Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Tsunami Three Years

Corpus recovered. But life still not recovered.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Give us to Give Them.

Hello Friend,

This is M.Kannan, volunteer president of an environment educators' group. And although I would love your support and hope that every one of you care environment education to be imparted among children and teenagers that is why I am here today.

As many of you already know, there can be no double opinion regarding taking the mission of environment education to the school children living in villages in an era when big brasses are sucking our ground water and spoiling our land and sky like anything. Our first love has always been mobilising youths, mainly children and teenagers agains the environmental onslaught.

I am therefore, in the process of setting up a library in each village to go along with the reading program on environment we've already established with the hopes of increasing environmental literacy and enabling our children and teenagers to be more productive citizens concerned with the nature and environment.

If you can find it in your heart to help them with a few books on these matters I, as will they, sincerely appreciate it or some other resources like equipments of information technology which would be useful for setting up the library.
So I request you please send a DD / cheque for Rs. 500 or in multiples in favour of M.Kannan that would be fine.

Again, I thank you for your time support and cooperation.

Please allow us to add your name in our donar's list in appreciation against your precious help.

For more information:
Thanking you,


M.Nilavarasu Kannan
Voluntary Action for Zooming Habitat Initiatives
14/128, Ismail Street, Avinashi, A
vinashi TalukCoimbatore District,
Tamilnadu, India, Pin: 641 654

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Book Review

Environment and the poor

Analysis of whether social, economic and gender inequalities aggravate environmental degradation

INEQUALITY, COOPERATION AND ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY: Jean-Marie Baland, Pranab Bardhan and Samuel Bowles — Editors; Oxford University Press, YMCA Library Building, Jai Singh Road, New Delhi-110001. Rs. 750

Samuel Bowles is co-author of the best textbook on economics (Understanding Capitalism) I have read in nearly 40 years as a student of the subject. I find Bowles’ recent work on cultural evolution and his use of “strong reciprocity” as a schema for predicting and understanding altruism in humans, nothing short of inspirational. Bowles is one of those who were asked by Martin Luther King Jr. to write background papers for the 1968 Poor People’s March. Pranab Bardhan is the world’s leading iconoclast on globalisation, punching holes in the certitudes of both Left and Right on its impact. Bardhan and Bowles head a research network on the Effects of Inequality on Economic Performance. The volume under review originated as a project of this network.

Economic inequality

Does inequality aggravate environmental degradation? The book tries to answer this question in the context of local commons, essential to the livelihoods of the poorest people in the world. Does inequality make cooperation to protect the commons more difficult? Do the poor damage the commons in pursuing their own interests? The book is a collection of broadly two kinds of papers that try to grapple with these conundrums — some present theoretical approaches such as agent-based computational models, while others provide results of empirical studies from commons across the world, covering forest areas in Nepal and India, irrigation farming in South India and Mexico, as also fisheries in the U.S. and Senegal.

One of the most fascinating papers in the volume is by Juan-Camilo Cardenas who follows Bowles’ example of moving common-pool resource experiments out of the ivory towers of university students to actual users of forests surrounding three Colombian villages. Cardenas finds that inequality does impede collective action by creating social distance, the negative impact being greater for those with lower wealth levels. Why communication engenders greater cooperation in social dilemmas is because it helps forge group identities, reinforces group goals and their benefits, and creates non-monetary social costs for free-riders. But wealth distances the possibilities of building trust. Poverty by itself does not limit cooperation though. Indeed, poorer but homogenous groups seem willing to cooperate to increase collectively generated individual benefits.

Environmental issues

Unsurprisingly, the most hard-hitting piece in this otherwise even-handed kind of book, is by James Boyce, who has for years been striving to sensitise mainstream economics on environmental issues. As Boyce says, “The global environment is our common home, but not everyone lives in the same room.” Boyce’s work reveals a shocking bias in hazardous waste disposal policy in the U.S. against low-income areas with high percentage of African Americans and other minority groups. Boyce argues that wider social and economic inequalities — based on class, race, ethnicity, gender, and age — lead to weaker environmental policies, which in turn result in greater environmental degradation. This suggests that inequalities in the distribution of power operate not only to the detriment of specific groups, but also to the detriment of environmental quality as a whole.

The book also includes a high-quality paper by Bina Agarwal on how gender inequality impinges on prospects of cooperation and environmental sustainability. For this she draws on her fieldwork in community forestry sites in five Indian states in the late 1990s. Agarwal finds that women bear disproportionately higher costs and obtain lower benefits from forest closure than men. Both pre-existing gender inequalities and those that spring up when new institutions are created, reduce the inclination and incentive for women to participate in forest protection. Inequalities across gender in economic endowments, gendered social norms and perceptions and the coercion women suffer in gender relations at home and in the community, all combine to constrain women’s participation.

Land inequality

In their study of 48 villages spread over six districts in Tamil Nadu, Bardhan and Dayton-Johnson find that greater land inequality is associated with poorer maintenance of tanks/canals and higher incidence of water-related conflicts. This is confirmed by their comparative study of central Mexico. Their findings also underscore the importance of local rules for maintaining irrigation resources and infrastructure. It is clear that maintenance suffers in systems where a substantial proportion of farmers believe that rules were crafted by the local elite. Conflicts are lower where there is caste or ejido homogeneity. What David Sally has termed “sympathy” (an inverse function of physical and psychological distance between people) is crucial. This clearly poses a serious challenge to conventional economic modelling that is still a great “distance” away, it appears, from the reality it is trying to understand!

For a book with so much insight and good guidance (as reflected in the quality of its editors), it is hard to comprehend how it can possibly include such shoddy empirical work as by Somanathan et al. in the Indian Himalayas and Baland et al. in Nepal. The Himalaya study suffers from an almost complete absence of ethnographic fieldwork, without which we get virtually no feel of the many social processes vital to an understanding of forest protection.

The Nepal study is even worse with its very poor quality data and again the lack of even an attempt to understand socio-historical and institutional dynamics. It is studies like these (and they sadly abound) that give econometrics a bad name. There appears a preoccupation (one could call it a vocation actually) with using (largely linear) regression models to answer questions (of the type “does x impact y?”) in a simple “yes, no, can’t say” sort of way, without any engagement with the far more interesting and insight-pregnant processes that govern these apparent “correlations”. Indeed, as Samuel Bowles himself has said in another context, the economic theory of cooperation and general equilibrium theory, both favouring parsimony over realism, suffer from a curious lack of attention to dynamics and out-of-equilibrium behaviour. Unfortunately, some of the papers in the volume he has co-edited cannot be said to be entirely free of these faults.

(Courtesy: The Hindu)

Monday, November 12, 2007

Orathupalayam Dam 5

Dam damned.

Orathupalayam Dam 4

Will polluters pay?

Orathupalayam Dam 4

Will polluters pay?

Orathupalayam Dam 3

A view of the Dam Water

Orathupalayam Dam 2

Vazhi Volunteers Reviewing Orathupalayam Dam along with local people.

Orathupalayam Dam 1

Orathupalayam Dam in Tamilnadu highly polluted by Dye Units around the area.

Work: Our water 4

‘Polluters Pay !’ – News Tomorrow:

The dam water is to be released once the water fills to its full height. During July 2004, there was only 2 feet yet to be filled its full height. But the authorities blink their eyes as the water, if released, would suddenly cause a holocaust with its poisonous contents in these districts. There is drought in these districts and scarcity for drinking water and difficulties for irrigation. Still the dam water is unusable for these purposes. Authorities think the dam water could be let open if Mettur dam in Salem district is open, in that case the effect of the Orathupalayam dam water will be much decreased by mixing Mettur water which would take all wastes right in to Kaveri. This option still appears to be a question, as the Mettur dam has water only for 72 feet in its height and it has to wait too long for getting filled and the water released from it.

Who is to blame ? – Make the Polluters Pay !

The textile unit owners are to blame obviously. They are outright offenders of converting River Noyyal in to drainage and the Orathupalayam dam as the launch pad of chemical and biological war on the people. They can propagate that (their industrial) development of Tiruppur earns the nation a huge volume of forex. But whose development and at what cost? It is someone else’s development and the working masses have nothing to do with this industrial development, nor with the forex earned to the nation.

There were demands to get paid for silting the dam and compensation to the affected people.

Did they give an ear to these demands of citizens?

The polluters refused continuously to incur the expenditure of silting the dam till the matter was taken to the Supreme Court, which recently gave its verdict on the pollution crimes of the textile industrial units in Tiruppur and has instructed the polluters to pay for the silting work at Orathupalayam dam. The mill owners asoociation has, as the first installment, handed over an amount of Rs. 1 crore to the district collector on 15th August 2004. Yet the questions which remain unanswered are:

Would the Mill Owners’ Association make the payment in full as instructed by the Supreme Court?

Will the people and agriculturalists who have been so far affected by the waste waters be compensated by the mill owners?

What is the fate of River Noyyal in the future? The judgment of Supreme Court did not cover it. Partial concerns would lead only to the re-birth of the ghosts and re-start of the biological, chemical wars on the people.

Are the ETPs and CETPs monitored periodically? Make the facts regarding the amount of worked water by these treatment plants and the results every month.

Will the recently introduced technologies including the ‘BOOT’ resolve the waste water problem in the long term?

Why not including people’s participation and concerned NGOs in all these process?

Work: Our water 3

The Gospel and the Ghost

Tiruppur is taken for a gospel with its huge textile industry, which about 4 lakhs of the entire population of the town are dependent upon. But these are only indirect beneficiaries as labourers. The direct beneficiaries are only some thousands of families who own the innumerable textile units. They freely let out the waste waters from their units in to Noyyal. The waste waters find their refuge in the Orathupalayam dam after making Noyyal drainage. The ghost takes its birth in Noyyal and performs its dance in the dam with the high chemicals of waste waters.

In fact, people used to worship the river Noyyal in the past. Now also, they consider part of the River sacred from its source at Vellingiri hills until Perur in Coimbatore. And that is the LOC of the ghost’s kingdom, which spreads although and beyond Tiruppur. The chemicalised water causes boils and skin diceases if touched and reacts as slow-killing poison if drunk. Cattle die frequently after drinking the river water. The waste chemicals finding refuge in the dam gives birth to the poisonous distinct insect which are the uninvited gate crashers every evening to the people living around.

Work: Our water 2

Why is the Orathapalayam dam water highly chemicalised?

Why does it cause a lot of troubles to the people ?

Does the concern is for only the distinct insects or are there some thing more than the insects?

To find answers to these questions we have to, a little, look back in to the recent past.

Dam and Development – News Yesterday:

Noyyal, a tributary of Kaveri, ‘was’ flowing through the Western districts of Tamilnadu before the ‘emergence’ of Tiruppur as an industrial town. Tiruppur is considered to be a miniature of Mumbai situated near Coimbatore, which is the Manchester of South India. The bleaching and dyeing units, spread in thousands in and around Tiruppur have, in due course, preyed on the river Noyyal, which started from Vellingiri hills, flew through Perur in Coimbatore district and reached Tiruppur.

The people of the adjacent districts – Erode and Karur were in dire need of Noyyal water for irrigation and drinking purposes. This, in time, resulted in building of the Orathapalayam dam near Chennimalai across River Noyyal. The dam was built with a height of 248 meter and length of 2290 meter and was unveiled by the Chiefminister on 22nd January 1992. The cost of building the dam was so big that an amount of Rs. 1646 million was incurred in construction work. 500 acres of lands in Erode district and 9,875 acres of lands in Karur district were to be directly benefited from the dam. The dam has six numbers of shutters in-built within it to let out water during floods.

Work: Our water 1

Citizens’ Concerns - News Today:

People of Orathupalayam village near Erode town are habituated to be 10 AM to 6 PM by their living condition. They cannot keep their houses open after 6 PM. A kind of poisonous insects rock their houses and bite them liberally. Those who get the bites will have their hands, legs and other body parts swollen in minutes. If those insects bite around their eyes, they cannot open their eyes the next day.

Why do the poisonous insects bite these people? Where do these insects originate? People of Ramalingapuram near Orathanpalayam speak with fear in their eyes and throat. Arappan, a resident of this village is a witness of these people’s fate and said that they had this nuisance since the Orathapalayam dam was built in 1992. The water of the dam is usable neither for drinking nor for domestic purposes. The dam water caused various skin deceases to them. The distinct insects actually take their life from the dam and visit the people’s houses as uninvited gate crashers.

People here walk a 3 km distance to fetch drinking water though the dam is filled with sufficient water. Meenakshi of the same village is another person to depict the sorrow of Orathapalayam. According to Meenakshi, the dam is the source of trouble in their life as against it was believed that the dam would serve them as panacea. Meenakshi says it would be a big question regarding letting out the water from the dam, as the water is highly chemicalised. When it is getting dark every day, the poisonous insects come out in hundreds from the dam and attack the people with their sting. They, immediately after getting the bites, feel itches all over their body followed by swellings and pain in all body parts.

Notes and News: Dengue

Dengue Dragon

Dengue fever is fast spreading in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Indonesia. It is the threat today in India. WHO has advised Government of India to keep alert on Dengue. Last year it spread in Chennai. It is a slow talk in Coimbatore city today. The kind of mosquito which brings in Dengue is a real challenge to world biologists. Because these mosquitoes affect near about 500 million people all over the world. In India all states are affected by Dengue in one or other way. Last year Dengue took a toll of more than 150 in India. A number 30 times more than this would have been affected without being aware about this decease.

In India Dengue was first discovered in the year 1963. A patient in Calcutta was admitted in hospital. Before doctors found that it was Dengue, 60 more persons succumbed to the killer virus. In 1996, in Delhi hospitals 10, 252 persons affected by Dengue virus were admitted. Of them 423 were died of the Dengue fever. Dengue virus damage brain, intestine and other important organs in human body. The Dengue patient will start bleed soon and die of the decease. It is a contagious decease. This decease is spreading faster where there is population congestion is more. So it is threatening today all major cities of India.

There is no regular medicine for Dengue till date. So prevention is the best measure to combat Dengue. Once symptoms of and ambiguity about Dengue is felt in a person, instant medical check up can save him/her. Another protection against Dengue is to keep the surroundings of living places mosquito-free. Let us not allow water rust in any place. Keep all the vessels in the house holds upside down after washing them cleanly. Waste buckets and tins must be sent to recycle without fail. The food plates and water bowls used for the pets in our home must be kept clean and bacteria-free. Our dirty clothes should not be hung in the halls of the home. In ponds we can use some mosquito-killing fishes such as Gold fish. Use mosquito coils, liquidators, creams for sleeping and keep the windows net-protected.

Dengue in Thiruppur?

Thiruppur is an internationally renowned town for its garment manufacturing. There are 52 wards in Thiruppur town. The flats built in these 52 wards are un-recognised lay out areas. So these lay-out areas are neglected by the administration in terms of basic infrastructure.

On grounds of industrial initiatives and in search of water there are innumerable holes dug in every road of the town. Most roads of towns are not well metalled. So during rainy season the roads become wet paths and give place for rust of water all along the way. Added to it the cracks in the municipal pipeline system with huge quantity of drinking water being wasted on the roads. Hotels of Thiruppur are the real hells. This all add to the health degradation for the people in Thiruppur. Any contagious deceases can easily spread in the town in the margin areas.

Policy View: One family; one tree????????

Propaganda for Growing Tree and Protection of Rural Trees and Forests

‘One family; One tree’ is the slogan propagated by all sectors concerned with environment. As regards with rural areas, this slogan has only little bearing as trees grows in villages naturally. These trees of villages will help us to withstand the hot summer and purify the air which we breath in. This natural wealth of our rurals is depleted by malicious acts of humans. Thousands of these trees are felled every day in the villages by those who use trees for their business and various other purposes.

A considerable portion of the green cover is destroyed in the villages by land owners. They say the reason that the shadow of the trees prevent better growth of their crops. On the other hand, hundreds of lorries of loads of trees are moving every day from villages for business purposes.

In Thiruppur and surrounding areas, now a days, trees are seen only by side of small temples. Big trees can be sited only along side the national highways. Mostly neem trees are felled unscrupulously.

The grama sabha meetings held every week in the villages on behalf of panchayats do not deal this issue. The grama sabhas should deal the matter seriously as to protect the trees of the villages. Governments and ngos are making a hue and cry for growing trees in the urban areas. But such awareness or protective measures are not taken in rural areas.

Rural areas have natural protection mechanism as the working masses themselves are the best protectors of trees and green cover. They are highly exploited due to their economic dependency on landlords and commission brokers are given a free hand to carry away the natural wealth. Forests around rural areas are severely affected by these selfish business minded persons.

In fact, the slogan ‘one tree; one family’ or ‘grow tree; more tree’ is an eye wash and ironical when large quantity of our natural wealth of rural areas and forests. Plant millions of trees in the urban areas; No use unless tree felling in villages and depletion of forests is stopped.

Policy View: Industrial Pollution in Tiruppur

Water audit for industries sought

The following step must be immediately implemented in Thiruppur and Coimbatore and surrounding areas:

Union Minister for Water Resources Santosh Mohan Deb once favoured water auditing for industries, hotels and housing societies.

Addressing a seminar on "Industry's Role in Water Conservation and Distribution" organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, he underscored the important role industry must play in creating mass awareness in conservation and preservation of water resources. They should take up and support research programmes directed towards development of techniques and technology to bring in higher levels of efficiency. He also expressed over depletion of groundwater levels.

Planning Commission Member Kirit Parikh stressed the need to "sort out" the issue of groundwater rights. He asked industry to focus on conservation of water and enhance its quality. He urged business groups to invest in rural and urban water management and introduce low-cost technology for water purification. FICCI president Onkar S. Kanwar called for rationalisation of water tariffs, effective regulatory and institutional frameworks, independent contracts and guidance manual for public-private partnerships and clear guidelines for selection of private players. (It is very necessary to curb the activity of industrial units in the Western Tamilnadu for justifying water balance in the future

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Policy View: Rain and Aftermath

Water - now a source of misery

It is water everywhere. For the villagers of Thalayakattur the recent rain has only brought miseries with it. No transport vehicle has entered the area for the last 15 days... children were unable to go to school... no work for villagers... no fodder for their cattle.

We are held up in the village and could not go to Erode or other places, because of the flood.

The village, located near the Vellode Birds Sanctuary, is 12 km from Erode. More than 100 families comprising 400 villagers are living there. Most of them are farmers or agricultural labourers. About 75 children are attending Pungampady Panchayat Primary School and Vellode Government Higher Secondary School.

The water from Lower Bhavani canal reached the Big Tank in Vellode and it overflowed to the road entering the village. No one is able to leave the village too, as four to five feet of water is stagnating.

Cattle are now living on bran and cottonseeds. The villagers themselves consume the milk collected, as vegetables are not available.

Two mini buses used to ply to the village. Since they too have stopped the service, villagers have to walk 10 km to reach Vellode, which is just 1 km from Thalayakattur.

If the rain continues and measures are not taken to drain the water, they are in for an extended period of distress, the villagers say.


Nature's tears, the pounding rain,
Cruelly mimic my resounding pain.
Opaque clouds conceal her soul,
But mine is open, a bottomless hole
That never heals, can never be cured,
Love dies inside, so rest assured
I shall no longer flood the land
With endless droplets wiped by hand.

Wait! Suddenly the horizon brightens,
Hope and fear in my heart heightens.
The myth of the clouds with the silver lining
Breaks the spell that was once confining,
For now I feel my spirits rise
As nature herself answers my cries.
No longer shall I mope and mourn,
For he has mended my heart that was torn.

Note & News : Disaster Forecast

Animals and Birds in Disaster Forecast

Many birds and animals are believed to have the power of guessing the occurrence of a quake or other natural disaster. Evidentially before the quake that occurred in Gujarat in 2000 a horse ran random in a marriage function throwing the bridegroom who had sit on it. During the tragic time of tsunami in 2004 animals in the forests lying along coasts and zoos were not affected. Uniformly they were safe in Indonesia, India and in Sri Lanka. This proves that animals and birds have the power of guessing the disaster in advance. Added to this wonder of nature, the sea-animals are also protective of disasters like tsunami and sea deep quakes. If it was scientifically explored the future human kind will owe a lot to the speech-less species for making warnings about the forthcoming disaster.

Policy Views: Ending Man – Animal Conflict

North Bengal elephants are now GPS-collared

Exercise to cope with man-elephant conflict

KOLKATA : Two more elephants in north Bengal have been fitted with global positioning system (GPS) equipment, bringing the total number in the region to be thus uniquely radio-collared in the country to four.

The "intensely high levels" of human-elephant conflict in north Bengal, where 50 persons die on an average each year, led the authorities to try the exercise. The region has about 500 elephants. Only on Sunday night a rogue tusker killed three persons including a woman in the Baikunthapur forest area in Jalpaiguri district.

Prof. Raman Sukumar, Chairman, Centre for Ecological Sciences at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, who is involved in the implementation of the scheme, said on Tuesday: "The idea is to make available to wildlife managers information that will enable them to anticipate man-elephant conflicts. It has the function of an early warning system, with the managers, in turn, alerting the region's anti-depredation squads against possible attacks."

In contrast to the figures for north Bengal, the number of deaths caused by human-elephant conflict in southern India, where the elephant population is nearly 12,000, is 30 to 40 a year on an average.

Radio collaring of tigers in the Sunderbans

For the first time, four tigers in the Sunderbans in West Bengal will be radio collared as part of a pilot project sanctioned by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forestry with the purpose of providing information on matters like habitat preferences and breeding behaviour of the animal. It will also make available critical inputs for the analysis of pugmarks to be tabulated during the biennial census of the tigers scheduled for January 2006.

The daily monitoring of the tigers as a prelude to the census operations was started in April and the data collated in the course of this year will be compared with the final census figures to make for a realistic count of tigers inhabiting the world's largest mangrove swamp. The tiger count in the Sunderbans in the last census was 274.

A software has now been made available which is expected to provide a high-level of accuracy on pugmark readings and will be employed in the coming tiger census in the Sunderbans, Atanu Raha, director, Sunderbans Biosphere Reserve and Chief Conservator of Forests, West Bengal, said here on Tuesday.

Delivering this year's Bengal Science Lectures on the "The Science and the Art of Counting Tigers", Prof. Madhav Gadgil of the Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, regretted the command-and-control approach employed by wild life managers across the country in wildlife studies and said that it should be replaced with a "share-and-inform regime".

Unless this was done and transparency ensured any census would suffer the possibility of being both flawed and manipulated.

Findings: Waste Management

They believe that waste is wealth:SHG members collect garbage, make manure


At present, five SHGs are entrusted with the task in Punjai Puliampatty.

Waste is wealth, if properly used. Members of self-help groups are proving it.

They are collecting garbage door to door in Punjai Puliampatty municipal area and making manure. The Third Grade Punjai Puliampatty Municipality hitherto had its own conservancy workers to collect garbage. Now SHGs collect garbage, segregate it and make manure. At present, five SHGs are entrusted with the task in 15 wards. Soon all wards will be handed over to SHGs.

In other wards too

Similarly, six SHGs will start garbage collection in six municipal wards in Gobichettipalayam Municipality from December 1.

Municipal officials said that in Gobichettipalayam municipal area, 27 tonnes of garbage is collected everyday by workers of Health Department.

The municipal administration is spending more than Rs. 10 lakhs per month on conservancy workers.

With SHGs collecting garbage, the municipality stands to gain.

More to follow suit

The members are allowed to collect Rs. 10 per month from each house for garbage collection. The district administration is holding discussions with officials of other municipalities on engaging SHGs for garbage collection.

(According to Press Source)

Findings: Waste Management

They believe that waste is wealth:SHG members collect garbage, make manure


At present, five SHGs are entrusted with the task in Punjai Puliampatty.

Waste is wealth, if properly used. Members of self-help groups are proving it.

They are collecting garbage door to door in Punjai Puliampatty municipal area and making manure. The Third Grade Punjai Puliampatty Municipality hitherto had its own conservancy workers to collect garbage. Now SHGs collect garbage, segregate it and make manure. At present, five SHGs are entrusted with the task in 15 wards. Soon all wards will be handed over to SHGs.

In other wards too

Similarly, six SHGs will start garbage collection in six municipal wards in Gobichettipalayam Municipality from December 1.

Municipal officials said that in Gobichettipalayam municipal area, 27 tonnes of garbage is collected everyday by workers of Health Department.

The municipal administration is spending more than Rs. 10 lakhs per month on conservancy workers.

With SHGs collecting garbage, the municipality stands to gain.

More to follow suit

The members are allowed to collect Rs. 10 per month from each house for garbage collection. The district administration is holding discussions with officials of other municipalities on engaging SHGs for garbage collection.

(According to Press Source)

Waste Management


Waste segregation at source yet to catch on

The Coimbatore Corporation is racing against time to implement a solid waste management scheme. But segregation of waste at source (the point of generation such as homes, shops, hospitals, hotels and offices) is yet to gain ground.

While the public are not receptive to the need to store biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste in separate bins, a section of the workers too are equally at fault.There are areas where the residents comply with pollution control norms and keep biodegradable waste in green bins and the non-biodegradable in red ones. But, when they hand these over to the conservancy workers, the entire garbage is dumped into one container.

A source in the Corporation says it is in the process of evolving into one that will eliminate problems in segregation. He points out that at present segregated waste collected from the doorstep is mixed in the truck that carries it to the compost yard.

The fringes of the city also witness a similar problem. Here too workers remove segregated waste, but mix them in the bins on the pushcart. Residents suffer a verbal assault from workers, including self-help group members, when the mixing of garbage is objected to. Argument with the workers reveals that many of them had not been sensitised adequately on the need for segregation. The Corporation source says the ban on bullock carts has turned garbage collection in narrow lanes difficult. There are not enough workers to take pushcarts to these areas. That leaves the conservancy staff covering many areas with the only choice of mixing the garbage.

A sanitary inspector of the Corporation laments the lack of cooperation from the public. Segregation can be sustained only if a proper disposal system is established - either waste to manure or to power. A mechanical segregator and loader is being tried out in Ward 22. It has separate containers for both types of waste. Placed on small platforms, the waste is automatically loaded into the respective bins. The Corporation plans to buy more such equipment. If people adopt segregation, there is no need for sanitary workers, he says.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Policy Views: EIA and Environment Policy

EIA and Environment Policy: Unease over environment clearances

The draft Environment Impact Assessment notification draws protests.THE MINISTRY of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has for some time now been under attack, accused of a lack of commitment to what it is supposed to safeguard. On Monday, November 14, about 150 environmental activists managed to enter the Ministry premises in New Delhi and stage a sit-in, protesting against its draft Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) notification. That day was also the deadline for objections to the draft notification.

The draft, released on September 15, was a dilution of the original 1994 EIA notification, activists said. The protest action followed a public hearing a day earlier in the capital where about 25 affected groups from across the country made representations. A "death certificate" to the EIA was issued during the protest action.

The yet-to-be-released National Environment Policy has been criticised for its lack of consultation with communities and as being economic growth driven, with the idea of promoting private-public partnerships. The draft EIA notification seeks further dilutions.

In the past 11 years, there had been 13 amendments to the EIA notification of 1994. The 13th amendment of July 4, 2005, relaxes the requirement for major projects to get prior environmental clearance. Instead, it says that the MoEF may, after satisfying itself, grant temporary working permission to major projects. This effectively does away with the main reason for environmental clearance, which is to ensure that projects do not result in ecological disasters.

The Govindrajan committee on reforming investment approval and implementation procedures (October 2004) observed that environmental clearance perhaps takes the longest time and causes maximum delays to projects. It seems that its observations have found their way into the draft EIA notification as it proposes that environmental clearance can be given without public hearings, if it is justified, "depending on local conditions." Also, the validity of environment clearance has been extended to 15 and 10 years in case of river valley and other projects respectively, (earlier it was five years from commencement of the project).

Kalpavriksh, the Environmental Action Group that coordinated the three-year biodiversity action plan supported by the MoEF, was reduced to releasing "Securing India's Future," the final technical report of the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP), on its own last month. The MoEF is critical of the report for various reasons. In a press release on October 5, the Ministry said the NBSAP submitted by Kalpavriksh was rejected. The NBSAP was reviewed by a group of scientists appointed by the Ministry, the note explained. They concluded that the report was, for the major part, scientifically invalid. Hence, the Ministry also said that it had started the process of developing the National Bio-diversity Action Plan afresh. Ashish Kothari of Kalpavriksh claims what may be irking the MoEF is not the 15 or 20 so-called factual errors or the scientific flaws that were detected by a three-member committee appointed last year, but the recommendations of the Plan, which are quite radical.

It has to be emphasised that it was the MoEF that initiated the three-year process of preparing the NBSAP from 2000 onwards and 50,000 people all over the country were involved in it in a massive consultative process. Over 100 documents were produced in the process and the final report was submitted to the Ministry in 2003. Many scientific institutions were also involved in the process, funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The report has a wealth of information and action plans, which many States such as Maharashtra, Sikkim, and Karnataka have already started to implement.

The NBSAP report comes at a time when the country is losing nearly half its forests, 40 per cent of mangroves and substantial portions of its wetlands. Agricultural biodiversity was also under threat and this directly impinged on the nutrition levels of people. Mr. Kothari said the biggest threat to areas rich in biodiversity was the threat of development projects. One of the major recommendations the NBSAP makes is to re-orient the development process. Projects will have to conduct what impact they will have on biodiversity in future, before they are approved. It also recommended a National Land Use plan that would ensure that development processes respect the sanctity of regions rich in biodiversity. Apart from this, the report also demands localised planning and governance.

India's richness in biodiversity needs to be protected at all costs, not merely to satisfy the requirements of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), under which the country has to have a national biodiversity action plan ready by 2006.

Meena Menon in The Hindu, Nov.23, 2005

Monday, January 16, 2006

Indegenous Knowledge


Tribals save elephant habitat

Tribals strengthen the bund of Sami Eri lake in Denkanikottai taluk in Krishnagiri.

At a time when everybody waits for Government help, here is a classic example of tribals saving themselves and a prime elephant habitat in the recent rain.

Kishnagiri district received the highest average rainfall this year. Many areas in the district particularly Thally, Kelamangalam and Krishnagiri received heavy rain - the highest in the last 10 years. While almost all major lakes and tanks breached and suffered damage, the Sami Eri lake in Aiyur forests - the main water source for elephants and other wild animals - was saved, thanks to the timely action of the Forest Department and tribals. Sami Eri lake in Aiyur Reserve Forests in the Denkanikottai Forest Range is one of the prime elephant habitats in the district with a lot of bamboos.

This area is to be brought under the proposed Cauvery Elephant Reserve. The lake also attracts migratory birds. During the heavy rain, the Lake started overflowing all along the western bund-cum-road. The central portion of the bund started breaching due to heavy water pressure in the lake.

A team headed by the Conservator of Forests, V.N. Singh and District Forest Officer, S. Paulraj rushed to the spot. A wireless message and alert was given to the Betamugilalam tribal hamlets.

Hundreds of tribals from Kottaiyur tribal colony in Betamugilalam reached the spot and started flood relief work.

The breach was plugged and the bund strengthened. According to Mr. Paulraj, "The ecologically-sensitive lake was saved thanks to the tribals. If not, flooding would have caused much damage."

S. Prasad writes in The Hindu, dated 13 November, 2005