Environmental Education

Food Security

Posted by Susan Sharma on July 27, 2006

Blog
For a poor country like India, filling one's stomach is priority. But the poor are not vandalising wildlife or forests. It is the greed of short sighted people which does this. The development vs destruction debate does not serve any purpose when pursued at parallel lines. There is need for environmental education to be part of all developmental projects.

Environmental Education

Does it matter when I have no food?

Posted by Amin Adatia on July 27, 2006

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Why would it matter when all I really want is some wood to burn to cook my food? Actually what I really want is some food to begin with. The real culprits are the "educated persons" who need the extras which directly or indirectly cause the polution/land-fills/Greenhouse Gases/. If it needs eduction to realize that polution is bad then I doubt if we are in a position to do anything about it. What kind of education is necessary to convince people in a village that it is not a good idea to use the streets as toilets, not to spit on the roads, not to sit in a smoke filled room, etc. Are we just worried about the North American style polution which is being imported by the rapidly expanding economies of India and China and Brazil? After all the education and talk, why have these new economies not started out with sound environmental practices? It is always the lure of the rupee and damn the environmental consequences; after all people and their lives are really worth very little compared to the profit to be made from the sale of the products.

Interlinking of Rivers

Linking may lead to more frequent flooding of the Betwa river

Posted by Susan Sharma on July 21, 2006

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EVERYTHING about this controversial project is low-key. The Ken-Betwa Link Project is the first link in a series of projects to build dams and canals between 30 of India's rivers, major and minor. In August 2005, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh signed a Memorandum of Understanding for starting work on the canal to link the Ken and Betwa rivers.

The 427-km long Ken river rises in Madhya Pradesh, flows through the State for 292 km and then joins the Yamuna at Chilla in Uttar Pradesh. The districts of Chatarpur and Panna in Madhya Pradesh and Bandha in Uttar Pradesh depend on it for water via a network of weirs and canals built a century ago. According to the MP irrigation department, these have all been declared defunct, having outlived their utility.

The Betwa is another tributary of the Yamuna that also rises in the same region as the Ken and flows north through MP for 232 km. It joins the Yamuna at Hamirpur in UP, upstream of the Ken. This is the larger of the two rivers.

The link proposal suggests building a 230-km-long canal to transfer 1020 million cubic metres (mcm) of surplus water from the Ken to the Betwa river. The canal will originate at the Daudhan dam, to be constructed a few kilometres upstream of two existing (defunct) weirs. In addition, there will be four more dams. All of these will be built in the Panna National Park and will submerge a large part of this protected area.

The project will irrigate an estimated 3.7 lakh hectares of additional land, give 3.3 lakh people drinking water and generate 66 MW of power. It is estimated to cost Rs. 8,500 crore. 8.650 Ha of land submerged by the dams and the canal. The canal will be linked to existing tanks and ponds en route to its destination to the Barwa Sagar, an old reservoir on a small stream near Jhansi that empties into the Betwa river. In addition to rains, Bundelkhand has a rich history of tank irrigation. The Chandelas and later rulers built a network of large and small tanks by walling up streams, drains and rivers over the last millennium. These are largely functional even now and in many towns and villages are the main source of water for drinking, washing and irrigation. Some are large enough to be used for fishing. Most hold enough water to last a couple of years without good rainfall. Most places along the likely route of the canal are already well irrigated by these tanks and other small rivers in the region, including the Dhasan river. The canal is supposed to feed some of these tanks, while draining others.

The entire stretch that the canal is to pass through is hilly and very rocky. The land slopes from south to north and from east to west. All the rivers and underground aquifers flow in this general direction. The canal will block this natural flow of water, leading to waterlogging in the southern part of the region. It will reduce water availability to the north. The canal also has to cross the Dhasan river. All this will make its construction a contentious and environmentally destructive activity.

In order to recover the construction costs, the project proposes to charge for the use of water, based on the crop grown per Ha. In order to pay these charges, farmers will have to change their cropping pattern to cash crops. Small and marginal farmers will get edged out in the process.

Rajendra Parmar, who farms some 10 Ha outside Nowgong near Chatarpur, is sceptical about the canal. The land, he says, is very well irrigated with tanks, canals and tube wells. The extra water will only cause waterlogging.

Further, both the rivers flow through the same part of the country. They flood at the same time. The Betwa enters the Yamuna upstream of the Ken. If the Ken's waters are added to the Betwa, there will be regular floods along the section of the Yamuna between Hamirpur and Chilla. Conversely, says Dr. Prakash, there will be droughts immediately downstream of Chilla. The project will not mitigate floods or droughts; it will exacerbate them.

There are enough examples of drought mitigation at the local level around the country. However, the drawback from the government and industry's perspective is that these are driven by local communities and do not benefit either babudom or industrialists. A mega project is a feast for bureaucrats, politicians and businessmen. This alone will be sufficient reason to go ahead with river linking despite objections and agitations by local people.

Hindu Sunday magazine

Environmental Education

A lot needs to be done!

Posted by Susan Sharma on July 19, 2006

Blog

The time has come for environmental education to move out of class rooms and address real problems out there. Environmental Education, I have always believed, is a life long learning subject. It cannot be straightjacketed as biology, chemistry, economocs law, etc- It has to take from all disciplines to be meaningful. This can really be achieved by any educated person.

We had an interesting chat on the topic with Lima Rosalind of WWF(I).

Read the transcript by clicking HERE.

Wildlife

Are we doing enough to protect TIGER, the most potent symbol of Asia?

Posted by Puja on July 17, 2006

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According to researchers the tiger population has dropped over the past 100 years from an estimated 100,000 in 1900 to only 4000 in the 1970's. In wake of the tiger crisis, government launched the Project Tiger in 1972 and we achieved little improvement in population of tigers from 4000 in 1970 to 5000-7500 tigers at present. Further, many national and international organisations are also doing their bits to safeguard the population of our national animal. To save these big cats we have to check the dangerous threats to tigers like habitat destruction, poaching, and especially human-tiger clash. If you also want to save this magnificent creature, then come ahead and voice your concern with merinews. Merinews, a participatory media platform have recently started a special coverage on the Tiger Conservation, in which we have a discussion going on regarding tigers’ future in India. I’m sure you have something interesting on the subject to share with our readers. You can voice your concern and share your experiences and insights on this subject by registering on our site and posting your articles here. Post your articles here. To read more articles, click here Puja

Any other

Tigers in Trouble - Protect Them

Posted by Puja on July 17, 2006

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TIGER, the most potent symbol of Asia, the pride of the Jungle is facing trouble. Today there is little ground remaining for our national animal. According to researchers the tiger population has dropped over the past 100 years from an estimated 100,000 in 1900 to only 4000 in the 1970's. In wake of the tiger crisis, government launched the Project Tiger in 1972 and we achieved little improvement in population of tigers from 4000 in 1970 to 5000-7500 tigers at present. So let us all unite to re-establish the dignity of the “Greatest Cat” that they deserve. If you really want to save this magnificent creature from becoming extinct, then come forward and voice your concern with merinews. Merinews, a participatory media platform have recently started a special coverage on the Tiger Conservation, in which we have a discussion going on regarding tigers’ future in India. I’m sure you have something interesting on the subject to share with our readers. You can voice your concern and share your experiences and insights on this subject by registering on our site and posting your articles here. http://www.merinews.com/newsPortal/JSP/tiger.jsp" To read more articles, http://www.merinews.com/rss-headlines.html Puja

Bio-Diversity

What can a city dweller do?

Posted by Susan Sharma on July 16, 2006

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Simple actions such as maintaining a wildlife friendly garden can actually contribute to biodiversity. Its a long shot but if everyone where to modify their gardens in this way it could actually make a difference to some species e.g. the declining populations of house sparrows to name one.

 Let your lawn go natural for wildlife.

Save trees by reducing your junk mail

Environmental Education

Environmental education has no borders

Posted by Susan Sharma on July 14, 2006

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Courses in environmental studies are very good at describing issues. Educators must also give techniques or tools for aspiring environmental professionals. Here is the gist of a discussion in a group at myspace.com which I found interesting.

"A bricklayer layes bricks, a graphic designer designs PR and websites, a teacher teaches, a car mechanic fixes cars, but environmental professionals? In my thoughts you have to specialize in a set discipline, then you can later slant it towards conservation. You must frame the issues, not describe them.

I've learned this the hard way because for me it's been hard to develop a resume with concrete assets, not abstract thoughts."

"If there are tools for environmental professionals in conservation, what are they? Teaching this is not easy. Environmental problems are very site specific, and any good solution needs to factor in social and economical aspects. It comes with experience, and with asking lots of questions.

What does an environmental professional use? That depends on the environmental problem, its scale, temporality, spatial extent, etc. I would be pretty confident to say that mathematical models, geographical information systems (GIS), statistical analysis, and a thorough understanding of the specific field of interest, field and lab equipment and procedures. This is ideally complemented by a knowledge of law, economics, sociology at the minimum."

Environment Awareness

Environmental problems

Posted by Susan Sharma on July 12, 2006

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Environmental problems are very site specific, and any good solution needs to factor in social and economical aspects. It comes with experience, and with asking lots of questions.

"Marketing" is an important issue, not only with environmental problems but with most problem in general. It is not only important to identify a problem, it is equally important to be able to present it to the public in a way that people can identify with it and to express it in a way that is easy to comprehend.

 You will be learning about many problems that may seem overwhelming, and at times you may feel that there are so many aspects to an issue that it is impossible to get a grasp on all of them.

Water quality is deteriorating, nitrate is killing off habitats, phosphorus is accelarating the closure of lakes, ground water is being polluted, farming accelerates erosion of soil, air quality is suffering, but on the other hand we need food, cash crops and food security. Where do you strike the balance?

 How do you make incentives for farmers to apply conservation practices? Who should pay for these costs? Who should pay for the economic downturn of fisheries ? These issued need to be aired and the public should know the impacts and the efforts to reduce them.

We need to generate debate on issues concerning the environment.  It is the ecosystem that is sustaining humanity.

Wildlife Poaching

Big Cats in Crisis – Save Them

Posted by Puja on July 12, 2006

Blog
TIGER, the most potent symbol of Asia, the pride of the Jungle is facing trouble. Today there is little ground remaining for our national animal. According to researchers the tiger population has dropped over the past 100 years from an estimated 100,000 in 1900 to only 4000 in the 1970's. In wake of the tiger crisis, government launched the Project Tiger in 1972 and we achieved little improvement in population of tigers from 4000 in 1970 to 5000-7500 tigers at present. So let us all unite to re-establish the dignity of the “Greatest Cat” that they deserve. If you really want to save this magnificent creature from becoming extinct, then come forward and voice your concern. Merinews provides an open platform for all to share & express their opinion on issues important to them. Click here to submit your views: - www.merinews.com



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