मिट्टी, पानी बचाने में लगे हैं किसान

—– संतोष सारंग

मधुबनी के मधवापुर प्रखंड के सुजातपुर गांव की एमबीए पास मंदाकिनी ने पीओ की नौकरी छोड़ कर अपने गांव में गोबर व भूसी से बड़े पैमाने पर वर्मी कंपोस्ट का उत्पादन शुरू कर आसपास के किसानों को अपना खेत बचाने को प्रेरित कर रही हैंक़ केमिकल फर्टिलाइजर व पेस्टिसाइड़स के प्रयोग से जिले के कई बड़े जोत वाले किसानों के खेत अब पहले जैसी उपज नहीं दे रहे। फसल के ईल्ड पर विपरित असर पड़ने के साथ परागन करने वाले कीट-पतंग भी मर रहे हैं। इससे निजात पाने के लिए सिर्फ कंपोस्ट ही विकल्प है। मंदाकिनी किसानों को वर्मी कंपोस्ट का उत्पादन करने, उपयोग करने एवं रासायनिक खाद का प्रयोग न करने को लेकर किसानों को जागरूक कर रही हैं। शुरू में जिसने भी मंदाकिनी के काम का मजाक उड़ाया था, वे आज उसे अपना आर्दश मान रहे हैं़ इस काम के लिए मंदाकिनी ने विकास चौधरी को साथ लिया और निकल पड़ी गांव के लिए कुछ अलग करने। मंदाकिनी को उसके आईएएस दादा एवं पिता मणिभूषण ने भी इस काम में हरसंभव मदद की़ 2010 में नौकरी छोड़ने के बाद एक छोटे से यूनिट से उसने वर्मी कंपोस्ट बनाने का काम शुरू किया। 250 क्विंटल से आज उसके यूनिट की उत्पादन क्षमता 2500 एमटी हो गयी है़ मधुबनी के अलावा दरभंगा, सीतामढ़ी, समस्तीपुर के किसान यहां बने कंपोस्ट खरीद कर ले जा रहे हैं। मधुबनी के जिला कृषि पदाद्यिकारी केके झा ने मंदाकिनी के कार्य की प्रशंसा करते हुए कहा कि किसानों को जैविक खेती की ओर बढ़ना होगा, यदि अपनी जमीन व फसल बचानी है तो।
जैविक अभियान को मुजफ्फरपुर जिले के किसान भी आगे बढ़ा रहे हैं। मीनापुर प्रखंड के प्रगतिशील किसान मनोज कुमार के खेती में नायाब प्रयोग के कारण सूबे के किसानों के प्रेरणास्त्रोत बन गये हैं। मनोज के काम को देखने मुख्यमंत्री भी आ चुके हैं। विदेशी टीम आ चुकी है। पारू प्रखंड के जलीलनगर गांव के किसान जयमंगल राम, राजमंगल राम, मोहन दास, अमरनाथ मवेशी इसलिए पाल रहे हैं कि उनके खेतों को पर्याप्त मात्र में जैविक खाद मिल सके। दो दर्जन से भी अधिक किसान जैविक खेती कर खेत, फसल व पर्यावरण बचाने में लगे हैं। इन किसानों को मिट्टी की सेहत को लेकर चिंता है कि जमीन ऊसर न हो जाये। मोहन दास का कहना है कि अनाज शुद्घ होगा तभी तन-मन भी सेहतमंद रहेगा। गांव के किसानों ने जागृति किसान क्लब बना कर जैविक खेती के अभियान को आगे बढ़ा रहे हैं। जिले के सरैया प्रखंड स्थित गोविंदपुर गांव के श्रीकांत कुशवाहा की कोशिश से गांव को जैविक ग्राम घोषित किया गया है। वे जादूगरी का सहारा लेकर लोगों को रासायनिक खेती छोड़ जैविक खेती अपनाने को ले जागरूक कर रहे हैं। गोविंदपुर के किसान शिवनंदन श्रीवास्तव, रविन्द्र प्रसाद, सीताराम भगत, चिरामन, रघुनाथ प्रसाद समेत दर्जनों किसानों ने एक-एक एकड़ में जैविक तरीके से सब्जी की खेती किया। साथ ही, खेत के मेड़ पर पौधे लगा कर गांव को एक नया लुक दिया है। जैविक खेती के क्षेत्र में नायाब काम करनेवाले जादूगर कुशवाहा जल, जमीन व हवा को प्रदूषणमुक्त बनाने के लिए जिले व बाहर जाकर सैकड़ों किसानों को प्रशिक्षित करते हैं। गोविंदपुर गांव के किसानों के काम का ही नतीजा है कि 2006 में जिला कृषि विभाग ने गोविंदपुर को ‘जैविक ग्राम घोषित’ किया और एसबीआइ ने उसे गोद लिया।
जैविक खेती के जानकार श्रीकांत कहते हैं कि रासायनिक खाद व कीटनाशक के प्रयोग से मिट्टी की उर्वर शक्ति ही नष्ट नहीं होती, बल्कि सिंचाई में पानी की बर्बादी भी अधिक होती है। फसल के मित्र कीट-पतंगे मर जाते हैं। परागन की प्रक्रिया बाधित होती है, जिससे फसल की उपज में कमी आती है। केंचुए पौधे की जड़ तक ऑक्सीजन पहुंचाता है। बगुला और कौए पटवन के समय कीट-पतंगों को चुन-चुनकर खाते हैं। जिससे मिट्टी के सूक्ष्म पोषक तत्व, जीवाणु, ह्यूमस और पीएच बैलेंस बने रहते हैं। जिस फसल में मधुमक्खी का बॉक्स रहता है उसमें परागन की क्रिया से 20 प्रतिशत पैदवार बढ़ जाती है। जबकि रासायनिक खेती से ग्रीन हाउस गैसों के बनने का खतरा बढ़ जाता है। रासायिनक खाद व कीटनाशक के बदले नीम, लहसून, तुलसी आदि के संयोग से बने कीटनाशक मित्रकीट को नुकसान पहुंचाये बिना फसल को पोषण देता है।
कृषि विज्ञान केंद्र, सरैया के मृदा वैज्ञानिक केके सिंह कहते हैं कि पेस्टीसाइड्स और नाइट्रोजन का अधिक प्रयोग करने से जल प्रदूषण भी हो रहा है। नाइट्रोजन का 60 प्रतिशत अंश वायुमंडल में उड़ जाता है। बारिश के दिनों में भूजल तक पेस्टीसाइड्स पहुंच जाता है, जिस कारण 40-50 फीट तक का पानी पीने योग्य नहीं रहता है। इसकी जगह नीम से निर्मित जैविक कीटनाशक का प्रयोग किया जाये तो पानी की खपत के साथ-साथ खेतों में लाभदायक कीट बचेंगे और प्रदूषण से बचा जा सकता है। जैविक खेती से 40-50 प्रतिशत पानी की बर्बादी भी रुकती है। ड्रिप इरिगेशन से पानी को बचाया जा सकता है।
आज प्रदेश के ऐसे सैकड़ों किसानों का उदाहरण दिया जा सकता है जो वर्मी कंपोस्ट का उत्पादन सिर्फ इसलिए नहीं करते हैं कि उनकी आमदनी में बढ़ोतरी हो या उनके खेत व फसल सुरक्षित रहे, बल्कि मिट्टी, हवा, पानी बचाने की चिंता भी उनके इसे काम में साफ-साफ दिखती है। बिना सरकारी सहयोग के।

Pakistan’s crop yields hit by erratic rainfall

Saleem Shaikh
Scidev.net
Science and Development News Network International
September 09, 2013
In his short climate video documentary, Saleem Shaikh reports on how changing rainfall patterns have been devastating crop yields for farmers in Pakistan. 

Weblink: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yy6ETXTDO8U
Alternative weblink: http://www.scidev.net/south-asia/environment/multimedia/erratic-weather-threatens-livelihoods-in-pakistan-1.html

Pakistan’s crop yields hit by erratic rainfall. Photo credit: Saleem Shaikh

NC’s Proposal Brings Mines Under The Scanner

The National Council (NC) that has again taken up the issue of mining and natural resources conservation has passed three recommendations with regards to the sector’s activities and future direction during its session on Thursday

Councilor Jigme Rinzin, chairperson of the council’s natural resources and environment committee said that it would recommend the impact, cost, benefits, and other related issues pertaining to the mining sector to the government.

The first recommendation is to form an ad hoc body in the NC for conducting a comprehensive cost benefit analysis of mining and quarrying, with special focus on its social, economic and environmental impacts.

The second recommendation states that the government must refrain from issuing both mining and quarrying licenses to Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) companies until the Council had completed studying the sector.

It was learnt that a French company, Lafarge, had shown interest to tie up with a local mining company two years ago, but approval was not issued by the DGM since it was waiting for the mining and mineral policy to be adopted.

This is a deviation from the 10th session’s resolution, which recommended the government to freeze all kinds of licenses until all eight recommendations resolved in the 10th session were implemented.

While the remaining six recommendations resolved during the 10th session are being implemented, it has not been reflected this time.

The last recommendation was that the Royal Audit Authority (RAA) will conduct a performance audit report on the system of taxation in the mining sector. Many concerns were expressed that the mine and quarry owners were not paying correct taxes to the government.

A report was also prepared by the house on the socio economic and environmental assessment of mining and quarrying activities in the country, which was published in February this year.

The report includes issues and concerns of understatement of income, non-declaration of full sales proceeds, and discrepancies in the taxation system of captive mine owners.

The mining sector on an average contributes NU 200mn to the government as revenue.

The top five tax contributors from the private sector were all mining industries which included Jigme Mining Company Ltd, Eastern Bhutan Ferro Silicon Pvt. Ltd, SD Eastern Bhutan Coal Company Ltd, Druk Satair Corporation and Jigme Industries.

They contributed a total revenue of NU 227mn as taxes.

On the legality of imposing restrictions on mining activities by the Dzongkhag Tshogdu (DT) within their geographical jurisdiction, it is found that there is no conflict in the legal interpretation of the provisions of the Minerals Management Act 1995 and Local Government Act of Kingdom of Bhutan 2009.

In fact, the two are found to be supplementing and complementing each other. While the Dzongkhag Tshogdu has the authority to issue or deny environmental clearance in consultation with public, it has no authority to impose blanket restriction on mining activities within their geographical jurisdiction.

The authority to issue licenses rested only with the ministry.

While the DGM has the authority to issue mining license, it can do so only after environmental clearance is issued by the Dzongkhag Tshogdu.

The NC resolved that mineral resources are state properties and must be used in the most careful manner for the benefit of the country and people for all times to come.

It has called for a comprehensive study of the sector for making any subsequent decisions on the future direction of mining and quarrying activities in the country.

 

NC Holds Major Discussion On Mining: No New Leases Till Impacts Are Assessed

The National Council discussed the follow-up report on the Impact Assessment of mining activities during its session on September 12.

The discussion on the issue was divided into three parts: recapitulation of the 10th session resolutions, implementation status of the recommendations and recommendations from the Natural Resources and Environment Committee (NREC).

The 10th and the last session of the NC of the first Parliament had deliberated at length on the Impact Assessment of mining activities in the country, whereby eight- recommendations were made.

It had primarily called upon the government to undertake geological mapping of the country before embarking on further mining and quarrying activities; define clear responsibility for the concerned authorities; revisit the existing policies and see whether the mines and quarries are being operated as per the provisions of the law.

The Upper House also discussed the cost benefit analysis and socio-economic and environmental impacts of mining and quarrying, reviewing the effectiveness of environmental restoration measures currently under practice and ensuring mining and quarry companies file annual tax return properly.

The recommendations also states that with increasing developmental activities, there should also be adequate measures for conservation of natural resources, following the middle-path strategy.

And finally, it asked the government to freeze issuing new licenses till all the concerns outlined above are resolved.

Under direction of the NC to the NREC to follow-up on the implementation status of these recommendations as resolved in the 10th session, the latter had initiated follow-up activities with relevant ministries and agencies.

After presenting the review reports, the NREC submitted the recommendations to the House for further recommends and amendments. After a long deliberation the House resolved to revisit the fresh recommendations in consultation with the Legislative Committee and other interested members.

The House will re-deliberate on the recommendations on 19 September 2013.

NREC also shared the earnings reported by Department of Revenue and customs under the CIT/BIT category by the mining and quarry companies for the past three years. In 2010, CIT/BIT generated was 148.63mn, in 2011 it was 163.15mn while last year it increased to 169.59mn.

NREC submitted the review reports on the legality of banning mining activities by local governments (LG) within their geographical jurisdiction and report on the follow-up on impact assessment of mining activities.

The issue on the legality of banning mining activities by the LGs in certain areas in Samtse was raised by the Samtse NC, Sangay Khandu.

Later in the afternoon, the House conducted its first Question Hour session of the Second Parliament with the minister of agriculture and forest, Yeshi Dorji.

During the Question Hour, the House asked questions on human-wildlife conflicts and leasing/reinstating of sokshing and tsamdro rights to the people.

The minister submitted that the questions require extensive research and holistic considerations by all the stakeholders. However, he assured the house that the ministry will submit more comprehensive answers during the next session.

The deliberation on the review report on Changjiji Towa Theatre and Performance audit of Constituency Development Grant (CDG) will continue on 17 September 2013.

Paradise Lost: Kashmir’s Resorts of Filth and Concrete

Athar Parvaiz 

India’s seventeenth century Mughal emperor Jehangir is probably best known for his comment on the valley of Kashmir: “If there is paradise on earth, it is this, it is this, it is this.”

For about two decades, few outsiders could see this paradise, as insurgency and anti-insurgency rendered Kashmir a global trouble spot. But now that the violence is on the wane and there is talk of ‘paradise regained’, haphazard hotel construction and unattended rubbish threaten to spoil this heavenly abode. The idyll of Kashmir is ill-prepared for an influx of tourists and the features that attract visitors could well prove its undoing.

Regulations to manage sewage, rubbish or solid waste were totally ignored during the atmosphere of violence that reigned for around 15 years. But even after Kashmiris witnessed almost a decade of governable era since 2003, those who have been at the helm all these years could hardly do anything for Kashmir’s treasure trove – its environment and ecology.

Recent improvements in the security situation have led to a surge in tourism. Around three million tourists visited Kashmir in the last two summers, according to official figures. With half a million people directly or indirectly involved in the valley’s tourism industry, this is now easily shaping up into a major contributor to the local economy. Thus the swelling up of tourist numbers is certainly a cause for joy, but has also led to a boom in hotel construction, especially in the famed resorts of Pahalgam, Gulmarg and Sonamarg.

There is least of desirable planning in the construction procedure. Most hotels try to maximise the number of rooms even if they block the best views of the Himalayan peaks in the process or, woefully, sit on the banks of erstwhile pristine waters of Lidder and Sindh. The three major resorts are fast becoming concrete jungles.

With tourists from all over India and the world moving into Kashmir in droves, rubbish now threatens not just the ecology but the tourism industry itself. Environmentalists have expressed their concern about the policy paralysis saying the construction should be prohibited within these resorts. But the government has not only allowed construction of hotels right on the most scenic spots, but has also failed to provide adequate disposal systems for solid and liquid waste.

According to the official records in Pollution Control Board (PCB), only two out of over 100 hotels in Gulmarg and only three out of over 150 hotels in Pahalgam have secured No Objection Certificates from PCB; the rest are functioning without the standard norms. The only waste disposal site in Pahalgam has been set up right at the bank of a stream which flows into Lidder River, an important tributary of Jhelum.

In Gulmarg, garbage is thrown under the forest trees, which has caused huge damage to them. The high-altitude meadow that turns into a golf course every summer and a ski-slope every winter has no waste-treatment facilities either. Thousands of tourists throng to the meadow throughout the year, especially in summer. The growing number of tourists visiting the heath resort, especially those high-end tourists who come for playing golf at world’s highest green golf course, means more greed for those who remain in hunt of high business. An influential businessman has recently built a huge hotel here, having chopped down hundreds of trees to make way for the project.

THE SORDID SAGA OF SONAMARG

The directorate of Ecology, Environment and Remote Sensing has recently issued notices (which this writer exclusively gained access to) to Sonamarg Development Authority calling for immediate measures to undo the environmental damage caused by unplanned construction at the famous Sonamarg resort, but nothing has changed except the scenic beauty of that charming resort often called “the golden meadow.”

“While development of modern infrastructure is of paramount importance for meeting the needs of the tourism industry, it is important to design such development in an eco-friendly fashion to preserve and conserve the fragile ecology and environment of Sonamarg,” warned one of the notices.

“The development which has already taken place at Sonamarg or is in progress has a serious adverse impact on the ecology and environment.” The waste generated by hundreds of thousands of tourists is thrown around without any treatment or scientific management, as per the survey of the department officials.

And all untreated effluents find their way into the Indus River which straddles the beautiful resort. “This causes extensive pollution in the river because no Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) is in place,” the officials have observed.

In terms of popularity, Sonamarg is a relatively recent addition to Kashmir’s tourist map. Areas outside the town remain idyllic. But many people worry the area will soon suffer a similar fate to the better-known tourist resorts of Pahalgam and Gulmarg, where unconstrained tourism has caused havoc.

Though a few conscientious citizens have started raising their voices against the environmental mess, yet things look far from getting better. A few years back a local NGO in Pahalgam, Pahalgam Peoples Welfare (PPF) filed a public interest lawsuit in the High Court against illegal construction in Pahalgam. As a result, the court served several notices to the government and its official limb, Pahalgam Development Authority.

“We said in the petition that building permission laws have been thoroughly violated,” said Reyaz Ahmed, member secretary of Pahalgam Peoples Welfare.

A local teacher, who did not want to be identified, said the bureaucrats and influential businessmen have converted the green zone in Pahalgam into an area permissible for construction in the master plan of the tourist resort after purchasing chunks of land in Pahalgam.

THE CURIOUS CASE OF A CONSULTANT

A consultant from outside Kashmir, who was part of a team from a Consultancy Agency which is helping Jammu & Kashmir government to form an action plan on climate change, recently refused to accept the accommodation at a houseboat in Dal Lake when he learnt that the liquid waste from houseboats in Dal Lake was going into the lake without any treatment.

“He asked us to change his accommodation without any delay saying his conscience won’t allow him to stay there,” confided an official of the Ecology, Environment and Remote Sensing department.

Two years back, revelations by Wikileaks included a cable in which an American diplomat had used a striking simile about Dal Lake’s pollution and Kashmiri politics saying Kashmiri politics was “as filthy as Dal Lake”.

For people like Kashmir Houseboat Owners Association president, Azim Tuman, who demands that the government should announce a special package for the houseboat owners for installing Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) in their houseboats, the government is unfair in dumping the blame on the houseboat owners rather than taking a stock of its poor policies.

“Instead of devising a solution for preserving the great heritage of Kashmir’s houseboats, the government is hell-bent on forcing the closure of houseboats,” Tuman said.

“It is not only the matter of securing the livelihoods of thousands of families, but a question of protecting our heritage as well.”

Houseboats were first built by British rulers in the 19th century on the pristine waters of Dal Lake to allow their officials in India to take a break from the scorching heat of Indian plains in summer months.

Since then, the houseboats have been the most preferred accommodation sought by the tourists who come to Kashmir. So Tuman has reasons to worry. “We don’t want them to die because of the government’s failure to provide a solution,” he said.

Houseboats alone are not responsible for the environmental devastation caused to Dal and other major water bodies in the city. The 372 hotels registered with Kashmir’s tourism department in Srinagar city, have no sewage treatment facilities either. Having 10785 rooms with 21073 beds, these hotels remain chock-a-block with tourists especially during summer and drain their sewage directly into Jhelum, Dal Lake and Nagin Lake.

For the past three years, Srinagar has been facing a serious space crunch to accommodate the tourists in summer. According to official figures, more than 3.5 million tourists have travelled to Kashmir during the past two and a half years. This has forced the tourism department to allow residents of a number of areas to convert their houses into guest houses in Srinagar where most tourists prefer to stay. This would mean the disposal of additional untreated sewage into our water bodies.

Link: www.risingkashmir.in/news/paradise-lost-kashmirs-resorts-of-filth-and-concrete-52665.aspx