Friday, August 27, 2010

Urban Vs Rural Water Needs

Sustainable Water System


Although India posses about one sixth of global population, its water resources are just about 4% of total average annual runoff, in rivers of the world. About 65% of the available water is used for Agriculture (Rural) and the balance 35% for Industrial and Municipal use (Urban). Probably half of the water used for agriculture is wasted before it reaches the intended crop, due to inefficient and outdated irrigation systems and practices. If we can find ways to manage water more effectively for agriculture and industry and for basic needs such as drinking water, then we can create more sustainability in the water system.

Urban Water Problems

It is very difficult to find enough water within a reasonable distance of the city and to supply safe drinking water to millions of people, in a concentrated area of mega cities. The infrastructure challenge with urban water supply and the collection & treatment of waste waters, is huge and very much of it is still unmet. The cities and industries poison water, by dumping and discharging untreated and under-treated waste waters into rivers and water bodies. An incredibly tiny amount of toxic substance discharged by industries can pollute an incredibly large amount of water. The rivers flowing through the cities, and water bodies and the ground water in and around the cities are very, very polluted, as a result of industrial and municipal waste water contamination. Moreover encroachment of water bodies in urban areas destroys natural recharge sites for ground water.

Rural Water Problems

In rural areas the major problem is uncontrolled agricultural runoff, along with the overuse of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. The drinking water available to the rural population is not that of super-high quality and practically there is no mechanism for effective collection and disposal of waste waters. Many of the rural people will have to depend on community wells, ponds, canals, streams etc to meet their needs of drinking water, which cannot be termed as safe. They realize the importance of the water as they have to walk long distances to fetch water and hence less of wastage in the rural domestic sector.

Urban Greed for Water

The urbanite has got a water supply problem to begin with, and then ends up polluting the supplies he has, rendering them unusable. In urban areas there is considerable wastage of water both in the supply system and the usage, as there is no accountability and the piped-in water is subsidized. With the increasing urban population and industrial growth centered round cities, the urban water consumption and the wastage is going to go up significantly. The urban water consumption is also likely to go up, because of rapid change in the urban lifestyles and the wants of the urbanites. The future urban water requirements should be curtailed to the basic "Needs", instead of catering to the "Wants", which is nothing but Need plus Greed of the urbanite.

Urban Wants Vs Rural Needs

There is a danger of appropriating more and more water to meet the increasing wants of the urbanites, depriving the basic Needs of Rural people for water. The talk of diverting Manjira and Krishna Waters to Hyderabad City is nothing but catering for the greed of the urbanites and the industry, depriving the basic needs of the water starving people, in Medak and Nallagonda districts.

Drinking Water Vs Irrigation Water

The diversion is being justified saying that Drinking Water (Tragu Neeru) should get priority over Irrigation Water (Sagu Neeru).The problem cannot be over simplified as Tragu Neeru vs Sagu Neeru and it has to be looked at, as the basic needs of Rural people against the wants of Urbanites and the Industry, who indulge in the luxury of wasteful usage of water and indiscriminate pollution and destruction of water sources available in the vicinity, unmindful of its long term adverse impacts.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

If Vedanta in Orissa, Why not JSW & ANRAK in AP?


 Forest Clearance Rejection for Bauxite Mining of Vedanta


 With the blanket of corruption between Politics, Industry, Bureaucracy and the Technocrats too tightly woven, the environmental damage and crimes, often damage the community considerably, more seriously than the criminal offences of the conventional kind. Yet there is no agency to stop them or to take action against this reprehensible conduct, in spite of all the Acts and Rules.


Under these circumstances, the rejection of Forest Clearance to Bauxite Mining project of Vedanta in the Niyamgiri Hills of Orissa, on the grounds that it will deprive the Tribals of their rights over the proposed mining site, in order to benefit a private company, in violation of Forest Rights Act 2006, is the most Welcome & Bold Green decision, in the recent times, for which Sri.Jairam Ramesh, MOS,E&F, GOI , richly deserves to be complimented


Why Not Bauxite Mining Projects in Visakhapatnam district of AP?


 The Bauxite Mining projects of JSW at Araku and ANRACK at Chintapalle in Visakhapatnam district are in Reserve Forest and Scheduled Tribal Areas, with adverse impacts on livelihoods of the Tribals, Water Sources, Eastern Ghats & their Bio-Diversity and are in violation of Forest Rights Act 2006.


The only difference is that JSW belongs to one Loksabha Member (MP) of the Congress Party and ANRAK had the backing of Late Former Chief Minister of AP State.  


The decision of the Ministry of Mines and the Ministry of E&F,  not  to permit the Bauxite Mining in Visakhapatnam district by AP Mineral Development Corporation, which is a front outfit (Benami) for the operations of JSW and ANRAK, till concerns of Environment and Tribal livelihood are addressed, is most welcome.


  The Forest Clearance for JSW and ANRAK Bauxite Mining Projects be rejected outright, unless the process of recognition of "Rights" is complete and satisfactory, in accordance with "Saxena " Committee Report, making Environmental Clearances already granted for the mining projects inoperable.



Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Rail Transportation of Coal - Singareni Sattupalli Mine

  Magnitude of Problem  


This is to highlight the colossal waste of petroleum products, apart from  traffic accidents, air pollution, avoidable carbon emissions etc caused by transportation of coal by road  from Sattupalli opencast mine to Kothagudem, in spite of the National Mission on Climate Change.


As per the information available, The Singareni Collieries Company ltd  ( SCL) transports coal every day by road for a distance of about 70 km from Sattupalli opencast mine to Kothagudem in Khammam district of AP State, as per details given below:


a)    Average of 8250 tons of coal per day

b)    Average of 275 vehicle trips per day ( 30 T capacity)

c)    Average consumption of 12 KL of Diesel per day ( 45 liters per trip)


In addition to the consumption of Diesel, and the consequent  Air Pollution and Carbon Emissions, the hardship is being experienced by the villagers along the road by way of extensive damage to the roads,  accidents etc, because of frequent movement of heavy vehicles.


Alternative of Rail Transportation


 The proposal to lay the Railway line from Kothagudem ( Bhadrachalam Road) to Kovvur is under consideration of the Railway Board for more than 3 decades to the best of my knowledge. If this Railway line materializes as per the plans, passing through Bhavannapalem of Penuballi Mandal of Khammam district, an additional line of 6-8 km can be laid connecting Sattupalli Coal Mine to Bhavannapalem to facilitate Rail-Transportation of coal to Kothagudem.


Initiative of SCL


Even though SCL is willing to lay the stretch of 6-8 km line at their own cost, no useful purpose will be served, as the original proposal of for Kothagudem - Kovvur Railway line does not seem to be under active consideration of the railway Board.


 It is understood that even though SCL in partnership with APGENCO, has come forward to lay the dedicated Railway line for transportation of coal  from Sattupalli Coal mine to Kothagudem at their own cost , the Railway Board does not seem to have responded favorably to the proposal.




 In the light of the national waste in Transportation of Coal by energy inefficient Road Transport and consequent recurring expenditure by way of frequent re-carpeting of roads, repair & maintenance and replacement of vehicles, apart from loss of life due to road accidents, Air Pollution and Carbon Emissions, the GOI / Railway Board requested to consider


a)    Expediting the laying of the long pending  Kothagudem(Bhadrachalam Road)–Kovvur Railway line  on top priority basis  or


b)    Permit SCL in partnership with APGENCO, to lay the dedicated Railway line for transportation of coal  from Sattupalli Coal mine to Kothagudem at their own cost  with out any  delay, reservations  & preconditions


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Urban–Rural Divide Must Go



Urban Area, in general terms, is a place where there is large and relatively dense concentration of population and where inhabitants are engaged in non-agricultural occupations. The urban areas have emerged mainly because of historical reasons and locational advantages and have become industrial and commercial centers and seats of governance and learning.


The urbanization has long been seen as a necessary step in economic development and therefore Cities have been referred to, as engines of development that fuel economic progress. But they are also increasingly being seen, as the prime machines that pollute and degrade environment. As cities grow, so do their adverse impact on health and quality of life, because too many people will be chasing too little. Therefore the mega-cities jeopardize the very hope for better living, for which the city dweller aspires.


Trends of Urbanization


There has been dramatic growth of global urban population since beginning of last century, going up from 1 urbanite in every 10 in 1900, to 3 in 10 in 1948. Today's population, in well developed countries is already urban and their future urban growth will be relatively slow. But in developing countries, the urban growth will be relatively higher and more than 50% of urban population, unlike in developed countries, will be living in conditions that threaten their health, even their lives. The greatest challenge facing the developing countries in 21st century is to solve these problems and to provide better urban life to this majority population.


Rural Migration


In India about 74% of population of more than100 crores (one billion), lives in about 600,000 villages and yet, it has the second largest urban population in the world and is expected to go up in the years to come. The growing economic disparities between urban and rural, and the pressure on fragmented agricultural land, lack of employment opportunities, the neglect of traditional trades/skills, non-availability of basic civic amenities and good quality primary education and health care, the traditional malice to cast etc in villages, are largely contributing to the migration of rural population to cities.


The situation in the States of Punjab , Haryana and  Kerala is some what different, because of rural prosperity due to comparatively well developed infrastructure and the availability of better opportunities in villages. This minimized the migration of rural population to cities, preventing the emergence of large metropolitan cities in these states. During the last five decades, large number of urban centers have emerged in other states, on the western model, ignoring the needs of villages and the problems of inequality, poverty etc peculiar to our country. As a result a high proportion of urban population lives in slums, without basic amenities.


Urban Slums


 Earlier when urbanization was not a very serious issue in our country we were talking about Slum-Clearance. Today the slums have been recognized as the main feature of the urban environment. Now the priority seems to be Slum-Upgrading through a variety of programmes such as Urban Community development, Urban Poverty alleviation, Slum environmental improvement etc, funded by external agencies like DFID. But the malaise is that ghettos have been created in the process and they have been politicized. In other words, vote-banks have been created ignoring socio-economic uplift of slum dwellers.


AP State Urbanization


 Andhra Pradesh State with a population of about 7.60 Crores (76 million), has an urban population of about 2.10 Crores (21 million). This works out to be about 27%, which is higher than all India urban average of 25.72%, and may go up to 50% by 2020, if the present trends are allowed to continue. The cities of Hyderabad, Visakhapatnam and Vijayawada put together cater for about 39% of total urban population of the state, while Hyderabad alone accounts for 27.60% and the balance 61% is spread over about 200 towns, which are becoming overcrowded and becoming unmanageable. This has brought tremendous pressure on land in and around Hyderabad and other cities/ towns, leading to  encroachment of water bodies, parks, hills, open spaces etc causing unprecedented rise in temperatures, flooding and   inundation of residential areas/roads and irreversible damage to environment.


Urban- Rural Disparities


 If the present trends of urbanization are allowed to continue unchecked, the population of Hyderabad Metropolitan Area (HMA) is expected to cross one Crore (10 million) by 2015, which will be well neigh impossible to manage. Therefore there is an urgent need to arrest and reverse the migration from rural to urban areas. The migration is a product of both the Pull of perceived opportunities and services in the urban areas and the Push of rural unemployment and lack of facilities. But unfortunately, instead of reducing urban-rural disparities and balancing the pull- push factors, more and more investments are being made to augment urban infrastructure facilities, which have become unmanageable. These ill-conceived urban investments, in projects like flyovers and other fancy projects, having short term and marginal benefits, not commensurate with the money spent, are sending wrong signals to encourage migration and to add to urban problems.


 Reverse Rural Migration


There are no quick and easy solutions to complex urban problems in isolation from rural problems. The planned reverse migration is not only feasible but also essential to save the cities, as well as to revive the village economy.  There has to be a concerted action plan, for integrated development, at the level of Villages, Mandal headquarters, District towns, Cities and Metropolitan areas, as a total human settlement package. And each level should have a role, based on its advantages, to channelize mobility in a given direction, through appropriate employment opportunities and a physical and social infrastructure.


The Panchayats at Village, Mandal and District levels should be endowed with such powers and authority to enable them to function as intuitions of self government in accordance with Article 243 of The Constitution of India ((incorporated by Seventy-third Amendment) This approach will facilitate spreading of urban facilities to rural areas and to bring down disparity, instead of concentration in a few cities adding to their problems. All these will show results over a period of time and are not suited to short term oriented decision makers (political and bureaucratic},who want the black magic of producing results overnight.


India vs. Bharat


  Sri.M.Venkaiah Naidu, former Union Minister for Rural Development, said that our entire system has an urban bias, because organized & educated people and the Infrastructure are concentrated in the urban areas of the country, creating urban-rural disparities. He also said that India (Urban) has Cyber Towers, Internet, Flyovers, Expressways etc, while Bharat (Rural) lacks basic amenities like Water supply, Sanitation, Health care, Housing and Roads and this Urban-Rural divide must go.



Monday, August 16, 2010

Fight Root Causes of Terrorism

Credibility of War Against Terrorism ?


 What happened on 9/11 to World Trade Center and Pentagon in the United States was a crime against humanity, an act of horrendous violence against all races and creeds. The international community must be united and determined in their efforts to bring those responsible to justice. But all such crimes, irrespective of the fact, who the perpetrators and the victims are, the place of occurrence etc, should be dealt the same way. If it is done on selective basis, just because the 'most powerful country on earth' is inflicted, it only sends wrong signals regarding the credibility of the intentions and encouraging more terrorism.


War not Against Individuals


 If nineteen well trained individuals were motivated to sacrifice their lives, for the cause or faith they believed, in the Boeing crashing of 9/11 and many more are lined up for similar acts, there is much more than involvement of a few individuals behind this activity. Therefore war against terrorism does not mean getting one or two individuals captured 'dead or alive', but it will have to be the fight against the root causes of terrorism, and the forces that create them.


 The Naxal extremist activities in Srikakulam district of Andhra Pradesh could not be eliminated with the killings of Vempatapu Satyam and a few other leaders, Mainly because it all started based on an ideology they believed and against the exploitation of the highest order, then prevalent in the tribal and backward areas. When the people were deprived of their livelihood and exploited by the influential landlords & the middlemen, the administration was indifferent to their problems and nowhere to go, the sense of hopelessness & desperation crept into them.


Growing Inequalities


The growing inequality between the developed and the developing countries, the rich and the poor, stands out in the sharpest relief. In 1960, the richest 20% of the world's people absorbed 70% of global income and by 1989 the share of wealthy people had climbed to nearly 83%. The poorest 20%, meanwhile, saw their share of global income drop from an already meager 2.3% to just 1.4%.


Disparities in food consumption are revealing as well. As many as 700 million people do not eat enough to live and work at their full potential. The average African, for instance, consumes only 87% of the calories needed for a healthy and productive life. Meanwhile, diets in many rich countries are so laden with animal fat ,as to cause increased rates of heart disease and cancer.


 Moreover the meat intensive diets of the wealthy usurp a disproportionately large share of earth's agricultural carrying capacity, depriving the poor of their share. Many countries suffer from insufficient renewable fresh water supplies to meet the basic needs of the growing populations.


Disparities drive to Desperation  


 When there is so much of glaring disparity between the rich and the poor and the people are denied access to clean air, adequate safe drinking water and soil, to meet their basic human needs, we see the rise of a sense of deprivation, hopelessness, intolerance and hatred. The desperate people can resort to desperate solutions. Intolerance also has its role. It can, in the name of religion or ideology, fan the flames of hate and ignite a belief that terrorism is the only solution to a community's or nation's ills. As a result they may care little about themselves and the people they hurt.


Fight Root Causes & Forces that Create them


 Mr. Klaus Toepfer, the Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme ( UNEP) said that "It is the forces of poverty, environmental degradation and hatred that give birth to the intolerance that can lead to fundamentalism and terrorist acts" He also said that while fighting against terrorism, we must also expose the forces that create poverty, intolerance, hatred and environmental degradation that can lead to an unstable world.




Sunday, August 15, 2010

AP Coastal Coal Based Power Plants -Ecological Disaster?

PSC 192 Report on CPCB


The Parliamentary Standing Committee (PSC) on Science & Technology and Environment & Forests, in its 192 Report submitted to the Parliament, observed that the share of SPM load caused by Coal based Thermal Power Plants  is about 82% of the total Industrial Pollution. It is also observed that the Committee is aware of the importance of energy & power as the main driving force in the process of economic development, but at the same time it feels that the country can not afford to ignore and neglect the importance of environment.  It, therefore, emphasized the need to switch over to green sources of energy, as a long term solution of energy requirements.


Environmental Impact of Coastal Coal Based Power Plants in AP State


As per the information available, the coal based Thermal Power Plants (TPPs) with an estimated capacity of more than 30,000 MW, are expected to be set up along the coast in AP State, by end of the 12 th Plan Period (2017). An integrated and comprehensive study of Environmental Impact, of setting up of such huge capacities, using estimated 180 million tons of coal & generating 45 million tons of coal ash per annum, is to be undertaken before any more projects are cleared along the coast.(6000 tons of Coal/MW/Annum and 25% ash content)


 In addition to the adverse impact of SPM, the problems of Mercury, NoX, SO2 etc emissions from TPPs, and the Coal Ash, containing toxic heavy metals like arsenic, lead and selenium that can cause cancer and neurological problems, need to be studied. on marine and coastal ecology & biodiversity and their adverse impacts on the livelihood of the communities dependent on them, The other aspect to be addressed is the destruction of ecologically sensitive coastal natural resources such as Mangroves, Wetlands etc by the location of proposed TPPs.


Likely Impact of TPPS around Krishnapatnam on SHAR at Srihari Kota


Out of the estimated 30,000 MW capacity to be set up on AP Coast, about 17,000 MW capacity is expected to come up in and around Krishnapatnam alone in Nellore district. The likely adverse impact of this on SHAR at Srihari Kota and Pulicat Wildlife Sanctuary and Pulicat Lake, the second largest brackish water Eco-System in the country, needs to be examined.


The comprehensive and integrated environmental impact assessment of these TPPs along with the Thermal Power Plant at Ennore in Tamilnadu, on SHAR and Pulicat Lake, need to be undertaken , if not already done, before  any of the new TPPS are permitted and the ones already permitted in the area are commissioned.


The Indian Space Research Organization ( ISRO ) and the Department of Forests (Wildlife) Andhra Pradesh need to be consulted before permitting TPPs and Polluting activities in the area.




  The integrated & comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment of the proposed & existing projects along the coast in AP State, need to be under taken to evaluate the cumulative adverse impacts on coastal communities and marine & coastal resources in particular, before any new project is permitted.


 Also adequate precautions need to be taken to prevent destruction of sensitive natural resources such as Mangroves, Wetlands etc and ensure their protection, before any projects are permitted.