DRP News Bulletin 19 June 2017 (Farmers across the country are angry: Demonetisation has played a big role here)

Farmers Protest spreads Crops of Wrath: Demonetisation  played big role From a persisting cash crunch due to demonetisation to a price free fall because of a bumper produce, it’s a big bag of woes for farmers in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. The report explains how demonetisation played a major role in current farmer’s crisis. Another article explains how demonetization has a role in addition to other factors. In addition to low prices, what has aggravated the situation is the Central government’s demonetisation move late last year that has adversely hit the rural and agrarian economy. According to Lalchand Mali, a farmer from Barkheda Panth, notebandi has almost finished the farmers in the rural areas. Even after selling their produce, they do not get money in our hands before at least two-three weeks and sometimes even a month. A third article again mentioned demonetisation along with bumper harvest and lack of water as reasons for the farmers’ situation.

Skewed farm policies continue to anger farmers Key message here that rainfed area needs to get similar support as do the irrigated area is very important point.

Mihir Shah agrees, demonetisation broke farmers In an interesting piece, Mihir Shah unwarrantedly praises the Prime Minister: “The biggest votary of non-chemical farming is the Prime Minister himself.” Is there any evidence that PM has taken effective action to achieve this?

Good points: “There is also nothing “green” about this revolution because, over the years, it has caused a deep crisis of sustainability, economic and ecological. Large-scale use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides has had an extremely adverse impact on our soil and water. Deep drilling by tubewells to grow these water-intensive crops has happened without any reference whatsoever to India’s unique hydrogeology, where nearly two-thirds of our land is underlain by hard rock formations which have very low rates of natural recharge.”

AND: “Speaking to farmers and traders, it appears that demonetisation squeezed so much liquidity out of the system that traders did not have requisite cash to buy the farmers’ produce. Farmers also feel that persisting with imports, even after clear signs of a bumper harvest, further depressed prices. Having lived in remote rural Madhya Pradesh for the last three decades, I do not recall a crash in prices as dramatic as this year’s, that too in the peak of summer. In Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka, prices of tuar, gram, soybean, grapes, potatoes, onions, tomatoes, milk, garlic, cumin, coriander and fenugreek are at historical lows. And when this happens in crops with high costs of cultivation and inadequate government support, the impact is catastrophic, leading to what the Reserve Bank of India has called “fire sales”. Which has also created apprehensions about kharif sowing. No wonder the farmers are upset.”

AGRICULTURE

K Kasturirangan, who gave the infamous  Western Ghats report now talks about water conservation Wow this must be rocket science, coming from Kasturirangan. But it seems his wisdom had gone for holiday when he chaired a committee that helped destroy the western Ghats by giving a much more compromised report that helped govt replace it with much more credible Gadgil com report. 

WELCOME NEWS: Andhra Pradesh: Will it go the organic way as the CM says here?

Odisha Farmers switch from paddy to pulses 15 farmers of the Kadelpal village (Sambalpur dist) are cultivating pulses after gradually diverting from paddy. The success story has led the Agriculture department to chalk out plan to increase pulses production by additional 5,022 tonnes during the ensuing kharif season.

Karnataka Yahenahalli sees no farmer suicide Yachenahalli, a village in T Narasipura taluk about 30 km from Mysuru, has not seen any farmer suicide nor any crop loan default over the past eight years. This is despite the agrarian village, with a population of 5,000, witnessing successive droughts over the last three years. This was possible for a number of reasons, including multi cropping and cooperative society.  

 In this interview Dr. Mihir Shah talks about a number of things from Dams to Groundwater, Drying rivers, Interlinking. In the words of Dr. Mihir Shah “One of the biggest tragedies India faces in recent times is the progressive drying up of its rivers. When we look at our peninsular rivers, we realise that their post-monsoon water flows come from the base-flows provided by groundwater. One of the largely unnoticed consequences of over-extraction of groundwater has been to completely dry up these base flows, which used to feed our peninsular rivers after the monsoon was over.” The interview, however, leaves a lot to be desired.

HYDRO POWER

Big Hydro is NOT viable, says KM Singh, CMD, NHPC The NHPC chairman admits that there are around 40 hydropower projects which are currently under stress in India. As per KM Singh, it will cost around Rs 16,000 crore to revive them. More than Rs 16,000 crore is expected under a bailout package that is being considered by Power Ministry. He says that 3 projects in Kishanganga, Parbati II, and Lower Subansiri require huge governmental aid. This is yet another revealing interview of NHPC Chairman, admitting that hydro sector is in crisis, but refusing to understand or state the real reasons. The proposed bailout package wont help the big hydro it will be sinking good money after sunk costs. Big hydro is not longer viable, sooner we understand, better it will be.

Andhra Pradesh & Telangana Dispute emerging over hydro power projects The AP Reorganisation Act which came into effect on June 2, 2014, for a period of three years, is coming to an end. Following this officials in both states are bracing for an acrimonious and even physical war in coming days as hydel power plants in both states straddle the border, giving rise to a possibility of each using any means to take control of the situation.

DAMS

INHUMAN DECISION TO CLOSE SARDAR SAROVER GATES On June 17, 2017, a PIB Press Release from Union Ministry of Water Resources announced, “Narmada Control Authority (NCA) has cleared the final raising of Sardar Sarovar Dam (SSD) in Gujarat by lowering of gates and impounding of water in the reservoir upto its Full Reservoir Level (FRL) of EL 138.68 mts. The NCA which met here yesterday under the Chairmanship of Dr. Amarjit Singh, Secretary (WR, RD & GR) considered all aspects of environmental and Resettlement and Rehabilitation (R&R) issues.”

The gate closure will lead to submergence and displacement of lakhs of tribals and farmers of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, without even proper resettlement as legally required. There is also no justification for the decision as the canal infrastructure necessary to use the additional water that the dam will store with increase in height from 121.92 mts to 138.68 mts is not even ready.

Unfortunately, this is happening under active encouragement of all the arms of Union and state governments and also active supervision of the highest judiciary.

As the press release dated June 17, 2017 of Narmada Bachao Andolan right said, “The level of falsehood involved in the decision taken by NCA on the closure of Sardar Sarovar gates is unprecedented.” Even the media has been spreading such lies about resettlement of Narmada affected families, even the the government cannot claim this: “A total of 46,840 PAFs have been resettled in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.” Moreover, cash compensation as described here is totally illegal and that too after effecting submergence?

MEDHA PATKAR rightly asks: Is this Development? For WHOM? Why this violence by state on its own people.

For details, see: https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2017/06/18/sardar-sarovar-gate-closure-without-resettlement-or-justification-is-a-inhuman-unjust-decision-will-sc-intervene/

Meanwhile, the Rehabilitation of those displaced by Bhakra Dam is still incomplete.

Moreover, the PUCL bulletin warns against govt’s attitude to prosecute and persecute anyone raising environmental issues.

Telangana Disturbing series of developments about Kaleswaram: The Supreme Court refuses to stay work for lack of forest clearance (FC), the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) recommends FC in the very first meeting where this is discussed, it is claimed here, and does not take cognizance of illegal work without FC; FAC recommendation is not equal to FC, and work can go on only after final FC, which may take months if not years, but the media seems to have no clue, and does not bother to ask anyone.

Good water level in dams Some of the Telangana reservoirs have more water just before the monsoon than what they had last year thus placed better than all the other Southern States. Of the 31 major reservoirs monitored by the CWC in South India, five reservoirs are in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.

RIVERS

SANDRP Blog Brahmaputra River Profile The profusion of rivers in the northeast India is simply unparalleled. There two major rivers Brahmaputra and Barak have been joined by tributaries in abundance – small and big, the bigger tributaries often surpassing some prime main stem rivers of other states of the country.

Tamil Nadu Tamirabarani story of a forgotten river In many ways, the story of the Tamirabarani river symbolises the complex and interconnected story of natural bounty and manmade carelessness that characterise the country’s relationship with its rivers. This is an excellent, evocative piece on river Tamirabarani, its lore, challenges and people working for her. Also see, Cooum: A concretised river In 2009, inspired by Singapore model, then State Govt. launched an ambitious project to clean and restore the Cooum river. 8 years later and after close to Rs 3,000 crore was sanctioned in phases, the project shoved into the cold storage and revived intermittently, has headed nowhere.

GANGA

Centre Update on Ganga Protection Bill 2017  A Centre-appointed panel headed by Justice Girdhar Malaviya has drafted a bill, the National River Ganga (Rejuvenation, Protection and Management) Bill 2017, which if passed into a law will also prescribe seven years in jail and a fine of up to Rs. 100 crore for anyone who commits a range of offences on the river, including blocking its flow, quarrying its banks or constructing jetties without permission. Among others, the panel led by retired Justice Giridhar Malaviya, has also suggested declaring an area abutting within 1 km from Ganga and its major tributaries as a “water saving zone”.

As per PIB release dated June 13, 2017, the committee constituted to review the provisions of the draft, held its meeting under the chairmanship of Director General, NMCG UP Singh to discuss various aspects of the Bill specially the preamble, definitions and some others chapters. The Bill is proposed to be developed as a model bill to preserve, conserve and manage different rivers and it is expected to be the role model for other rivers of the Country.

Farakka Dam Row Experts want to review utility of Farakka A seven-member team of experts from various fields, constituted to study the problem of siltation in the bed of the Ganga, on June 12, 2017 recommended immediate review of the utility of Farakka barrage, claiming that its design technology had become five decades old and needed remodelling to save people from floods. The state government will also submit a separate report to the Centre, seeking action to remove the problem of siltation in the Ganga caused by the Farakka barrage. This is an interesting development, one has to wait and see what report the experts submit, the remodelling part seems to be signature of Prof Nayan Sharma (member of the seven member panel), who has been trying to sell his piano key model for Farakka even at Delhi meeting earlier in May 2017.

SAND MINING

Madhya Pradesh IAS Officer not feeling safe from sand mafia Shocking state of lawlessness in Madhya Pradesh, where even IAS officer is not feeling safe. And this is case related to BUNDELKHAND and one Mr Bundela, allegedly part of mining mafia. The CM in the meantime is busy bending to the centre in submerging his own land and people.

Centre Illegal sand mining continues to grow, faith in technology, none in people Union mines ministry, in its agenda for the meeting of minor mineral producing states that would take place in New Delhi on June 16, 2017, says that even though it simplified the process of obtaining EC in 2016 by delegating the clearance granting authority to a district-level body headed by district collector, illegal sand mining continues across the country currently. A new committee will be set up to address the illegal sand mining issues. Still so many states are emphasizing on use of technology (GPS, bar code, drone monitoring) as a solution of the problem, but there is absolutely no interest in creating a democratic governance of the sand mining, in a bottom up way.

GROUND WATER

MoEF EAC defers nod to Odisha’s coal washery project Expressing concern over the use of groundwater for coal-related projects, the expert panel has deferred giving clearance to a coal washery project in Odisha, a welcome pause. It, however, recommended environment clearance for another coal washery project in Chhattisgarh but stipulated that it should make efforts to use alternative sources of surface water.

URBAN, INDUSTRIAL WATER

TO TALK ABOUT DESAL FOR MUMBAI IS NONSENSE Wonder what sense does this make for a city with 2-3000 mm rainfall. Except the business sense for the desal companies. To say this is needed to reduce dependance is also nonsense, to use a civil word.

Green Peace: Using treated sewage water for power plants impractical A new Greenpeace report says that the power ministry’s proposal to use treated wastewater in coal plants is not viable. The report claims that buying treated wastewater and installing infrastructure for its further treatment would push costs up by 300-600 % and the cost is likely to be passed on to the consumer. The report also says that sewage treatment capacity in India is so low that less than 40% of sewage generated even in urban areas can be treated with existing facilities and almost 86% of plants will not have access to treated sewage plants in the first place.

DROUGHT 2017

Kerala Drought made worst by humans This article says that rubber plantations, replacing paddy farms and traditional trees contributed to worsening the Kerala Drought of 2016-17.

FLOOD 2017

Assam, Mizoram facing severe floods, 152 dies in landslides in Banladesh The torrential Monsoon showers on June, 13, 2017 night has prompted flash flooding in parts of Assam and Mizoram, particularly in Guwahati killing at least 12 and several others still missing. The flash floods have reportedly also eroded away close to 350 houses across Mizoram, bordering Bangladesh and Myanmar. Since last week, hundreds of thousands of people were affected by flooding in Assam and one of the worst-hit district, Karimganj was once again submerged under flooding rains. At least 152 people have died in multiple landslides in neighbouring Bangladesh in these rains.

ENERGY OPTIONS

Karnataka Discoms barred from buying more wind energy The reason KERC gave for this direction: “the state has already signed enough PPAs with renewable energy developers to ensure it fulfils its renewable purchase obligation (RPO), not only for 2017-18, but also for the next two years.” Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission has asked, through a letter of Apr 25 to Additional Chief Secretary, that State Discoms should stop signing PPAs (Power Purchase Agreements) with Wind Power producers. This seems to go against CERC guidelines which say that sources like Wind Power projects should be in MUST RUN category.

The letter noted that overall too, “Perhaps for the first time, the power availability (in the state) is far in excess of the requirement” and signing more PPAs for renewable energy, especially wind energy, would lead to having to refuse power from thermal sources “with which the distribution companies already have long term PPAs, resulting in unavoidable payment of fixed charges to thermal stations resulting in consequential increase in tariff for consumers”.

SOUTH ASIA

This provides some positive spin (not sure how warranted this is) to the South Asia Electricity trade.

Rampal power plant becoming a threat on Sundarbans Scientists in a new report has said that massive dredging of the rivers in and around the Sundarbans and transportation of coal for Rampal power plant would seriously affect the fish, wildlife and other aquatic resources in that region, as also the people. Greenpeace, early last month has also said that Rampal power plant would cause at least 6,000 premature deaths and low birth weights of 24,000 babies during its 40-year life due to air pollution from coal burning.

India Bangladesh must tackle flood together It is such a pity that we are still talking about sharing information between Meghalaya and Bangladesh to help deal with floods in this age and times, rather than actually doing anything about it. Flash floods in April May destroyed large parts of cropland in North East Bangladesh, bordering Meghalaya.

Pakistan China to fund $12 Billion Mega-Dam Opposed By India As per Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal, Pakistan expects China to fund a long-delayed Indus river mega dam project in Gilgit-Baltistan, part of POK. Pakistan has been keen for years to build a cascade of mega dams along the Indus flowing down from the Himalayas, but has struggled to raise money from international institutions amid opposition from India.

Nepal Contract awarded for Solu Khola HEP Sahas Urja Ltd. on June 12, 2017 has awarded CMC Ravenna, an Italian company, a US$184 million contract to construct the 86-MW Solu Khola hydro project on the confluence of Solu and Dudhkoshi rivers. An 11-bank consortium, led by Nepal Investment Bank, will provide loans for 73% of the cost and the remaining 27% will be in form of equity. CMC has commenced tunnel construction and the HEP is to be commissioned in three years.

THE WORLD

DAMS CREATE WATER SHORTAGES, NOT SOLVE: Revealing Findings: “Almost a quarter of the global population experiences significant decreases in water availability through human interventions on rivers, says Ted Veldkamp at Vrije University in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Those interventions primarily involve dams that take water for irrigation or cities, or to generate hydroelectricity.

Winners and losers: To investigate the impact of dams on communities, Veldkamp and her colleagues created a detailed modelling study that divided the world into 50-kilometre squares. They used this to assess water scarcity between 1971 and 2010, so they could identify the hydrological winners and losers from dam interventions.

The team found a drastic reshuffling of water-scarcity hotspots over time, with mostly people upstream benefitting from the capture of river flows, but those downstream left high and dry.”

Hydro dam destroying Amazon forest In line of several other recent studies, this research paper reinforces the fact that hundreds of built and proposed hydroelectric dams may significantly harm life in and around the Amazon by trapping the flow of rich nutrients and modifying the climate from Central America to the Gulf of Mexico.

Oroville Dam disaster: Should California govt pay for the Feather River Damage? “Fishing guides complain that the Feather River looks very different this year below the troubled Oroville Dam, due to collapsed banks and sediment and other debris washing into the river. The question is whether the state should pay to clean it up. Guides like James Stone say “yes,” due to the problems with the dam’s spillway, but state officials who run the dam say it’s not clear whether the river is worse off than it naturally would be after a record rainy season.”

Interesting research about how seasonal reservoir storage and snow pack changes have impact on seismic activities in California.

CLIMATE CHANGE

Climate Change is Shrinking Colorado River Key findings:

  • “However, our published research shows that about one-third of the flow decline was likely due to higher temperatures in the Colorado River’s Upper Basin, which result from climate change…”
  • In our study, we found the period from 2000 to 2014 is the worst 15-year drought since 1906, when official flow measurements began. During these years, annual flows in the Colorado River averaged 19 percent below the 20th-century average…
  • In sum, as it warms, the atmosphere draws more water, up to 4 percent more per degree Fahrenheit from all available sources, so less water flows into the river. These findings also apply to all semi-arid rivers in the American Southwest, especially the Rio Grande…
  • These deserts are projected to stretch polewards as the climate warms. In the Colorado River basin, dry areas to the south are expected to encroach on some of the basin’s most productive snow and runoff areas…
  • Rain gauge measurements indicate that there has not been any significant long-term change in precipitation in the Upper Basin of the Colorado since 1896, which makes substantial increases in the future even more doubtful…
  • Several new studies indicate that with warmer temperatures, the likelihood of mega droughts skyrockets in the 21st century, to a point where the odds of one occurring are better than 80 percent…
  • March of 2017 was the warmest March in Colorado history, with temperatures a stunning 8.8°F above normal. Snowpack and expected runoff declined substantially in the face of this record warmth. Clearly, climate change in the Colorado River Basin is here, it is serious and it requires multiple responses.”

More rainfall in tropical areas due to climate change A new interesting analysis by NASA says that the amount of rainfall in the Earth’s tropical regions will significantly increase as our planet continues to warm.

You may also like to see DRP News Bulletin 12 June 2017 & DRP News Bulletin 05 June 2017.

Please share feedback and help us spread the word if you agree.

SANDRP

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