Polavaram Dam: Corrupt interests at the expense of noble alternatives గురువారం, అక్టో 25 2012 

Observational Report on the Polavaram Dam Project and Surrounding Areas
– Drew Bahr
, HELP International Intern

During the summer of 2011 I had the opportunity to personally witness the proposed construction site of the Polavaram Dam as well as interview three engineers and environment experts with alternative proposals and view the conditions of the people in the proposed area of displacement that would be created by the Dam. During this three-day journey from Hyderabad to northern Andhra Pradesh and Orissa, I was surprised to find that many things are not as they were officially described by the government.

Our trip began with an effort to document the present existence of canals to provide irrigation for the surrounding countryside from the Godavari River to refute the claim that the Dam is necessary to provide irrigation for rice and other crops. Although government engineers seem to ignore their presence, we visited perfectly working canals and pumping stations from the river alongside new canals which were supposedly built to take water from the Godavari River to the Krishna River Basin. These larger canals, however, seem to have displaced an inordinate amount of farmers and did not provide means for their local use through pumps or other forms of access.
(మరింత…)

Anti dam stir in Northeast – Nitin Sethi మంగళవారం, జూన్ 5 2012 

Small numbers drown northeast anti-dam stirs
Nitin Sethi, TNN June 5, 2012

NEW DELHI: It’s a tough one to sell to the rest of India. A dam in northeast India displaces a much smaller number of people than, say, a Polavaram project in Andhra Pradesh that would displace more than a lakh. Or a project on the Narmada in Madhya Pradesh that threatens the lives of hundreds of thousands.

So when the gigantic 1,750-MW Demwe Hydroelectric Project comes up on Lohit, a tributary of the Brahmaputra in Arunachal Pradesh, just a couple of hundred households of the small Miju Mishmis and Digaru Mishmis tribes are displaced. India hasn’t heard of them.

This number of people could fit into a single block of a Delhi housing colony. Moreover, they are not ‘us’. For the rest of India, Arunachal Pradesh has been India’s border land, not someone’s home.

The government assesses that the dam is needed for ‘strategic’ reasons as much as for the power it would generate. So the impact on the flora, fauna and environment comes second.

The few hundred families in the way can be taken care of with contracts, jobs dole – a minor cost of development. No one questions if the dam would wipe out an entire community’s way of life. Such as in the case of the Tipaimukh hydroelectric dam in Manipur, where the Zeliangrong Nagas stand to lose their sacred spots and half their fertile hills or the sacred mountains of Sikkim’s Lepchas in the case of dams on the Teesta. (మరింత…)

Caste of corruption – Shekhar Gupta ఆదివారం, డిసెం 25 2011 

National Interest: The caste of corruption
Shekhar Gupta
Indian Express, December 24 2011

Is there a caste or communal link to corruption and crime? Or, are your chances of being involved (and getting caught) in corruption cases higher as you go down the caste ladder? Nobody in his right mind would say yes to either of these. But let’s examine some facts.

Why is there a preponderance of this underclass among those charged with corruption, or even targeted in media sting operations? Here is a roll call: A. Raja and Mayawati (Dalit), Madhu Koda and Shibu Soren (tribal), Lalu Prasad and Mulayam Singh Yadav (OBC), are all caught in corruption or disproportionate assets cases. Faggan Singh Kulaste, Ashok Argal and Mahavir Singh Bhagora, caught in the cash-for-votes sting, are all SC/ST; among the BSP MPs in the cash-for-queries sting, Narendra Kushwaha and Raja Ram Pal (who is now in the Congress) are OBC, and Lalchandra Kol a Dalit. Of course, there are also some illustrious upper-caste representatives in the net: Sukh Ram, Jayalalithaa, Suresh Kalmadi. But there are far fewer of them. Could it be that the upper crust tends to be “cleaner” as a rule, or could it be that the system is loaded against those in the lower half of the social pyramid? The Sachar Committee report on the condition of Muslims also tells us that the only place where our Muslims have numbers disproportionately high in comparison to their population is jails. So, face the question once again: do Muslims tend to be more criminal than Hindus, or is the system loaded against them?

For another example, look at the BJP. Two of its senior leaders were caught on camera accepting cash. One, Dilip Singh Judeo, caught taking Rs 9 lakh, was a mere MP, but of a high caste, and was happily rehabilitated in the party, fielded in the election, and is now back in Parliament. The other, Bangaru Laxman, caught taking just Rs 1 lakh, was ranked much higher in the party; he was, in fact, the president, but much lower on the caste pyramid, a Dalit. He has been banished and isolated and is fighting the charges in that Tehelka sting case by himself. I am sorry to use this expression, but the party treated him as an utter outcast even as it continued to defend Judeo. What is the difference between the two except caste? You want to take this argument to the judiciary? It has been loosely insinuated by many prominent people, including by some notable members of Team Anna, that a large number of our former chief justices have been corrupt. But who is the only one targeted by name (however unsubstantiated the charges)? It is Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, currently chairman of the National Human Rights Commission and, more importantly, India’s first Dalit chief justice. (మరింత…)

పోలవరం సంక్షోభం – టీ ఆర్ ఎస్ నీళ్ళు నిజాలు బుధవారం, అక్టో 26 2011 

పోలవరం సంక్షోభం ఎస్ ఈ డబ్ల్యూ కి పరిమతమైతే బానే ఉండేది. ఇది మరో గోదారి స్పెక్ట్రం కుంభకోణం లెక్క అవినీతి, ఆరోపణలు, విచారణలు. వాస్తవాలు తేలినతర్వాత దొరలెవరో దొంగలెవరో నల్గురు వార్తలు చదివి పుర్సత్తుగా మాట్లాడుకొంటరు.

కథ అక్కడ ఆగలేదు. కనుకనే చర్చ. విమర్శ. ఖండనలు. పోలవరం వివాదంలో ఎన్నెన్ని రాజకీయాలో. ప్రస్థుతానికి కొన్నింటిని తప్పనిసరిగా ఆలోచించాలి.

ప్రశ్న ఏంది? జలయగ్నం పేరుతో సాగిన బలియగ్నంలో వాటదారులైన కాంట్రాక్టరు (ఎస్ ఈ డబ్ల్యు) టీ ఆర్ ఎస్ కు బంధువెట్లాయె? నాలుగు పైసలకోసం ఓ క్రిమినల్ ప్రాజెక్టును కట్టి తూర్పు కనుమలను, కోయ జాతిని ఖూని చేసేందుకు ఉవ్వీల్లూరే కాంట్రక్టర్లు పోలవరం మీద యుద్దమే చేసే వాళ్ళకు మిత్రులెట్లాయె. నమస్కారం చేయడానికి ముఖ్యుడెట్లాయే (మరింత…)

To hell with world cup, celebrations, yagams, vacations సోమవారం, ఏప్రి 25 2011 

Opinion/Open Page, The Hindu April 24,2011

Our farmers are dying, to hell with the World Cup
Narendra Shekhawat

Yes, you read it right; to hell with the World Cup; to hell with the celebrations; to hell with all the free land and money being showered by different governments on the players. How can I jump, scream, have gallons of beer and cheer for the nation when a few kilometres away the farmers and feeders of my country are taking their own lives in hordes?

Do you know that, on average, 47 farmers have been committing suicide every single day in the past 16 years in our shining India — the next economic power, progressive with nine per cent growth? (మరింత…)

3rd party EIA for Polavaram Dam or same old joke ఆదివారం, మార్చి 20 2011 

Environment assessment is a joke, says Jairam; wants 3rd party EIA

Business Line, 19 March 2011

“The Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) in the current form is a bit of a joke as it is self-assessment by the company. Instead, we will have a third party EIA,” Mr Jairam Ramesh, Minister for Environment and Forests, said.

Speaking to reporters at the CII-Green Business Centre, Mr Ramesh said, “I have been concerned about this. Supreme Court also expressed its concerns. We want a cumulative EIA.” (మరింత…)

Myth of Welfare State and Aid – Bharat Jhunjhunwala ఆదివారం, జూన్ 27 2010 

Op-Ed

Foreign aid is destroying our society

Bharat Jhunjhunwala
New Indian Express, 23 Jun 2010

The British government has ordered an inquiry into leakages from Sarva Siksha Abhiyan which financially is supported by it. This has been triggered by a report of our Comptroller and Auditor General that Rs 10 lakhs were spent under the project for the purchase of four luxury beds. Rs 90 lakhs were transferred to an unknown bank account. About 7,500 colour TV sets were purchased for schools that did not even have an electricity connection. Similar corruption is being reported from the Employment Guarantee Scheme. Worse, this type of foreign aid also changes the direction of our own government expenditure.

In an earlier World Development Report, the World Bank elaborated many ways in which aid was having a negative impact on recipient countries. Aid influences the nature of domestic spending. The donor may give aid for only capital expenses and expect the recipient to incur running expenditure from its own budget. A donor may make a huge hospital for AIDS, which is high its own agenda, and that may lead to the poor country spending towards the recurring expenditure on AIDS prevention. The recipient country then spends less on the prevention of tuberculosis or malnutrition which is more important and spends more on AIDS prevention.

Aid may be given for projects in which the recipient is not interested. Some villages in Rajasthan dug up their well-functioning tanks and spoiled them under government-led famine relief works because they would get famine relief only if they undertook earth works like digging tanks. (మరింత…)

Deepening farm crisis, unabated farmer suicides శుక్రవారం, జన 22 2010 

Nearly 2 lakh farm suicides since 1997

P. Sainath, The Hindu, Jan 22, 2010

Over two-thirds in ‘suicide belt’ of five States, more than one-fifth in Maharashtra

MUMBAI: There were at least 16,196 farmers’ suicides in India in 2008, bringing the total since 1997 to 199,132, according to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).

The share of the Big 5 States or ‘suicide belt’ in 2008 — Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh — remained very high at 10,797, or 66.6 per cent of the total farm suicides in the country. This was marginally higher than it was in 2007 (66.2 per cent). Maharashtra remains the worst State in the nation for farm suicides with a total of 3802. (This is just 40 short of the combined total of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.) The all-India total of 16,196 represents a fall of 436 from 2007. But the broad trends of the past decade reflect no significant change. The national average for farm suicides since 2003 stays at roughly one every 30 minutes.

Within the Big 5, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh recorded higher numbers. The increase of 604 in these three States somewhat offset the dip in Maharashtra (436) and Karnataka (398). But a fall in suicide numbers in other States (for example, a decline of 412 in Kerala and 343 in West Bengal) means that the Big 5 marginally increased their two-thirds share of total farm suicides in 2008. (మరింత…)

AP’s disastrous irrigation schemes slow down మంగళవారం, నవం 3 2009 

Jalayagnam comes to a virtual halt

NM Satheesh  Indian Express 3 Nov 2009

HYDERABAD: Jalayagnam, the favourite scheme of former chief minister the late YS Rajasekhara Reddy, seems to have slided down in the list of priorities of the present government.

Leave alone the progress of the programme at the field level, even a review of it by the government has become rare in the last two months.

According to sources in the irrigation department, funding of the programme has come to a halt and the pending bills are piling up with the government.

It seems that the government is not going to spend the allocated budget Rs 18,000 crore in this financial year. The government has not released even Rs 1,000 crore for the projects in the last two months. It was decided by the regime of Rajasekhara Reddy that the government should release about Rs 1,400 crore every month to keep the projects going.

According to officials, the government has already halted payment of Rs 4,000 crore which was spent by the contractors and the construction of projects like Pulichintala which has been completed to an extent of 70 per cent is not progressing as per the schedule.

Irrigation officials say that the time table fixed by the government for the completion of 82 major and medium irrigation projects under Jalayagnam will go awry.

The YSR government had contemplated Jalayagnam to bring about one crore acres of land under irrigation facility. Under the scheme 82 projects are to be constructed at a cost of Rs 1.50 lakh crore. (మరింత…)