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2009

Singh calls for promotion of adventure and eco-tourism

ITANAGAR, Aug 02: Arunachal Pradesh Governor Gen JJ Singh underscored the need for efforts to make Arunachal burst into the national scene in adventure and eco tourism. He said this while participating at a hiking expedition organized by Muskan Society in collaboration with department of Tourism at Banderdewa Area in Papum Pare district today. Interacting with the participants, Gen Singh said that the state is blessed with God gifted bounties while adding that it is one of the few biodiversity hotspots in the world and has huge potential for adventure and eco tourism.

It is our bonded duty to preserve our green gold for our future, the Governor said while stressing against deforestation and destruction of flora and fauna.

Large numbers of hikers, including thirty–five students from VKV Banderdewa and other schools, teachers, members of Muskan Society, including its member secretary Mamta Riba, senior officers of tourism and sports departments along with offers and personnel from Police Training Center, Banderdewa took part in it.

Led by Secretary to Governor Amit Singla numbers of Raj Bhavan officials also participated.

Acknowledging the initiative of the Muskan Society which will go a long way in bridging the gap of the people with nature, Gen Singh said it is the first experimental effort by the Society in its promotion of eco and adventure tourism in the State. He expressed his hope that it will open the floodgate of such activities in the State. Ace adventurer himself, he gave some hiking tips to the participant. The Governor also exhorted them to avail maximum enjoyment from the nature, while respecting the ecosystem.

Urging the participants to march towards exploring rich flora and fauna amidst breathtaking natural beauty of the State, the State first lady and President Muskan Society, Anupama Singh, who flagged off the expedition said this was a small endeavour of Muskan Society to inculcate the spirit of adventure, appreciation for nature and care for our environment and mother earth.

Students of different schools have also been made to participate in the event because these values must be impressed upon young minds at tender age. Our State of Arunachal Pradesh has huge potential for adventure tourism. Regular organizing of such events will go a long way in promoting adventure tourism in our State, she added. The first lady profusely extended gratitude to the department of Tourism and PTC, Banderdewa in making the event successful.

Later interacting with media persons, she said that Muskan is an NGO, which is working for the cause of women empowerment, child care, health, education and uplift of socially deprived people. She added, as it first initiative, Muskan has contributed in setting up of the Toy Train in Itanagar.

Tourism Director A.K. Singh highlighting on adventure tourism in the State informed that the State Government is promoting aero sports, like para sailing, para gliding, micro-light and ballooning along with aquatic sports like river rafting, kayaking and angling. Among the terrestrial sports, he said, it is promoting trekking, rock climbing, camping and mountaineering in addition to bird watching and wildlife safari within identified wild life sanctuaries like Namdapha and D.Ering.

Tourism Director called for identification the Hiking and trekking routes in the State to promote it in a big way.

The hiking started off from the PTC firing range, touched forest, several hillocks, slippery tracks, and culminated near the Mandir. Making it more interesting, singing and other activity competitions amongst the students where conducted by Gen Singh himself.

The Governor had a lesson or two for the hikers who were throwing away plastic wrappers and bottles. If we don’t stop it now, we will be leaving an environment full of plastic wastage for out future generation, who had been advocating for a plastic free Arunachal.

Personnel of PTC led by the Principal, Police Training Center, Banderdewa Chuku Appa arranged refreshments and rest points for all.

The Governor made some cash contribution towards ‘Bara Khana’ for the personnel and a trophy of Mishmi Pipe for the institution.    (PRO to CM)

 

Arunachal Charity Home’s mission to lessen the suffering

Ranjit Sinha

ITANAGAR, Aug 02: Is it possible to wipe off the tears of sick and suffering people of Arunachal Pradesh? One may find it difficult to say ‘yes’. Nevertheless, Jobang Modi, with his strong will power and sheer determination has managed to lessen the pain of many.

Modi, 35, an inhabitant of Bolung under Roing circle, Lower Dibang Valley district made up his mind and dedicated his life for the cause of sick people of the state.

The determined soul embarked upon a mission and set up Arunachal Charity Home (ACH) in Dibrugarh to guide and help the needy people who come for treatment of many ailments.

‘There are many hospitals and primary health centers in our state, but many fails to provide satisfactory investigation or treatment due to either lack of medical equipment or expert medics. There are places where medical staff and medicines never reach due to inaccessibility.

The patients find no other option but to travel all the way from the far-flung areas of Arunachal Pradesh to Dibrugarh and other places of Assam for better medical treatment.

It is observed many a time that unscrupulous persons are exploiting the illiterate, poor and hapless patients of Arunachal Pradesh in Dibrugarh. Be it in hospital, pharmacy, hotel, auto or peddle rickshaw, the patients and their escorts have to face exorbitant and unreasonable fare, he says.

Modi who is now the Managing Director, who got bitter experiences in Dibrugarh during treatment of his mother who was suffering from Cancer, said, most pathetic and worst situation, comes when a patient dies in a hospital in Dibrugarh. Instead of drawing sympathy, it becomes an opportune moment for the greedy and dishonest persons.

An unimaginable and unexpected amount is charged in the name of the ambulance and ferry fares from the hapless relatives of the deceased.

In order to help the poor and ignorant patients to overcome all these difficulties, Modi, said, a group of educated youths of the state with kind cooperation from well-wishers, friends from Dibrugarh established the ACH, at Paltan Bazaar and it was inaugurated by then MP Tapi Gao in May 1, 2007. It is an unit of Tribal Development Agency,  Roing.  However all was not well. ACH began to pass through rough weather due to paucity of fund. Modi within a year realized that good beginning is not at all half done. The Charity Home stood up to the expectation till last quarter of  2007, but the trouble began when the  house owner of the charity home threatened Modi of dire action if he did not pay the rent (near a Rs lakh) for housing the ACH.  

Helpless Modi decided to sell one of his kidneys to manage house rent.

To his pleasant surprise Modi had discovered a helpful soul in one Oyin Paron (now, ACH secretary). Paron extended a handsome amount enabling him to pay the house rent.

“Paron was God sent”, beaming Modi says.

However, the ACH management decided to shift to a new house for which they needed Rs 50,000 in advance.

As they say god helps those who help themselves, Modi came to know that he won Pulsar bike after winning a lottery!

Needless to say, he sold the bike and paid the advance for housing the ACH in a new building in June 2008.

I found a Good Samaritan in my friend Probin Boruah (ACH coordinator) and his friend Prabhat Chetia (chief advisor), a police officer to start the Charity Home.

But fund still is a major problem in running the ACH, says its MD.

The ACH provides food, lodging and kitchen facility at the most nominal rate; it always tries to guide the patients to right doctors and hospitals and ensure that patients get right treatment at nominal rate. It also provides ambulance service to the patients free of cost. In case of eventualities, the Home makes arrangement of transportation of corpses.

He shares that the Home has come so far because of donations from fellow Arunachalees. We usually take donation to make ends meet, says the man who has found inspiration from his own tragedy.

We are grateful to former MP Tapir Gao for donating a Maruti Van as ambulance and a Tata Sumo (through Oil India Ltd) and former retired IAS officer Jomin Tayeng for donating an ambassador at the initial stage.

In fact, we are grateful to Chief Minister, many ministers, MLAs, officers, well-wishers and friends for their financial support, Modi says.

Till date we have extended our help to around 2,000 patients. Not only our Arunachalees, the people of other states of the North East also approach us for help and we help them, he says.

The service is not yet over. Modi plan to expand the service in the Capital Complex, Guwahati and Vellore.

People appreciate our endeavour and want us to continue the humanitarian service. But without the financial help and support from the Government and humanitarian agencies, it is near impossible to run the Home round-the-year. Of course, many well-wishers, dignitaries have assured us to bail out from financial crisis.  MP Ninong Ering also gave his commitment for upgradation of the Charity Home. However, we are pursuing the Govt to help us and extend financial grant, the MD says and hopes to overcome all obstacles.

ACH secretary Paron, an energetic young man from Ruksin circle, East Siang said, ‘ACH is like God’s gift for us. We are determined to sail the ship in any adverse situation’.

Onyok Sitang, an unemployed engineering graduate of Yagrung village, East Siang said, “I have been at the ACH for one month for treatment of malaria and typhoid. I found in ACH, people from the different tribes from different districts sharing their problems and feelings.

In fact, ACH instills a sense of communal harmony among the fellow Arunachalees.  Patients are recuperating at ACH at nominal fees after getting treatment at hospital” he adds .

They are unique people. They dedicated their lives for the cause of suffering people of the state. Everyone should extend financial support to ACH management, said Geten Panggeng, a youth leader from Upper Siang district.

 

Make Nari-Koyu constituency a model for Arunachal: Dabi

Itanagar, Aug 02: Arunachal Pradesh Water Resource Development Minister Tako Dabi has exhorted the people of his constituency to strive hard to bring development in the area so as to make it a role model in the state.

“Make Nari-Koyu the best developed constituency in the state with all-round development”, he said while addressing the officials and public leaders during a function organized at Hotel Arun Subansiri here Saturday evening.

While urging the people to come above petty interests, he stressed on the need to rise above materialistic outlook.

“We must work with honesty and sincerity for all-round development of  the state”, he said, adding the people were intelligent and sincere enough in promoting Arunachal.

Highlighting the various achievements of his constituency during his last four consecutive terms as elected representative, Mr. Dabi claimed that he is a simple man rather than a politician.

Elaborating his future plans, the minister disclosed that he had several plans stored in him and the first was to give due recognition to those leaders who have contributed lot for the state’s development.“I am planning to construct buildings in memory of late Baken Pertin and Tomo Riba who are considered as fathers of modern Arunachal”, he added.

Rejecting the frequent bandh culture by various students’ bodies in the state, Mr. Dabi suggested that bandhs never yield good results but destroys students’ career.

“Youths should focus more on education than on bandh and their education should be based on knowledge and not on emotion”, he added. UNI

 

ATSU resents meager SSA quota

ITANAGAR Aug 02: All Tagin Students’ Union (ATSU) expressed shock and resentment against the quota allotted for Upper Subansiri district for recruitment of teachers under SSA.

The district has received only 12 posts for JT and not a single post has been allotted for AT where as the district is in genuine need of teachers, the union said.

ATSU further alleged the Education Department of the district has failed to perform its duty and   has failed to inform the concerned authority of the crisis faced by the students in the district due to shortage of teachers.

ATSU demanded that immediate advertisement for the remaining AT quotas of the district be published within 15 days.

 

ASHA trainings at Kurung Kumey

ITANAGAR, Aug 02: District Health Mission Society Kurung Kumey conducted modules, II, III and IV ASHAs training at Palin, Nyapin, Koloriang CHCs and PHC Sangram.

Speaking as Chief Guest, ADC Chuku Takar appreciated the district health mission society for their hard work to uplift the health scenario of the district and   advised the ASHAs to deliver better services while implementing VH&SC and JSY Schemes and assured all possible help.

District RCH Officer cum CEO DHS Kurung Kumey District Dr. Tale Gongo briefed on aims and objectives of the training and JSY guidelines and expressed un-happiness at the performances of VH&SC and VHND.

District Medical Officer Dr. Higio Tama assured to provide free medicine to the trained and expert trainees from the module II and IV and advised the trainees to get involved in NID, SID, DDT spray and other health activities.

ZPM Nangram Nanie, MO in-charge CHC Koloriang Dr. Boni Tuluk and MO in-charge PHC Parsi-Parlo Dr. Tana Tath also spoke on the occasion.

Various officers, Panchayat members, ASHAs trainers, medical staff and ASHAs attended the inaugural function.

 

Ethical education need of the hour: Brig Mehta

Tezu, Aug 02: Brig. Manjeet Mehta, SM, Commander of the 82 Mountain Brigade called upon the teachers and elders in the society to impart sound moral lessons in the formative period of the children and urged them to guide the young learners and the future generation on the sound foundation of ethical and moral values.

Stressing the need of ethical education Brig. Manjeet Mehta said that “children will only learn what they are taught. Therefore it calls upon us that we should have an impeccable character.” Remembering his school days guided by Padmashree and Padmavibhushan Awardee Principal Mr. J.K. Kate the Commander added that if wealth is lost nothing is lost, if health is lost something is lost and in case the character is lost then everything is lost.  Brig. Mehta in his speech said that Arunachal is one of the largest states of this country and that it is very much an integral part of this big nation that is India. He said that it is very encouraging to see children growing in the right direction imbibing right values systems, excellent ethics and learning to shoulder responsibility for the nation.

Appreciating the young Apnes he added that it is greatly satisfying and strengthening to see children performing and having a national flavour in all their acts. The commander also lauded the hard work put in by the teachers and staffs and the good tradition of the school.

While gifting school bags sent for the Apnes by Maj. General B.S.Sachar, the GOC, 2nd Mountain Division Brig. Mehta informed the Chairman ASSET that Dolly Sachar, President, AWWA of the DAH division is keen to promote tour and visit programs for the rural children to provide them the needed exposure for learning. The commander also assured that the DAH division of the Army is always willing to support institutions imparting quality education and other welfare programs.

The Commander presented the “SANSKAR” book series with CDs  by Maa Purnananda of New Delhi to the VT-AWIC libraries of the Apna Vidya Bhavan and Medo.

Mamuni Gogoi the ASSET library coordinator received the books from the Commander in the presence of Sri Satyanarayanan Mundayoor the VT-AWIC coordinator. The SANSKAR series by Maa Purnananda of the Sree Guru Swami Chinmayananda Sewa Nidhi, New Delhi is published by S.CHAND. The books were sent as gifts by Manoj Jalan of Murleidhor Jalan Foundation, Jalannagar , Dibrugarh district of Assam.

The Chairman, Anu Shiksha Seva Trust expressed his gratitude to Brig. Mehta for taking out time to personally gift the school bags sent by the GOC. He further thanked him for addressing the urgent need of promoting ethical education. The Chairman ASSET said that the association of such leaders who care to extend love and affection to the young growing children will immensely contribute in building a healthy society. He also added that the quality time spent by leaders in extending love and care will keep these young minds inspired and motivated. The Chairman also thanked Maa Purnananda for bringing out the SANSKAR series and expressed that these books were excellent for imparting moral lessons to children in a simple and interesting way.

He also thanked Mr. Manoj Jalan for mobilizing supporting and sending the books while congratulating the publisher S.CHAND & Company of New Delhi for publishing the series. ASSET has procured more sets of the series to be gifted to other government run schools for the benefit of the students of the area.

 

Demwe dam: riddled with conflicts

By Neeraj Vagholikar and Himanshu Thakkar

Two public hearings are scheduled to be held for the 1750 MW Demwe Lower project on August 11th and 12th in Tezu and Anjaw respectively.  This hydroelectric project is one amongst at least 10 hydroelectric projects planned in the Lohit river basin with an installed capacity of around 8200 MW of electricity.  Six of these projects are mega hydroelectric projects, all going to be built within a distance of just 86 km. On the main Lohit river: 1750 MW Demwe Lower, 1800 MW Demwe Upper, 1250 MW Hutong - II, 588 MW Hutong – 1200 MW Kalai – II and 1450 MW Kalai – I.   The Demwe Lower and Demwe Upper projects are being developed by Athena Energy Ventures Private Ltd. (AEVPL), which is jointly promoted by PTC India Ltd. (PTC), Infrastructure Development Finance Company (IDFC) and Athena Infraprojects Private Limited (AIPL).  

A major conflict-of-issue which has emerged for the Demwe projects is that Mr. P.Abraham, a Director on the board of PTC, was the Chairman of an environment ministry committee which took crucial decisions favouring the Demwe projects! PTC has already invested Rs. 30 crores in AEVPL and has committed to invest Rs. 150 crores.  For over two years, Abraham was the Chairman of the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) on River Valley and Hydropower projects appointed by the Ministry of Environment & Forests (MEF).  This committee plays a critical role in deciding the environmental and social viability of dams and hydroelectric projects and recommending whether to grant or reject clearance to such projects.  Mr. Abraham is on the board of a number of power companies that are involved in the power sector in general and hydropower in particular. Therefore, he was sitting on judgment of projects promoted by his own companies!  This is a very serious conflict-of-interest and is unacceptable as per basic principles of good governance.

On June 12 this year, a group of civil societies from across the country wrote to Mr. Jairam Ramesh, the minister of state for Environment & Forests, asking him to sack Abraham as the Chairman of the EAC on dams. In his two years as Chairman, several projects of companies he was associated with came before the EAC for clearance.  Due to the prompt action taken by Ramesh, Mr. Abraham resigned as the Chairman of the EAC on June 26 this year. While this is a welcome step, serious concerns still remain about decisions taken by Abraham as Chairman of the EAC in favour of companies he was associated with.  Abraham claimed that he had abstained from the discussions in which his companies were involved. But that claim is false.  In certain instances, such as the Demwe projects, he very much chaired the decision-making on the dams, even though he is a Director of PTC, a promoter of the project. Importantly, some very questionable decisions were taken by the Abraham committee in favour of the Demwe projects.  

For example, an issue which was repeatedly brought to the notice of the Abraham committee is the crucial issue of ‘downstream impacts of dams.’  Recent times have seen grave concern being expressed about the poorly studied downstream livelihood and ecological impacts of large dams in both Arunachal Pradesh and neighbouring Assam. The concerns include loss of fisheries, changes in beel (wetland) ecology in the flood plains, agricultural losses, increased flood vulnerability due to massive boulder extraction from river beds and sudden water releases from reservoirs in the monsoons.  For example, in Arunachal Pradesh people downstream of the proposed 1000 MW Siyom project (West Siang district) and people downstream of the proposed 3000 MW Dibang Multipurpose project (Lower Dibang Valley district) have raised concerns about the lack of downstream impact studies. People in Assam have raised concerns about the above mentioned projects, as well as downstream impacts of projects such as the 405 MW Ranganadi Stage –I project and the 2000 MW Lower Subansiri project. In a publication on ‘Perspectives for Planning and Development in North East India’ published in 1998, Dr. Vincent Darlong (a scientist who has worked for the Northeastern regional office of the MEF in Shillong), authored a piece on impact assessment of dams in the region.  Giving the example of the 405 MW Ranganadi Stage – I project, he said that the EIA report had not considered any aspects downstream of the dam site. He also noted that the construction work, which was at an advanced stage then, had also led to heavy sedimentation in the river  and that “the impact of sedimentation is visible 100 km. downstream of the river in form of decrease in fish population, which in turn is affecting a dependent fishermen community.”  While the downstream impact of the Ranganadi project after commissioning is better known to all of us, its downstream impacts during the construction phase is less publicised.  This is an important angle to consider while looking at impacts and risks of other dams under construction or proposed in the region. Downstream studies are therefore absolutely necessary while deciding whether a project should be granted a green signal or not.

In spite of the above mentioned examples being available before the Abraham committee, it chose to ignore downstream impacts. It asked the Demwe project authorities to restrict the downstream impact study to 10 km. downstream of the project, even though it was aware that a large part of the Lohit district, including its headquarters Tezu, lies downstream of the dam.  In fact, as per the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) report, the actual analysis of the downstream impacts is restricted only between dam and powerhouse! The only study which goes beyond 10 km. is the mandatory ‘dam-break analysis’ which analyses what the flooding downstream will be if the dam breaks.  But there are many downstream impacts other than dam-break, both during construction and during operation of the dam. These have not been studied at all. The dam-break analysis has also been done assuming partial breakage and as such does not forecast the worst case scenario in which maximum flooding will take place downstream.  Other than the impacts on people and habitation downstream which have been ignored, crucial ecological impacts have also been ignored. For example, the chapories (riverine islands and tracts) of the Lohit river have been found by scientists to qualify as a potential Ramsar site – a wetland of international importance. This area has also been identified as an ‘Important Bird Area’ as per international criteria.  Even though this fact had been brought to the notice of the Abraham committee, it did not ask for a study of the impacts of the Demwe projects on these areas downstream.  We believe this casual approach by the committee is clearly linked with Mr. Abraham being a promoter of the dam himself.  In the public hearing scheduled in Tezu on August 11th, how will people give well-informed inputs and comments, if the downstream impacts of the project have not been studied at all?  The current approach is assuming that the project is a fait accompli and public consultations seem to be only a formality. This is a serious cause of concern.  

As mentioned earlier, 10 hydroelectric projects are planned in the Lohit river basin and six on the main Lohit river itself in a distance of 86 kms. It is not only important to know the impacts of individual projects, but also what will be the cumulative impacts of these projects. For example, the ten projects will involve a cumulative influx of at least 60-70,000 labour which will stay over a long period of time as these are mega projects which take time for completion.  The National Environmental Appellate Authority (NEAA), a special environmental court, in an April 2007 order has observed that it feels the need for advance cumulative study of series of different dams coming up in a river basin.  This is in order to assess the impacts of projects not only on an individual basis but also on a collective basis.  The Abraham committee in its February 2008 meeting did prescribe a river basin level study of the Lohit river basin since six mega projects are coming up on the main Lohit river.  However,  it was shockingly decided that: “The Environmental Clearance to Demwe Upper and Lower HE Project should not be linked with the completion of basin studies.” It was therefore decided to de-link the environmental clearance of the Demwe (Upper and Lower) projects from the river basin study, even these two projects constitute  44% of the hydropower proposed to be generated in the river basin!  This was a clear bias in favour of the Demwe projects which had emerged because of the conflict-of-interest issue.  What is the use of doing a full river basin study when the clearance of individual projects is not linked with the river basin study?

The Lohit river basin study was earlier planned to be a detailed two year study but was arbitrarily reduced to a much shorter (and diluted) nine month study! This will clearly raise a big question mark about the adequacy of the study. Moreover, the study consultant, WAPCOS, has had a very poor track record on such studies and awarding such an important study to such an organisation without any credible process of selection of the right organisation means that credibility of the outcome is already in doubt. The study was commissioned on 26th March 2009 and is to be completed in nine months. As per the terms of reference they are supposed to also suggest if certain development activities are to be avoided keeping in mind the overall sensitivity of the Lohit river basin.  However, the full study will only be completed by the end of the year. What is the use of this river basin study if the public hearing and assessment of one of the largest hydroelectric projects in the Lohit valley, 1750 MW Demwe Lower, takes place five months before the study is completed!  Since the public hearings are scheduled for August 11th and 12th, the project is likely to be submitted for final environmental clearance by the end of August itself.  The Abraham committee has ensured that they have made a farce of the environmental governance process by taking decisions in favour of the Demwe projects. Such projects cannot be acceptable to anyone, least of all the people of the Lohit basin in particular and the people of the North East in general, who have no say in any of these decisions.

A mega project like the 1750 MW Demwe Lower project will have serious social and environmental impacts (we have not got into details in this article as we were focussing on the conflict-of interest issue).  Everybody would agree that crucial decisions on the social and environmental impacts of such mega projects, which are supposed to be taken by independent experts, should not be taken by the project promoters like Mr. P. Abraham.  To ensure that credibility is restored into the decision-making process of the Demwe projects and other projects in the Lohit river basin, we feel it is extremely important to urgently do the following:

* Cancel the public hearings scheduled for August 11th and 12th in Tezu and Anjaw respectively.  

* These public hearings should be held only after completion of the full river basin study of the Lohit river basin.  Additional Terms of Reference (ToR) and time should be added for the full river basin level study in consultation with local people (in upstream and downstream areas) and truly independent experts.  The results of the study should be open for public scrutiny and debate.  

* Till the full river basin level study is being completed, additional ToR should also be prescribed to study the individual impacts of the 1750 MW Demwe Lower project. For example the full social impact assessment, comprehensive options assessment and downstream impact assessment studies which have been shockingly ignored.  

* Have a credible, empowered and participatory mechanism for all decision-making on these dams.  

We hope the state and central government give these issues the utmost importance. A failure to address these issues right now will mean that the interests of big project promoters are being allowed to trample the social and ecological security of the people of Arunachal Pradesh in general and those of the Lohit valley in particular.

Neeraj Vagholikar is a member of Kalpavriksh, an environmental action group (nvagho@gmail.com). Himanshu Thakkar is with the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (ht.sandrp@gmail.com)

 

Abo Tani football gets underway

By Staff Reporter

ITANAGAR, Aug 02: The third edition of the Abo tani State Level Club football got underway today. Later, in the opening match Capital Complex Football Club (CCFC) beat Model Village Football Club (MVFC) with a solitary goal.  Ligang Bongo scored in the 15th minute of the game.    

The talented sportspersons could not be identified due to various reasons in the state said MLA Nikh Kamin while addressing the opening ceremony of 3rd Abo tani cup as Chief Guest at Rajiv Gandhi Stadium, Naharlagun today.

He however, acknowledging the hidden talents and sportive nature of the youth, advised the players to exhibit the spirit of games and sports in the field and carry forward their talent and bring laurel to the state.

Guest of Honour MLA Takam Sorang highlighting the importance of various games and sports said that people in India give prior importance to cricket only. In the context of Arunachal Pradesh due to lack of sponsors, Games and sports activities is lagging behind other states of the country.

He further advised the youth to gives equal importance to dance, music and singing.

Both Kamin and Sorang donated Rs 50,000 each to the organizing committee.

 

Organisations express concern at national water mission and action plan on Climate Change

ITANAGAR, Aug 2: Several organizations from across the country have written to the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh expressing concern at the National Water Mission under the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC).

The concerns by the organizations could have come at a better time as PM’s advisory Council on climate change is meeting with the agenda of Passing National Water Mission, National Solar Mission and Nation Mission for sustainable habitat, among others on Aug 3.

It said that there was no participatory or transparent process in formulation of NAPCC or even the specific mission plans. When this issue was raised before the joint secretary, Union Ministry of Environment and Forests in September 2008, he said that participatory process should be taken up during formulation of the mission plans, but that too has not happened. This cannot be an acceptable situation in any democracy.

The Indian government rightly says that they have no obligation to reduce GHG emissions, following the ‘common but differentiated responsibility’ as described in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The question is, why should the same principles of common but differentiated responsibility and equity not be followed within India?

The NAPCC has no targets for emission reduction for India, except saying that India will not exceed the levels of emissions of the developed countries. India would be suffering greater impacts of climate change than US, Europe or even China. Within India, the worst sufferers would be the most vulnerable sections depending on the natural resources for their daily needs, including the adivasis, the coastal communities, the mountain communities, the rainfed farmers, the land less and the marginal and small farmers, the dalits, the women and the poor. The contribution of these vulnerable sections of our population is very little or negative. It is in the name of development of these people that Indian government is saying we need to be allowed to increase emissions.

In principle the claimed benefits from CDM projects and carbon trade projects are suspect. Therefore, our government should dissociate itself from it as soon as possible. But as long as it continues

as part of the Kyoto Protocol, some minimum steps need to be taken to bring it under public scrutiny. Firstly, most projects that have entered the CDM (Clean Development Mechanism) projects pipeline from India can not be described as part of sustainable development, nor do they deserve CDM credits. It is noteworthy that most of these are controlled by corporate bodies that are responsible for lion’s share of India’s corporate emissions. While the practice of giving single window clearance to such projects must stop, we need to make the host country clearance process transparent, accountable, participatory and credible. Moreover, at least 75% of the credits from the credibly certified projects should go to local development projects.

THE WATER SECTOR Some important recommendations in this sector by the organizations include

* Opportunity to reverse wrong policies The climate change has provided us a unique, once in a century kind of opportunity to assess, review, reflect on our current policies and reverse them where we have gone wrong. This opportunity must not be allowed to go waste. We have a water crisis on our hands even without the climate change, with vast populations still not able to get water for basic human existence. More areas are slipping into problem zones as we are not able to ensure source sustainability, because of the wrong kind of priorities we have been following in water sector. Unfortunately, the National Water Mission and the NAPCC largely is a collection of business as usual projects, dominated by the misguided and wrong agenda of more big dams, more big surface storages, more large hydro projects, interlinking of rivers and so on.

* Participatory process for NWM As noted above the proposed NWM has been formulated through a completely non participatory and non transparent process. A time bound, participatory process for formulation of National Water Mission, National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture and other missions should be taken up immediately. Credible panels can be set up for taking up this exercise.

* Knowledge Base Our knowledge base on the issue of impacts of climate change on water sector is poor. Immediately, we need to come out with a report on the state of the knowledge in this sector and we need to have annual updates of this report.

* National Water Security Act We urgently need an act from 3 perspectives: Human Right perspective, including health perspective, ensuring provision of clean water required for drinking and domestic water use for all as a right; from the livelihood perspective, ensuring the water required for livelihood for all and from the ecologic perspective, ensuring protection of rivers, wetlands, lakes, water bodies, etc.

* Review and Reform Water Law There is an urgent need to review prevailing water related laws in India from the perspective of environmental sustainability and social justice. Current laws are totally devoid of an ecological, integrated approach and do not reflect the basic principle that water is a common good and a precious natural resource. The reform process needs to be undertaken in a highly participatory, decentralized, and democratic way.

* Common Property Resource Water is essentially common property resource, the state, where it has a role, is supposed to act as a trustee of this resource, in the interest of the people’s basic needs, in a democratic manner, which is not the situation today. The proposition in NAPCC and NWM proposal for developing “new regulatory structures, combined with appropriate entitlements and pricing” and also the urban water regime seem more like a push towards privatization of water resources, which is not helpful, appropriate or acceptable.

* Governance The fundamental problem plaguing this sector is lack of democratic governance. We urgently need to set up legal and institutional mechanisms to ensure bottom up, participatory, accountable governance for rivers, for pollution control, river action plans, for groundwater, for environment management, irrigation systems, lakes, rivers, wetlands, embankments, canals, pipelines, and other related water infrastructure. Such project/river specific committees should be statutory bodies with powers to make necessary mandatory orders with respect to the functioning of the projects.

* Reservoir Operation Committees To ensure proper & optimum functioning of the existing and under construction reservoirs in the interest of the people, each reservoir should have a reservoir operation committee, in which at least 50% members should come from the local communities. As a step in that direction, the reservoir operation rules & actual reservoir operation details (inflows, outflows, levels, capacities, & anticipated inflows) should all be made public suo moto on daily basis for each large dam.

* Irrigation Efficiency The objective of increasing the irrigation efficacy is much needed and laudable, but such attempts in the past has not succeeded because of the top down, unaccountable governance systems. Such attempts have left the governance of the larger systems outside the reach of the water users. Unless this is changed fundamentally, such attempts won’t succeed.

* Groundwater We need to understand that groundwater is India’s national water lifeline and will remain so for many years to come for all sorts of water use. If we want to ensure sustainable existence of this lifeline, we need work on three fronts: Firstly, ensure the sustenance of the existing groundwater recharge systems including local water systems & their catchments, wetlands and rivers; secondly, give top priority to creation of more such systems and thirdly, put in place credible, legally enforceable community led regulation. At the same time, the government needs to promote greater access of groundwater to the underprivileged, particularly dalits and other backward classes.

* Rivers, wetlands and water bodies Indian culture and religions are supposed to value Rivers, but our governance system has no value for rivers flowing with freshwater all round the year. To bridge this serious lacuna, we need a law for ensuring that perennial rivers have freshwater flow all round the year, sufficient for various purposes including groundwater recharge, social and environment needs. Similarly we need law for protection of wetlands, water bodies and catchment of water bodies. We also need to declare some of the river/ tributaries in each state as NO GO zones, where no dams/ barrages/ hydropower projects are allowed.

* Given the link between forests and fresh water flows in rivers, there is an urgent need to take up catchment area eco restoration of at least the highly degraded river basins as a long term strategy, such restoration would also help the cause of climate.

* There is also a need to have comprehensive, credible assessment of basin wide potential of water resources development through watershed development, groundwater recharge, local water systems. Such systems are efficient in harvesting rainwater, in ensuring groundwater recharge and are in fact more appropriate from employment generation point of view. Such an assessment does not exist for any basin, it can be started with say Ken and Betwa rivers basins. In the context of climate change, such options should have top priority.

* Local water systems are efficient in harvesting rainwater, in ensuring groundwater recharge and are in fact more appropriate from employment generation point of view. Such systems, through examples like Hirwe Bazar in Maharashtra, Laporia in Rajasthan and numerous other places, have shown that they are the best adaptation measures even in the climate change context.

* Agriculture Organic farming practices must be incentivised, chemicals based farming dis-incentivised. Increased organic matter in soil will also increase the water security for the rain-fed farmers, since it will help increase the moisture holding capacity of the soils, in addition to having mitigation effect from climate perspective. Water saving, high yielding and low input requiring practices like the System of Rice Intensification should be taken up in right earnest at all the appropriate locations, including North West India. In fact, SRI can be of immense help in the current situation of uncertain monsoon rains as it would help spread the limited irrigation water over long distances, reduce the crop maturing period and reduce seed requirements by upto 90%. Water intensive crops and cropping methods should be discouraged.

* Urban areas Big cities are increasing going farther and farther away for tapping water resources for its seemingly insatiable thirst. This is not sustainable, equitable or climate friendly. Cities must be made to use its available local sources, including rainwater, local water bodies and groundwater in a sustainable way, the waste water must be treated to recyclable level and a cap must be put on how much water they can get. The massive Renuka dam on Giri River in Himachal Pradesh, being proposed for the water requirement of Delhi, is an example of inappropriate water project for an already water rich city. For example, the Planning Commission document Integrated Water Management Policy and Actions dated May 2009 says, “Delhi, for instance, has more water per capita than Paris.”

* Decentralised waste water treatment Decentralized waster water treatment facilities should be the norm. The decentralized systems would also be less energy intensive, less cost intensive, more efficient and is actually likely to lead to more recycling of the treated water.

* Mainstreaming Climate Change The environment impact assessment and decision making process of the water reservoirs in India should include an assessment of the possible impact of climate change on such projects and also the possible contribution of such projects to climate change, including the assessment of methane emission from such projects. On this last issue, India should take up a study of methane emission from existing reservoirs. In the decision making process, relative carbon footprint of different water options should also be an issue of consideration.

* Approach The approach towards water must not be a purely supply side response, in any case not through more large projects.  Equity and access to water for all through rights based regime and democratic, bottom up, management must be a central plank for any plans.

* National Water Policy For the formulation of a new NWP, a detailed participatory exercise should be started immediately. The NAPCC recommends such review only in consultation with states, but this has to be a bottom up, participatory process.

* Priority for Maintenance of existing infrastructure Make available adequate funds in the budget as a first priority to maintain the existing water related infrastructure before spending money on new schemes.  For example, there is a need to ensure that water bodies, reservoirs and canals do not get silted up and therefore there is a need to make adequate investments for catchment area treatment of existing large, medium and small dams and also for regular desilting of canals and smaller systems. Similarly maintenance of the canal infrastructure to ensure optimum use of created infrastructure should be given a top priority. To ensure that all this actually gets done in a transparent and accountable way, the governance in water sector will have to be changed so that the local people have decisive say in planning, decision making, implementation and operation of the systems.

* Weeding out unviable ongoing projects There are a very large number of ongoing big irrigation projects, many of them are non viable or amounting to zero sum game as the basins or sub basins where they are situated are already over exploited. They are a drain on the economy & there is a need for a credible, independent process to ensure that unviable & undesirable projects may be weeded out or scaled down appropriately.

* Environment Impact Assessment Our EIAs are notorious for numerous fundamental failures, including blatant plagirarism, falsehoods, and inaccuracies. Firstly, the EIAs must be made available to local people in their languages. Secondly, all large dams, irrigation projects, flood management projects, hydro projects above 500 KW must go through the EIA and public hearing process.

Lack of integration across NAPCC There is no attempt to ensure cross sectoral integration across the various parts of NAPCC, missions and development path. Thus while the mission for Himalayan ecosystem talks about the vulnerability of millions in mountain environs, the ongoing and proposed initiatives on hydropower projects and the infrastructure that comes along with it is not only threatening the lives and livelihoods of these people, it is also hastening the process of glacier melt through direct impacts, through change in climate in the mountains and also through some local positive feedback mechanisms. Similarly, the initiatives on thermal power projects and mining (including coal, bauxite) proposals are threatening the water resources at numerous sites. The inappropriately undertaken massive agenda of road construction in mountains is cutting of local water streams, which are local people’s lifeline. Inappropriate mining is destroying both surface and groundwater. There are no policies for appropriate citing of industries, considering the situation of land, water, forests, climate implications.

 

 

 

Likabali bandh withdrawn

ITANAGAR: Joint Action Committee chairman Sengo Taipodia informed that 108 hours Likabali bandh has been withdrawn at 1900 hrs on August 1.

The bandh was withdrawn after the Deputy Commissioner Amhad Tak promptly revoked his feasibility report on the proposed new district ‘Lower Siang’ with Basar as its headquarter.  

The committee further thanked the DC for upholding the recommendation made by the previous Deputy Commissioner Huzar Lollen.

 

Socio-economic & Political discourse at Chambang

ITANAGAR: ZPM Upper Chambang and Chambang Youth Forum organized a Chambang area socio-economic and developmental meeting and political discourse from July 29-30 at Chambang.

The meeting was attended by Panchayat leaders, Gaon Burahs, NGOs, youth, women leaders and intellectual including Secretary Donyi-Polo Mission Tassar Sanjay, former AAPSU President Byabang Taj, President ACF Khyoda Apik,Secretary DCCI Byabang Jagat, 35 ASMs, 2 ZPMs and 3 Anchal Chairperson and MLA Balo Raja as invitee.

The house appreciated Balo Raja for all the developmental works initiated and completed under his tenure and appealed him to initiate more development work in the region.

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Readers’ Forum)

 

 

 

Testing time ahead

Madam,

The recent general election witnessed the panoramic view of how our 'adored' and iconic leader Kiren Rijiju was grounded by a political 'strongman' Takam Sanjoy. Some claim the "weapon" used by the 'strong man' was incredibly strong beyond the democratic warfare. Like any other student, studying outside the state I was horrified to know that Rijiju was declared "defeated". It did not matter who won but it mattered to me who lose. After all, he was the youth icon of the state; indeed a warrior.

Lets say that’s a past...a history two months old!!

Now the new journey starts from here...after the election, it is time to see  how our Mr. 'Strongman' can live up to the expectations of the people and how our 'adorable' leader can dust off the little setback and keep up the spirit for a better Arunachal.

Sanjay has to fill the huge vacuum left by his predecessor and prove that the people of Arunachal are not a big-mouthed fool to barter him for a veteran. And in some extend he is on his way. He has been raising some key issues pertaining the state and hopefully will get the central government's ear to hear him.

This is a testing time for both the leaders to maintain there "lustre" and keep shinning for a better Arunachal.

Yours,

Takam Sakter,

Thrissur Medical College, Kerala

On e-mail

 

 

 

Continuous bandh call meaningless

Madam,

Being the common man, I would like to apprise the readers and all common men, especially the leaders of APPSU that continues bandh call is meaningless, they should talk to the authority. As we read in Arunchal Times that relatives of the victims family is not in the interest of conducting bandh, and also they don’t want APPSU to take part in this unwanted event, then why this is all about?

Somehow, in our state the biggest virus eating all of us is political interest (PI). This PI virus didn't spare even strong student union like APPSU, otherwise what is the interest of all the students in Arunachal Pradesh to fight for the victims? Why should not we wait for CBI’s report without harassing the common people?

Yours,

Er Rajen Pudur,On Email

 

 

 

 

 

 

Govt should not neglect people’s voice

Madam,

The Arunachal Govt is neglecting the people’s outcry against the hydro-power projects in the state, it is a sign of political giants wrapping themselves in tune with the corporates which is shocking as well as a frightening since the  trend is sure to lead to the creation of a corporate’s Govt rather than people’s Govt.

Further, rather than piling up of memorandums of the people against such anti-people schemes, the Govt must work on it to bring out an amicable solution to the dam issues. Moreover, without ever vigilant public, the system in a democratic state will cease to function properly and the very right of the people will sure to die out in the years to come.

Therefore, I on behalf of the Adi Among Autonomous Kebang (AAAK), would like to appeal to the people of the state to look into the problems engulfing the state with a broader perspective of the area or the community it belongs from. The problem of an area or a community will soon become the problem of the state if these problems are not attended on time.

AAAK wholeheartedly supports and will carry out the bandh called by the Adi Students’ Union on August 6 for 12 hours in the Adi dominated areas of the state. We appeal the people to support the bandh call to make it a grand success.

Yours.

Tamo Taggu

President, AAAK

East Siang

 

 

 

Allegations defamatory

Madam,

My name was dragged in by some individuals for allegedly trying to disrupt the tendering process in Tezpur of a project by CPWD on July 23 last. It was carried in your daily under Readers Forum that after failing to negotiate the withdrawal from tender process, I engaged SULFA men to snatch away tender papers from other contenders.

It came as a shock to read the allegations.

The item published is misleading and false with an intention to damage my reputation and hamper my good relations with the people of the state and to lower my dignity among the people of the Arunachal.

I fail to understand why an FIR was not lodged at the nearest Police Station or complaint lodged with the CPWD authorities if there was any truth in the allegations.

The allegations are defamatory in nature and necessary actions are being taken against those who misused my name in the newspaper with an intention to malign my reputation.

Yours

Simanta Saikia

Tezpur, Assam

August - 3

 

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