Monthly Archives: April 2011

How much safe is Nuclear Power Plant?

Increase in the number of reactors will increase the the possibility of exposure to radiation hazards.
by Dr. Nitish Priyadarshi

Japan has raised its assessment of the accident at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant to the worst rating on an international scale, putting the disaster on par with the 1986 Chernobyl explosion.

The decision to raise the alert level to 7 from 5 on the scale amounts to an admission that the accident at the nuclear facility, is likely to have substantial and long lasting consequences for health and for the environment.

Living with radiation can in fact be frightening. Plants making nuclear-weapons materials also pollute our environment. Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, as well as other nuclear power plant accidents, have alarmed us. Nuclear waste is piling up.

What is radiation anyway? Although the term is broad enough to include sunlight and heat, radio waves and microwaves, it is most often used to mean ionizing radiation. Every radioactive substance contains unstable atoms, or radionuclides. They want to become something else- something stable- so they change or decay. With each change energy is released. A radionuclide may transform itself many times before becoming stable. An atom of radioactive uranium 238 goes through 14 changes before stabilizing as lead 206. These sequences are known as decay chains.

If body tissues and cells become ionized, abnormalities in DNA can result. Cancer and birth defects can also result from exposure to ionizing radiation.

Even more than Three Mile Island, the explosion at the Chernobyl power plant in soviet Ukraine confirmed the worst nuclear fears. Poor design magnified operator negligence to cause disaster. The explosion sent the graphite slabs of the reactor core through the roof, setting it afire and spewing radioactive materials around the world. Twenty percent of the plant’s radioactive iodine escaped, along with 10 to 20 percent of its radioactive cesium. Thirty persons died; 237 suffered severe radioactive injury. Chernobyl affected the health of many people throughout Russia. Around 600,000 were classified as being ‘significantly exposed’ and will have their health monitored their whole lives.

The main economic cost of the Chernobyl explosion was from the effect the fallout had on the agriculture. Enormous amount of milk in Poland, Hungary, Austria and Sweden were made unusable by the contamination from radioiodine and radioiodine and radiocesium. Also many countries across Europe had numerous amounts of vegetation burned because of contamination. A ban on many agricultural goods was placed in Eastern Europe. The longest effect the radiation had was on the reindeer and sheep in Sweden.

The Three Mile Island accident was a core meltdown in Unit 2 (a pressurized water reactor ) of the Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania near Harrisburg, United States in 1979.

The power plant was owned and operated by General Public Utilities and Metropolitan Edison. It was the most significant accident in the history of the USA commercial nuclear power generating industry, resulting in the release of up to 481 P Bq (13 million curies) of radioactive gases, and less than 740 GBq (20 curies) of iodine-131.

On December 12, 1952 a partial meltdown of a reactor’s uranium core at the Chalk River plant near Ottawa, Canada, resulted after the accidental removal of four control rods. Although millions of gallons of radioactive water poured into the reactor, there were no injuries.

On October 1957 fire destroyed the core of a plutonium-producing reactor at Britain’s Windscale nuclear complex – since renamed Sellafield – sending clouds of radioactivity into the atmosphere. An official report said the leaked radiation could have caused dozens of cancer deaths in the vicinity of Liverpool.

Other accident took place on Winter 1957-’58 when a serious accident occurred during the winter of 1957-58 near the town of Kyshtym in the Urals. A Russian scientist who first reported the disaster estimated that hundreds died from radiation sickness.

On January 1,1992 four tons of heavy water spilt at Rajasthan nuclear power plant (India).

Lots more are there to be listed.

Fears of radiation hazards from nuclear energy arise on the following counts:

  1. release of radioactivity into the atmosphere.
  2. doubts on safety of operating nuclear reactors and associated health risks.
  3. management and safe disposal of radioactive waste.
  4. possibilities of nuclear plant accidents including sabotage.
  5. risk of proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Nuclear power plants are subject to a number of hazards that may originate from outside. Among natural hazards are earthquakes, flooding of the site, ground settlement, etc. Other hazards could be accidents in near by industries, fire, aircraft crash, or sabotage such as bombing and missile attacks during war and terrorist activities.

Accidents in nuclear power plants in the past have been attributed mainly to operation errors, design deficiencies and a series of equipments failures. But the accident in Japan is the first case due to earthquake.

Controversies regarding actual number of deaths, the quantity of radioactivity released and delayed effects still persist.

The demand for energy in several countries is being substantially met through nuclear reactors. It is feared that the phenomenal increase in the number of reactors during the last 40 years or so has increased the possibility of exposure to radiation hazards and accidents.

Curtsey By – Dr. Nitish Priyadarshi

Will Ganga die of Pollution? – Julian Crandall Hollick

At the Mahg Khumb in Allahabad every January Ganga limps into Allahabad to meet Yamuna at the Sangam exhausted, depleted and dirty.

And like clockwork, the pandits object vociferously to the all-too-visible pollution (and lack of water). ‘Pollution is killing Ganga!’

But the real culprits are two hundred kilometres away – in Varanasi and Kanpur.

In Kanpur it’s actually rare to see people bathing in Ganga. Surendra Kumar Yadav, who works for a local jeweller, has just finished bathing on the far bank.

‘Only this side (he points north to the main channel) is good to bathe in.’ He and his friends have been coming over to this bank for thirty years because he says the Kanpur bank is so dirty.

‘It comes from the drains and it also has tannery water.  Nobody bathes in this nullah.’

Surendra blames the tanneries for anything and everything that causes pollution in Kanpur. He believes if the river is filthy it must be because of the tanneries. Unfortunately the tanneries are all located several kilometres downstream, which means the pollution up here cannot be caused by the tanneries.

Surendra brushes aside my logic. “It must be the government’s fault. If the government had banned the discharge of raw sewage then the water would have remained clean. Brother, if any man uses Ganga as a drain, you should stop him right there and then. The problem would be solved!”

Always blame it on government. But then Surendra adds a little remark that goes beyond the usual platitudes: ‘The biggest contribution to spreading this dirt is we the public. If we stop polluting Ganga by throwing our plastic bags into the river then automatically the river would be cleaner.’

In theory fairly easy to regulate: banning people from disposing of their plastic bags (trash) in the river. But of course it’s anything but! A local environmental group called Eco-Friends has been promoting just such a programme here, but with only moderate success. The river’s just too convenient a dumping ground. Besides, there’s an entire economic subculture that lives from producing or recycling these gossamer-thin plastic bags.  The Indian government can ban sale of ultra-light plastic bags, but how many lives will be sacrificed as a consequence? And if they  ban plastic bags ten milli-millimetres thick then tomorrow factories will start producing plastic nine milli-millimetres thick.

Plastic bags are anyway the easy part.

Surendra is a jeweller. Jewellery manufacturing uses many metals and chemicals to separate and refine its product. It’s not a major polluter like the tanneries.  But it isn’t blameless either. Surendra’s both a good man and intelligent, yet he doesn’t see a connection between his profession and pollution of Ganga. He just harps on about how it’s the government’s job to make the public aware and tell them what they must do to prevent it.

‘Gangaji is our heritage; they say that this Ganga jal is nectar. If you drink and bathe in it, all the sins of previous births can be washed away. So the river should be kept as clean as possible. The people must cooperate fully with the government, but first the government should  tell us what to do.’

Another of Surendra’s group – Dashkaran Lal – is a pandit.  So I ask him: ‘If Ganga can purify your soul, therefore she can purify herself. Yet she is polluted. You see all this plastic and garbage. What argument can the government make to convince you  personally to not throw plastic bags into the Ganga?’

Dashkaran Lal replies that Ganga can absorb much of the dead bodies, plastic bags, dead flowers. He says this religious belief in Ganga’s ability to purify herself of pollution has some validity.  But only so far. It isn’t carte blanche to just continue dumping willy-nilly.  There are limits. This is an interesting answer because there is solid scientific evidence that the river can indeed absorb a surprising amount of organic waste.

But not bodies, and not inorganic waste from the tanneries at the southern end of the city.  Nobody can yet figure out how to do that!

Dead bodies in Ganga are a little bit of a red herring. Many are animals that lose their footing on crumbling river banks because of constant erosion or are drowned in the monsoon.  It’s also difficult to outlaw the presence of human bodies. If you want to dispose of a dead body what easier place than Ganga?  Bodies decompose and become quickly unrecognizable.

But there are also solid economic reasons for dropping a body into Ganga.  Conventional cremations cost a lot. Shivkumar Tewari, the pandit at Bhairon cremation ghat a little upstream, explains: “a conventional cremation at this ghat costs around six or seven hundred rupees, including wood.  That’s the single most expensive item and the one in shortest supply.  It takes four to five quintals of wood to burn a body.  At today’s rates that’s five hundred rupees- and we’re not talking sandalwood but ordinary wood.  Of course, the softer the wood the more you’ll need because it will burn quicker.”

The electric crematorium used to be a lot cheaper – twenty five rupees a body.  But the Allahabad High Court ordered the city to raise the fee for the electric crematoria from twenty five rupees a cremation to five hundred rupees.

While even the poorest of the poor can afford the former, those fees were totally inadequate to pay for the actual costs of running the electric crematorium.  As a consequence the building has been more or less closed for twenty years. Even today the gates are more often padlocked than open.  The price differential has almost vanished: it now costs virtually the same, however you cremate the body. And the traditional method of wood isn’t threatened by load-shedding.


The tanneries have been an integral part of the city since the British established Kanpur as a manufacturing centre of boots, saddles and all other forms of useful military equipment two hundred years ago. They’ve presumably also been polluting Ganga for most of that time. Many people in India have therefore been aware for a long time that something has to be done to clean up Ganga at Kanpur. In 1986, the Indian government launched a massive campaign with huge amounts of foreign aid to clean up not just Kanpur but also the holy city of Varanasi (and a host of lesser cities), precisely because they were such eyesores.

Rajiv Gandhi’s launch of the Ganga Action Plan in fact took place at the other end of this four-hundred kilometre stretch of Ganga, at Dasasvamedha Ghat in Varanasi on June 14, 1986.  It’s a fine speech though I’ve heard it criticized by academics for using Western concepts of  pollution that they – the critics – maintain are alien to Hindu culture. That may be true.  But then how many Indians ever read the speech?

The basis was and remains sound: intercept and treat pollution before it‘s discharged into Ganga.  This would be achieved through sewage treatment plants, “low cost” sanitation (whatever that means), electronic crematoria and river front development.  Twenty-five Class 1 cities (these included Kanpur and Varanasi) received the full range of these schemes in Phase One that lasted till 1995, at a cost of seven hundred crore rupees (one hundred and fifty million dollars at 2002 rates).  A second phase extended the Ganga Action Plan to an additional fifty-nine towns and cities along the river. This second phase is still ongoing. Soon there may be a third phase, building on the others and at even greater expense!

In 1995, New Delhi claimed that Phase 1 had ‘improved the river by seventy percent.’ But what did this mean? Seventy percent of what?  To be honest no serious scientist would give much credibility to the way the government measures the health of the river.  Figures are rarely made public, and when they are there’s little or no attempt at either consistency or scientific credibility.       Everything I’ve heard or read suggests the Ganga Action Plan was implemented in a rush.  The ideas were fine but the execution anything but!   Politics, not science, ran the show.

There was frequently a lack of coordination. In the largest cities sewage treatment plants were built to great fanfare but no one seems to have thought ahead, ten, twenty, even thirty years. Result? They were already inadequate in 1986, and the problem has only got worse since then. The untreated sewage is often simply poured directly back into the river.

The original intentions were sound: many of the men and women charged with implementing the Ganga Action Plan are highly competent. Even the institutions they work for are generally honourable.  But everything that could go wrong has gone wrong!  There’s little deliberate malfeasance or evil intent. It’s incremental: a decision is made, a direction taken without fully anticipating the possible consequences.  It’s never anybody’s fault!

The criteria for measuring pollution in the river were chosen on the advice of the official consultants to the original project – the Thames Valley Water Authority.  Why were they chosen in the first place to design the parameters for the cleanup of the Ganga – a tropical not a temperate river?

So much money has been wasted because of this basic flaw. Plants and systems have been designed which are particularly ill-suited to Indian conditions because of a second flaw – they all rely on a constant supply of electricity, the one thing no one can guarantee in northern India!

In Kanpur there’s yet another basic design failure – the Dutch sold them the wrong technology. The Dutch government offered to build three sewage treatment plants in Jajmao at the southern end of the city, just below the tanneries. Two of these plants treat wastewater in a traditional manner, using sedimentation after aerobic treatment and anaerobic stabilization.   Another smaller treatment plant was built as a pilot project to receive effluent from the tanneries. The Dutch probably acted in good faith, but without thinking things through.  Anaerobic treatment was what they knew about and it had worked well in the Netherlands.  But Holland doesn’t have toxic chromium waste from tanneries.

The Dutch technology breaks down organic waste in an anaerobic process. But if toxic chemicals have not been previously removed,  and are therefore still present in the raw sewage coming into the plant, that entire anaerobic process will be aborted! So toxins will be still present in any waste water that is released for use by the public.  Which, of course, is precisely what has happened!


Varanasi, just four hundred kilometres downstream, is the other city everyone thinks of whenever the Ganga Action Plan is mentioned. This is after all where Rajiv Gandhi launched the plan in 1986. Varanasi is Kashi – the holiest of holies – and a tourist magnet. This was the one place, Rajiv said, where Ganga must be visibly clean.  The ghats should be restored, open sewers pouring raw sewage into the river must be tapped and diverted to sewage treatment plants far from the gaze of tourists.  The actual river should be free of muck and debris. In short a cosmetic make over.

On the face of things Varanasi should therefore have little in common with Kanpur, the gritty industrial city.  But both are obsessed with the condition of Ganga through their city. Each has a major environmental group led by a charismatic leader.  And in each city political, institutional and administrative breakdowns have aborted much of their efforts to clean up Ganga.  That’s where the obvious similarities end.  No one bathes at  Kanpur. But it seems that’s all anyone ever does in Varanasi.

As a rule of thumb, if you want to get a good first impression of the health of Ganga get out on a boat and take a look for yourself.  In Varanasi everything seems superbly organized on the ghats. Boatmen are to be found everywhere – they’ll take you up from Asi Ghat to Panchganga Ghat, or even beyond the railway bridge to Adi Kesava Ghat and down again. The younger and fitter boatmen will row; the lazy ones have fitted little diesel engines to the sterns of their boats.  The ghats are clean, full of bathers, and pandas, sitting under extravagant umbrellas of Ganga grass, waiting for the faithful and the curious.

The river front is by and large pretty clean, especially now the Asi river has been diverted so it no longer flows into the river right next to the eponymous Ghat. A few years ago, before the Asi nullah was diverted upstream, it leaked its fetid slime into the mud next to the actual stone steps.  In 2001, I remember seeing one man sitting in the muck lathering his entire body with this toxic ooze.  At the time I was told this showed the religious faith of the devotee in the healing powers of even Ganga mud.  Now I’m not so sure: he may simply have been using the ooze as liquid thermal insulation against early morning air, much like the naked Nagas one meets at Allahabad or any great mela.  What happens up the other end where the Varuna river flows into Ganga – out of the gaze of the devout – is sadly a different matter.

So Ganga is central to Varanasi’s identity.  It’s a vital part of its raison d’être. But the implementation of the GAP in Varanasi had an equally obvious flaw.  When they’d designed their sewage treatment plants in 1986, it was to handle 105 mld of raw sewage.  But the city was already producing 140 mld.  In 2005, that figure is up to 300 mld!  So where does 195 mld go?  Straight back into the river, untreated. Government officials simply shrug it off.

In both Kanpur and Varanasi the sewage treatment plants (and all the intermediary pumping stations) rely heavily on regular electricity supply to operate. Unfortunately, the western design engineers overlooked two basic realities of life in northern India. The monsoon which floods factories and generators; and regular load shedding (or brown-outs) when electrical plants simply give up the ghost and shut down!  For four months of the year, during the monsoon, there is often no electricity at all. So pumps cannot pump and ALL this raw untreated sewage is poured straight back into the river.

You can see the practical effects of regular cuts in electricity (‘load-shedding’) at the Konia pumping station, a few hundred yards beyond the bridge that carries the railway down to Kolkata.  Konia pumps up raw sewage which then flows to the Dinapur sewage treatment plant a few kilometres away. The morning I rowed up past it a trickle of water poured absentmindedly down a spillway into Ganga.  But at ten o’clock precisely, the electricity stopped and all the raw sewage from the entire city poured down that spillway and back int

पाण्याच्या एकाधिकारशाहीकडे!

पाण्याचे वितरण करण्याचे अधिकार मंत्र्यांचा समावेश असलेल्या उच्चाधिकार समितीकडे सोपविण्यासाठी उपमुख्यमंत्री अजित पवार यांची धडपड सुरू आहे. त्याचाच एक भाग म्हणून गेल्याच बुधवारी विधानसभेत ‘महाराष्ट्र जलसंपत्ती नियमन प्राधिकरण (सुधारणा व पुढे) अध्यादेश, २०११’  विधानसभेत मंजूर करण्यात आला, तोसुद्धा रात्री दीड वाजता आणि विरोधकांना गाफील ठेवून! ही राष्ट्रवादी कॉंग्रेसची दादागिरी असल्याचे खासगीत सांगत काँग्रेसकडून त्याला विरोध दर्शविला जात असला तरी हे काँग्रेसच्या पाठिंब्यावरच मंजूर झाले आणि आता विधान परिषदेतसुद्धा काँग्रेसच्या पाठिंब्याशिवाय ते मंजूर होणे शक्य नाही. या विषयाला विरोध करणारे कार्यकर्ते, संघटना व विरोधकांना अंगावर घेऊन अजित पवार यांनी ही खेळी यशस्वी करून दाखवली खरी, पण त्याचा दूरगामी परिणाम जलक्षेत्रावर आणि राज्याच्या राजकारणावरही होणार आहेत. जलक्षेत्रात सुधारणा करण्याच्या हेतूने २००५ साली कायद्याद्वारे स्थापन करण्यात आलेल्या महाराष्ट्र जलसंपत्ती नियमन प्राधिकरणाचे पंखही या खेळीने कापले जाणार आहेत. त्यामुळे जलक्षेत्रात लोकसहभाग वाढविण्याऐवजी त्याचे अधिकार मोजक्या मंत्र्यांच्या हातात एकवटले जातील. राज्यातील वाढते नागरीकरण व औद्योगिकीकरणाच्या परिस्थितीत या क्षेत्रातील पाण्याची गरज वाढणार आहे. त्याचबरोबर लोकांचे पाणीवापराचे प्रमाण वाढत असल्याने आणि जलस्रोत प्रदूषित होत असल्याने पाण्याचे योग्य व्यवस्थापन हा राज्याच्या दृष्टीने महत्त्वाचा विषय बनला आहे. या क्षेत्रात लोकसहभाग वाढावा व पाण्याचे चांगल्या प्रकारे नियमन व्हावे म्हणून जलसंपत्ती नियमन प्राधिकरणाची स्थापना करण्यात आली. त्यासाठीच्या कायद्यात पाण्याचे समन्यायी वाटप, पाण्याची गळती-प्रदूषण रोखणे अशा महत्त्वाच्या गोष्टींवर लक्ष, हे सर्व करताना ठिकठिकाणी सुनावण्या घेऊन लोकांशी चर्चा, त्यांचे आक्षेप ऐकून घेऊन वाद सोडविणे अशा प्रकारे लोकसहभागाद्वारे जलसंपत्तीचे नियमन करणे, हा मुख्य हेतू या स्थापनेमागे होता. त्यामुळे पाण्याच्या नियमनाचा अधिकार प्राधिकरणाकडे आला. आतापर्यंत हा अधिकार जलसंपत्ती विभागाकडे म्हणजेच या विभागाच्या मंत्र्यांकडे होता. शिवाय ज्या धरणातील २५ टक्क्य़ांपेक्षा अधिक पाणी शेतीशिवाय इतर गोष्टींसाठी वापरले जाते, त्या पाण्याचे वाटप करण्यासाठी २००३ साली मंत्र्यांचा समावेश असलेली उच्चाधिकार समिती नेमण्यात आली होती. या समितीच्या माध्यमातूनही पाणीवाटपाचे अधिकार जलसंपत्ती मंत्र्यांकडे (२००३ ते २०१० या काळात अजित पवार यांच्याकडे) एकवटले होते. त्यानंतरही आता हे मंत्रीपद सुनील तटकरे यांच्याकडे असले तरी जलसंपत्ती विभागावर नियंत्रण अजित पवार यांचेच आहे हे उघड गुपित आहे. त्यामुळे मंत्र्यांकडे असलेला हा अधिकार प्राधिकरणाकडे गेला तरी प्रत्यक्षात मंत्र्यांच्या उच्चाधिकार समितीने पाण्याचे वितरण करण्याचे अधिकार बजावणे सुरूच ठेवले, पण या पाणी वितरणाच्या विरोधात काही मंडळी न्यायालयात गेल्याने सरकारने प्रत्यक्ष प्राधिकरणाच्या कायद्यातच दुरुस्ती करून पाणी वितरणाचे अधिकार उच्चाधिकार समितीकडेच कायम ठेवण्याचा घाट घातला आणि या वादाला तोंड फुटले. पाणी वितरणाचे अधिकार मंत्र्यांच्या समितीकडे आहेत, की प्राधिकरणासारख्या यंत्रणेकडे यात गुणात्मकदृष्टय़ा खूपच फरक आहे आणि म्हणूनच या मुद्दय़ाला कमालीचे महत्त्व आहे. हे अधिकार उच्चाधिकार समितीने गाजविले तेव्हाच्या बैठकांच्या आकडेवारीवरून असे दिसते की, हे सर्व निर्णय एक-दोन मंत्र्यांच्या उपस्थितीत घेतले गेले आहेत. समितीत ६ मंत्र्यांचा समावेश आहे. प्रत्यक्षात मात्र समितीच्या १६ बैठकांपैकी निम्म्या बैठकांमध्ये केवळ दोनच मंत्री उपस्थित होते. चार बैठकांमध्ये तर एकच मंत्री उपस्थित असताना निर्णय घेतले गेले. यावरून हेच स्पष्ट होते की, समितीत शेतीचे पाणी इतरत्र वळविण्याचे महत्त्वाचे निर्णय एकाच मंत्र्याच्या (म्हणजे अजित पवार) मर्जीने घेतले गेले. याउलट असेच निर्णय जलसंपत्ती नियमन प्राधिकरणाकडून घेतले जातात तेव्हा सुनावणी घेतली जाते, त्यावर चर्चा होते. मगच शेतीचे पाणी वळविले जाते. उद्योगांना व शहरांना पाणी लागणारच. उच्चाधिकार समिती काय आणि प्राधिकरण काय, कोणीही असले तरी ते पुरवावेच लागेल, पण फरक आहे तो पाणी वळविण्याच्या पद्धतीवर! गेल्या सात वर्षांमध्ये महाराष्ट्रातील ३८ धरणांमधील सुमारे २८८६ दशलक्ष घनमीटर शेतीचे पाणी उद्योग व शहरांकडे वळविण्यात आले आहे. एवढय़ा पाण्यात तब्बल नऊ लाख हेक्टर शेतजमीन भिजली असती, पण हे निर्णय घेताना उच्चाधिकार समितीने, शेतीपासून वंचित राहणाऱ्या या क्षेत्राला पुन्हा कसे पाणी मिळवून देता येईल, याचा साधा विचारही केलेला नाही. पाणी वळविलेल्या ३८ धरणांपैकी केवळ नाशिकजवळील गंगापूर धरणाच्या पाण्याबाबतच असे उपाय समितीने उद्योगांना सुचविले आहेत. या सर्व बाबी हेच स्पष्ट करतात की, शेतीक्षेत्राचा कोणताही विचार न करता मनमानी पद्धतीने पाणी इतरत्र वळविले जात आहे. अशी मनमानी व एकाधिकार असेल तर त्यातून राजकारण आणि इतर हितसंबंध निर्माण झाले नाहीत तरच नवल! बहुतांश मंत्री, सत्तेतील आमदार आणि विरोधी पक्षातील नेत्यांकडून थेट किंवा अप्रत्यक्षपणे खासगी उद्योगांमध्ये मोठय़ा प्रमाणात गुंतवणूक झाली आहे. त्यात साखर कारखाने, सूतगिरण्या, वीजप्रकल्प, बांधकाम उद्योग व इतरही अनेक प्रकारच्या उद्योगांचा समावेश आहे. त्यांना प्राधिकरणाच्या गुणात्मक कार्यपद्धतीपेक्षा अशी एखादी समिती ‘मॅनेज’ करणे सोपे ठरणार आहे. म्हणूनच पाणी वितरणाचे अधिकार उच्चाधिकार समितीकडे येणे हे या सर्वासाठी सोयीचे ठरेल, पण ज्या शेतकऱ्यांच्या नावाने हे सर्वच गळे काढतात, त्यांच्यासाठी मात्र हे अधिकार मंत्र्यांच्या हाती एकवटणे घातकच ठरेल. त्यामुळे प्राधिकरणाचे समन्यायी पाणीवाटपाचे तत्त्वही अस्तित्वात राहणार नाही. पाणीवाटपाच्या क्षेत्रातील जगभरातील अनुभव असे सांगतो की, पाण्याचे वितरण विविध क्षेत्रांमध्ये होत असताना शेतीक्षेत्रावर नेहमीच विपरीत परिणाम होतो. म्हणूनच शेतीक्षेत्राला हक्काचे पाणी मिळवून देण्याचे तत्त्व सर्वत्रच स्वीकारले जाते, जेणेकरून इतर क्षेत्रांकडे पाणी वळविण्याची वेळ आल्यास त्या वाटाघाटीत शेतीक्षेत्राचा सहभाग राहील आणि पाणी जाण्याची परतफेड इतर मार्गाने होईल. तेच जलसंपत्ती नियमन प्राधिकरणात अपेक्षित होते, पण प्राधिकरणाकडे पाणी वितरणाचे अधिकार नसतील तर शेतीचे पाणी इतरत्र नेले जात असताना शेतकऱ्यांना उच्चाधिकार समितीच्या दयेवर अवलंबून राहावे लागेल. जलक्षेत्रातील अशी एकाधिकारशाही स्वीकारायची का, हा कळीचा मुद्दा आहे. प्राधिकरणाच्या कायद्यात दुरुस्ती करताना एक औचित्याचा मुद्दा ठरतो. तो म्हणजे  विधिमंडळात हा कायदा करताना ‘जॉइंट सिलेक्ट कमिटी’ने समन्यायी पाणीवाटपाच्या मुद्दय़ावर त्याला जनाधार मिळवून दिला होता. आता मात्र या कायद्यातील हेच तत्त्व काढून घेताना अशा कमिटीकडे न जाता गनिमीकावा करून रात्रीच्या वेळी निर्णय घेतला जातो, ही बाब निषेधार्ह आहे. या कायद्याच्या निमित्ताने राष्ट्रवादी काँग्रेस विरुद्ध काँग्रेस व विरोधक असे ध्रुवीकरण झाल्याचे भासविले जात आहे, पण एकूण कार्यपद्धती पाहता विरोधकांसकट सर्वजण एकाच बाजूला असल्याची शंका येण्यास जागा आहे. या बदलाला काँग्रेसच्या आमदारांचा विरोध असल्याचे बोलले जाते. प्रत्यक्षात मात्र विधानसभेत काँग्रेसचा त्याला पाठिंबा मिळतो. विधानसभेच्या १३ एप्रिलच्या कार्यक्रम पत्रिकेवर उच्चाधिकार समितीचा विषय होताच. तरीसुद्धा विरोधक कसे गाफील राहतात? या विषयावर व्यापक विरोध होत नाही, ही स्थितीसुद्धा बोलकी आहे. जलसंपत्ती विभागाची हजारो कोटी रुपयांची टेंडर्स, अनेक प्रकल्पांवरील संशयास्पद व्यवहार हे विषय प्रसिद्धिमाध्यमांनी मांडूनही विरोधकांनी लावून धरल्याचे दिसत नाही. सनसनाटी आरोप करून खळबळ उडवून देण्यापलीकडे विरोधी पक्षांनी, लोकांच्या आयुष्यावर परिणाम करणारा एकही विषय तडीस नेलेला नाही. त्यामुळे सरकार व विरोधक यांच्यात संगनमत असल्याचीच चर्चा आहे. ते खरे नसेल तर उच्चाधिकार समितीच्या मुद्दय़ावर रान पेटवून या चर्चेला पूर्णविराम देण्याची संधी विरोधकांना चालून आली आहे. ते या मुद्दय़ाचा पाठपुरावा करतात की जलक्षेत्रातील एकाधिकारशाहीच्या दिशेने सुरू असलेला प्रवास मान्य करतात, याबाबत उत्सुकता आहे!

साभार- संपादकीय


The big idea for change: bamboo as grass…

Stroke of the pen reform is critical as in many cases policy is dastardly and change is laggardly. The essential element is to find that big-ticket item that can have impact on a scale and at a pace that is needed. I believe Union environment and forests minister Jairam Ramesh’s letter addressed to all chief ministers clarifying that bamboo is indeed a grass and not timber, is such an item.

I have already written about why bamboo should be treated as a grass (see ‘Is bamboo a tree or a grass?’, Down To Earth,  December 1-15, 2010). It grows like a weed and because of its high productivity and versatility of uses it has the potential of creating huge economic wealth. So if you can put bamboo in the hands of the people, to grow, to harvest and to add value, you put wealth in their hands.

But policy was reluctant to make this change. The Indian Forest Act had over time categorised bamboo as timber, which meant the forest department had the monopoly over it. Those who grew bamboo in their backyard could not harvest or sell this productive grass without a number of permissions from the forest department.

Today as Anna Hazare’s movement against corruption takes the country by storm, we must make the connection. It is cumbersome policy that creates opportunities for corruption and harassment. It is policy that must be reformed. In this case, ordinary people in villages and in forests got permission to cut their bamboo only after they had greased many palms and fought many battles. In most states a tree owner needsa transit pass to cut bamboo. To get the transit pass a tree owner would have to obtain revenue records and then apply to the collector or the forest department for permission to cut. It would take up to 10 different departmental permissions and many visits to headquarters. So the way out is to find a well-heeled and connected contractor who can pay his way through the system and facilitate the transaction. In all this, the person who grows the tree gets shortchanged. There is no incentive to use trees or grass as an income-generating activity. Nobody grows trees. The environment loses.

This could change now. Ramesh’s letter makes it clear that the Forest Rights Act has changed the legal regime governing bamboo. This Act, passed in 2006, has vested the right of ownership, access to collect, use and dispose of minor forest product (MFP) with tribals and other traditional forest dwellers. It has also defined bamboo as an MFP. The letter asks the chief ministers to direct their forest administration to treat bamboo as MFP and to “respect the rights accrued to communities.

A lot more will have to be done to ensure bamboo is indeed treated as a grass. Ultimately, it is the change in governance systems that will alter the way we do business with our people and our environment. Anil Agarwal, the founder editor of Down To Earth, had said that unless wepromote governance systems based on public participation andtransparency we would not get rid of corruption.

It is this governance system that will now have to be worked on so that it facilitates empowerment of people, but checks graft and over-extraction. The minister’s letter takes a bold step in this direction by saying that the gram sabha (village assembly) will have the right to issue transit passes for bamboo grown in forests where community rights have been declared or on private land. We need administrative systems to ensure this permission does not fall into ha nds that will destroy forests. But all said this is the beginning of a big-ticket reform.

Just consider the potential. The Indian paper industry needs massive quantities of raw material and bamboo is the best pulping material. Over the years, with bamboo defined as timber, industry and forest departments have worked on contractual arrangements to make bamboo and other wood available to industry at throwaway prices. Large parts of
forests have been leased to the industry. This has led to deforestation and, in turn, a crippling shortage of raw material for the industry. More importantly, this policy has ended up discounting the value of trees grown by farmers. Our analysis shows India needs 1.5 million hectares of tree-bamboo land to supply raw material to thepaper and pulp industry.

Now industry can source this from small landholders or villagers with community forest rights. It will have to pay the market value, which will increase its cost of raw material marginally. But at the same time, this buyer-seller relationship will put money directly in the hands of people, reducing need for development assistance, which also comes at a high transactional cost. Growing trees can be a businessfor growth.

I call this big-ticket because this single move can rid economies of the growth-without-jobs syndrome. This is the new green growth model the world is desperately seeking — ”creating opportunities to build economic wealth from regeneration of forests, and more importantly, creating inclusive and equitable wealth and wellbeing”. Bamboo in the forest and in the hands of people is about that bigreform for a green tomorrow. Let’s hope we grab the potential.

by- Sunita Narain

‘अजन्मा’चे आर्जव…

देशभरातील दर हजारी ८६ अजन्मा मुली आपणा सर्वाना आर्जव करत आहेत. लिंगसमानतेचा आपला निर्देशांक वाढवावा, यासाठी त्यांचे आर्जव आहे. कारण त्यांच्या न जन्मण्यामागे प्रत्यक्ष वा अप्रत्यक्षरीत्या, कळत-नकळत आपल्यातील बहुसंख्य जण कारणीभूत आहोत.
सुशिक्षित मध्यमवर्गीय शहरी घरातला हा प्रसंग.. दोघेही कमावते, पण सारी सत्ता त्याच्या हातात. बहुतांश निर्णयांचा कर्ता तो. घरातील सर्व प्रकारच्या खर्चावर अधिकार त्याचा. घेतलेच तिने काही निर्णय स्वयंस्फूर्तीने तर त्यावर त्याची प्रतिकूल प्रतिक्रिया उमटू शकते, यासाठी तिने मनाची तयारी कायमच करून ठेवलेली असते.. घर म्हणजे सदोदित अशांत टापू. तिच्या  कोणत्या निर्णयांवरून केव्हा वादविवाद, भांडणे होतील, याचा काही नेम नाही. तशी तिला एव्हाना सवय लागलीये त्याच्याशी नमते घेण्याची, पण जेव्हा जेव्हा ती त्याला ओलांडून निर्णय घेते, तेव्हा तेव्हा त्याच्या आकांडतांडवाची तयारी ठेवते..
हे असे वातावरण पाहणारी तरुण मोलकरीण मनातल्या मनात काही आडाखे बांधते.. ‘मुलगाच हवा, गर्भचाचणी करून घेऊया’ हा धोशा तिच्या नवऱ्याने का लावलाय याचा अन्वयार्थ तिला उमगत जातो. गोंडस मुलगी असावी, तिला शिकून मोठ्ठे करावे असे जाहिरातीत दिसणारे तिच्या मनातले कल्पनाचित्र या मालकांच्या घरातले खटके बघताना पार पुसून जाते. शिक्षणाने समाज सुधारतो, ही कल्पना भ्रामक असल्याचे वास्तव तिला त्यांच्या घरात काम करताना वारंवार जाणवत जाते.
..त्या मालक-मालकिणीच्या हे खिजगणतीतही नाही, की त्यांच्या वागण्यातून ते आणखी एका मुलीला जन्मू देण्यास अडथळा आणू पाहात आहेत.
लिंगचाचणी करणे, मुलीचा गर्भ नाकारणे याच्याशी आपला काही संबंध नाही, आपल्यात असे घडत नाही, असा बऱ्याचशा सुशिक्षित व सुसंस्कृत नागरिकांचा भ्रम आहे. आजही या अभिजन समाजात, ठायीठायी कळत-नकळत लिंगभेदमूलक वातावरणाची बीजे सामाजात पसरवली जात आहेत. त्याचेच भीषण प्रतिबिंब लिंगदराच्या विषमतेतून प्रकट होत आहे. आजही उच्च शिक्षणासाठी व उच्च पदांसाठी ज्या विविध स्पर्धात्मक परीक्षा होतात, त्याला बसणाऱ्या मुलींचे प्रमाण मुलग्यांपेक्षा फार कमी आहे. लग्नाच्या मांडवात अजूनही मुलग्यांची पार्टी सरस मानली जाते. घरांघरांत पुरुषांना झुकते माप आहे. सणसमारंभात पुरुषांची पंगत आधी, बायका नंतर, अन्न जेमतेम असेल, तरी पुरुषांच्या पंगतीला वाढताना आग्रह, बायकांना कमी पडले तरी हरकत नाही, हे चित्र सर्रास दिसते. आणि भारतीय नारीला त्याची अजिबात खंत नसते, कारण स्वत:कडे कमीपणा घेण्याचे मूल्य तिच्या रक्तातच मुरलेले आहे. मुलीच्या लग्नासाठी कर्ज काढणाऱ्या सामान्य माणसापासून सर्वोच्च न्यायालयाच्या न्यायाधीशांपर्यंत अनेकांना लग्नाची मुलगी हे ‘दायित्व’ वाटते. सर्वोच्च न्यायालयाच्या न्यायाधीश ग्यान सुधा मिश्रा यांनी स्वत:चा ताळेबंद जाहीर करताना दायित्वाच्या (लाएबिलिटीज) कप्प्यात ‘स्वत:च्या दोन लग्नाच्या मुली’ असे नमूद केले होते, ही बातमी आठवते ना?
तार्किकता आणि विज्ञानवाद ही मूल्ये शिक्षणातून आपोआप रुजत नाहीत, हे नव्या लोकसंख्या-आकडय़ांनी पुनश्च सिद्ध केले आहे.
यंदाच्या जनगणनेतून हाती आलेली आकडेवारी बघा- पुरोगामीत्वाचा गुणविशेष मिरवणाऱ्या व शिक्षणाचे जाळे सुस्थित असलेल्या महाराष्ट्रात १००० मुलग्यांमागे फक्त ८८३ मुली, म्हणजे ११७ मुलींचे गर्भ नष्ट केले गेले. राज्यात मुलींचा सर्वाधिक जननदर आहे गडचिरोलीत- ९५६. आणि हा जिल्हा साक्षरतेत खालून दुसरा- केवळ ७०.५५ टक्के साक्षरता. मुंबई शहरात साक्षरता आहे ८३ टक्के, आणि मुलींचे प्रमाण मात्र राज्याच्या सरासरीहूनही कमी- हजारी ८७४ मुली, म्हणजे १२६ मुलींना जन्माचा हक्क नाकारला गेला आहे.
साक्षरतेचा निर्देशांक आणि लिंगसमानतेचा निर्देशांक यांच्यातील तफावतीचा हा दृश्य परिणाम!
ही तफावत जोपर्यंत दूर होत नाही, तोपर्यंत लिंगदर समान होण्याच्या ध्येयाजवळ आपण सरकू शकणार नाही. कारण आता तंत्रज्ञान प्रगत होत आहे. सोनोग्राफीचे तंत्र आवाक्यात आलेले आहे. त्यापुढचे प्रीइंप्लांटेशन जेनेटिक डायग्नोसिस (पीजीडी) तंत्रज्ञान उपलब्ध आहे. गर्भलिंगनिवडीवर कितीही बंदी आणली तरी वाट्टेल त्या पळवाटा शोधल्या जात आहेत. मागास मनोवृत्ती आणि विकसित तंत्रज्ञान यांतील विरोधाभासामुळे हे साधले जात आहे.
हरयाणाचे उदाहरण बोलके आहे. हरयाणाच्या  शासन-प्रशासनाला फारच कानकोंडे व्हायला झाले आहे. तेथे मुलींचा जन्मदर सुधारण्यासाठी मोठी मोहीम राबवली जात असल्याचा दावा शासनातर्फे केला जात होता. पण तो प्रयत्न सपशेल फोल ठरला आहे. कारण हरयाणातील झंझारने नीचांक गाठला आहे- हजारी फक्त ७७४ मुली. या मोहिमेचे जनक, हरयाणाचे आरोग्यमंत्री नरेंद्रसिंह ज्या महेंद्रगढचे आहेत, तिथेही हीच गत. आता सफाई देताना ते म्हणतात की, झंझार नवी दिल्लीच्या जवळ आहे, तर महेंद्रगढला राजस्थानचा वेढा आहे, त्यामुळे आमचे प्रयत्न फोल ठरले आहेत. मुलींना नाकारू पाहणाऱ्या हरयाणातील जोडप्यांना शेजारी राज्यांचा आधार मिळतो आहे.. देशातील श्रीमंत जोडप्यांना तर  थायलंड, मलेशियातील सुसज्ज पीजीडी क्लिनिक्स लिंगहत्येची सोय सहज करून देत आहेत. इच्छा तेथे मार्ग, दुसरे काय? थोडक्यात, या विकृत इच्छेची पाळेमुळे नष्ट करण्याला पर्याय नाही.
ही विकृती समूळ नष्ट कशी करायची, याचा अभ्यास आता पद्धतशीररीत्या व्हायला हवा. जेथे मुलीचा गर्भ नाकारण्याचे प्रमाण आहे, तेथे तो का आहे, याच्या खोलात शिरावे लागेल. जेथे मुलींचा जन्मदर चांगला आहे, तेथेही पाहावे लागेल की, कुटुंबनियोजन कसे होतेय. म्हणजे मुलगा होईपर्यंत कितीही संतती झाल्या तरी चालतील, म्हणून मुली नाकारल्या जात नाहीत, असे तर नाही? किंवा गर्भहत्येचे तंत्र परवडत नाही, म्हणून  नाईलाजाने मुली जन्मताहेत, असे तर नाही?
लिंगसमानतेचा निर्देशांक नेमका कसा काढायचा, त्याचे निकष कोणते, लिंगसमानता रुजवण्यासाठी काय करावे लागेल- अशा अनेक प्रश्नांवर अभ्यास करून तोडगे काढावे लागतील. तशी धोरणे बनवावी लागतील. दुर्दैवाने आपण अलीकडे समाजशास्त्र या विषयाची उपेक्षा केली आहे. समाजशास्त्र किंवा ह्युमॅनिटीज या शाखेकडे वळणाऱ्या विद्यार्थ्यांचे प्रमाण रोडावत आहे. सद्यस्थितीत आपल्याला असा अभ्यास  करणारे समाजशास्त्रज्ञ हवे आहेत. समाजाच्या मानसिकतेचा अभ्यास करून योग्य उपाय योजल्याशिवाय मुलींच्या गर्भहत्येचा प्रश्न सुटणार नाही. कायदा आवश्यक असतो, पण कधीच पुरेसा नसतो. त्याच्या अंमलबजावणीसाठी सर्व बाजूंनी प्रयत्न होत नाहीत, तोपर्यंत कायदा प्रभावी ठरू शकत नाही.
गर्भलिंग निवड आणि हत्या विरोधी कायद्याला आपण सर्व बाजूंनी पोषक वातावरण कसे तयार करू, त्यावर त्याचा प्रभाव अवलंबून आहे. देशभरात विविध ठिकाणी चाललेल्या ‘सेव्ह गर्ल चाईल्ड’ अभियानांतून काय साध्य झाले, आणखी काय करायला पाहिजे, यांचा सखोल अभ्यास झाला पाहिजे. ‘तुम्हाला मुलगी नको असली तरी तिला जन्मू द्या, आम्ही तिला सांभाळू’ असा संदेश तरुण जोडप्यांमार्फत व अनाथालयांद्वारे जाईल, अशा जाहिराती कराव्या का? दृश्यमाध्यमांच्या प्रभावाचा उपयोग करून मुलींच्या स्वागताचे संदेश प्रसृत करता येतील का? बॉलिवूड आणि क्रिकेटमधील रोल मॉडेल्सच्या साह्याने योग्य संदेश देणाऱ्या जाहिराती दाखवल्या तर त्याचा फायदा होईल का? महिलांना दुय्यमत्व देणाऱ्या बुरसट टीव्ही मालिका कशा बंद करता येतील?
आता कल्पकतेने आणि जिद्दीने नवे प्रभावी उपाय योजावे लागतील. सुजाण समाजाला लिंगविषमतेचे कंगोरे असलेले जुने शिष्टाचार रद्द करून, नवे लिंगसमान शिष्टाचार जाणीवपूर्वक रुजवण्यासाठी  पुढाकार घ्यावा लागेल. सुरुवातीला म्हटल्याप्रमाणे या विषयाशी आपण सर्व जण संबंधित आहोत. लिंगसमानता हा जोपर्यंत प्रत्येकाचा जिव्हाळ्याचा विषय बनत नाही, समानतामूलक वातावरण आपण समाजात निर्माण करू शकत नाही, तोपर्यंत मुलींचे या भूमीत सहर्ष स्वागत होणार नाही.
..हे या अजन्मा मुलींचे आर्जव आहे. त्या आपल्याला स्वागतासाठी साकडे घालत आहेत- रिकाम्या झालेल्या त्यांच्या उदर-घरांतून!

साभार- चतुरंग, लोकसत्ता

बाघों के लिए बुरी खबर है….!

इस बार सुंदरवन और पश्चिम बंगाल व उड़ीसा के  नक्सल प्रभावित इलाक़ों को भी इस रिपोर्ट में शामिल किया गया है, जो पिछली बार शामिल नहीं थे. सबसे चिंताजनक बात यह है कि बाघों की जो बढ़ोतरी रिपोर्ट उन इलाक़ों से नहीं आई है, जहां प्रोजेक्ट टाइगर दशकों से चल रहा है.

बाघों की संख्या में बढ़ोतरी हुई ऐसा ढिंढोरा पीट कर सरकार कई सच को छुपा ले गई. सच यह है कि पिछले दस सालों में बाघों के शिकार में कोई कमी नहीं आई है. बाघ राष्ट्रीय पशु है. कुछ लोग बाघों के विनाश के लिए ज़िम्मेदार हैं. देश की सरकार और देश की जनता ने उन्हें मनमानी करने दी. अ़फसोस के साथ यह कहना पड़ता है कि भारत एक ऐसा देश बन चुका है जो अपने राष्ट्रीय पशु को भी बचा नहीं सकता है.

देश में अब बाघों की संख्या 1,706 हो गई है. इस वन्यजीव की संख्या में बीते चार वर्ष में 12 फीसदी का इज़ा़फा हुआ है. ताज़ा गणना के अनुसार, देश में अब 1,571 से 1,875 के बीच बाघ हैं. इसका औसत अनुमानित आंकड़ा 1,706 लिया गया है. 2006 की पिछली गणना में यह संख्या 1,411 थी.  बाघों की संख्या ब़ढने की वजह यह भी है कि इस बार बाघों की गणना में सुंदरवन को भी शामिल किया गया है. यहां पर 70 बाघ पाए गए हैं. राजस्थान में बाघों की संख्या 36 बताई गई है. इस सफलता पर खुश होकर बैठा नहीं जा सकता, क्योंकि जिन वजहों से बाघों की तादाद कम हुई थी, वे सारी वजहें अब भी मौजूद हैं.

उत्तराखंड, महाराष्ट्र, असम, तमिलनाडु और कर्नाटक में बाघों की संख्या में बढ़ोतरी हुई है. खासकर, महाराष्ट्र और तराई के क्षेत्रों में बाघों की संख्या में ज़बरदस्त इज़ा़फा हुआ है. बिहार, उत्तर प्रदेश, छत्तीसगढ़, राजस्थान, उड़ीसा, मिज़ोरम, पश्चिम बंगाल और केरल में बाघों की संख्या स्थिर है. वृद्धि के लिहाज़ से पश्चिमी घाट आगे हैं. वहां पिछली गणना में बाघों की संख्या 412 पाई गई थी जो अब बढ़कर 534 हो गई है, लेकिन मध्य प्रदेश और आंध्र प्रदेश में बाघ कम हो गए हैं. होशंगाबाद, बैतूल, नर्मदा नदी के उत्तरी घाट और कान्हा कीसली में बाघों की संख्या में का़फी गिरावट पाई गई है.

जिन वजहों से बाघों की तादाद कम हुई थी, वे सारी वजहें अब भी मौजूद हैं. मध्य प्रदेश और आंध्र प्रदेश में बाघ कम हो गए हैं. होशंगाबाद, बैतूल, नर्मदा नदी के उत्तरी घाट और कान्हा कीसली में बाघों की संख्या में का़फी गिरावट पाई गई है.

अच्छी खबर यह है कि भारत में बाघों की तादाद बढ़ गई है. बुरी खबर यह है कि देश में इतने बाघों के लिए जंगल नहीं हैं. जब प्रोजेक्ट टाइगर शुरू हुआ था, तब इसके  तहत जितने जंगल थे, अब इसके एक तिहाई बचे हैं. ज़्यादातर जंगल इंसानी ज़रूरत और लालच की भेंट चढ़ गए हैं. अगर बाघों की तादाद के मुक़ाबले जंगल नहीं रहे, तो दूसरी समस्याएं खड़ी हो जाएंगी. बाघ अकेला रहने वाला जीव है. उसे ब़डा इलाक़ा चाहिए, जहां वह किसी दूसरे बाघ को घुसने नहीं देता है. जब प्रोजेक्ट टाइगर शुरू हुआ था तब इसे जंगल सुरक्षित रखने की दलील दी गई थी. खनन मा़फिया और भू-मा़फिया की वजह से आज जंगलों में अतिक्रमण हो रहा है. बाघों का विचरण वाला क्षेत्रफल भी घटा है. अगर हमारे देश में बाघों की संख्या बढ़ती गई, तो भी यह सवाल खड़ा होगा कि इतने बाघों के लिए जंगल कहां से आएंगे.

कुल अनुमानित संख्या में से 30 फीसदी बाघ 39 संरक्षित क्षेत्रों से बाहर रह रहे हैं, जो बाघ बढ़े हैं वे पिछली बार भी थे, लेकिन उनकी गिनती नहीं की गई थी. इस बार सुंदरवन और पश्चिम बंगाल व उड़ीसा के  नक्सल प्रभावित इलाक़ों को भी इस रिपोर्ट में शामिल किया गया है, जो पिछली बार शामिल नहीं थे. सबसे चिंताजनक बात यह है कि बाघों की जो बढ़ोतरी रिपोर्ट उन इलाक़ों से नहीं आई है, जहां प्रोजेक्ट टाइगर दशकों से चल रहा है.

ऐसे में सवाल उठता है कि अब तक प्रोजेक्ट टाइगर पर साल 2010 तक खर्च हो चुके  892.18 करोड़ रुपये आ़खिर जा कहां रहे हैं? और तो और बाघों का आवास स्थल भी ब़ढने कीबजाय कम होकर 728000 हेक्टेयर  ही रह गया है. यह 2006 में 936000 हेक्टेयर था. राजस्थान के  संदर्भ में भी इस रिपोर्ट में कोई खुश़खबरी नहीं है. यहां की स्थिति कमोबेश वही है जो पिछली गणना के व़क्त थी. बाघों की वृद्धि की खूबसूरत मार्केटिंग तो की गई है, जबकि आंकड़े इतना खुश नहीं करते. किसी समय देश में एक लाख बाघ थे. पिछले पांच वर्षों में इस देश ने सरिस्का (राजस्थान) और बाद में पन्ना (मध्यप्रदेश) की त्रासदियां देखी हैं. दोनों राष्ट्रीय उद्यानों से बाघों का पूरी तरह स़फाया हो गया था. पहले सरिस्का ने देश को हिला कर रख दिया था और इसके बाद पन्ना ने. इसके बाद स्वयं प्रधानमंत्री मनमोहन सिंह ने विशेष टास्क फोर्स का आधार रखा.

सन 2008 में प्रधानमंत्री मनमोहन सिंह ने नेशनल वाइल्ड लाइफ क्राइम प्रिवेंशन ब्यूरो सेल का गठन किया, जिससे बाघ के अवैध शिकार की रोकथाम की जा सके. लेकिन आश्चर्य की बात है कि इसके बावजूद बाघों के शिकार में कोई कमी नहीं आई है, बल्कि बाघों की मौत और शिकार के तरीक़े बदल गए हैं. बाघों की तस्करी भारत में एक पूरी तरह से संगठित मा़िफया करता है. बाघ की तस्करी में मास्टर राजस्थान का संसारचंद और इसका छोटा भाई नारायण अब तक कई बार पुलिस के हाथों पक़डे जा चुके हैं, गुजरात के कटनी में दो बाघों को मारकर उनके अंगों की तस्करी के मामले में गिरफ्तार किया गया, पानीपत का तोताराम उ़र्फ बीरबल बावरिया बाघ तस्करी समूह का नेता है, इसे गिरफ्तार कर लिया गया, महाराष्ट्र के चंद्रपुर में मंगलदास माधवी और भैजी गेडम को गिरफ्तार किया गया. तदोबा-अंधरी बाघ संरक्षण से 6 लोगों की गिरफ्तारी हुई, लेकिन सब छूट गए. इस अवैध व्यापार में शामिल लोग बाघ संरक्षण केंद्र के आसपास के हैं. चिंता की बात यह है कि संरक्षित क्षेत्रों से सटे गांव और यहां के रहने वाले इस तस्करी में शामिल हैं. इन लोगों ने बाघों का शिकार कर मोटी कमाई करने का रास्ता अपना लिया है. इन गांव वालों का इस्तेमाल मा़िफया कर रहे हैं. बाघों के अंगों को चीन भेजा जाता है, जहां इसकी मोटी क़ीमत मिलती है. दुर्भाग्यपूर्ण बात यह है कि इस कारण से इस वर्ष बाघ के अंगों की मांग में ज़बरदस्त इज़ाफ़ा हुआ है. एक रिपोर्ट के अनुसार मध्य एशिया और चीन में बाघ के लिंग की क़ीमत 80,000 डॉलर प्रति 10 ग्राम है, बाघ की खाल 10,000 से लेकर 1,00,000 डॉलर तक, बाघ की हड्डियां 9,000 डॉलर प्रति किलो तक बिक जाती हैं. हृदय और अन्य आंतरिक अंगों की क़ीमत भी हज़ारों लाखों में है. इसके बावजूद खरीदारों की कोई कमी नहीं है. सवाल यह है कि ये बाघ कहां से आते हैं.

जहां 1999 से 2003 के बीच 122 बाघों की हत्या हुई थी, वहीं नवंबर 2008 से लेकर जनवरी 2009 यानी स़िर्फ तीन महीने में दस बाघों का शिकार हुआ, बाघ की भूमि कहे जाने वाले काजीरंगा, कान्हा और कॉरबेट नेशनल पार्क में बाघ की संख्या शून्य हो गई. इसी तीन महीने में नौ बाघ केवल काजीरंगा में मृत पाए गए. 2009 में पन्ना में केवल एक बाघ बचा था, जो अब नहीं रहा. राजस्थान में सरिस्का के जंगलों में मरे पाए गए बाघ एसटी-1 की मौत स्वभाविक नहीं थी, बल्कि इसे किसी ने ज़हर दिया था. रणथंभौर से लाकर सरिस्का में आबाद किए जाने वालों में एसटी-1 सबसे पहला बाघ था. अलवर ज़िले में घने वनों से 2004 तक बाघों की दहाड़ सुनाई देती थी. सरिस्का बाघ विहीन हो गया है. पुलिस ने काफ़ी मेहनत के बाद एक शिकारी गिरोह का पर्दाफ़ाश किया और कुछ लोगों को गिरफ़्तार किया. मगर इसके बाद फिर से सरिस्का में बाघ बसाने की मांग ज़ोर पकड़ने लगी तो रणथंभौर से एक-एक कर पांच बाघ लाए गए. अब एक बाघ की मौत के बाद वहां चार बाघ रह गए हैं. वन अधिकारियों ने इन बाघों की गर्दनों पर रेडियो कॉलर भी लगाए. मगर अब लगता है कि यह तकनीक कोई काम नहीं आई, क्योंकि वन अधिकारियों को पांच दिन तक इस बाघ का कोई पता नहीं चला. एक और बाघ अभी लापता है. एस टी 4 नाम का यह बाघ पिछले एक हफ़्ते से भी ज़्यादा समय से सरिस्का में कहां है, इसका पता नहीं चल पा रहा है. बाघ को सबसे ज़्यादा खतरा बाघ का अवैध शिकार करने वालो से है, लेकिन सरकार को भी यह जवाब देना होगा कि बाघों को बचाने के नाम पर आवंटित राशि का किस तरह इस्तेमाल हो रहा है. क्यों इन इलाक़ों में भू-मा़फिया और खनन मा़फिया का राज चल रहा है. बाघों की कमी के लिए घटिया सरकारी तंत्र ज़िम्मेदार है, जो लोग बाघों को बचाना चाहते हैं वे चुप हैं. सरकार से यह सवाल करना होगा कि क्यों संरक्षित क्षेत्र कम होते जा रहे हैं. इन्हें खनन मा़िफया के हवाले क्यों किया जा रहा है. क्यों भारत में टाइगर रिजर्व फोरेस्ट में टाइगर इकोलोजिस्ट नहीं हैं. कब तक इस देश में बाघों का संहार होता रहेगा. पर्यावरण और विलुप्त हो रहे प्राणी राजनीति का मुद्दा नहीं हैं और बाघ वोट नहीं दे सकते हैं, आप दे सकते हैं. अगर इस शानदार जीव को बचाना है तो हर भारतीय को आगे आना होगा, उनकी आवाज़ बनना होगा.

साभार- चौथीदुनिया

National River Policy 2011


In spite of 80 per cent of the Indian population dependent upon 14 major rivers of the country, which contributes significantly to food and livelihood security and fulfilling the social and spiritual needs of the societies, the people of India are moving towards a major catastrophe. In the past civilizations have vanished because of the mismanagement of water resources. Therefore, introspection and urgent action ion a river policy is an imperative for the future of the country.

Recently, in an undertaking given to the Supreme Court, the central government has claimed that it will clean Ganga by 2020. The single biggest threat to the existence of the rivers, namely big dams and hydropower projects with canal diversions, is neither a part of the river governance, nor a part of any policy or program for sustainable existence of the rivers.

Several ambitious legal and institutional measures and projects like the Water Pollution Act, the Central Pollution Control Board, the State Pollution Control Boards, Ganga Action Plan, the Yamuna Action Plan, the National River Action Plan have yielded no results. The government prefers to be an active participant and yet does not take responsibility for the failure. The urban water utilities, including the people of the national capital region, the super rich ‘world power’ of Indian industry and business houses, does not care whether the rivers are dirty. In spite of mindless wealth generation and glorifying the Ganga as India’s national river, the river has become so dangerously polluted and filthy that it is already a dead river.

1.0      National River Policy Perspective

Pre- and post India’s independence, there is a complete absence of any policy, law, institution or governance framework related to the rivers of India. Our government has shown no faith in democracy and development. This has led to a dispute over water whether at district, state or national levels and has only deepened that being resolved. Disagreements among states and government have been a known phenomenon all over India. This is why the development of a National River Policy becomes more important than ever.

River Definition: A natural stream of fresh water that flows into an ocean or other large body of water and is usually fed by smaller streams, called tributaries that enter it along its course. A river and its tributaries form a drainage basin, or watershed, that collects the runoff throughout the region and channels it along with erosion sediments toward the river. The sediments are typically deposited most heavily along the river’s lower course, forming floodplains along its banks and a delta at its mouth. River is a hydrological, geomorphic, ecological, biodiversity-rich, landscape-level system that serves as key part of freshwater cycle, balancing dynamic equilibrium between snowfall, snow mass (including glaciers), rainfall, surface water and groundwater and providing large number of social, economic and environmental services to the people and ecosystems all along its watershed.

2.0      Goal:

To enable rivers to be rejuvenated and to be able to sustain its existence and provide eco system services for generations to come.

3.0      Guidelines:

3. 1. Rivers are a part of the human environment and society. The formulation of this policy is for the security and conservation of our rivers from the social, environmental, cultural and religious point of view.

  1. 2.         As a part of a governance system, governments are the primary party for development of river policy, however as users, all human beings and citizens have equal responsibilities and therefore, should also participate in the governance of rivers.
  2. 3. The National River Policy will ensure that the rivers can be rejuvenated through participation of communities at all levels. Participation at grassroots level like the gram sabhas, local community, districts and panchayats can play a crucial role in this process. Culturally and spiritually the rivers play an important role therefore, the religious leaders should also be assigned a role in maintaining the purity of rivers.
  3. 4. Privatization of rivers and water resource should not be permitted, as this can be instrumental in private companies/ corporate houses controlling the lives of people. The negative impact of privatization of rivers and water resources are well known nationally and internationally. It is possible only if all the water resources in the country are declared as common pool resources and water markets are banned.
  4. 5.         River basin water auditing and management be the basis of water resource planning and development. The relationship between groundwater and river water be understood properly to address the groundwater crisis in the country.
  5. 6.         National and State Water Laws should be reviewed in the context of changed socio-political environment and an attempt to be made to formulate comprehensive water laws to enable the new river policy to be implemented. Pollution of rivers and water bodies, including groundwater is to be considered as criminal act and new laws to be made, replacing the existing ineffective laws.
  6. 7.         The available knowledge on the subject of climate variability and climate change and the present and future river flows is not very conclusive, therefore, there is need for some serious research on the subject for better planning and management of our rivers. The national river policy should call for allocation of more funds for this activity.
  7. 8.         The existing sectoral policies hardly attach any value to water resources. There is need for review these policies in the context of use and abuse of water resources, even using the concept of virtual water to highlight the importance of water in a sector. Water allocation for industries should have lower priority than drinking and agriculture, as is written in the National Water policy and policies of all the states.
  8. 9.         In order to ensure success of the National River Policy the country should have an appropriate National Land Use Policy, as there is land grab movement is on in the country, i.e., acquisition, encroachment and allotment of lands by the State and people without caring for the impact on local and regional water resources. Despite several landmark judgments by higher and lower courts to address the problems of rivers and water bodies’.  State agencies are not serious about proper land use across the country. National common property resource policies and regulations need to protect the existing natural resource base and to maintain vital ecosystem services.
  9. 10.       Rivers are the property of society, i.e., the people who live in the country, and not of any individual or business. The National River Policy should act as guide in making the rivers an entity owned by all and the state should act as custodian and not owner.

4.0      Principles:

4. 1.           Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) principles are to be adopted in the management of all water resources in the country through people’s participation. People should be the owner and manager of water resources. It will require mass water awareness campaigns in the country followed by capacity building programs at all levels.

  1. 2          Governance of rivers should be completely transparent and participatory and managed by people by constituting an organization called River Parliament. The logistics for formulation of this River Parliament can be organized for every 10 km distance of a river, and these Parliaments should have power of a local governance committee. There should be at least 50% members’ representation from the local communities. The committee should have legal powers to monitor the river and take corrective measures/orders as per the requirement to maintain the quality and flow in the river. The committee should be provided access to all relevant technical and other information for effective governance. Finally, at River Basin level there will be a apex body namely river basin governance committee comprising of members nominated from local governance committees to form a River parliament. State should consult the local committee and the River Parliament in planning any development or intervention in the river.

4.3.            Similar governance structures should also be established for taking decisions related to particular hydropower projects, dams, diversion structures, pollution control boards, etc..

4.5  .     Environmental flows should be ensured in all the rivers in the country. Balance has to be maintained between surface and groundwater, use in all the river basins to check the alarming status of groundwater across the country.

4.6        River flood plain demarcation needs to be taken up on a high priority basis, based on 100 years flood data, and these should be protected by legal and regulatory provisions.

4.7  Usability profile of river and cyclone areas should not be modified or changed. Clear demarcation of source of origin to ocean river flow, and these areas to be defined as reserved areas. Community participation in identification of these areas should be ensured.

4.8  In order to avoid release/mixing of contaminated and sewer water into rivers there should be different policies for sewer and river.

4.9        Surface and ground water pollution by individual, group, community, industry or any other should be treated as criminal act and must have legal provisions for severe punishment and not penalties. Continuous and planned efforts by all be made to maintain the natural characteristics of rivers.

5.0      Prioritization of River Water Use

Rivers water usage should be planned in such a way that it meets the basic needs as defined in the Constitution of India, i.e., right to life. For that right to be safeguarded this means that maintaining the health of the rivers needs to be maintained i.e., ensuring minimum environmental flow in all the rivers, and also meeting the growing water demand for economic development. The priorities of water allocation should be as follows:

  1. 1.   Drinking Water (both for humans and livestock/animals)
  2. 2.   Release of water as Natural/environmental Flow (environmental and ecological)
  3. 3.   Water for agricultural livelihood
  4. 4.   Non-consumptive uses, such as, cultural, religious, and tourist uses, etc.
  5. 5.   Hydro Power
  6. 6.   Industries
  7. 7.   Others

6.0      River Rejuvenation and Natural Flow:

Natural flow of the rivers should be given the above priority. The river and groundwater should be treated as common property resource (CPR). The management of rivers and groundwater will be impossible without peoples’ participation as there are strong traditions of community management of water and other natural resources in India. The traditional systems got marginalized as the State became powerful and came out with a new governance and management system of centralized command and control. The need of hour is to learn from the past and develop a new model that can safeguard the health of all the natural resources and ensure equity in access to them by all section of the society i.e., dalits, adivasis and other marginalized  groups.

People, educational institutions, cultural groups, religious institutions should be motivated to feel their responsibility in conserving and protecting the natural resources and reestablish the value system related to the use of natural resources, in the new generation.

Since Independence we have GDP or economic outputs in limited sectors that are planned at the cost of the health of the rivers. There is need to shift from the existing development planning model to a resource-centered planning model. Water being the life and most threatened resource of the XII Five Year Plan, and this could be water centric so that the future generations will have sustainable use.

6.1       Augmenting the natural flow in rivers:

  • Adoption of Integrated Water resource Management (IWRM) approach in all river basins, sub-basins and watersheds. It should be participatory and based on use of traditional and modern knowledge of water resource management.
  • Use of remote sensing technique in mapping of river basins and identification of existing water bodies and water harnessing structures. There is debate on the excess number on anicuts constructed under different rural development programs, i.e. watershed development, MGNREGA, by NGOs under different projects, and encroachments in the catchment areas of water bodies responsible for reduction of flow in rivers and dams. Remote sensing technique can help in addressing the issue and plan for optimum number and at appropriate places. Even this issue can be taken care if traditional knowledge and participation of people is sought in IWRM planning. Prepare a surface and groundwater water balance report and identify interventions to augment water flow in the rivulets to rivers.
  • Initiate water auditing and budgeting at all levels staring from village to river basin and plan for surface and ground water augmentation and usage with one of the objective as drinking water security to all.
  • Utilize wherever possible existing traditional local water sources and if needed, they are to be rejuvenated. Any encroachments should be removed them so that they are functional.
  • Popularize water conservation and use of water saving technologies. As agriculture is the most water demanding activity promotion of sprinkle and drip irrigation techniques to reduce the demand significantly.

6.2      Management of river water resources

6.2.1    Organization and participation of water users

  • Integrated water resource management approach should be adopted in the entire country through adequate strengthening of community and their participation at all levels.
  • Basin, sub-basin, watershed, groundwater, aquifer should be the unit used in state and national level water resource development planning and this needs to be done with  stakeholder participation, keeping in mind overall environmental impacts.
  • Community capacity building on water resource planning, conservation and use needs to be carried out through various types of training and orientation programs through panchayats. Capacity building area issues are: a) integrated water development, b) water distribution, c) addressing inequities in social structure, d) community health,

e) safeguarding chemical and microbiological water quality, f) ensuring environmental management, g) ensuring drought area water management, and h) upgrading better agriculture in hard water areas.

  • Ensure better implementation of IWRM in consultation with an organization of water users at village level to river basin level at one hand and from village level to national level on other hand. The experience of Arvari River parliament can help in formulating appropriate groups of people at different levels and can be named as River Parliament.
  • Provision for appropriate legal, technical and resource supports need to be made for these River Parliaments. These Parliaments will jointly work with the government organizations to manage the water resources of the country. They will also play significant role in water conflict resolution at different levels.
  • Nomination of community water group leaders should be through democratic processes with participation of all including the marginalized social groups in the society and also ensuring equal participation of women.
  • Setting up a system of coordination between state government and water user groups facilitating the implementation of integrated water resource management.
  • Strengthening governance model that will try to ensure equity in access and use of water resources at all levels.
  • Ensuring communities’ optimum conservation and optimum use of water resources by using traditional and modern technology and knowledge.
  • Awareness programs that help communities become aware of domestic water use, agriculture use, maintaining water life, so to implement every initiative after evaluating availability of water and ensuring natural flow of the river.
  • Preparing technical data, manuals, information for community organizations and made available by the state to facilitate better governance and management of water resources. There is need for regular authentic and quality data collection, ensuring proper data analysis and transparency for better social use.

6.2.2    River water usage

1.  Agricultural use: Presently agricultural usage of water is the highest and it gets water from surface and groundwater sources. Agriculture is also the highest employment and livelihood providing sector, also feeds the fast growing large human and livestock population. It is for this reason it gets higher priority in allocation of water. Most of the structures on rivers are to store water for agriculture sector. These structures are of different sizes and are being questioned In terms of their location, size, design, release/allocation of water, etc., at all levels, ranging from local level to international forums. There are less question regarding the priority agriculture sector gets in allocation of water but more on other aspects. In the present scenario in the country there is an agreement that we have exhausted the best economic and viable sites to dam major rivers and also second and third level rivers except in Himalaya, which was left out for environmental and various other reasons. There is strong bias based on scientific and social factors that no new dams are to be constructed either for irrigation or hydro power as this will be disastrous for the riverine culture on which the present and future generation of the country will depend.

The policy should be that the future water demand of the agricultural sector can be met without further investment in the new structures by improving the efficiency of existing structures and significant amount of water saving is possible in canal and on farm water management through institutional reforms and adoption of water saving technology by farmers.

2.  Drinking water- Urban and Rural supply and Demand: The nature and management system of drinking water in rural and urban areas is quite different and hence the problems are different.

a. Rural Drinking water: The rural drinking water problems are mostly in the rainfed semi-arid and arid parts of the country where the source is mostly  groundwater or small surface water harnessing structures; therefore, rivers have very little direct role. It is the energy and pumping technology responsible for drinking water crisis in these areas. The solutions lies in better understanding of the traditional knowledge systems and using complimentary appropriate technologies (especially where the quality of water is a problem). Many NGOs in different parts of the country have shown the strength of this argument in the effort to create access to clean drinking water. River linking may not be the first option to address these problems.

b. Urban water demand: The emerging trend of urbanization in the country throws new challenges before the urban water managers. It is also predicted that by the year 2035 around 40% of countries population is going to settle in urban areas, further increasing the urban water demand. The urban water demand is totally different than rural in its quantity and multiple usages. Firstly, there is huge bulk demand per day that is given, and with the declining status of our rivers and groundwater it will be impossible to meet the drinking water demand of fast growing urban population through one single source. Secondly, the urban lifestyle has multiple usages of water and this has intensified the demand for water. Thirdly, the urban population is highly insensitive and therefore wastes lot of precious water. Fourthly, after the use of water, disposal is one of the biggest problems. The amount of sewage released and that too untreated creates health and environmental problems whether it is released on surfaces or in rivers or rivulets. The urban water is a mix up of domestic and industrial use so it becomes highly contaminated and hazardous for human and other living beings.

Presently our concern is the disposal of sewage in rivers and polluting them beyond repair. The River policy should address the urban water supply issue, both addressing the supply side as well as the disposal of sewage, and this should be done in close collaboration with the urban policy makers. At the first instant sewage either untreated or treated should not be discharged in any river, water body, groundwater; rather it should be diverted for agricultural use after primary treatment. If there are compelling reasons for channeling it to the river, it has to be treated up to very high standards and the quality be monitored by people’s organization, judiciary and any third party on a regular basis and reports are to be made public in print and electronic media. The complete cost of sewage treatment is to be recovered from urban population. The technology that is currently in use in sewage treatment plants is uneconomical and unreliable, therefore, alternative options have to be found, such as, for example, traditional Indian water purification systems.

Urban water distribution losses are very high (30 to 40%) in India. To arrest water wastage the existing water distribution system needs to be reviewed and new plans are to be urgently put into action. Water losses need to be brought down to a minimum of 15%. The water meter system also could be proactively put into process.

3. Industrial Water Demand: The Industrial water demand (2%) is much smaller than agricultural demand (85%) yet at a particular location their demand is much higher than any other usage. The industrial demand for water is considered to be important from the point of view of economic growth of our country but at the same time it is also known for raising water conflicts. The conflicts are more related to the release of wastewater (pollution) than the quantum of water used/allocated. It is the nature, location and source of water supply to any industry that determines the type of conflict that is going to occur, for example, beverage industries in Alwar or Coca-Cola in Jaipur district of Rajasthan draws huge amounts of ground water, further aggravating the groundwater crisis in a water scarce state. Another example is mineral based industries in Orissa, drawing huge water from rivers and discharging both solid and contaminated waste water into rivers, depriving farmers of their share and adding to their health problems.  The conflicts are also because of lack of communication between the farmers and the industrialists leading to distrust between each other. By nature industrialists are powerful and try to manage things from the top and never communicate with local people and as companies profit-making as their objective, the social concern is only secondary. The other most important issue that arises is that invariably industries evade the existing pollution laws and never pay for or compensate for negative environmental consequences.

Given the present socio-political milieu it will be appropriate that; a) all industrial solid waste, with potential for water contamination, should be disposed off in designated facilities, through Integrated Waste Management. Discharge of contaminated effluent to either groundwater or surface drainage should be forbidden and if evaded should be treated as a criminal act and punished accordingly; b) all effluent should be treated to conform to specification prescribed by Bureau of Indian Standards before discharging into natural stream or to groundwater recharge. Standard ceiling for the use of recycled water should be fixed after considering its use in agriculture.  c) Making the Pollution Control Boards transparent, accountable and participatory is an imperative; d) setting up a recycling process for keeping a check on the amount of water being used by small and large industries is also important. These industries would be required to maintain a register of water usage. This register would contain information such as amount of water used, amount of water recycled, water in storage capacity, and amount of pollution emitted. Local communities should have access to such facilities and data for monitoring purposes.

6.3       Water resource infrastructure management

  • Dam management committees are to be made effective with proper composition having community representation. This committee should be made responsible for evaluation and presentation of reports. The committee should also have the authority to evaluate reports, ensure compliance and regulate the management of any dam.
  • All technical information related to daily water flow, rainfall, storage level, evaporation and other relevant information and documents should be available to the committee and also put in public domain.
  • Effective flood forecasting system should be established on all high discharge rivers. The likely affected population could be trained on different aspects of emergency management systems making emergency planning  a regular activity.

6.4       Water quality monitoring

  • As more than 60% of diseases are water born, therefore, it is essential that drinking water quality should be monitored strictly as per the prescribed health norms and it should be conducted by community organizations through the social monitoring of all the surface and ground water bodies on a regular basis. If it requires capacity building of community organizations and establishment of water quality testing labs at local level, resources should be made available for this activity in all the states of India.
  • Creation of a list of all polluted water sources and taking measures to check the related activity and fix responsibility so that it is not repeated again.
  • Formulating programs using integrated waste management approach to make sure that industrial waste does not contribute to the contamination of water. In cases where such industries are identified as contributor and are permanent adulterator of water, or evading the principle of safe disposal, punitive action should be taken.
  • The Municipalities and PRI’s, in cooperation with the Pollution Control Board, should undertake a rolling program of water auditing for all industries, large and small, to compile a register of industrial water usage. This audit should include (a) the quantified water usage, (b) the potential for water recycling and conservation, and (c) actual and potential pollution associated with each site.
  • Inspection and documentation of drainage system in all the cities and semi-urban areas in the country is to be undertaken on a priority basis. Installation of STP is to be undertaken at the earliest or alternative options for water treatment are be identified and implemented immediately. If STPs than operation of those should be ensured and the management be made accountable to local communities nominated by the River Parliament.

6.5       Environment Management:

  • Studies in the area of climate change and its impact on water resources to be under- taken in all the agro-climatic regions of the country and the findings should be used while planning integrated water resource management activities.
  • Most dams do not release the minimum amount of water called environment flow to maintain the hydrological system downstream. This has also affected the yields of wells downstream and the flora and fauna. Environmental flow should be made essential for all the major and medium dams in India.
  • Generally people/farmer cope or adapt to climate variability therefore studies should be undertaken on climate trends, and their long-term implications for marginal and environmentally sensitive areas. These findings will be disseminated to the community level for appropriate IWRM planning.
  • Independent Environmental Impact Studies (EIS) should be undertaken for all proposed major and medium water resources projects. An inventory of high-priority ecological systems, particularly those of significant genetic diversity, will be prepared, and the human impact upon these systems assessed.

Flood/Drought Management:

  • Flood management and water conservation: working on a proactive approach to flood management for rivers with excessive flow.
  • Community education on water collection and water recharge. Amplifying the concept of water distribution to reduce flood peaks.

7.0      Legal Reforms

  • In order to prevent encroachment or pollution of water sources, a law on water needs to be put into place. In cases where extreme pollution is being monitored by user groups. The user group will have the authority to work in consultation with the relevant line department and take appropriate action.
  • Water and land rights will be differentiated. The owner of the land may necessarily not be the owner of water. Groundwater should be made public property.
  • Necessary legal provision should be made in bylaws of local bodies for water conservation and for recycling the water in urban areas. Standard ceiling for use of the recycled water should be fixed after considering the effect on human health.
  • Most States have failed to come up with ground water laws to check the over exploitation mainly because of political reason. There is urgent need to developed regulation and management of groundwater extraction in general and in the ‘critical and overexploited’ zones in particular otherwise it will be too late to recover. Such legislation should also address the need for compensatory water conservation and recharge measures to be taken by the bulk water consumers.
  • Comprehensive laws should be framed to preserve existing water bodies from un-authorized construction, pollution and encroachment. In the event of significant pollution the local water-user group will be required to remedy the source of pollution, using technical and material assistance from the appropriate department.
  • Finally, all Government departments across the water sector should vigorously pursue awareness and practical use of water-saving technologies in all segments of society, including agricultural, domestic, industrial, institutional, commercial, and public utilities. The re-use of treated sewage effluent should be promoted, with appropriate levels of treatment applying to municipal usage, industrial usage, other horticultural usage, beneficial surface discharge, and recharge to groundwater. Water intensive industries should be required to recycle their water.

Courtesy By – Turun Bharat Sangh

भारत में जापान से ज्‍यादा खतरनाक भूकंप आ सकते हैं….

जापान में सुनामी से हुई तबाही पूरी दुनिया ने देखी. कुछ लोगों ने टेलीविज़न पर तो कुछ लोगों ने अपनी आंखों से. भारत में इस तरह के भयंकर मंज़र अभी तक देखे नहीं गए हैं, लेकिन इसका मतलब यह नहीं है कि भारत में इस तरह की तबाही नहीं आ सकती है. दरअसल हम लोग ग़फलत में जी रहे हैं. बिना किसी तैयारी के इस बात से बे़फिक्र हैं कि भारत में इस तरह के प्रलंयकारी भूकंप और सुनामी आ ही नहीं सकते. सच्चाई तो यह है कि भारत में जापान से भयानक तबाही आ सकती है. जापान तो खैर इस तरह की परिस्थितियों से निपटने में माहिर हो चुका है, लेकिन भारत में तो इस तरह की आपातकाल स्थितियों से निपटने के लिए पुख्ता इंतज़ाम भी नहीं हैं. जिस तरह से भारत में भूकंप जोन के इलाक़े ब़ढते जा रहे हैं, उससे तो सा़फ हो जाता है कि भारत किसी भी व़क्तजापान जैसी हालात से रूबरू हो सकता है. भारत के भूकंपीय जोन ऩक्शे में भी देखे जा सकते हैं. इसकी गंभीरता का अंदाज़ा इसी बात से लगाया जा सकता है कि इस मसले पर पिछले साल शिमला में हुई बैठक में एक वरिष्ठ अधिकारी के साथ मीटिंग में उन्होंने कहा कि हम एक टाइम बम पर बैठे हैं. हम बार-बार भले ही इस बात की दलील दें कि हमारी जापान से तुलना सही नहीं है, लेकिन पर्यावरण विशेषज्ञ और भूमंडलीय प्लेटों की स्थितियां यही बताती हैं कि हमारा देश कभी भी किसी बड़े भूकंप की चपेट में आ सकता है.

वैज्ञानिकों का कहना है कि भारत और तिब्बत एक-दूसरे की तरफ़ प्रति वर्ष दो सेंटीमीटर की गति से सरक रहे हैं. इस प्रक्रिया से हिमालय क्षेत्र पर दबाव बढ़ रहा है. यही वजह है कि पिछले 200 वर्षों में हिमालय क्षेत्र में छह बड़े भूकंप आ चुके हैं. इनके मुताबिक़ इस दबाव को कम करने का प्रकृति के पास सिर्फ़ एक ही तरीक़ा है और वह है भूकंप. इसलिए भूकंपों  को रोकना तो किसी के बस की बात नहीं है, हां इतना ज़रूर है कि इनसे सावधान होकर जानमाल के नुक़सान को कम ज़रूर किया जा सकता है. हालांकि इस मामले मेंसबसे ज़्यादा दुर्भाग्यशाली भारत में है.

भारत भूकंप के लिहाज़ से लगातार ज़्यादा संवेदनशील इसलिए भी होता जा रहा है, क्योंकि इसकी सब-कॉन्टिनेंटल प्लेट एशिया के अंदर घुसती चली जा रही है. इससे जब भी सब-कॉन्टिनेंटल प्लेट का दबाव ऐशियन प्लेट पर ब़ढेगा तो नतीजा एक बड़े सैलाब के तौर पर दिखाई देगा. धरती की जो प्लेट्स या परतें जहां-जहां मिलती हैं वहां के आसपास के समुद्र में सुनामी का ख़तरा ज़्यादा होता है.

भूकंप की आशंका के आधार पर देश को पांच जोन में बांटा गया है. नार्थ-ईस्ट के सभी राज्य, जम्मू-कश्मीर, उत्तराखंड तथा हिमाचल प्रदेश के कुछ हिस्से जोन-5 में आते हैं. यह हिस्सा सबसे ज़्यादा संवेदनशील कहा जा सकता है. उत्तराखंड के कम ऊंचाई वाले हिस्सों से लेकर उत्तर प्रदेश के ज़्यादातर हिस्से और दिल्ली जोन-4 में आते हैं. इन्हें भी कम संवेदनशील नहीं कहा जा सकता है.

मध्य भारत अपेक्षाकृत कम खतरे वाले हिस्से जोन-3 में आता है, जबकि दक्षिण के ज़्यादातर हिस्से सीमित खतरे वाले जोन-2 में आते हैं, लेकिन यह एक मोटा वर्गीकरण है. दिल्ली में कुछ इला़के हैं, जो जोन-5 की तरह खतरे वाले हो सकते हैं. इस प्रकार दक्षिण राज्यों में कई स्थान ऐसे हो सकते हैं जो ज़ोन-4 या ज़ोन-5 जैसे खतरे वाले हो सकते हैं. दूसरे ज़ोन-5 में भी कुछ इला़के हो सकते हैं, जहां भूकंप का खतरा बहुत कम हो और वे ज़ोन-2 की तरह कम खतरे वाले हों. इस मामले में बिहार ही एक ऐसा राज्य है, जहां लगभग सभी भूकंपीय ज़ोन आते हैं. इसकी जांच के लिए भूकंपीय माइक्रोजोनेशन की ज़रूरत होती है. माइक्रोजोनेशन वह प्रक्रिया है, जिसमें भवनों के पास की मिट्टी को लेकर परीक्षण किया जाता है और इसका पता लगाया जाता है कि वहां भूकंप का खतरा कितना है.

हालांकि, भारत में तबाही लाने के लिए स़िर्फ सब-कॉन्टिनेंटल प्लेट ही ज़िम्मेदार नहीं हैं, बल्कि भारत की परमाणु इकाइयां भी भारत को राख के ढेर में तब्दील करने के लिए का़फी हैं. अब ज़रा भारत की 20 परमाणु इकाइयों के बारे में भी सोचें. अगर भारत में तबाही का कारण ये परमाणु इकाइयां होती हैं तो इससे होने वाली तबाही दुनिया में किसी भी दूसरी जगह आई आपदा से ज़्यादा विनाशकारी होगी. भौगोलिक दृष्टि से देखा जाए तो हिंदूकश क्षेत्र में भूकंप का सबसे ज़्यादा खतरा कश्मीर को होता है. हिंदूकश क्षेत्र में आए भूकंप का खतरा भले ही गुज़र गया हो, लेकिन इस महीने में एक के बाद एक आ रहे भूकंप चिंता का विषय हैं. मौसम विज्ञान केंद्र के अनुसार मार्च महीने के 21 दिनों में अब तक भूकंप के 55 झटके लग चुके हैं, जबकि प्रतिमाह 25-30 भूकंप ही आते हैं. मौसम विज्ञान केंद्र के भूकंप वैज्ञानिक डॉ. ए. के. शुक्ला के अनुसार इसकी वजह जापान में आया बड़ा भूकंप है. जब भी कोई बड़ा भूकंप आता है तो उसके बाद छोटे भूकंप आते हैं. भूकंप विज्ञान केंद्र में पूरी दुनिया में आने वाले भूकंप रिकॉर्ड किए जाते हैं. इस महीने आए 55 भूकंपों में सबसे ज़्यादा 11 मार्च को 22 झटके लगे हैं. इसी दिन जापान में 8.9 तीव्रता का भूकंप भी आया था. जहां तक भारत का प्रश्न है 19 मार्च को अंडमान निकोबार क्षेत्र में 4.8 तीव्रता का तथा इससे पहले 14 मार्च को चमोली में 3.3 तीव्रता का भूकंप आया था. डॉ. शुक्ला के अनुसार भारत के लिए अंडमान, कच्छ, पूर्वोत्तर, उत्तराखंड तथा कुछ हद तक हिंदूकश क्षेत्रों में आने वाले भूकंप संवेदनशील होते हैं. वैसे अगर हम भूकंप के कारणों की बात करें तो वैज्ञानिकों बताते हैं कि धरती या समुद्र के अंदर होने वाली विभिन्न रासायनिक क्रियाओं के कारण ये भूकंप आते हैं. अधिकांश भूकंपों की उत्पत्ति धरती की सतह से 30 से 100 किलोमीटर अंदर होती है. सतह के नीचे धरती की परत ठंडी होने और कम दबाव के कारण कमज़ोर होती है. ऐसी स्थिति में जब अचानक चट्टानें दरकती हैं तो भूकंप आता है. एक अन्य प्रकार के भूकंप सतह से 100 से 650 किलोमीटर नीचे आते हैं. इतनी गहराई में धरती इतनी गर्म होती है कि एक तरह से द्रव रूप में होती हैं. हालांकि वहां किसी झटके या टक्कर की संभावना नहीं होती, लेकिन ये चट्टानें भारी दबाव में होती हैं. यदि इतनी गहराई में भूकंप आता है तो भारी मात्रा में ऊर्जा बाहर निकलती है. धरती की सतह से काफ़ी गहराई में उत्पन्न अब तक का सबसे बड़ा भूकंप 1994 में बोलीविया में रिकॉर्ड किया गया था. सतह से 600 किलोमीटर भीतर दर्ज इस भूकंप की तीव्रता रिएक्टर पैमाने पर 8.3 मापी गई थी, लेकिन वैज्ञानिकों ने पाया है कि भारतीय उपमहाद्वीप में भूकंप का ख़तरा बढ़ रहा है.

वैज्ञानिकों का कहना है कि भारत और तिब्बत एक-दूसरे की तरफ़ प्रति वर्ष दो सेंटीमीटर की गति से सरक रहे हैं. इस प्रक्रिया से हिमालय क्षेत्र पर दबाव बढ़ रहा है. यही वजह है कि पिछले 200 वर्षों में हिमालय क्षेत्र में छह बड़े भूकंप आ चुके हैं. इनके मुताबिक़ इस दबाव को कम करने का प्रकृति के पास सिर्फ़ एक ही तरीक़ा है और वह है भूकंप. इसलिए भूकंपों  को रोकना तो किसी के बस की बात नहीं है, हां इतना ज़रूर है कि इनसे सावधान होकर जानमाल के नुक़सान को कम ज़रूर किया जा सकता है. हालांकि इस मामले मेंसबसे ज़्यादा दुर्भाग्यशाली भारत में है. उपरोक्त हालात से इस बात की पुष्टि तो हो ही जाती है कि हम भी जापान की तरह भूकंप के बारूदी ढेर में बैठे हैं. लेकिन जापान और हममें स़िर्फ इतना ही अंतर है कि जापान इस तरह की परिस्थितियों से जूझने के लिए लिए तैयार है और हम नहीं. समय चेतने का है, नहीं तो हम भी प्रकृति की इस विनाशलीला का शिकार कभी हो सकते हैं.

जोन 1: पश्चिमी मध्य प्रदेश, पूर्वी महाराष्ट्र, आंध्र प्रदेश, कर्नाटक और उड़ीसा के हिस्से आते हैं. यहां भूकंप का सबसे कम ख़तरा है.

जोन 2: तमिलनाडु, राजस्थान और मध्य प्रदेश का कुछ हिस्सा, पश्चिम बंगाल और हरियाणा. यहां भूकंप की संभावना रहती है.

जोन 3: केरल, बिहार, पंजाब, महाराष्ट्र, पश्चिमी राजस्थान, पूर्वी गुजरात,  उत्तर प्रदेश और मध्य प्रदेश का कुछ हिस्सा आता है. इस ज़ोन में भूकंप के झटके आते रहते हैं.

जोन 4: मुंबई, दिल्ली जैसे महानगर, जम्मू-कश्मीर, हिमाचल प्रदेश, पश्चिमी गुजरात, उत्तरांचल, उत्तर प्रदेश के पहाड़ी इलाक़े और बिहार-नेपाल सीमा के इलाक़े शामिल हैं. यहां भूकंप का ख़तरा लगातार बना रहता है और रुक-रुककर भूकंप आते रहते हैं.

जोन 5: भूकंप के लिहाज़ से यह सबसे ख़तरनाक इलाक़ा है. इसमें गुजरात का कच्छ इलाक़ा, उत्तराखंड का एक हिस्सा और पूर्वोत्तर के ज़्यादातर राज्य शामिल हैं.

साभार- चौथी दुनिया

फुकुशिमाच्या पाश्र्वभूमीवर जैतापूर प्रकल्पाचा फेरविचार व्हावा !

शक्तीशाली भूकंप आणि प्रलयंकारी सुनामीमुळे जपानमधील फुकुशिमा अणुऊर्जा केंद्राची पार वाताहत होऊन सर्वत्र किरणोत्सर्ग पसरल्यामुळे जैतापूरमधील १० हजार मेगावॅट क्षमतेच्या प्रस्तावित अणुऊर्जा प्रकल्पाचाही फेरविचार करण्यात यावा, अशी सूचना केंद्रीय वन व पर्यावरण मंत्री जयराम रमेश यांनी पंतप्रधान मनमोहन सिंग यांनी एका पत्राद्वारे केली आहे.
जैतापूरसारख्या मोठय़ा अणुऊर्जा प्रकल्पांवर त्यांनी प्रश्नचिन्ह लावले आहे. जैतापूर अणुऊर्जा प्रकल्पाविषयी जनमत नकरात्मक बनले आहे. या प्रकल्पाची दहा हजार मेगावॅट क्षमता हेही या नकारात्मकतेमागचे एक प्रमुख कारण आहे. मोठय़ा अणुऊर्जा प्रकल्पांच्या तांत्रिक आणि आर्थिक लाभांची आपल्याला पुरेपूर जाणीव आहे. पण जिथे जोखीम संभवते, तिथे आग्रही राहून चालणार नाही, असे रमेश यांनी पंतप्रधानांना लिहिलेल्या पत्रात म्हटले आहे. अणुऊर्जा प्रकल्पांच्या उभारणीसाठी उपयुक्त जागांची निवड करण्याबाबत सरकारपुढे फारसे पर्याय नाहीत. पण फुकुशिमाचयी धर्तीवर एकाच ठिकाणी मोठय़ा क्षमतेचा प्रकल्प उभारण्याच्या कल्पनेचा सरकारने फेरविचार करायला हवा, असे रमेश यांनी पंतप्रधानांना सुचविले आहे.
रमेश यांच्या या युक्तिवादामुळे जैतापूर प्रकल्पाचा जोरदार विरोध करणाऱ्या स्थानिक नागरिकांना बळ लाभणार आहे. विशेष म्हणजे रमेश यांच्याच मंत्रालयाने जैतापूर प्रकल्पाला हिरवा झेंडा दाखविला होता. पण जपानमध्ये भूकंप आणि सुनामीमुळे फुकुशिमा प्रकल्प मोडीत निघाल्यानंतर आता रमेश यांचा सूर बदलला आहे. त्यांच्या या बदललेल्या भूमिकेमुळे स्वच्छ आणि प्रदूषणरहित अणुऊर्जेचा आग्रह धरणारे पंतप्रधान मनमोहन सिंग आणि त्यांच्या कार्यालयाचे माजी राज्यमंत्री असलेले मुख्यमंत्री पृथ्वीराज चव्हाण यांच्या समस्यांमध्ये आणखीच भर पडली आहे. फुकुशिमाच्या अनुभवानंतर बॉईलिंग वॉटर रिएक्टरवर चालणाऱ्या तारापूर-१ आणि २ प्रकल्पांचे कठोर मूल्यमापन करण्यात यावे, अशीही मागणी रमेश यांनी केली आहे. आमच्या अभियंत्यांनी मूळ डिझाईनची फेररचना केली असली तरी सुरक्षेला सर्वाधिक प्राधान्य देणाऱ्या जपानमध्ये काय घडले हे लक्षात घेता आपल्या मते हा मुद्दा संदर्भहीन ठरलेला नाही, असेही रमेश यांनी म्हटले आहे. पुढच्या वीस वर्षांंमध्ये अणुऊर्जेच्या उत्पादनात लक्षणीय वाढ होणार आहे आणि त्याचबरोबर अणुऊर्जा प्रकल्पांपोटी संभवणाऱ्या धोक्यांमुळे जनमानसात शंकाही वाढीला लागल्या आहेत. अणुऊर्जेविषयी जनतेत विश्वास निर्माण करणे आवश्यक आहे. अशा स्थितीत अणुऊर्जा नियामक मंडळाला थेट संसदेला जबाबदार असलेली पूर्णपणे स्वतंत्र संघटनेचा दर्जा देण्याविषयी गंभीरपणे विचार करण्याची गरज आहे, असे मत रमेश व्यक्त केले आहे.

साभार- लोकसत्ता