The Kosi Balance Sheet

The Kosi Balance Sheet
Year Area in ha % of promised
Eastern Kosi (EK) Main Canal
Promised Irrigation 7,12,000
Slashed Down Target 1975-76 3,73,000
Actual Irrigation 2003-04 1,41,970 19.94%
2004-05 91,560 12.86%
2005-06 1,49,170 20.95%
2007-08 1,36,180 19.13%
Maximum that the canal irigated 1983-84 2,13,133 29.93%
Land Water logged on east of EK Embarkment
Western Kosi Main Canal
Promised Irrigation 3,25,000
Actual Irrigation 2003-04 13,750 4.23%
2004-05 17,390 5.35%
2005-06 21,620 6.65%
2006-07 25,310 7.79%
2007-08 23,770 7.31%
Cost Estimation 1963 Rs. 13.49 Cr
Mar-08 Rs. 1009 Cr
Flood Protection
Promised Protected Area 2,14,000
Land Waterlogged on eastern embarkment 1,82,000
Land waterlogged on western embarkment 1,23,000
Land permanently exposed to flooding/erosion/sand casting between two embarkments 1,10,000
Total 4,15,000
This year’s flood has hit 5 districts, 35 blocks, 412 GPs, 1026 villages, a population of 33.56 lakhs killing 162 persons and 767 cattle ( Official Report 25th September 2008)
for further information
Dinesh Kumar Mishra
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Convenor-Barh Mukti Abhiyan
6-B Rajiv Nagar, Patna 800024
Bihar , INDIA
E- mail:  +919431303360

It’s high time farm pricing got a booster dose

Amrita ChaudhryPosted: Sep 26, 2008 at 0110 hrs IST

Ludhiana, September 25 With theWorld Bank giving a call to shift focus on agriculture to tackle food crisis, data gleaned from Punjab’s villages only add to its urgency.

The national census for the year 1991 showed Punjab as having 11 lakh farming families. Of these, 45 per cent were small or marginal farmers who owned fields measuring less than five acres. This figure in the next census in 2001 slid to 9.7 lakh and the percentage of small farmers to 30 per cent.

In other words, 30,000 farmers on an average quit agriculture each year. The primary reason for this has been the decline in profitability of crops, particularly paddy and wheat—a phenomenon that agricultural experts are trying to tackle along with suicides by farmers. For example, take the case of Gurdip Singh, a small farmer from village Mehla Kalan. Gurdip, who owns two acres of land, says, “I can just manage to raise food grains for my domestic use from these two acres.”

The situation of Avtar Singh, a farmer with 20 acres of land in Alamgir village, is no different. “My inputs costs over the years have skyrocketed while the prices of crops haven’t risen. And what we all forget is that farmer too is a consumer. I have to pay the college fees for my two children, which runs into lakhs per annum. Then there are the medical costs of my family.”

To drive home his point, Avtar Singh says, “A couple of years ago, one of my kidneys was damaged in an accident. I could not afford treatment. I know there will be a day when all my 20 acres will be lost in medical treatment.”

R S Sidhu, head, Department of Economics, Punjab Agricultural University, agrees as he explains, “The data speak so. The best period for agriculture in the recent past was between 1990 and 2000, more precisely till 1995. While the crisis in agriculture began around 1995, it was nationwide then. Now, however, Punjab alone is suffering. Our calculations have shown that while input costs have gone up dramatically, the rise in Minimum Statutory Price (MSP) of crops is very slow and this has resulted in reducing of profit margins for the farmers.

Sidhu adds, “Since 2001-2007 the input costs have risen by 8-9 per cent while the MSP growth has been hovering around 2 per cent. The wheat MSP announced this year (Rs 1,000 per quintal) had brought a relief for farmers and when the picture was easing out the latest news of Rs 850 as MSP for paddy this year is like a bolt from the blue.”

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Independent People's Tribunal Charges the World Bank of Human Rights Abuse and Environmental Damage in India

World Bank Tribunal Jury Findings

A thirteen member panel consisting of prominent Indian and international jurists, economists, scientists, retied government officials, and social and religious leaders have found the World Bank guilty of harming the environment and lowering the standard of living for most Indians.

From 21 – 24 September 2007, the Jawaharlal Nehru University campus was the venue for an Independent People’s Tribunal on the World Bank Group in India. It was the first time a broad spectrum of Indian society has come together to look at the damage caused by the World Bank to the country as a whole. Affected communities, expert witnesses, and over 40 concerned groups presented testimonies in order to evaluate the impact of the World Bank across 26 sectors of social and economic development in India.  After reviewing over a thousand pages of transcripts the jury has put together an extensive and substantiated list of twenty-nine specific charges against the Bank. These findings are of critical importance in light of the pace in which current development policies are changing the country.

Charges in the final report include: failure in its mission to reduce poverty, advocacy of policies which contribute to increased hunger, contributing to the agricultural crisis, and deliberate posting of former staff in the Indian bureaucracy in order to influence policy and diluting Indian environmental legislation.

“The evidence and depositions we have witnessed presents a disturbing and shocking picture of increased and needless human suffering since 1991 among hundreds of millions of India’s poorest and most disadvantaged in rural areas and in the cities. It is clear to us that a significant number of Indian government policies and projects financed and influenced by the World Bank have contributed directly and/or indirectly to this increased impoverishment and suffering. All this has taken place while a minority of India’s population that constitutes the middle class and rich has enjoyed the fruits of an economic boom…… India and the international community must join to hold the World Bank accountable for policies and projects that in practice directly contradict its mandate of alleviating poverty for the poorest.”

– Preliminary Findings by the Jury of the Independent People’s Tribunal on the World Bank Group in India

We hope that such a strong statement from this distinguished group will contribute significantly to the debate on the legitimacy of the Bank’s operations in the country and as an institution. On the occasion of its anniversary we are happy to send you the final jury findings of the Tribunal.

The impact of this Tribunal has already been significant. The Tribunal process quickly inspired similar processes in The Hague, Netherlands and in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Copies of this report have been sent to the World Bank, Members of Parliament, relevant government ministries and the newly formed US Congressional Committee on the World Bank. To ensure that these findings generate much needed debate we need your active support.

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Raigad SEZ: Maharashtra had ignored objections
MUMBAI: The state is planning to declare Raigad SEZ area a green zone if the referendum goes against Mukesh Ambani’s mega SEZ plans. The issue of land in the command area was discussed at length at a high-level meeting on February 2, 2006, including the fact that part of the land proposed to be acquired for the SEZ was in the green zone, the CRZ area and the area of the proposed international airport. The objections were ignored at that time, and the collector was asked to issue a notification for land acquisition. Meanwhile, a senior irrigation official has confirmed that due to the paucity of funds, the department has not been able to complete the canal work on the Hetwane dam which was approved in 1981 for Rs 15.36 crore. So far, the department has spent Rs 329 crore on the project, but no land in the command area has been irrigated. The dam was planned for irrigating nearly 7,000 hectares of land, but the water has instead been used largely for drinking and industrial purposes. The Reliance group has already challenged the opinion process, saying it has no legal validity. A writ petition challenging the referendum is likely to come up for hearing on September 23. “Since the referendum process is over, we have no comments to offer. We have filed a writ petition before the high court,” a Reliance official said.

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‘Raigad votes against SEZ in referendum’

Mumbai, Sept. 22 A majority of people in the 22 villages in Raigad district have voted against the SEZ in the referendum process which was held on Sunday, claimed Mr N.D. Patil, senior leader of Peasants and Workers Party of India, who is spearheading the agitation.

The State Government is likely to announce the result of the referendum in next 15 days.

The promoters of Maha Mumbai SEZ, which includes promoters of Reliance Industries Ltd, want to set up 10,000 hectares SEZ in the district.

SEZ is expected to attract an investment of nearly Rs 40,000 crore and generate 20 lakh jobs.

Mr Patil said that although the Maharashtra Government has undertaken the referendum process, it is not necessary that the report would be tabled any time in the near future.

“When under pressure, the State Government acts in a circular manner.

“The report could be further handed over to a committee, which will take the further circuitous route,” he said.

Mr Patil said that the people of the district do not want SEZ and no amount of compensation from the corporate houses and government will change their view about selling their land.

A senior official in the industries department said that in the eventuality of referendum going against the promoters of the SEZ, the land acquisition process for the other mega projects and SEZs in the State will suffer.

“We will not be mute spectators; we are also prepared for a court battle,” Mr Patil said.

Raigad villagers participate in referendum on Reliance project
21 Sep, 2008, 1717 hrs IST, IANS


PEN/MUMBAI: Thousands of villagers around Pen area in Maharashtra’s Raigad district Sunday took part in a referendum to decide the fate of Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Group’s proposed Special Economic Zone (SEZ).
District Collector Vinayak Nipun and Superintendent of Police Pradeep Digavkar were present to monitor the referendum – the country’s first on an industrial project – even as a huge security blanket covered Pen, around 150 km from Mumbai, a police official told IANS.
Residents of 22 villagers who will be affected by the Reliance Group’s mega-project came out in substantial numbers to give their verdict on the SEZ.
During the referendum, a small group of people at one village opposed to the project and raised anti-Reliance and anti-government slogans.
Around 10,000 farmers from these villages are reluctant to part with 3,415 hectares of land for the project, touted to be Asia’s largest.
Through the referendum, the district administration is ascertaining their views and recording their statements, which will be forwarded to the state government.
The villagers’ sentiments shall be taken into consideration before deciding whether the proposed Rs.400-billion (Rs.40,000-crore) project can come up in that region or not.
A district official said the outcome of Sunday’s referendum may be available only by early October.
The Reliance SEZ is slated to come up over 10,000 hectares in Pen, Uran and Panvel sub-districts of Raigad. However, the group has faced stiff resistance from the people of Pen, necessitating the referendum.
Meanwhile, Shiv Sena executive president Udhav Thackeray has offered to secure a better financial deal for farmers willing to sell their land for the SEZ.
He made the offer to a delegation of villagers that called on him in Mumbai two days ago and conveyed the sentiments of the local population regarding the SEZ.

Breathing life into livestock

FARM VIEW New Delhi September 23, 2008, 0:57 IST

A new policy aims at speeding growth in the sector without disturbing the prevailing small holdings production system.

India is the world’s largest producer of milk, with an estimated production of 102 million tonnes in 2007-08, against 85 million tonnes of the USA, which holds the second position. India also has the world’s largest bovine population. As much as 73 per cent of rural households are engaged in animal rearing. Yet, all is not well with the livestock sector. The true potential of this sector is not being gainfully harnessed.

This is obvious in several ways. The per capita availability of milk in the country is still below the mark — reckoned only at 246 grams a day, against the world average of 285 grams. Besides, only around 10 per cent of the human protein requirement is met through the livestock products, which is also rather low. Moreover, the average productivity of milch animals is only around 1,214 kg per lactation (or milking season lasting several months), which compares poorly with the global average of 2,104 kg.

On the commercial front, only about 15 to 16 per cent of the total milk, about 30 per cent of the marketable surplus, gets into the organised marketing channels; the bulk being traded through unorganised vendors. The export of livestock products, too, is trivial — less than 1 per cent of the global trade — though that can be attributed partly to the frequent and, often, needless curbs imposed by the government. The Indian livestock farmers are, therefore, denied fair returns.

Indeed, there are several inherent constraints as well, which impede the optimal growth of this sector. A sizable chunk of the total animal population is either wholly unproductive or a very low-yielder.

As slaughtering cows and consumption of beef (cow meat) is a religious taboo, wasted animals are difficult to get rid of. Thus, they continue to compete with the milk-yielding population for feed and fodder, creating a scarcity of these key inputs.

To add to all that, there are a large number of diseases, including some dreaded ones like the foot and mouth disease (FMD), which take a heavy toll on animal life as well as potential output every year. FMD alone is estimated officially to cause an annual economic loss worth around Rs 10,000 crore. Despite some strides having been made in the prevention and control of this malady, nearly 1,600 outbreaks of it are reported every year from different parts of the country.

And while all this is bad enough, the implementation by the states of many central schemes for livestock improvement is dismal. As revealed by Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar in a recent meeting of state animal husbandry ministers in New Delhi, the funds allocated by the centre to the states for these schemes remain woefully under-utilised.

Of the huge funds available for the livestock sector under the flagship Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojna (RKYV), only 13 per cent were actually spent in 2007-08. Also, out of the resources available from the Rural Infrastructural Development Fund (RDF), an abysmal 0.48 per cent were used for animal husbandry and dairy.

Most shocking is the mismanagement of funds provided under the prime minister’s special package for the farmers’ suicides-prone districts of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala in 2006-07. Of the Rs 510 crore set apart for the promotion of animal husbandry in the selected districts of these states, no more than Rs 125 crore has so far been actually used for this purpose. This has a

dversely affected critical areas like genetic upgradation of animals, fodder development, disease control and animal health and overall dairy development.

The government, of course, is not unaware of all this. It has been contemplating evolving a comprehensive national livestock policy to take care of many of these ills and to ensure holistic development of this sector. A preliminary draft of the policy was circulated in states way back in 2004. Its updated version is now getting final touches before being adopted as a policy.

This policy aims broadly at speeding up the growth of this sector to match the increasing demand of livestock products without disturbing the prevailing small holdings production system. The goal is to double the per capita availability of animal protein from the present 10 grams to 20 grams in a decade.

This will be sought to be achieved through enhancement in animal productivity and product quality, induction of modern technology, better marketing and higher investment in this sector. This, obviously, is a daunting, though highly desirable, task and will need better implementation of official schemes and conducive policies

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PIL seeking ban on acquisition of agricultural land dismissed

23 Sep 2008, 0327 hrs IST,TNN

NEW DELHI: The Raigad referendum may have seen farmers casting their vote against acquisition of agricultural land, but that did not deter the Supreme Court on Monday from dismissing a PIL seeking a direction to the government to acquire only barren land for SEZs and other public purposes.
Listing the repercussions of acquiring agricultural land, a PIL filed by one Donald Fernandez argued before a bench that the government be restrained from acquiring agricultural land and jeopardising foodgrain production.

Unimpressed, the bench said the plea for acquisition of only barren land was fraught with practical difficulties. “If the government wants to establish a hospital or a post office and is allowed acquisition of barren land 100 km away from the locality, will it serve public purpose,” the bench asked.
This means, the apex court refused to put any fetters on the government from acquiring agricultural land provided all other preconditions for such acquisition were met.
However, the same bench refused to dispose of a PIL complaining of faulty agricultural policies of the government, arguing that they had led to a spate of suicides by farmers.

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Farmer suicides: SC to consider policy issues raised by PIL

New Delhi, Sept 22: Two years after a PIL was filed questioning the country’s agricultural policy in view of a spate of suicides by farmers, the Supreme Court today said it would consider the issues raised in it and asked the petitioner to res

pond to the stand taken by the Centre.
A bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan also allowed the Centre to file additional documents in the matter.
At the outset advocate Sanjeev Bhatnagar, who had filed the petition in 2006, said that the notice was issued to the Centre and four states — Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala — when it was pointed out that more than 10,000 farmers had committed suicide.
Bhatnagar said that the gravity of the situation and the high number of countrywide suicides by farmers burdened with debts had been conceded by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi but no effective steps had been taken to stop the incidents involving farmers under distress.
He submitted that though a notice was issued two years ago, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala had not yet responded.
The petitioner had sought a direction to the government to modify its agriculture policy with greater focus on the interests of farmers to check suicides.
The PIL said in the last five years over 10,000 farmers had killed themselves, and Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala were the worst affected. Farmers in various States were ending their lives unable to repay loans.

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Farmers’ suicide row: FIR registered against Sonia, Pawar

Zeenews Bureau

Akola, Sept 18: The issue of farmers’ suicide in Maharashtra has taken an ugly turn as a debt-ridden farmer from Akola has reportedly filed cases against 15 high profile persons including UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Union Minister for Agriculture Sharad Pawar.
According to reports, the farmer, Dilip Ghatole, has held Sonia Gandhi and 15 others responsible for formulating such policies which led to the untimely and tragic death of his father Shaligram Ghatole.
Shaligram, a cotton farmer, ended his life in October 2007, as he could not repay his loans.
While moving a petition in the Akola district court, the petitioner said that the present UPA government was responsible for his father’s death.
Ghatole’s lawyer Prakash Ambedkar said that a large section of farmers were suffering due to the government’s import policy, which prevents them from getting a good price for their cotton.
Dilip and his mother Kaushalyabai are facing extreme hardship in meeting the day-to-day requirements of their family, as Shaligram Ghatole left behind a crushing debt of over Rs one lakh.
However, the opposition lawyer, who seems to be less worried over the petition, says that the government policy cannot be challenged in this court. It has to be raised in Parliament or in the Supreme Court.
The next hearing of the case is on September 26.

Assault on farming: Punjab Government ties with Syngenta


Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Now it is understandable that government machinery in Punjab is more worried to offer market to MNCs rather then serving the genuine interests of farmers. Recently a Punjab government agency Markfed has signed a MoU with Syngenta to provide agrochemicals and its right practices on farmers’ doorstep.

This indicates that either the government officials do not have understanding of real crisis of farmers or they do not want to understand it. There is a strong third possibility also that Marked and its parent department wants to serve MNCs only sans the poor farmers.

Kheti Virasat Mission-KVM deplores this move of Markfed. The will prove a disaster for the farming and ecology of Punjab. This is an anti-farmer and anti-environment step and will jeopardize the possibilities of ecological sustainability of agriculture in Punjab. 

It is ironical that the Minister for Cooperation Capt Kanwaljit Singh was present in person in this MoU signing ceremony. This irony turned in to a tragedy when Minister speaking on the occasion urged the company to develop eco-friendly crop protection inputs. What an incident Capt Kanwaljit Singh is giving the responsibility of protecting ecology to a known environmental offender and poison merchant.

While speaking on the occasion Capt Kanwaljit asserted that ” The state is facing threat of disease due to overuse and misuse of pesticides, which is both unmanageable and unacceptable……so the need of hour is cutting costs and bringing in environment-friendly and safe methods of crop protection.”. It is a great statement indeed. But minister was betting on wrong side. Those who are known environmental scandalous cannot and should not be asked for environmental solutions. 

    The Markfed is more enthusiastic to serve MNCs and become their extension arm to market their products.  First it was Bt cotton in 2005. Then CM Capt Amarinder Singh very passionately makes Markfed the distributing arm of Mahyco for Bt cotton seeds. There was euphoria at that time and Markfed has published advertisements in newspaper singing happily about its achievement. Mahyco is a Monsanto owned company. 

After Monsanto now it is Syngenta.

Monsanto sold Bt cotton with a promise to reduce use of pesticides and now Syngents is entering with promise to provide extension services to farmers to educate them about right method of pesticide use. It is regrettable that government executives, agriculture experts and technocrats and departments dealing with agriculture or farmers particularly are still obsessed with the pesticides and their so-called safe use. They cannot think of agriculture without agrochemicals. After witnessing adverse impacts of pesticides several countries are now pursuing the pesticide free farming. There are several successful examples of chemical free natural / organic farming in the world, in India and even in Punjab. 

Chemical pesticides were pushed in indiscriminately. Forty years after the advent of green revolution, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Manila, Philippines now clearly accepts its mistakes in promoting pesticides and has gone on record saying that ‘pesticides were a waste of time and effort’ in Asia for rice. Punjab Agricultural University however continues to push in pesticides knowing well that these were not required in the first place. In case of cotton, agricultural scientists have compounded the problem by turning the insect profile hostile. There were only six or seven pests that worried the cotton farmers in the 1960s. Today the number of cotton pests has multiplied to over 60.

Studies done by ICRISAT and IRRI clearly demonstrate the sustainability, viability and successful economics of Non-Pesticide Management practices. Farmers in Bangladesh, Philippines and Vietnam have successfully opted for pesticide free rice cultivation. The Cuba has also shown the way. Former Director General of IRRI, Dr. Robert Cantrell had this to say: “It shows that the mistakes of Green Revolution where too much emphasis was sometimes put on the use of chemicals for pest control have clearly been recognized and corrected”.

But irony of Punjab is that the agriculture establishments are not open to this truth of pesticides and even they are not tolerant to any question and debate related to pesticides and environmental health crisis. They are still in green-revolution mindset and insulated from alternative paradigm for sustainable agriculture, environment and development. The agriculture establishments feel honour of their role played in green revolution, it could be their proud. They already got pat for that, they earned whole lot of admiration for the work they had done, but now it is time to have an honest introspection and constructive criticism. Those who are supported Green Revolution setups until now should own responsibility of its adverse effects.

The Markfed and Ministry of Cooperatives should open to know more about the alternative paradigm of agriculture, they should came forward  to learn from the farmers committed to ecological practices. Capt Kanwaljit rightly raise the issue of rising cost of production and depleting returns ,but he should be aware of the fact that every village is exporting cash roughly something between Rs  25 lakhs to 5 crors , depending upon its area, cropping pattern and ecological factors. If the minister is really sincere in saving and serving farmers he and his department should encourage natural farming. We should proudly shout -“Say No to Pesticides”. It is only way to save ecology of Punjab, it is only way to bring Punjab out of devastating environmental health crisis. 

Punjab government has no vision, no roadmap for restructuring agriculture to make its agriculture ecologically sustainable. Neither they have any plan to learn from farmers nor do they want to promote any civil society initiative in this regard. Government is just promoting corporate model of farming. This is symbol of intellectual impoverishment and bankruptcy of thoughts and ideas.    

Syngenta is also known for hiding facts related to adverse effects of its bestseller herbicide Atrazine. The scientists working on test the effects of Atrazine on African clawed frogs found that Atrazine inhibits development of the larynx in male frogs at low doses, that Atrazine, at even lower doses, feminizes male frogs by altering the testes so they will produce eggs. Syngenta even tried to purchase the silence from the concerned scientists.  

Pesticides are only one side of coin of doom, the Genetically Modified seeds are waiting to spill the new era of sorrow.  Syngenta will use this MoU to create market for its GM seeds. The company is trying to get proper IPR protection for its seeds. Syngenta has done a day light robbery on rice.  This Swiss biotech giant based at Basel in Switzerland, has tightened its monopoly control over rice. Seeking global patents over thousands of genes in rice (a single grain of rice contains 37,544 genes, roughly one-fourth more than the genes in a human body), the multinational giant is all set to “own” rice, the world’s most important staple food crop. Syngenta claims it invented more than 30,000 gene sequences of rice. Syngenta in collaboration with Myriad Genetics Inc of USA had beaten Monsanto in the game of mapping the genetic structure of rice by sequencing more than 99.5 per cent of the rice genome. Syngenta’s efforts to seek control over rice have severe implications for the future of rice research and its resulting impact on food security and hunger. For countries like India or Japan, one of the seats of origin of rice, it is an ominous sign. In other words, biological inheritance of the world’s major food crop is now in the hands of a Swiss multinational. If Syngenta’s application for global patents is accepted, the Asian countries will lose all control that comes through ‘sovereign’ control over genetic resources (as defined by the
Convention on Biological Diversity, 1992) of the staple grain.

Syngents is going to bring its GM seeds with in next few years; the company is preparing its market network from now courtesy Markfed.

Marked is working like Mir Jafar for MNCs which is highly intolerable. This MoU will prove battle of Plassey and will pave way for total corporate takeover of Punjab agriculture. Those who are signing these documents should prepare them selves to be known as Mir Jafars. History will teach then a lesson.

It is high time that farmers of Punjab should resist and revolt against this onslaught on their sovereign right over natural resources and knowledge system.

(Author is Executive Director of Kheti Virasat Mission civil society ecological action group based at Jaitu town in Faridkot district, Punjab. Phone: 9872682161, E-mail: