s Doctrine of Equality violated - The CAG has raised serious issues with regard to competitive bidding and has pointed out that “ Article 14 of the Constitution of India on ‘Doctrine of Equality’ was violated by entering MoUs based on suo-moto offers instead of on competitive bidding process.” These are serious allegations and exposes the blind push for industrialization by profiting private companies at any cost.
Water, a source of livelihood for farmers; not merely a raw material for industrial production - WIO would especially like to draw the notice of the State Government on the remarks of the CAG when they say, “Land, water, minerals being finite and scarce resources its need based allotment to different promoters of industries is required to be made keeping in mind requirements for future”. The CAG have rightly pointed out that, “these natural resources are not factors of production for industrial growth but also for agricultural production on which the food security of the country rests, and these also had impact on sustainability of the environment and sustenance of livelihood of the citizens”. The CAG letter points out that, “It was noticed from the minutes of 12 HLCA meeting held on 27 January 2010 that, as against availability of 1805.81 MT of total Bauxite in the State, the Department in different MoUs had already committed for supplying 74.61 MT of bauxite per annum for which the entire bauxite reserve of the state would be exhausted in next 24 years.” This is another serious allegation and shows how the state government is actually planning to exhaust the common property resources of the state for quick profit of the private companies at the cost of the people and the ecology, WIO alleges.
State urged to stop diverting irrigation water to industries with immediate effect; and scrap excessive and illegal MoUs with industries - The CAG letter further says, “It is also pertinent to mention here that as per executive instruction no. 5 of LA Manual it is the duty of the Collector to select the land for the requisitioning department. Further, as per clause 9.11 of JPR 2007, ‘all efforts shall be made to avoid double cropped agricultural land and minimize R&R requirement. It was further noticed that in respect of 49 MoUs signed by the Department, commitment for providing 59333.601 acres of land was made without any exercise to scrutinise the land category(whether Agricultural. Irrigated, double cropped etc.) and even without consulting the RDM Department. Water Resources Department, Agriculture Department and concerned Collectors. This is indicative of the fact that the department has signed MoUs with promoters of industries and made commitments without assessing the actual availability of land, water, minerals.” This explains how the Govt. of Odisha neglects the interests of farmers and irrigation. WIO has been repeatedly asking the government to stop allocating water meant for irrigation to industries’. Now that the CAG has slammed the government on these aspects, we hope the government will wake up to the allegations and take immediate corrective measures.
Come clean, state the state of affairs - WIO has been asking the government to make public a status report of available water resources in the state considering present and future uses and factors impacting the availability, use and abuse of the resources in times to come. However, the government has not paid heed to such serious and genuine concerns. We have also said how Odisha has in fact already become a water stressed state and the blind industrialization through water guzzling industries and mining activities is driving the state to severe water scarcity. Now that the CAG has slammed the government on these lines, we urge upon the state to take our warnings seriously and consider arresting the blind push for water guzzling industrialisation.
WIO asks state to promote irrigation and consider ecological restoration of water bodies including rivers - We demand that the state government goes for an immediate assessment of water resources and other natural resources of the state; do an cumulative ecological impact assessment of all the existing industries and then only go for new industries if at all these are needed. We also once again urge upon the government to stop diverting water from irrigation and other sectors to industries; promote irrigation and consider ecological restoration of water bodies including rivers, ponds, tanks and other water systems of the state, said Panda.
For further information, please contact:
Convenor, Water Initiatives Odisha (WIO)
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 decades now.
Sunday, January 20, 2013
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Black carbon ranks as second-biggest human cause of global warming
Soot ranks as the second-largest human contributor to climate change, exerting twice as much of an impact as previously thought, according to an analysis released Tuesday.
The four-year, 232-page study of black carbon, published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, shows that short-lived pollution known as soot, such as emissions from diesel engines and wood-fired stoves, has about two-thirds the climate impact of carbon dioxide. The analysis has pushed methane, which comes from landfills and other forces, into third place as a human contributor to global warming.
Black carbon, or soot, accelerates warming because the fine particles absorb heat when they are in the air and when they darken snow and ice. Although some lighter-colored fine particles can have a cooling effect because they block sunlight, other black carbon sources have a warming effect because they absorb it. They also accelerate glacier melting and can disrupt regional weather patterns.
The findings came out on the same day that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced that last year’s global average temperature ranked as the 10th-warmest on record, and NASA found it was the ninth-warmest. The two agencies analyze temperature data differently, but both found that with the exception of 1998, the nine warmest years since 1880 have all occurred since 2000.
Piers Forster, one of the soot study’s authors and a professor at the University of Leeds School of Earth and Environment, said in a statement that reducing black carbon can help address rising temperatures.
“There are exciting opportunities to cool climate by reducing soot emissions but it is not straightforward,” Forster said, adding that cutting emissions from diesel engines and domestic wood and coal fires is “a no-brainer” because it would improve public health and the climate. Fine particles cause heart and respiratory problems, leading to premature death, as well as asthma and other illnesses.
These emissions cuts would produce an immediate cooling effect, the authors estimated, which would avoid a nearly 1-degree Fahrenheit temperature rise in the near term.
“You save lives, and you produce really fast cooling,” said Durwood Zaelke, president of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development.
Veerabhadran Ramanathan, an atmospheric scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California at San Diego, identified black carbon in 2008 as the second-biggest human contributor to climate change. But many researchers questioned his analysis because it was based on observations rather than computer modeling.
“We seem to have put one major debate behind us, that black carbon is a significant contributor to the planet’s heat,” Ramanathan said in a phone interview.
Although the United States has made major strides in curbing soot — Ramanathan and his colleagues recently found that black carbon concentrations in California have fallen by 50 percent in 25 years, largely because of stricter diesel emissions rules — Southeast Asia and China still suffer major pollution from diesel engines and wood- and coal-burning combustion.
Just this week, Beijing experienced a string of hazardous air days, driven, in part, by soot emissions.
The new study’s authors emphasized that in the long term, major cuts in carbon dioxide would be required to avert dangerous climate impacts.
“Mitigating black carbon is good for curbing short-term climate change, but to really solve the long-term climate problem, carbon dioxide emissions must also be reduced,” said one of the paper’s lead authors, Tami Bond, a University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign atmospheric scientist.
In describing last year’s temperature record, James E. Hansen, who directs NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, cautioned that just because 2012’s average was in keeping with recent years does not mean global warming has stalled.
“On the decadal time scale, it’s going to get warmer, because we know the planet is out of energy balance,” Hansen told reporters. “This standstill, I think, is a temporary one.”
- By Juliet Eilperin
Monday, January 14, 2013
Saturday, January 12, 2013
Thursday, January 10, 2013
Highlights of a Worldwatch Institute report
- Alhough oil remains the world's leading source of energy, the energy landscape is rapidly shifting: global consumption of coal increased 5.4 percent in 2011, while natural gas use grew 2.2 percent.
- China alone accounted for nearly half of global coal consumption in 2011. In the United States, demand for coal actually declined by 5 percent.
- Natural gas is growing most significantly in East Asia, led by China and Japan.
Oil remains the world's leading energy source - for now. In recent years, coal and natural gas have proven themselves increasingly important resources across the globe. Global consumption of coal increased 5.4 percent in 2011, to 3.72 billion tons of oil equivalent, while natural gas use grew 2.2 percent, to 2.91 billion tons of oil equivalent. Both are primary fuels for the world’s electricity market, and because they are often used as substitutes for one other, their trends need to be examined together.
The bulk of coal use is for power generation, with smaller amounts being used in steelmaking. Spurred mainly by rising demand in China and India, coal’s share in the global primary energy mix reached 28 percent in 2011—its highest point since the International Energy Agency began keeping statistics in 1971. Although the United States remains one of the world’s largest coal users, just over 70 percent of global demand in 2011 was in countries outside of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), including China and India. Consumption in non-OECD countries grew 8 percent in 2011 to 2.63 billion tons of oil equivalent.
China alone accounted for nearly half of all coal use in 2011. India is the second largest contributor to rising coal demand and is the world’s third largest coal consumer, after surpassing the European Union in 2009. The United States remains the second largest coal user, even though U.S. demand decreased by around 5 percent in 2011 and continued to fall in 2012 due to the shale gas boom and the abundance of cheap natural gas. Even with declining demand, the United States still accounts for 45 percent of coal demand within the OECD.
Coal production, like consumption, is concentrated mainly in China. But the United States holds the largest proved coal reserves, with 28 percent of the global total, followed by Russia at 18 percent, China at 13 percent, Australia at 9 percent, and India at 7 percent. Together, these five countries accounted for three-quarters of proved coal reserves as well as three-quarters of global coal production in 2011.
In the case of natural gas, global consumption grew at a slower rate than coal—2.2 percent—to reach 2.91 billion tons of oil equivalent in 2011. Usage grew in all regions except the European Union, which experienced a 9.9 percent decline in natural gas consumption—the largest on record and due mainly to a struggling economy and high natural gas prices.
Natural gas accounted for nearly 23.7 percent of global primary energy consumption in 2011, down slightly from 23.8 percent in 2010. Consumption increased most significantly in East Asia, led by China (21.5 percent) and Japan (11.6 percent).
Natural gas production increased at a higher rate than consumption—3.1 percent—reaching 2.96 billion tons of oil equivalent in 2011. The United States and Russia accounted for nearly 40 percent of the world’s output in 2011, contributing 20 percent and 18.5 percent, respectively, followed by Canada, Iran, and Qatar at 4–5 percent each.
Continued strong growth in the global coal and natural gas sectors depends on numerous factors. Demand for coal could stagnate with the introduction of new technologies in the power sector, or with the adoption of policies to reduce the environmental and health impacts of coal combustion. Increasing global concern about greenhouse gas emissions and climate change could lead to a greater transition from coal to natural gas. Other factors that could change the equation include rising environmental and other concerns about hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking”) and the possibility that cheap natural gas might undermine growth in renewable energy.
Authors - Matt Lucky & Reese Rogers
Wednesday, January 9, 2013
The Ultra Rich Got (a Lot) Richer Last Year
The 100 richest billionaires on the planet got even richer in 2012, adding $241 billion to their collective net worth, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
This sum is equivalent to 80% of the US $300 billion external debt held by the 47 countries on the African continent. Home to 1 billion people, Africa spends about 16% of the continent’s export earnings on servicing the external debt.
The aggregate net worth of this group of ultra-rich individuals stood at $1.9 trillion at the market close on Dec. 31, reports Bloomberg. Together these one hundred persons would be able to pay off all African debt six times, after which they would still have a collective wealth of one hundred billion dollars.
Treat Mahanadi as a River, not a commodity….
About 100 representatives of 32 dependent communities, farmers’ organisations and various civil society groups from Odisha and Chhattisgarh gathered in Sambalpur to chalk out a joint strategy to oppose rapid industrial allocation of Mahanadi water. The Water Initiatives Odisha and Chhattisgah’s Nadi Ghati Morcha hosted the gathering on December 23-24, 2012.
Sambalpur: Dec 24, 2012
In the first of its kind gathering that brought together groups from both the states sharing Mahanadi water, the participants including environmentalists and water dependent communities, demanded that local communities must be involved in management of Mahanadi water, demand.
“Mahanadi should be treated as a river not a commodity for mindless industrialisation,” said Ranjan Panda, Convenor of Water Initiatives Odisha, that took the lead in organizing the Dialogue.
About 40 million people depend on Mahanadi for survival in both the states. In the last 50 years, water use from the river has increased by more than seven times. Chhattisgarh has planned 58000 MW thermal power generation using mostly Mahanadi water; Odisha has planned for 75000 MW.
“River is a common resource of people. They should get priority in its water,” says Gautam Bandhopadhya of Nadi Ghati Morcha.
Participants emphasised on joint efforts to counter both the state governments’ aggressive industrial allocation of water. “Water management of the river (Mahanadi) should not be seen in terms of upstream or downstream states. There should be joint movement from both the states to fight rapid industrialisation and its impacts on Mahanadi,” said Prafulla Samantara, leading environmental activist.
The gathering decided to further strengthen people’s movements against privatisation of Mahanadi. “We have been able to slow down government’s water allocation. Movements along Mahanadi in both the states must come together to stop further water allocation to industries,” said Lingaraj, farmer leader.
Representatives of communities affected by industrial pollution of Mahanadi and increasing allocation of water to industries demanded the government should formulate a river policy.
Current water policy has not dealt with rivers in totality, they said.
One of the suggestions is to properly bring out people’s rights over Mahanadi river. “A people’s council of communities directly dependent on river should be formed to manage Mahanadi water,” Durga Prasad Nayak, a retired professor and noted environmentalist.
As activists fighting against Mahanadi water allocation to industries narrated many instances of government giving priority to industrial uses over domestic and irrigation, the non-availability of updated water availability data on Mahanadi came out to be a key issue. “Government uses old data to decide allocation. We are not sure if those allocations are valid,” said Panda.
Tuesday, January 1, 2013
Take a Pledge in 2013
End Development Terrorism from the world
Executing any so called development project by forcefully asking people to leave their home lands and livelihoods can be called development terrorism. Development terrorists, to woo the affected people, can go to the extent of preparing false 'impact assessment reports' and tom-tom about manipulated & exaggerated positive impacts about a project; and if nothing of this works to displace project affected people from their line-line resources, kill them in several ways.
Let 2013 see a new beginning. Let the so called civilized and modern society find ways to promote development that is inclusive, equitable and righteous; that does not have to kill one segment of people to benefit another segment. Let this development model consider and respect both common people and ecology as living entities; and not as mere commodities to be traded for development of the so called mainstream order.
Lets take this resolution this New Year! Lets counter Development Terrorism!!