Published: Saturday 15 March 2008

Who is afraid of Polavaram?

This is with reference to the special report 'Polavaram wrangle' (Down To Earth, January 31, 2008).

The headline of the report is misleading and the story has wrong facts. In the article, the author of a report by the research organization International Water Management Institute (iwmi) says "there was no relevant and detailed hydrological data made available...". This shows the report is partial and is a part of campaign by vested groups.

The authors have no knowledge of interpreting probability statistics... No sensible scientist with knowledge of probability statistics uses monthly data to assess the river flow for the development of a dam.

Next, converting dry land agriculture into irrigated agriculture helps the poor. In Andhra Pradesh around 60 per cent of the land is still at the mercy of rain. Around 50 per cent of the 40 per cent irrigated area depends on unsustainable wells. The project will improve matters. Representatives of the developed countries, World Bank, imf and western ngos, are against development in India.

There are several Indians working under nder the guise of ngos.

In Andhra Pradesh, free power by the government has encouraged its misuse and indiscriminate groundwater use. So, the present government initiated the project to irrigate the dry lands. The cpi (m) is against the project since the area is their stronghold. They don't want to get their vote bank, mostly tribal people, disintegrated.

Moreover, rehabilitation is a major issue in all the developmental projects, irrespective of their size. Just the number varies. The government had consulted several experts on the threats and advantages of the project. But engineers loyal to different political parties created hassles. The authorities had discussed the issue at political and non-political forums as well... the clauses of the Environment Protection Act, 1986, under which the National Environment Appellate Authority neaa) was created, primarily relate to controlling industrial pollution. Thus, irrigation projects such as Polavaram do not come under neaa, which is why the Andhra Pradesh High Court suspended its order. But the eia has a wider ambit. The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests gave clearance to the project based on the eia.

S Jeevananda Reddy

down to earth replies
Our report says there is more to the issue than just displacement, including the availability of water in the Godavari basin. A feasibility report by the National Water Development Agency (nwda) said the region is water surplus while the iwmi report says it is water deficit. The article was based on the report by iwmi but also included inputs from nwda experts as well.

Polavaram project lays too much emphasis on irrigation. We pointed out that there was no provision in its design for environmental water needs--for example, the water required to sustain deltas. Overlooking such issues will affect deltas in Godavari and Krishna rivers. So far, water resource planning in India has overlooked such facts while several developed countries are factoring this in.

Authors of the iwmi report also accept that calculations based on monthly rainfall data will be 'pessimistic' but, at the same time, calculations based on annual data will be too 'optimistic'. Such an estimation requires calculating a threshold river flow, which the authors u.

Tata suit and the rest

This is with reference to the editorial 'The Nano flyover syndrome' (Down To Earth, February 15, 2008). Tata's Nano is the cheapest car in the world and the company's name should be included in the Guinness Book for such a world record. Middle class in India can afford to buy Nano. Other companies should follow Tata. Nano can easily replace auto rickshaws in metros and other cities since it is cheaper to maintain. Moreover, the car pollutes less.

Mahesh Kapasi
Gulmohar Park, Delhi

Down to Earth I wish to add this incident to your editorial. The young daughter of a friend of mine recently spoke to me excitedly about buying a Maruti SX4. She owns an Alto by the same company which is serving her well. Given her source of income, the new car will clearly be a stretch for her. I asked her if there was a real need for a larger car which was not appropriate for Mumbai's congested roads in Mumbai and which also consumed more petrol. She said she could not but move up because she has to keep up with her peers--and her own image.

This incident made me think: it is time we started talking about an individual's social responsibility. Such choices require vision. But more than vision, they need determination which is in short supply in India today.

V S Gurumani
Wanowrie, Pune

Down to Earth I agree with you that cars are getting subsidies that they should not. Even in Guwahati where I live the administration is building flyovers everywhere but traffic snarls continue.

You are right in saying that parking fee and road tax must go up to dissuade people from buying cars. But at the same time the public transport system must be strengthened simultaneously.

Hirdesh Mishra
Kamrup West Division, Assam

Down to Earth The authorities including the babus and netas should read your editorial. You should also have mentioned of the kickbacks that these people get for providing subsidies to cars.

It is the aam admi who pays for all this and bears the brunt of their actions. No one seems to be worried about environmental issues.

Siva Prasad Rambhatla

Down to Earth Nano should run only in rural areas. It should not enter metropolitan cities, state capitals and other big cities which are already facing the traffic problems.

Satyendra K Tiwari
Tala Umaria, Madhya Pradesh

Down to Earth I have been a witness to the rapid 'flyoverization' of Delhi and Kolkata. While the larger picture is that of towns, cities, regions and states competing with each other to attract investments, it is time we sensitize the civil society of the side effects of such transport planning which falsely assume cities can build themselves out of congestion.

Let's have adequate, convenient and safe footpath in our cities so that we have attractive options to short motorized trips. More people walking and cycling will help improve law and order as well.

Let's stop building flyovers and widening roads which induce traffic. Seoul has demolished its east-west elevated road and is ready with plans to pull down many elevated road sections as part of its urban renewal plan. Should we follow such examples or should we start building mini flyovers to 'ease' the flow of traffic (read cars) inside our residential colonies?

Abhijit Sarkar

Rich reading

Your story on Hiware Baazar (Down To Earth, January 31, 2008) was fascinating. It is nice to hear that farmers are creating opportunities and claiming wealth. Congratulations.


Down to Earth I believe we can change lives of the majority of Indians if we abjure the consumerist life style. Tagore and Gandhi understood the dangers of the western model of growth. Let's follow them

Samar Bagchi
kurchi.s@gmail.com ...

Saving medicinal plants

This has reference to your article 'Vanishing' (Down To Earth, January 31, 2008). The findings of the national medicinal plants board of India are alarming. The extinction of medicinal plants in the Himalayan region should rouse the people responsible for their promotion. The government can't run away from its responsibility.

Arvind K Pandey

Shortsighted on Sethu

The Sethusamudram project surely destroy marine ecology. Our govern has not looked at the long-term impacts of the project. It seems we have forgotten the ravages of the tsunami.

Himani C Kala
Udaipur, Rajasthan...

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