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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