March 30, 2011

Integrated water resource management in Orissa in doldrums

CONSIDERING THE global demand for better management of water and experiencing the problems in water sector like increase in per capita demand for water and greater competition between its various uses and users, both central as well as state government have started thinking in the same line – Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM).

Orissa, moving a step ahead has come out with a draft road-map for IWRM. Here few fundamental questions appear in mind that is it really an IWRM or a platform for water privatization? Does it really talks about water integrated with ecosystem or water in isolation? And most importantly, has it ensured the spirit of IWRM i.e. participation at all levels and all stakeholders? Here is an analysis of the draft document on IWRM, our state government has prepared.

Looking at the practice of state government, there is tunnel vision among various departments working on water resources. When department provisioning drinking water is adopting more of a conservation approach, department dealing with irrigation is promoting liberal use of water through subsidies. If there is no consensus among the departments under the same government, how IWRM can be expected to work, which speaks about more inclusion and integration?

The document also speaks about a lot of changes in policy related to water. Here question arises that is there really need of policy changes? There are policies like State Water Policy 2007, which also speaks about better management of water resources. But is it really working? Unfortunately in our state, there is no system to monitor the execution of policy. Common man, who is really meant for management of water resource, is yet to know the availability of policy, forget about use of those policies. Again, are the common man consulted before bringing such policy level changes? If no, can we say it a democratic process?

The document seems to propagate Liberalization, Privatization and Globalization regime which has a very bad impact on Orissa and reform in power sector can be a case point. There are many more issues lies with the report, which clearly speaks about inefficiency of IWRM to be established on road map proposed. Looking at whole gamut of issues, it seems as if the document is dictated externally without analyzing its need. It is more of establishing privatization than solution to the water crisis of Orissa.

There ere are many incidents of failure than success of IWRM. According to experts of water sector, IWRM may be the panacea for all water related problems in European countries, but hardly has answers to problems in water sector of

Going through the roadmap of IWRM, it has spelled out the water crisis of Orissa in such a manner, as if IWRM is the only solution left. But is it really a solution? The roadmap speaks more of price fixation than fix to the management problem. Again looking at the management of water, it is the end user who can really manage it.

But the roadmap provides hardly any scope to them to be a part of management. Rather it treats them as consumers, who are bound to pay for the services. Is price fixation only viable answer to the water crisis of Orissa?

Though there is scope of inclusion of Water User Associations (WUA), but is the WUA only user of water? What about the water use by other sectors like drinking and domestic, industries, water related livelihood etc? Focusing on the concept of IWRM, what is about environment as a whole? If the proposed roadmap is not able to include and integrate differences within the water sector, how one can expect that this will work on IWRM, which is much more beyond.

There are many larger issues like pollution, food security, ground water, climate change, which the IWRM should address. But unfortunately the roadmap is more focused on economic benefit rather than social and environmental benefit.

Looking at the definition of IWRM, it is clear that ‘Integrated water resource management is a process which promotes the coordinated development and management of water, land and related resources, in order to maximize the resultant economic and social welfare in an equitable manner without compromising the sustainability of vital ecosystems”. The concept of IWRM presupposes ‘more integration, more nature and more participation’.

But unfortunately, while preparing the report, these three vital components are missed out. Couple of external person, without having adequate understanding of Orissa’s geographical, socio-economic and cultural aspect, prepared a road-map, upon which the concept like IWRM will be grounded.

Judicial probe sought into Orissa water resources dept scam

THE RASHTRIYA Oriya Yuvak Pratisthan demanded a judicial probe by a judge of the high court, into the water resources department scam.

Srikant Padhi, president of the youth organisation along with other office bearers had held a press meet here in Berhampur (Orissa) and stated that the government had taken 12 years to complete some projects. Moreover, it could complete only nine irrigation projects out of the total 33 under Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP).

Padhi while lamenting the sorry state of affairs in the water resources department of the state came down heavily and blamed the bureaucracy for the delay. Moreover, due to the lack of political will, such projects had not been completed yet. Till date, there 24 such projects remains uncompleted, lamented Padhi.

While accusing the state government, Padhi referred to the CAG report that indicates a scam worth in crores. He alleged that more than 850 crore of cheating was unearthed in the water resources department. The CAG report has clearly blamed the state government and the later too didn’t bother to form any monitoring committee to look into the matter seriously.

Padhi also lamented due to the delay in works of these said projects by the water resources department, there is a burden of another 3537 crore on the public exchequer.

Hence, they sought a judicial probe by a judge of the high court into the scam in the water resources department. Those, who are involved should be brought to book, demanded Padhi while appealing to the state government to complete such projects as soon as possible.

Moreover, Padhi has also informed that they are going to file a Public Interest Litigation in to the multi crore scam in the water resources department headed by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.

Nabarangpur Mega Lok Adalat disposes off 2352 cases

AS PER the directions of the State Legal Services Authority, Nabarangpur District, Legal Services Authority organised the fifth Mega Lok Adalat in Nabarangpur district of Orissa on Sunday and disposed of 2352 cases in total.

In the district level Mega Lok adalat 1,159, criminal cases, five matrimonial dispute cases, two civil cases were disposed off and Rs.35,110 was collected in the form of penalties. District Revenue department at Papadahandi, Tentulikhunti, Umerkote, Raighar, Chandahandi, and Dabugam also disposed off 1081 cases and collected Rs.1,75,617 as penalty.

Similarly, the State Bank and Utkal Gramya Bank at Umerkote and Nabarangpur resolved 61 pre-litigation bank loan cases and collected Rs.8,89,865 as penality. Forty four BSNL consumer cases were also disposed and Rs.48.350 collected as penalty.

The Mega Lok Adalat was headed by District Legal services authority Chairman, and Additional District Judge, Giris Kumar Mishra; Secretary District Legal services authority and Sub-judge, Pradeep Kumar Sasmal; Chief Judicial Magistrate, Himansu Sekhar Brahma; Sub divisional judicial magistrate, Satyanarayan Patro; Special Judge, Bhaskar Biswal, Umerkote, JMFC; Santanu Kumar Dash, conducted the cases individually.

The Mega Lok Adalat conducted by District Legal Service Authority later turned into a marriage reconcilliation centre on Sunday, as five couples Hari Harijan, Saraswati Harijan; Damu Pujari, Lalita Pujari; Rabi Harijan, Gouri Harijan; Jayanta Banya, Namita Banya; Gagan Nag, Aswani Takri; were reunited after the Additional district and Session Judge, Giris Kumar Mishra succeeded in making them reach a compromise on Sunday.

The district administration will provide Rs. 20,000 to each, couple said Mishra. Among others Government pleader, N.Ahmed; PGRDS, director, Birendra Mohan Nayak were also present in the court.

March 23, 2011

Discussing WikiLeaks cables is a complete waste of time

THE INDIANS' tax-payers’ money is going down the drain nowadays following noisy and unruly scenes in the parliament. No important work can be carried out because all the opposition parties have been raising their voice against the government on the issue of WikiLeaks cables, which reported that money was paid in 2008 by the UPA government to survive the floor test.

The BJP leaders find the WikiLeaks cable as the last word from God. By that logic if tomorrow there's another cable saying that LK Advani, who got a clean chit in the Jain Hawala case, had vested interests in calling ‘Jinnah’ the most secular person in Pakistan, then what would the BJP do?

A website can publish whatever it wants and any matter coming out on any website cannot be treated as any concrete evidence to frame charges against anybody and to put the Prime Minister in the dock time and again by the NDA and its allies on something which no one is sure is sheer wastage of the nation's time.

WikiLeaks revelations do not match with the actual events, and only highlight the conduct of NDA leaders under suspicion.

The problem with the BJP leaders is that they have been getting tired, and with no issue now left after the CVC episode got over, they have taken this issue of 2008, which can be probed but then all the three MPs at that point of time didn’t vote in favour of the UPA-I. They all went with the NDA at the time of voting.

It's high that the parliament be allowed to function normally, and the government is given a chance to give its clarification on the issue. Why to create so much of fuss in the House and why to waste precious hours of the Parliament on an issue that's causing so much of unnecessary bad blood.

Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee has already requested the members of the august house to first allow passage of the finance bill and then debate. Discussion can be on every question that the opposition parties think necessary in the interest of the nation.

Discussing WikiLeaks cable in the Parliament is a waste of time and we must not waste precious time hours and tax payers' money any further on matters that have no substantial evidence to prove any charges against the person named in the cable in the court of law.

March 05, 2011

Advani and Modi - the real culprits escaping the law

More than 100 innocent persons were arrested after burning of S-6 in Godhra on 27th February 2002 which in turn followed demolition of Babri Masjid on 6th December 1992. The man mainly responsible for the former was Mr. L.K.Advani who, to fulfill his ambition for power raised the slogan ‘mandir wahin banayenge’ and played with the religious sentiments of common Hindus and our secular state looked the other way. The man responsible for the later was Narendra Modi, who exploited burning of S-6 in Godhra to retain his power which otherwise he was sure to loose. And both these worthies of BJP brought utter shame to our secular tradition and secular philosophy.
As a result of this conspiracy by these two men thousands died, lakhs uprooted from their hearths and homes and many more lost everything they had and yet both are not only unpunished but are enjoying power (Advani, though could not become Prime Minister which was his ambition but became Home Minister and deputy Prime Minister under Atal Bihari Vajpayeeji and is now a prominent opposition leader which also is a sort of power).

Narender Modi and L K Advani

Mr. Advani very promptly issues a statement that he has been vindicated the moment lower court pronounces some people guilty arrested by his or his Party’s Government even before higher court’s judgments often release them or declare them not guilty. The moment Mr. Jeelani was held guilty by the lower court in Parliament attack case, he did not hesitate to issue this statement even though he was Home Minister at the Centre. No one holding such responsible position should rush to issue such statement when the lower court has pronounced the judgment. The highest court i.e. the Supreme Court found Prof. Jeelani ‘not guilty’ and released him.
Again after the ‘Godhra Conspiracy Case’ judgment the Advani-speak was the same. He was delighted that 31 people were pronounced ‘guilty’ by the lower court although 63 were released and especially Husain Umerjee who was arrested as the ‘main conspirator’ was found not guilty by the Court. The whole conspiracy theory falls to the ground if the chief conspirator himself is found innocent. Who then plotted the conspiracy? But that was none of Advani’s concern. At least 31 have been found guilty. And it is out of question that he (Advaniji) will wait for higher courts to critically examine the judgment of the lower court.
Mr.Advani does this not because he is hasty by nature. He does it on purpose. He knows his guilt in raising emotionally surcharged issue of Ramjanambhoomi temple and getting it demolished in his august presence on 6th December, 1992 and wants to hide his guilt by pronouncing the victims themselves as guilty. Unfortunately this is the whole tragedy. Besides thousands who died due to the controversy Mr. Advani raised and lakhs who were uprooted and became refugees in their own country, hundreds suffered due to imprisonment for years.
In the Godhra case alone more than 100 persons were arrested under the charge of conspiracy some of whom died and 63, who spent 9 years in jail, were released by the court. Who will compensate them for precious loss of these years in prison? The Police in Modi Government arbitrarily picked up people and put them under POTA. I cannot forget the cries of a woman in public hearing in Hyderabad whose three sons were arrested in the so called Godhra conspiracy case and who has been released by the court. She was crying why POTA has taken away my sons, please tell POTA my sons are innocent. She swooned while crying. Obviously she did not know what the POTA was and thought it is name of some person. Her husband could not bear the tragedy and passed away after 4 years of his sons’ arrest. Every body in the audience was crying and I too could not hold up my tears when the woman was crying. Who can compensate her and her three sons for this loss?
What is more matter of concern is that while innocent people who have suffered so much already including those whose near and dear ones were burnt alive in Sabarmati Express those who are really guilty are enjoying power. Is this our secular democracy that those who incite religious sentiments enjoy power and those who sweat and toil for their daily existence loose their lives or suffer imprisonment for years? Can it fit into any human rights norms, let alone our secular political philosophy?
And what is worse Mr. L.K.Advani is not even being tried for demolition of Babri Masjid but for making provocative speech near Babri Masjid. That case was also withdrawn and now CBI has again applied for reviving the case. The CBI was as much pliant to the NDA Government as the BJP never tires of accusing the Congress of. It was under Home Ministership of Mr. Advani that such cases against him were withdrawn by the CBI.
In the first place Mr. Advani should not have been made Home Minister, much less becoming Deputy Prime Minister when he was being tried in the court of law by CBI which works under the home ministry. But anything can happen in democratic India. And still BJP has temerity of accusing the Congress of misusing CBI. This writer has nothing to do with the Congress and the Congress cannot be said to be above board at all. I am only pointing out double standards of the BJP.
Mr. Narendra Modi, less said the better. It is important to ask in his case what is good governance? To kill 2000 innocent people and rape scores of women, including pregnant women and to win power by inciting religious sentiment and to polarize people on religious grounds? For TATAs and Ambanis and other big industrialists it may amount to good governance but for common people it amounts to hell.
The Gujarat carnage, whatever Mr. Modi now does, cannot be forgotten and will go down in history as occurrence of greatest shame for secular India. Mr. Advani, who fights election from Gujarat, keeps on praising Modi on every possible occasion but it only adds to the gravity and criminality of the matter.
Even SIT (Special Investigation Team) appointed by the Supreme Court, though could not give clean chit to Mr. Modi but wriggled out by saying there is not enough evidence to try him. The SIT report published in Tehelka is damaging enough. If the SIT had proceeded further on that basis it could have surely found evidence to try Mr.Modi. Without Modi’s complicity riots could not have lasted even for 24 hours, let alone three months.
The cases of Bihar under Lalu Prasad and West Bengal under the Left Government clearly show, if any proof is needed, that no communal riot can last more than 24 hours without the state complicity. Can then Narendra Modi be exonerated of his complicity in riots? In no way. And SIT report and other investigative reports clearly indict him beyond any doubt. If his dark spot on the fair name of secularism is to be washed away the really guilty must be held accountable in any case.
Technicalities should not become an excuse to exonerate these people who have ruined the lives of thousands of people for ever. If these people can enjoy power by accusing innocent people of ‘conspiracy without any solid ground, can really guilty be not tried on very sound ground. Let us hope the Supreme Court will issue further directives to SIT or any other agencies to collect proper evidence against the guilty men of Gujarat. Most of the police high officers who did what the Government of Gujarat wanted them to do should also not be allowed to escape and must be held responsible.
These high officials cannot get away by saying they carried out orders of the Government. Their first duty is towards the Constitution of India and no unconstitutional orders can be followed. My experience in last forty five years of my work for communal harmony shows that communal violence cannot stop in this country unless the guilty people are given exemplary punishment. It is no use small fish being shown the stick and big fish enjoys all the benefits of inciting communal violence.
Let us all hope that one day it will happen and certainly so if the civil society shows proper awareness. It is fragmented civil society which allows such benefits of provoking communal sentiments by few politicians. Gujarat then certainly cannot repeat.

Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule.

--The Buddha

March 04, 2011

Injustice to the tribals

The injustice done to the tribal people of India is a shameful chapter in our country’s history. The tribals were called ‘ raskhas’ ( demons), ‘asuras’ and what not. They were slaughtered in large numbers, and the survivors and their descendants were degraded , humiliated , and all kinds of atrocities inflicted on them for centuries. They were deprived of their lands , and pushed into forests and hills where they eke out a miserable existence of poverty, illiteracy, disease , etc.

The well-known example of injustice to the tribals is the story of Eklavya in the Adiparva of Mahabharata. Eklavya wanted to learn archery but Dronacharya refused to teach him, regarding him as a low born. Eklavya then built a statue of Dronacharya and then practiced archery before the statue. He would have perhaps become a better arher than Arjuna, but since Arjuna was Dronacharya’s blue eyed boy Dronacharya told Eklavya to cut off his right thumb and give it to him as ‘ guru dakshina’ ( gift to the teacher given traditionally by the student agter his study is complete). In his simplicity Eklavya did what he was told. This was a shameful act on the part of Dronacharya . He had not even taught Eklavya , so what right had he to demand ‘guru dakshina’, and that too of the right thumb of Eklavya so that the latter may not become a better archer than his favourite pupil Arjun?