Updates

Articles

Articles posted by Radical Socialist on various issues.

A Brief Report of the proceedings of the Sit-In on the evening of 7 August 2010 against the crimes of Indian State on the people of Kashmir


The evening of 7 August 2010 witnessed after a long long time voices of freedom from the people of Kashmir. Despite the heavy repression and the draconian laws to maim and incarcerate the people of Kashmir, to subjugate their indomitable spirit for Azadi, the evening of August 7 at the heart of Delhi just half a kilometre away from the parliament witnessed unprecedented scenes of assertion of the political will not to say genuine desire of the Kashmiri people for freedom from the exploitative and oppressive rule of the Indian State. Around six to seven hundred people had gathered including people from various peoples organisations in Delhi to protest against the increasing repression of the Kashmiri people.

SAR Geelani, Faculty of Delhi University conducted the proceedings of the evening. Every Kashmiri—students, teachers, journalists, working people—who spoke in the meeting was unequivocal about their demand for Azadi which set the tone of the proceedings as the dharna cite reverberated with slogans against India’s occupation of Jammu & Kashmir and the demand for Azadi. Various people’s organisations from Delhi which participated in the meeting expressed their unconditional solidarity to the struggle for freedom of the Kashmiri people. Revolutionary poet Vara Vara Rao who was also an emissary of the present CPI (Maoist) party in their early talks with the government of Andhra Pradesh asserted that the people of Kashmir are not alone in their struggle against Indian occupation. He pointed out that the fighting masses of Dankaranya, Orissa, West Bengal, Bihar and Jharkhand are with the struggle for freedom of the people of Kashmir. He said that the enemy of the both the oppressed people of Kashmir and the poorest and the wretched in India is the Indian ruling class which is a prop of US and other imperialist forces and the struggling people of Kashmir and India should join hands for the realisation of the freedom of both. Noted film maker Sanjay Kak pointed out that the Kashmiris should stop looking at themselves as victims. While it was important for the Kashmiri people to be emotional in their struggles braving the repressive machine of the Indian State it was also necessary to have a political temperament to see the light at the end of the arduous struggle. Mrigank from the Nav Jawan Bharat Sabha expressed his solidarity for the movement of the people of Kashmir. Narender from the Popular Front expressed his organisation’s support for what he termed as the “complete independence” of the people of Kashmir. Kavita Krishnan from the CPI (ML) (Liberation) talked about the scores of atrocities committed by the Indian army on the people of Kashmir as well as the need for a meaningful dialogue for which the Indian government should be made accountable. GN Saibaba of the Revolutionary Democratic Front pointed out that the rising struggle for freedom of the Kashmiri people will usher in the death knell of US imperialism. He also stressed that the liberation of the people of Kashmir is in the interest of the people of India who are also fighting for revolutionary transformation. Sharmila Purkayastha from the PUDR, former Ambassador Madhu Bhaduri, Karen Gabriel from Delhi University, Banojyotsna Lahiri from DSU JNU, Om from AISA JNU, Tara Basumatary from DU also spoke expressing their solidarity for the struggle of the Kashmiri people for Azadi. Members of the progressive cultural organisation Prathidhwani sang songs while some of the Kashmiri participants read out the poems of well known Kashmiri poet Agha Shahid Ali. Later in the night at 10 the meeting ended at a high note amidst thundering slogans for Azadi, Demands to resolve the Kashmir issue, condemning the fake Indian Democracy, to stop the Genocide in Kashmir, when one of the young Kashmiri thundered: “the Indian government terms our struggle anti-national. They brand us anti-national. I want to ask: How can you call us anti-national. We are not part of your nation. We were never. We are Kashmiri nationalists fighting for our freedom. We want Azadi!”

 

In Solidarity and Struggle,

SAR Geelani,

Supreme Court quashes defamation case on activists by Association of Pesticide Manufacturing Companies


Rohit Prajapati and Trupti Shah

4th August, 2010, Warangal and New Delhi


A two Judge bench of the Indian Supreme Court of India, on 20th July, 2010, quashed[1] the  criminal defamation case against 11 activists initiated by the Crop Care Federation (formerly Pesticides Associations of India, a consortium of pesticide manufacturing companies)). The chemical consortium had filed the case against the activists in the Magistrate's Court of Warangal for publishing a report titled "The Killing Fields of Warangal" in 2002. The report which was a preliminary investigation of the impacts of pesticides use in the cotton belt of Warangal district of Andhra Pradesh (India) was termed defamatory by the largest and most powerful pesticide companies in the country.


In its judgement on 20th July 2010, the Honourable Court observed that “The general tenor of the report indicates that the report meant to focus the harmful effects of exposure to pesticides. It is quite evident from the report that it was not meant to harm, hurt or defame any individual or the manufacturing company”. The ruling marks a landmark judgment favouring freedom of speech, and transparency and was fought by very well known Indian environmental lawyer, Mr. Raj Panjwani.


This SLAPP type litigation (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation), brought upon by one section of pesticide industries, would have resulted in a continued long and expensive trial for the activists, which had already begun over 5 years ago. The Warangal court had also issued non-bailable arrest warrants against some of the 'accused' in 2007, after Andhra Pradesh High Court had dismissed the appeal to quash the proceedings


The list of  those who were charged included: Dr. Rajan R Patil (Epidemiologist), Ms. Madhumita Dutta (Corporate Accountability Desk – The Other Media), Mr. Ravi Agarwal (Toxics Link), Dr. D. Narasimha Reddy, Mr. P. Damoder (Sarvodaya Youth Organisation), Mr. Rajesh Rangarajan (formerly with Toxics Link),  Ms. Abitha Anand (independent Journalist), Salil Chaturvedi (Splash Communications), Kishore Wankhade (formerly with GGF) and others.


We, as the members of the fact-finding team and others associated with this report, condemn such harassment of environmental and public interest activists. We decry pesticide industry's intimidating tactics to suppress public voice, deny access to information and to put profits before farmers’ health.


We, as the members of the fact-finding team and others associated with this report, humbly declare our commitment to the following:


·         Bring to the attention of the people, farmers and policy makers in the country and the world about increasing hazards of pesticides to farmers and growing scientific evidence about the hazards of these chemicals and the grassroots level use of pesticides.

·         Work for rational/ethical policies of use and distribution of pesticides with an unequivocal emphasis to phase out toxic substances and chemicals used in their manufacture.

·         Declare our commitment to non-chemical method of agricultural production. Help prevent harassment of public-spirited individuals and activists fighting for similar causes.


We, as members of the fact-finding team call upon state and national governments to actively work towards eliminating the threats posed by hazardous agrochemicals for the well-being of farmers and the agricultural environment.



NOTE:

Background


The fact finding team consisted of representatives of diverse organizations that are involved with agricultural issues in rural areas, sustainable development, environmental protection and related public health issues. This included representatives of Toxics Link (New Delhi), Community Health Cell (Bangalore) and Sarvodaya Youth Organization (Warangal).


The findings of this team were published in an indicative report which aimed to be a transparent and account of indicative evidence that has been collected methodically and released for public debate to help in devising a rational and ethical pesticides policy in the country.


The Cropcare Federation of India (formerly Pesticide Association of India), a consortium of manufacturers of agrochemicals has criticized this report and has claimed to be defamatory in nature. The Federation initiated criminal proceedings against the members of the fact-finding team and others associated with the publishing of the said report stating that the report is a malicious and defamatory attempt by the members of the team to defame the pesticide manufacturers and traders among the general public, thereby affecting their credibility and their business.


Subsequently, the organizations and the individuals were engaged in a legal battle at the Warangal Metropolitan Magistrate's Court where the case had been filed. Members of the fact-finding team and others associated with this report denied all the allegations as false, misconstrued and out of context of the report. This indicative report was based on findings of the fact finding team after:


a)      Visits to a number of villages in Warangal district;

b)      Discussions with farmers and their relatives in the district;

c)      Discussions with members of the medical profession and the Indian Medical Association in the area who were involved in the treatment of patients affected by spraying of pesticides;

d)      Discussions with officials in the district including joint director- agriculture, and

e)      Dialogue with other stakeholders in the district.


Driven by the primary objective of protecting the health of farmers, the indicative study was done in a transparent manner, with all the data, the methods used and the sources publicly announced in a spirit of accountability. It called for a larger investigation into the issue. The objective clearly was neither against any industry, nor against any particular association. The concern was about human health and ecology as a whole.


The final recommendations of the fact finding team state that:


1.       Initiation of education and counselling programmes for farmers and farm labourers in Warangal district on organic agriculture (especially cotton) in association with civil society and government institutions.

2.       A detailed investigation into similar experiences elsewhere in the country and a formulation of a comprehensive national pesticide policy that would focus on rational use of pesticides, control and strict monitoring of accessibility to such dangerous chemicals and gradual phase-out of chemical pesticides.

3.       A larger investigation into the issues raised in the report.






[1] Reference: Supreme Court of India, Special Leave Petition, 3700 of 2008, Rajesh Rangarajan vs M/S Crop Care Federation of India and ANR, arising from CPLP 4155/06, subject CRIMINAL MATTERS - MATTERS FOR/AGAINST QUASHING OF CRIMINAL PROCEEDINGS, http://courtnic.nic.in/supremecourt/causedisp.asp

Appeal Issued by Little Magazines to Governor concerning Kanishka Chowdhury and others


The following appeal has been launched by a group of little magazines, who saw the arrest of Kanishka Chowdhury, rightly, as a serious attack on the freedom of expresson, especially of the non-corporate sections of the media. Though on 28 July the Court granted bail to Chowdhury and his two co-accused, the rest of the appeal still stands. We publish this in the interest of democracy, and urge other little magazines to join this drive. Every sector of civil society should stand up for democratic rights, instead of assuming that the struggle for democratic rights is the prerogative of organisations particularly identified as democratic rights/human rights groups.


Radical Socialist


Appeal Issued by Little Magazines to Governor

Mr A K Narayanan,
Governor of West Bengal.


Respected Sir,

We, on behalf of the little magazines of West Bengal would like to appeal to you as follows:
Recently, one of the little magazine activists from Kolkata, Kanishka Chowdhury has been arrested on charges of being at Lalgarh along with two other intellectuals on 15/06/2010. The journalists held with them
were later released but the trio was produced to court on framed-up charges. No FIR was done even two hours after their arrest thus violating the law. They were initially informed that they would be released after interrogations. No copy of the FIR was given to them or their advocate even while being produced at the court for the second time. Neither were they handed over a list of articles seized from their bag. Even Kanishka Chowdhury’s wife was not allowed in the court room under the pretext of “no space” while the hearing was on.

These socially conscious intellectuals accompanied some New Delhi based journalists to Lalgarh in order to be aware of and witness the condition after a year of operation of the joint forces against the
Maoists in the Jungle Mahal area. It is pertinent to note that Kanishka Chowdhury has done similar field studies in the past for his research. He had been to Singur, Nandigram and other places on similar
trips.

The police informed the court that they have confiscated a digital camera, a small voice recorder, two ball-point pens, some writing papers and more than Rs. 4,000 worth of cash. In spite of not being
able to prove anything more, they have been arrested under charges of Collecting arms, etc, Waging, or attempting to wage war, Sedition, Distribution of Banned Literature, etc. We are aware that IPC section
144 has been clamped for the last one year at the place where they were arrested which prohibits assembly of five or more persons, holding of public meetings, and carrying of firearms. Even if we
consider that the arrested trio had violated this act, the rest of the charges are false, unsubstantiated and sans preuve.

Kanishka Chowdhury is a school-teacher by profession. He is quite renowned in the little-magazine circles and his writings and poetries have been published in various little-magazines like Anushtup and others. He has contributed several articles and translations in various publications. Some of them are as follows:
1. Notun Shatak Patrika, October 2007 issue - ‘Sankrityayan O Bangali Guru’ (Sankrityayan and Bengali God-men).
2. Notun Shatak Patrika, August, 2008 issue – ‘Ekti Somporker Sondhane : Bongiyo Guru o Rajniti’ (In search of a relationship : Bengali god-men and politics).
3. Notun Shatak Patrika, November, 2009 – Translation of a lecture on Henry Louis Derozio delivered by Walter Madge in 1904.
4. Sharodiya Sunrito Patrika, 2009, - ‘Henry Louis Derozio –Samayer Agei Janma Neoa Manush’ (Henry Louis Derozio – A man born before the time)
5. Ajker Yubachetana, February 2009 issue, Civil Society : Prathamik Ruprekha (Civil Society : Primary Outlines)
6. Sociologia Indica, June-July issue, a research note ‘Syncretism in the cult of Loknath
Brahmachari.’

Apart from these, his anthology of poems was published in 2007 and at the Kolkata Book Fair his book ‘Civil Society Europe Bharate’(Civil Society in Europe India). He was currently working on the translation of a long article on Tripura by James Long and was also translating the Arundhati Ray’s recent speech at a seminar in the city. He was also working on a collection on Derozio by Anchalik Darpan.

He was invited as speaker to numerous seminars and symposiums. He spoke at Uttarpara Ganabhaban on April 25, 2009 at seminar on “200 years of Derozio” organized by Shahartali magazine.

We are pained by the state terror and the politics of individual assassination at Lalgarh and we would like to see its end.

We, on behalf of the little magazines, would like to appeal that Kanishka Chowdhury, Manik Mondal, Nisha Biswas and all others who are being held without sufficient proof be released after due defense at the court. We would request your intervention for the withdrawal of unsubstantiated charges against them and their early release.

Thanking you,
Yours truly,
cc: Buddhadev Bhattacharya, Minister-in-charge, Department of
Information and Culture,
Government of West Bengal.
cc: The Secretary, Department of Home, Government of West Bengal.

Poisoned beach


TEXT & PHOTOGRAPHS: LYLA BAVADAM


Effluents from an industrial estate destroy the coastal ecology and deprive local people of their livelihood at Tadgam in Gujarat.


Chemical waste from the nearby industrial estate being emptied onto the beach at Tadgam 
Chemical waste from the nearby industrial estate being emptied onto the beach at Tadgam.

FAR from urban influences and pollutants, the beach at Tadgam in Valsad district in south Gujarat should be bustling with life. Gulls, sandpipers, stints and egrets should be foraging for shrimps, crabs, mudskippers, cuttlefish and other creatures that live under the shingle or in the small rock pools that teem with life when the tide is out. And the nearby fishing village of Tadgam should be a living example of coastal prosperity. But one look into the baskets of the fisherwomen and it is clear that this idyll is history. A single small crab and three tiny shrimps crawl about forlornly inside. “This is what we get after being on the beach for more than an hour,” says Parvatibai, a fisherwoman. It has been a long time since Tadgam had signs of normal sea life.

The beach is thick with a stinking, toxic sludge. The steaming effluent pours out of a pipe with a diameter of two feet (0.6 metre). “It flows day and night throughout the year,” says Parvatibai. The 13.34-kilometre-long pipeline originates at the Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation's (GIDC) industrial estate in Sarigam town and has been discharging the toxic brew onto the beach at Tadgam since 1999 when it was laid. The pipeline traverses four villages – Tadgam, Saronda, Nargol and Maroli – with a population of about 30,000 people. Leaks and the consequent seepage into the ground and the dumping of chemicals into small streams would have affected an estimated 25,000 more people.

The untreated chemical effluence has resulted in a huge loss of earnings to the local people, and in some cases resulted in skin and respiratory ailments. “We believe it has affected our health. The polluted water and air has given us rashes, fevers and digestive disorders. When we complain we are asked for proof. What more proof do they need than the fact that we have seen the difference in our lives before and after this pipeline,” says Yatin Bhandari, sarpanch of Nargol village.


sarigam_pipeline

The pipeline, 13.34 km long, originates at the Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation's Sarigam industrial estate in Sarigam town and has been discharging the toxic waste since 1999.

An informal observation made by Dharmesh Patel, a local health worker from the primary health centre in Maroli, is that “60 per cent of the population in the three villages has skin and respiratory problems, of which most cases are from Tadgam”. Dashratbhai Rathod, a former sarpanch of Saronda village, said: “The pipeline leaks and poisons our crops. Even the water we draw using the hand-pump is reddish. Dal and rice do not cook easily in it. About 15 wells are spoilt. The water stinks of chemicals.”

Prakash Arekar, who has campaigned against industrial pollution in Sarigam for two decades, says he has seen mango trees go barren because of the pollution. The “sickness is permanent” in some neighbourhoods, he adds. The claims do not seem exaggerated. A few minutes near the outlet at Tadgam cause nausea and shortness of breath, which the residents of Tadgam village and Lord's Seaside Cooperative Housing Society too experience when the breeze blows inland.


Drop in fish catch


According to the Directorate of Fisheries, the fishing industry of Daman and Diu (close to Tadgam) has seen a drop of 64.3 per cent in the catch over the past decade. This has been attributed to the effluents from the industrial estates in Vapi, a more established and larger industrial town than Tadgam. Though no direct study has been done for the smaller fishing industry at Tadgam, its proximity to Daman and Diu could mean that the same findings can apply.


Prakash Arekar

Prakash Arekar, who has campaigned for a clean environment for the past 20 years, says neither the GPCB nor the GIDC is following the rules.

Dashratbhai Rathod recalled how until recently Tadgam, Saronda and Nargol together had a fleet of about 400 fishing boats. He said: “The catch was enormous even in shallow waters…. ravas, pomfret, prawns, lobsters, crabs, Bombay duck…. Lobsters were so plentiful that we caught them with our hands. Now it is a dead sea. For eight months of the year the men go all the way to Porbundar, Veraval, Dwarka and Okha to fish and the women work in the local GIDC estate.”

Says Kusumbai, a fisherwoman: “In two hours of fishing we could catch huge amounts of fish with our hand nets. When the men went off the coast they came back with so much fish that we sent them all the way to Mumbai.”


Pipeline

The Gujarat Pollution Control Board's rules specify that the pipeline must be anchored firmly in cement saddles and buried at a depth of six feet.

Today it is a different story. Says Raju Katu, who lives in Tadgam: “People who were earning around Rs.200 a day now do subsistence-level fishing and on some days eat only one meal.”

The Mitna community has been particularly affected. Its earnings came mainly from catching, selling and eating mudskippers. With the beach in a toxic condition, there are no more mudskippers and those that do exist have mutated dangerously with extra fins, and have skin diseases and external tumours. Earlier, mudskippers were “like a carpet” on the beach and people used to “wade through them, picking them up by the handful”. “Now,” says Yatin Bhandari, “the sight of one mudskipper air hole gets us all excited.”

The residents of the villages say they were not informed when the pipeline was laid. “It crossed our fields with no authorisation,” recalls Dashratbhai Rathod, “and so we protested.” But the protest, according to Bhandari, died out “when the leaders of the movement were bought over by the big companies”. After that the poor fishermen and farmers could not put up a fight. “So, for 10 years we had no protest and all this while the sea continued to be fed these heavy chemicals,” says Bhandari.


Public Interest Petition



Broken saddles of pipeline

At Tadgam, the pipeline has broken loose from its saddles at many places and moves in a wide sweep with the tide, fanning the effluents wider. The unanchored pipeline can be a danger to fishermen during high tide.

Finally, in 2009, the residents of Lord's Housing Society filed a public interest litigation (PIL) petition in the Gujarat High Court. They were later joined by the sarpanchs of the hamlets of Tadgam, Saronda, Nargol and Maroli. The petition was simple – it asked that the pumping of effluence be halted until GIDC Sarigam and the Sarigam Waste and Effluent Management Company could ensure that the effluents met Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) standards.

One of the requirements for Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) clearance was that there should be a responsible authority to look after pollution control. And so the Sarigam Waste and Effluent Management Company came into existence. Prakash Arekar says its members are “company people and it does not have a single ordinary citizen representative…”. “Neither the GPCB nor the GIDC is following the rules,” he adds.

The petitioners say their plea is supported with photographs, video footage, scientific reports and documentation. Furthermore, said a member of the Lord's Society, the legal representative of the Sarigam Waste and Effluent Management Company even admitted in court that his client had defaulted in monitoring the effluence. The onus of proving that the pipeline is legal also lies with the respondents. If procedure has been followed, then the pipeline must have received CRZ clearance. For this to have happened, an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) must have been conducted since this is a basic requirement for CRZ clearance. Though the petitioners have applied under the Right to Information (RTI) Act to the GPCB for copies of the EIA and other documents, they have received nothing so far. A request to the GPCB from Frontline for the same was met with no answer.


Empty fish nets of fishermen in tidal pools
Empty nets in the pools formed by the tide tell their own tale of the deadly impact of the poisons.

Adding to the evidence against the pipeline is the fact that the discharge from it is illegal (and not just that it is untreated waste). Time-bound permission is granted by the GPCB to industrial estates for allowing discharge. This is called Consolidated Consent and Authorisation, or CC&A. The CC&A given to GIDC Sarigam has not been renewed since 2004, according to the petitioners.

After the court heard the petition, it directed the GPCB to take action, and in response the GPCB sent a legal notice to 50 units in Sarigam. It is not clear on what basis these 50 units were chosen and why only 50 since the petition was about the discharge and not against individual units. The notice, dated December 4, 2009, was sent to the Sarigam Waste and Effluent Management Company under Section 33-A of The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974.

It said: “[T]he consent granted to you vide order No. 1623 dated 12-2-2004 has lapsed on dated 31-3-2004 hence, at present you are operating industrial effluent disposal system without CC&A of the Gujarat Pollution Control Board under the provision of Water Act.”

COURTESY LORD'S SEASIDE COOPERATIVE HOUSING SOCIETY
Dead fish - victim of pollution
Dead fish on the beach.

It further said: “[D]uring the inspection of your plant on 18-11-2009… the analysis reports indicates that the concentration like SS, BOD, COD, Chloride, Ammonical Nitrogen, Phenolic Compound, Zinc, & Sulphides, are most of the time higher than the permissible limit specified by the Board.”

Rohit Prajapati of the Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) fighting for clean environment, said: “This clearly indicates that the treatment facility dumps the effluent at Tadgam village without proper permission and the effluent does not meet the GPCB's norms.” Despite the notices issued by the GPCB there has been no result, which has led the petitioners to conclude that the “the whole thing is a game with the Sarigam GIDC and the Sarigam Waste and Effluent Management Company hand in glove with each other”.

Despite the overwhelming evidence, why has the discharge not been ordered to be stopped until the effluence is monitored and cleaned? the petitioners ask. To make matters worse, a new pipeline is being laid alongside the old one. While the old pipeline spewed 12 mld (million litres a day), the new one has a capacity of 25 mld and a diameter of four feet. Considering that the existing pipeline is under litigation, it is surprising that permission has been granted to lay a second one. The GPCB did not respond when asked to corroborate this.


Effluence treatment


There are over 300 units in the Sarigam industrial estate. Most of them manufacture chemicals, fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and pharmaceutical drugs. Production happens 24x7 throughout the year. Each industrial unit signs an undertaking to ‘clean' its waste in its effluent treatment plant (ETP) before sending it to the common collection well. At the common collection well, the effluents are supposed to be checked for quality twice a day and if found within limits, pumped into the pipeline that ought to lead out into the sea.


Yatin Bhandari, Sarpanch of Nargol village
Yatin Bhandari, Sarpanch of Nargol village: "The protests died out when the leaders of the movement were bought over by the big companies."

One big flaw in the system seems to be that there is no way of identifying the defaulting units and this is made worse because the prescribed process is not followed. At the primary stage, neutralisation takes place and the chemical oxygen demand (COD) and the biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) are stabilised (both are measures of the relative oxygen-depletion effect of contaminants). The secondary stage involves bioreactive treatment and is especially necessary for chemical effluence. At the end of the cleaning process, the waste matter is supposed to be completely free of all toxic matter. Some amount of variation is permissible in the BOD and COD indicators.

Even with this leeway, the effluence from the Sarigam pipeline is higher than the permissible levels. Under the GPCB's norms, fish have to survive for 90 days in the sample used in the bioassay test. In an effort to further their case, the petitioners sent a sample of the waste from the beach in March last year to the Central Institute of Fisheries Education (CIFE) in Mumbai for testing. The report of the CIFE said the toxicity in the sample was so high that fish died within 35 minutes in a sample with only 25 per cent effluence. In 100 per cent effluence (collected by the petitioners from the beach), the fish died in five minutes. The Gujarat Ecological Society had, in November 2008, sent a sample of the waste from the beach to the CIFE. The results indicated a “high level of toxicity”.


Common collection well for effluents, Sarigam
The common collection well for effluents at the Sarigam industrial estate.

Though the GPCB says that each unit has its own ETP, an informed source at GIDC Sarigam said that most of the units considered “straining” the effluence as adequate cleaning and that “no other treatment is done”. Apart from the ETP, there is also supposed to be a common effluent treatment plant, or CETP, where further cleaning is carried out before discharge. The GPCB is supposed to monitor the CETP on a monthly basis. Judging by the highly polluted quality of the discharge on Tadgam beach over the years (as proved by the reports of the CIFE, the GPCB itself and the Gujarat Ecology Society), either the ETPs or the CETP is not working properly and the GPCB certainly does not seem to be monitoring the process.

According to the GPCB, there are 13 members in the CETP run by the GIDC. A privately run CETP at Sarigam, called Perfect Enviro Control Systems Pvt. Ltd, has seven members, of whom three send effluents for treatment. S.V. Rao, director of the plant, which was built 10 years ago at a cost of Rs.1.6 crore, said the others had zero discharge. Only 0.4 mld of the total of 12 mld that is spewed out onto the Tadgam beach goes through Perfect Enviro's CETP. Thus, of the 257 functional units in Sarigam, only 20 are linked to a CETP.

Responding to a query on how often it monitored the units for pollution control, the GPCB said it checked the performance of the environment management systems of each unit as per its own guidelines. These ranged from sampling the effluence once in three months to once in three years, depending on the size of the industry. The GPCB admits that the GIDC's “CETP Sarigam is not meeting the norms. On date 23/2/2010 GPCB issued closure to CETP in Sarigam for not meeting the norms. At present CETP is under upgradation and the closure order is revoked on 17/5/2010 for upgradation.” But this still does not answer the question why the units have been allowed to continue production for so many years.


Polluted Tidal Polls on the beach
Polluted Tidal Polls on the beach.

Asked why it had not stopped the discharge of effluents onto the beach for so long, the GPCB claimed that over the years it had taken “actions on every complaint” and that it had issued closure notices regularly to various units. The GPCB said, “GIDC Sarigam pumping station L-2 was in damaged condition hence waste water from this pumping station was discharged in Tadgam Beach. GPCB issued directives for stoppage of discharge into pumping station to 32 units in this regard.” The answer still does not explain why the discharge of effluents continues.

The discharge of untreated effluents is just one of a series of equally serious violations. GPCB rules say the pipeline should discharge 2 km into the sea, that is, 2 km after the low tide line. Thus, at no point should the mouth of the pipeline be visible or out of water.


Broken pipeline


At present, the pipeline discharges right onto the beach. Initially it did go into the sea (though not up to the prescribed distance), but the pipe broke in 2006. Apparently, the diffuser at the mouth of the pipeline was blocked and the chemicals started flowing back down the pipeline. Local people say that it had to be cleaned, but someone broke it instead. Though it has not been possible to verify this story (the GPCB did not respond to the query), there is no doubt that the pipe at Tadgam is broken. The severed section lies somewhere under water while effluents flow continuously from the broken mouth. The GPCB's rules also specify that the pipeline must be anchored firmly in cement saddles and that it should be buried at a depth of six feet. The Sarigam pipeline has broken loose from its cement saddles at a number of places and moves in a wide sweep with the tide. Dragged about by the tidal action, the unanchored pipeline traverses the beach, fanning the effluents wider.

LORD'S SEASIDE COOPERATIVE HOUSING SOCIETY
Pipeline leak near saddles
The pipeline has sprung a leak near the saddle and spews effluents onto the beach.

Said Yatin Bhandari: “When we complain, we are told that this is development. On the one hand they say this is a green belt and that the tourism industry will flourish here, and on the other they poison us. Is this Modi's vibrant Gujarat?”

The GPCB's official stand does not subscribe to the fait accompli that pollution is a necessary evil of development.

Its website says, “The laws stipulate that all development should be carried out with minimal occurrence of pollution. Technologies are available for controlling pollution as per the norms prescribed for different processes. Therefore, the perception that pollution is the price for securing fast development is erroneous.”


Polluted stream at Sarigam
A polluted stream at Sarigam. Leaks and the consequent seepage into the ground and the dumping of chemicals into small streams have affected a large number of people.

Apart from the blatant disregard of pollution control laws, there is another aspect to the problem. Parvatibai sums it up well: “For the chemical companies we are nothing. They have the law in their hands and we are nothing. I won't say their aim was to destroy us – we are too small for them to target us…. Their aim was just to get rid of their dirty chemicals from their factories and for them the sea is a kacchro no dabbo (rubbish bin)… so they dump it here. That we are affected is of no concern to them. They know they can get away with this because we are poor.”

There is no doubt that the GPCB is fully empowered to deal with the situation. The FAQ (frequently asked questions) section on its official website states: “The important enforcement powers vesting in GPCB are laying down standards and securing their compliance, inspection and monitoring of all sources of pollution, issuance of notices with time limit to comply with the legal requirements, closure of the defaulter unit in grave cases and prosecution in cases of serious violation.”

The norms for pollution control are also very clear as is the fact that a series of “no objection certificates” and clearances, including those for environmental reasons, have to be obtained. The website also emphasises that the polluter has to pay for cleaning up.

Despite such stringent rules, the ground reality is glaringly different.

Nuclear Energy Loses Cost Advantage




Nuclear Energy Loses Cost Advantage

DIANA S. POWERS

PARIS — Solar photovoltaic systems have long been painted as a clean way to
generate electricity, but expensive compared with other alternatives to oil,
like nuclear power. No longer. In a “historic crossover,” the costs of solar
photovoltaic systems have declined to the point where they are lower than
the rising projected costs of new nuclear plants, according to a paper
published this month.

“Solar photovoltaics have joined the ranks of lower-cost alternatives to new
nuclear plants,” John O. Blackburn, a professor of economics at Duke
University<http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/d/duke_university/index.html?inline=nyt-org>,
in North Carolina, and Sam Cunningham, a graduate student, wrote in the
paper, “Solar and Nuclear Costs — The Historic Crossover.”

This crossover occurred at 16 cents per kilowatt hour, they said.

While solar power<http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/science/topics/solar_energy/index.html?inline=nyt-classifier>
costs
have been declining, the costs of nuclear power have been rising inexorably
over the past eight years, said Mark Cooper, senior fellow for economic
analysis at the University of Vermont Law School’s Institute for Energy and
Environment.

Estimates of construction costs — about $3 billion per reactor in 2002 —
have been regularly revised upward to an average of about $10 billion per
reactor, and the estimates are likely to keep rising, said Mr. Cooper, an
analyst specializing in tracking nuclear power costs.

Identifying the real costs of competing energy technologies is complicated
by the wide range of subsidies and tax breaks involved. As a result, U.S.
taxpayers and utility users could end up spending hundreds of billions, even
trillions of dollars more than necessary to achieve an ample low-carbon
energy supply, if legislative proposals before the U.S. Congress lead to
adoption of an ambitious nuclear development program, Mr. Cooper said in a
report last November.

The report, “All Risk, No Reward for Taxpayers and Ratepayers,” was a
response to a legislative wish list developed by the Nuclear Energy
Institute, an industry group. The institute has called for a mix of U.S.
subsidies, tax credits, loan guarantees, procedural simplifications and
institutional support on a large scale.

At the state level, the industry has also pressed the case for “construction
work in progress,” a financing system that requires electricity users to pay
for the cost of new reactors during their construction and sometimes before
construction starts. With long construction periods and frequent delays,
this can mean that electricity users start to pay higher prices as much as
12 years before the plants produce electricity.

The institute’s Web site says the financing system “reduces the cost
ratepayers will pay for power from the plant when it goes into commercial
operation,” by lowering interest payments on capital costs and spreading the
costs over time.

“The utilities insist that the construction work in progress charged to
ratepayers also include the return on equity that the utilities normally
earn by taking the risk of building the plant — even though they have
shifted the risk to the ratepayers,” Mr. Cooper said. “If the plant is not
built or suffers cost overruns, the ratepayers will bear the burden.”

History suggests that the risk of this is not negligible. In 1985, Forbes
magazine dubbed the construction of the first generation of U.S. nuclear
plants “the largest managerial disaster in business history.”

The first round of plants resulted in write-offs through bankruptcies and
“stranded costs” — investments in existing power plants made uncompetitive
by deregulation — which essentially transferred nearly $100 billion in
liabilities to electricity users, said Doug Koplow, an economist and founder
of Earth Track, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which campaigns against
subsidies it considers environmentally harmful. “Although the industry
frequently points to its low operating costs as evidence of its market
competitiveness, this economic structure is an artifact of large subsidies
to capital, historical write-offs of capital, and ongoing subsidies to
operating costs,” Mr. Koplow said.

From 1943 to 1999 the U.S. government paid nearly $151 billion, in 1999
dollars, in subsidies for wind, solar and nuclear power, Marshall Goldberg
of the Renewable Energy Policy Project, a research organization in
Washington, wrote in a July 2000 report. Of this total, 96.3 percent went to
nuclear power, the report said.

Still, these costs pale in comparison with the financial risks and subsidies
that are likely to accompany the next wave of nuclear plant construction,
Mr. Cooper said.

A November 2009 research report by
Citigroup<http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/business/companies/citigroup_inc/index.html?inline=nyt-org>
Global
Markets termed the construction risks, power price risks, and operational
risks “so large and variable that individually they could each bring even
the largest utility to its knees.”

Those risks were mentioned in a 2009 report by the credit rating
agency<http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/c/credit_rating_agencies/index.html?inline=nyt-classifier>
Moody’s<http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/business/companies/moodys_corporation/index.html?inline=nyt-org>.
“Moody’s is considering taking a more negative view for those issuers
seeking to build new nuclear power plants,” the report said. “Historically,
most nuclear-building utilities suffered ratings downgrades — and sometimes
several — while building these facilities. Political and policy conditions
are spurring applications for new nuclear power generation for the first
time in years. Nevertheless, most utilities now seeking to build nuclear
generation do not appear to be adjusting their financial policies, a credit
negative.”

Adding to the risks facing any reactor construction program, only one of
five proposed designs under consideration by U.S. utilities has ever been
built, the Nuclear Regulatory
Commission<http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/n/nuclear_regulatory_commission/index.html?inline=nyt-org>
said.

“No one has ever built a contemporary reactor to contemporary standards, so
no one has the experience to state with confidence what it will cost,” said
Stephen Maloney, a utilities management consultant. “We see cost escalations
as companies come up the learning curve.”

Market risk has been heightened by the recent
recession<http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/r/recession_and_depression/index.html?inline=nyt-classifier>.
“The current crisis has decreased energy demand even more than the 1970s oil
price shocks,” Mr. Cooper said. The recession “appears to have caused a
fundamental shift in consumption patterns that will lower the long-term
growth rate of electricity demand.”

Meanwhile, most of the projects that have created the increase of license
applications to the regulatory commission have already experienced
difficulties. “About half of the projects that have been put forward at the
start of the next generation of reactors have been delayed or canceled,” Mr.
Cooper said. “Those that have moved forward have suffered substantial cost
escalation and several have received negative financial reviews.

“Of the 19 applications at the N.R.C., 90 percent have had some type of
delay or cancellation, run into a design problem, suffered cost increases
and/or had the utility bond rating downgraded by Wall Street.”

Despite the economic challenges, the nuclear power industry remains unfazed.

“This is not a hospitable environment in which to commission any large
base-load power plant,” said Marvin Fertel, president and chief executive of
the Nuclear Energy Institute, in a briefing to the financial community.
Still, he said: “Fortunately new nuclear plants won’t be in service until
2016 or later, so today’s market conditions are not entirely relevant.”

Mr. Cooper said the industry’s equanimity was based, at least partially, on
the supportive cushion provided by loan guarantees and work-in-progress
financing. “With such financing the utility is making a one-way bet,
allowing it to make a profit even when the project fails,” he said. “The
people bear the risks and costs; the nuclear utilities take the profits.
Without loan guarantees and guaranteed construction work in progress, these
reactors will simply not be built, because the capital markets will not
finance them.”

Without public guarantees, nuclear projects often cannot get financing.
AmerenUE, the Missouri utility, suspended in April 2009 plans to build a $6
billion, 1,600-megawatt reactor at its Callaway County nuclear site, after
trying unsuccessfully to get the State Legislature to repeal a longstanding
ban on work-in-progress financing. The continued existence of the ban “makes
financing a new plant in the current economic environment impossible,” the
utility said.

Similarly, Florida Power and
Light<http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/business/companies/fpl_group_inc/index.html?inline=nyt-org>
said
in January that it would not proceed beyond licensing with plans to build
two new reactors at its Turkey Point site, after the FloridaPublic Service
Commission<http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/p/public_service_commission/index.html?inline=nyt-org>
rejected
its request to pass on a $1.27 billion cost increase to its users.

Yet, despite episodic resistance at the local level, financial support for
the industry at the U.S. government level has been increasingly evident in
successive versions of climate and energy bills before the U.S. Congress,
including the most recent, the American Power Act, which is delayed in the
Senate until after the summer recess.

Nuclear subsidies in the Senate proposal include five-year accelerated
depreciation; tax credits for investments and production and eligibility for
the advanced energy tax credit; an increase in government insurance against
regulatory delays; access to private activity bonds; and a $36 billion
increase in loan guarantees, bringing the total to $56 billion.

That remains less than the Nuclear Energy Institute’s goal of $100 billion,
an amount it describes as “a minimal acceptable loan volume.” Still, Mr.
Fertel said in his financial briefing that “‘strong political support’
understates our position.”

Federal loan guarantees cut nuclear construction financing costs by allowing
the utilities to sell bonds at a lower interest rate. But at the same time
the guarantee means that “the U.S.
Treasury<http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/t/treasury_department/index.html?inline=nyt-org>,
and therefore the taxpayers, are on the hook for the value of the loans
should they go bad,” Mr. Cooper said.

According to the U.S. Government Accountability
Office<http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/g/government_accountability_office/index.html?inline=nyt-org>,
the average risk of default for such Department of Energy loan guarantees is
about 50 percent, which is the historic rate for the nuclear industry.

Mr. Koplow of Earth Track said two of the other subsidies in the Senate
bill, the investment tax credit and five-year accelerated depreciation,
would together “be worth between $1.3 billion and nearly $3 billion on a net
present value basis per new reactor.

“This is equivalent to between 15 and 20 percent of the total all-in cost of
the reactors, as projected by industry.”

Over all, Mr. Koplow said, the proposed subsidy package would undermine the
equity requirements of the nuclear loan guarantee program, designed to
ensure that investors have a strong interest in the long-term success of the
venture. “Although investors will get all the profit if the reactor project
is successful, they will bear virtually none of the financial risk if the
project fails,” he said. “This is a disastrous incentive structure.”

By distorting energy markets, these subsidies would “effectively make the
government the chooser of which energy technologies will be winners and
which will lose,” he said. The American Power Act “does not build a neutral
policy platform on which all energy technologies must compete.”

The tax breaks for nuclear would “greatly impede market access for competing
energy sources,” Mr. Koplow said.

He said handing out huge subsidies would also cloud the transparency of
decision-making. “This approach,” he said, “which replaces price signals
with decisions by a handful of often unnamed individuals within the U.S.
Department of Energy<http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/e/energy_department/index.html?inline=nyt-org>,
plays to none of the inherent strengths of the U.S. market system to spur
innovation and effectively allocate risks and rewards. Further, the basis,
and sometimes scale, of these subsidy decisions is largely hidden from the
public view.”

For Mr. Cooper, the core issue at stake is one of opportunity cost. “While
the cost estimates of nuclear power continue to rise, the potential for
energy efficiency measures to reduce the need for energy are far cheaper,”
he said.

Lower-cost, low-carbon technologies are already available, and cost trends
for several others indicate that a combination of efficiency and renewable
technologies could meet projected power needs while also achieving
aggressive carbon-reduction targets, Mr. Cooper said.

In a June 2009 report drawing on several earlier studies, Mr. Cooper said
that energy efficiency, cogeneration and renewable sources could meet power
needs at an average cost of 6 cents per kilowatt hour, compared with a cost
of 12 cents to 20 cents per kilowatt hour for nuclear power.

Choosing the nuclear route, and constructing 100 new reactors, would
translate into an extra cost to taxpayers and electricity users of $1.9
trillion to $4.4 trillion over the 40-year life of the reactors, compared
with the costs of developing energy efficiency and renewable sources, the
report said.

Mr. Cooper said it would make sense for policy makers, standing in the place
of the market, to choose the least costly alternatives first.

“In an attempt to circumvent the sound judgment of the capital markets,
nuclear advocates erroneously claim that subsidies lower the financing costs
for nuclear reactors and so are good for consumers,” he said. “But shifting
risk does not eliminate it. Furthermore, subsidies induce utilities and
regulators to take greater risks that will cost the taxpayers and the
ratepayers dearly.

“The risks that have dismayed Wall Street should be taken seriously by
policy makers because they would cost not just hundreds of billions of
dollars in losses on reactors that are canceled, but also trillions in
excess costs for ratepayers when reactors are brought to completion by
utilities that fail to pursue the lower-cost, less risky options that are
available.

“The frantic effort of the nuclear industry to increase federal loan
guarantees and secure ratepayer funding of construction work in progress
from state legislatures is an admission that the technology is so totally
uneconomic that the industry will forever be a ward of state, resulting in a
uniquely American form of nuclear socialism.”


http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/27/business/global/27iht-renuke.html?_r=1

Statement by Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti on Murder of Amit Jethva


Press Release

Date: 22nd July 2010
We the activists of PARYAVARAN SURAKSHA SAMITI are horrified at the gruesome murder of Mr. Amit Jethva, President  of Gir Nature Youth Club, Khambha, District Amreli who had been raising the issue of illegal mining and other environmental issues in Junagadh area.

More shocking is the fact that the murder took place not only in a big, busy city but very close to Gujarat High Court and not very far from the seat of power in 'peaceful Gujarat. Perhaps the location of the crime spot explains who might be behind it as suspected by his immediate family.

The possible reasons and motive of the crime may never be properly investigated given the influence and reach of those alleged to be behind it but it is absolutely essential that civil society condemns this unequivocally and exerts sufficient pressure on the Police and higher authorities to carry out a fair and impartial inquiry, and trial of those guilty.

It has to be realised by one and all that settling disputes in this manner should not go unpunished. Even the powerful pay a heavy price for such acts in the medium and long run.


Anand Mazgaonkar        Michael Mazgaonkar               Swati Desai
Rajnibhai Dave               Rohit Prajapati                         Krishnakant
Trupti Shah                      Ambrish Brahmbhatt               Kantibhai Mistry
Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti

Fourth International Debates Party-Building Strategy


Jeff Mackler  /  July 2010

 

More than 200 delegates, observers, and invited guests from some 45 countries attended the 16th World Congress of the Fourth International (FI), Feb. 23-28 in Belgium. The FI is the world socialist organization founded in 1938 by Leon Trotsky with the help of cothinkers worldwide, including James P. Cannon, the pioneer of American Trotskyism.

The draft reports prepared by the FI leadership to initiate the pre-World Congress on-line discussion appear in the International Viewpoint website under “Documents of the FI.” A critical assessment of these texts, entitled, “Socialist Action USA: A contribution to the pre-World Congress discussion,” appears in the same place.

Three main resolutions were presented for discussion and debate. The first two, on “The World Political Situation” and on “Capitalist Climate Change and Our Tasks” were accepted with little dissent and accompanied by a generally rich and productive discussion.

But there were sharp disagreements with regard to the third report on “The Role and Tasks of the FI.” Socialist Action cast its fraternal vote in favor of the first two resolutions and against the “Role and Tasks” text. Reactionary U.S. legislation bars Socialist Action’s formal membership in the FI. Its delegates therefore participate in a fraternal capacity only.

“The World Political Report” contained a description of the terrible effects on the world’s working classes due to the international capitalist economic crisis, a crisis that was properly judged as flowing from fundamental structural flaws in the capitalist system itself.

The second resolution and reports on the world climate crisis represented an important theoretical advance, as well as an important contribution to the world workers’ movement more generally. The text on climate change combined a thoroughgoing Marxist analysis with the science of ecology, a wealth of factual material, a rejection of a “productivist” (capitalist or Stalinist) way out, a series of transitional and immediate demands, proposals for united mass actions, and a broad appreciation of the magnitude and importance of the climate crisis issue.

The resolution began with a clear and unequivocal statement of the magnitude and importance of the issue: “The climate change that is underway is not the product of human activity in general but of the productivist paradigm developed by capitalism and imitated by other systems that claim to be alternatives to the former. Faced with the danger of a social and ecological catastrophe which is without precedent and is irreversible on a human timescale, the system, incapable of calling into question its fundamental logic of accumulation, is engaged in a dangerous technological forward flight from which there is no way out.”

Debate on “Tasks” resolution

The third resolution debated at the World Congress, “The Role and Tasks of the Fourth International,” drew serious criticism from a number of delegates. The text expressed the view that the priority of the FI today must be the construction of “broad anti-capitalist parties” everywhere—as well as a “new international based on such parties.”

The FI’s primary objective since its founding has been to build mass revolutionary Leninist parties worldwide aimed at the organization of the working class and its allies among the oppressed to take political power and construct socialist societies. Unclear in the resolution was whether its call for “broad anti-capitalist parties” was meant to supplant the FI’s historic party-building strategy.

The debate also concerned the role of FI parties that would participate in these “broad anti-capitalist parties.” Were they to organize as a tendency, caucus, or some such formation designed to win new FI members to a clear revolutionary program and party—or were they to become absorbed into such parties without a clear revolutionary program and Trotskyist identity?

This issue was particularly relevant in light of last year’s dissolution of the French section of the Fourth International, the Revolutionary Communist League, into the New Anti-Capitalist Party, and the absence of any organized FI current within the organization. Was the NPA to be the new model for revolutionaries as opposed to building a Leninist party?

The text had been prepared by the FI’s International Committee after deliberations over the course of more than a year. Some 72 comrades took the floor to express a wide range of views on the resolution.

As the discussion proceeded, it became obvious that there was little agreement among the delegates as to the meaning and purpose of “broad anti-capitalist parties.” Neither the ambiguous language of the text nor the reporter explained whether these parties were envisioned as an alternative to building revolutionary parties based on the historic program of the FI or even whether these parties were to be socialist at all.

In Socialist Action’s view, a tactical decision as to what kind of formations revolutionary socialists participate in must be subordinate to our strategic objective—the construction of revolutionary parties aimed at the organization of the working class and its allies in the struggle for socialism. Of course, party-building can take many forms, from participation in reformist or social-democratic parties, to principled fusions, or unifications with currents with whom we find major programmatic agreement and with whom we find ourselves working together toward the same goals in the mass movement.

Indeed, the struggle to unify the working class in united-front mass actions that challenge specific polices of the capitalist class (such as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan or attacks on immigrant rights) is a central tool of revolutionaries throughout the world to advance our common cause and simultaneously win the best fighters to socialist politics.

Build the Fourth International!

While the “Role and Tasks” text was approved by the great majority of the delegates, the vote was not without major reservations and also reflected a view that the discussion would be continued.

It was clear from the concluding remarks of the reporter for “The Role and Tasks of the FI” text that the sharp World Congress debates had an important impact on the FI leadership. The reporter essentially accepted an amendment to the text indicating that the disparate views were far from resolved and that the debate would continue at future FI meetings.

A significant number of World Congress participants were enthusiastic, serious, and well-informed youth, an indication that FI sections have been able to assemble a layer of young fighters to replace the older cadre in the years ahead.

The World Congress took place at a difficult time for revolutionaries throughout the world—a time when the attacks on the world’s working classes have taken a great toll while resistance has been generally limited. These defeats undoubtedly weighed heavily on the Congress deliberations, leading some to look for shortcut solutions that ignore the rich lessons of the past.

It became increasingly evident during the World Congress that the critical need to build the Fourth International, based on the construction of revolutionary socialist parties of the Leninist type, will remain central to the FI’s future discussions and debates.

Subcategories