Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Convention on Third Freedom Struggle for Peoples' Right over Natural Resources



Convention on Third Freedom Struggle for Peoples' Right over Natural Resources




21st September, 2008


Freedom is a basic human right. Indians have fought a prolonged and protracted struggle for independence. In started in 1757, when East India Company imposed its rule in a deceptive way. This imposed a tyrannical rule to destroy our peasants, artisans and traders. This first phase of independence movement lasted up to 1857 when Company Raj was replaced by the British Government. The second phase of independence movement ended in 1947 when the British had to leave the country. During this phase in 1907 S Ajit Singh of Kharkar Kalan (uncle of S. Bhagat Singh) launched a peasant movement along with other freedom fighters which became popular as "PAGRI SAMBHAL O JATT". Sixty years have passed since we got freedom from British Imperialism. But basic problems of poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, squalor and disease have not been solved. Not only is that, in many aspects worse is happening.

We are feeling the urgent need to again raise this popular pre independence slogan "PAGRI SAMBHAL O JATTA DHARTI SAMBHAL OYE".

But now this slogan means protecting all the natural resources—land. Agriculture, water, seeds, plant and animal biodiversity and human beings because all these are fast going out of our control and are being snatched/grossly damaged by few greedy and criminal elements. Now the respect of our turban (pagri di laaz) can only be saved by saving and further developing the traditional knowledge required to save all these natural resources. The mode of development and model of agriculture being followed for the last 4-5 decades have not only snatched these natural resources from the peasants but have grossly damaged these precious gifts of nature.


Our natural resources are being snatched away from the peasants/people with money power using fare and fowl methods. These are not only snatched but are virtually being raped and destroyed to extract maximum immediate monetary benefits. It is a new form of slavery which is being perpetually imposed on the peasants as well as natural resources. The few greedy people have created a culture through which nature is being bled to death. Mother Nature has enough and is ready to suckle milk to every living being but we are trying to suck her blood instead of milk.

Our respected gurus have taught us "pawan guru, paani pita, maata dharat mahat"—air is our master, water is father and earth is mother. That was our culture—deep love and respect for nature and natural resources. We were taught from the very childhood to use nature in such a way that it was not damaged in any way; rather it was perpetually enriched by our life activities. We were taught to live in complete harmony with nature. But we are destroying delicate balance of nature. The industrial agriculture which is being imposed on us is totally anti nature. Nature and natural resources are being bled to death. Human beings as part of nature and a very important natural resource are also being damaged. They are also being bled to death along with other components of nature.

We have surrendered our agriculture to callous and greedy market forces through which few very rich corporations are successfully sucking the blood of our peasants through unnecessary and costly agricultural inputs. We have lost control over our natural resources like water, seeds, biodiversity and traditional knowledge.


The process of enslavement through seeds which started as hybrid seeds has been completed through GM Seeds. In addition to that, GM Seeds are dangerous and has the potential of proving to be greatest environmental disaster ever seen or imagined until now. They were brought with high fie claim of ending the use of pesticides, which have been proved to be thoroughly bogus and false. It is really unfortunate that our agriculture scientists are praising them without any evidence of their usefulness and ignoring all possible serious harms to the balance of nature. It is very obvious that they sing the praises only to get personal benefits from these very rich corporations.

The experience of Bt. Cotton has proved beyond doubt that their claims of saving the crop from pests are utterly false. Large numbers of secondary pests have started to attack the cotton crop. The experience of Vidherba Farmers is a living proof. They had brought the GM cotton under a misleading statement that it is not a food. The fact is that all cotton seeds are being crushed to extract oil, which is eaten as 'vanaspati ghee' by humans and remnants are fed to the cattle as oil cakes. So it is a food of humans as well as cattle. Now hey are coming up with Bt. Brinjal and large number of other food crops without proving the safety of these crops beyond doubt.


A few multination corporations have a monopoly over the manufacture and business of agrochemicals and seeds. Seventy three percent of business in agrochemicals and thirty percent of seeds is controlled by few MNCs like Monsanto, Dupont, Cargill, Bayer and Novartis etc. Monsanto started its business as manufacturer of chemicals weapons. The notorious Agent Orange (2, 4 D organophos) used as a weapon of chemical warfare in Vietnam by America was manufactured by Monsanto. The same chemical is being sold to peasants under the name of Roundup as an herbicide. It kills everything except the crop which is grown from the modified seeds of Monsanto. After monopolizing the business in agrochemicals, now the company is fast trying to achieve the same in seeds. Through this monopoly the company is fast working to completely control our agriculture. Its loot through the sale of the Bt.Cotton seeds is well known to everyone. During the first year seed was sold at the rate of Rs.1700/- per packet (450 G), out of which Rs. 1300/- per packet was the royalty of Monsanto. After the protests from the peasants the rate per packet was reduced but it was a crude joke because the amount of seed to be used per acre was doubled.


Availability of pure toxin free water for drinking, bathing, other domestic uses, for cattle and for agriculture is becoming a grave problem in Punjab. The reasons are multiple. Excessive use of agrochemicals and industrial waste water, full of highly toxic chemicals being thrown into our water bodies, without any treatment or cleaning, are the major culprits. The city sewers are being thrown into the rivers and rivulets without any treatment. The excessive and indiscriminate suction of deep ground water also adds certain toxins to our surroundings. Just like the fossil fuels which contain large no. of impurities which are sucked from the huge depths of earth and are thrown on the surface of the earth where they act as toxins for living beings. The deep water also contains certain impurities which act as poisons for living beings. In addition the ground water is fast getting depleted in our state because of the over use. These factors have created havoc in Punjab which have lead to a serious Environmental Health Crisis in Punjab. The situation is so grave that we need to launch a mass movement immediately to save our water from depletion and poisoning.


The addition of highly toxic chemicals in our environment is becoming the cause of mass death of large no. of species. Large no. of species are virtually getting eliminated. Many worms and insects residing within the earth including the earthworms, many insects on the surface of earth; large no. of carnivorous birds-eagles, owls, crows and sparrows; frogs and snakes are fast getting eliminated. The policy of industrial agriculture which promotes highly poisonous agrochemicals including very strong herbicides and monoculture of particular crops with modified seeds of MNCs is proving highly destructive to plant biodiversity. MNCs are making all out efforts to control our agriculture through monopolizing the seeds and consciously destroying our own seeds. Large no. of laws and regulations are being passed by our governments to fulfill the wishes of Corporations to destroy our plant and animal biodiversity including local seeds and to replace them with seeds of MNCs. About thirty such laws and regulations have been passed in the recent past.

We are being chained by the chains of this new form of slavery which can prove very dangerous in the coming years. Our food security is under grave threat. The control of our forests and agriculture is going into the invisible hands of capital, our natural resources and biodiversity is being destroyed under a deep rooted conspiracy. People are never consulted about these changes. Our traditional social institutions and cultural values are being systematically destroyed. The destruction of human and animal health is clearly visible.


The health of our people is worsening day by day. The highly toxic chemicals being added en masse to our environment by burning of fossil fuels, chemical farming and industrial waste water are causing slow poisoning of human beings along with all other living beings. Old infectious diseases are becoming more dangerous and resistant, new infectious diseases are coming in a big way and there is a huge epidemic of non infectious diseases including cancers of various organs.

Our immune system, which is a God given gift to remain healthy, has been grossly weakened by the slow poisoning. As a result of this weakened physiology we are more prone to infectious as well as non infectious diseases including various cancers. Our reproductive system has become the easy target because of its sensitive nature. The sperm counts have fallen to half in two generations; the number of childless couples has tremendously increased; onset of puberty in female children has advanced by 2-3 years; puberty in male children has been delayed by 2-3 years; the prevalence of menstrual disorders have tremendously increased in all age groups; cysts and tumors of ovaries and uterus are more common now; the prevalence of spontaneous abortions, premature births, still births, congenital malformations and early childhood deaths have increased. There is an epidemic of congenital malformations—Hypospadias, Undescended Testes, Congenital Hernias, Neural Tube Defects including Anencephaly, Cleft Lip, Cleft Palate, T-O Fistulas, Mental Retardation, Cerebral palsy, Autism and large number of Metabolic Disorders. Mental Retardation in children has increased from 1 in 40000 to 1 in 40 in 40 years. One thousand times increase. All these are because of large number of dangerous poisons in our environment. The child is highly vulnerable to environmental toxins because of fast multiplication of cells within the womb of mother and early childhood. We will need large number of Pingalwaras in Punjab in the coming years.


Our gurus had taught us that farming is the most sacred and best profession. But by adapting the alien ways of farming we have made it the dirtiest and most hatred profession. Our agriculture used to be self reliant, sustainable and symbol of prosperity. We have 10000 years of recorded history of agriculture. In the world, the first books of agriculture were written in our country. When Europe was still using tree leaves and animal skins to cover their bodies, we were wearing woven clothes in India. That was the symbol of our rich heritage of agriculture as well as artisanship. In the last forty years we have lost our traditional knowledge and skills of agriculture. An alien model of agriculture based on use of big machines, highly toxic chemicals and altered seeds have been imposed on us by the imperialists just to sell their products and to impose a new form of slavery on us. They have succeeded in befooling us. Our own agriculture universities, scientists and governments have actively helped them to achieve their aim.

Through this model-- our peasants have been looted, environment poisoned, fertility of soil grossly reduced, natural resources and delicate balance of nature destroyed, large no. of animal species killed, generated environment health crisis for humans and cattle, fast loosing animal and plant biodiversity and global warming and danger of end of life on this planet has become our fate. Visionaries like Bhagat Puran Singh had been warning us from the very beginning, but we did not listen and here we have reached.

During the last ten years 160000 farmers have committed suicides. This is only a tip of the ice berg of misery through which our peasants and agriculture laborers have been living through all these years. They are living under the constant burden of ever increasing debts and the humiliation associated with this. Many of them are selling their lands to save their honor and are becoming laborers. The agriculture has become highly unpopular economically unviable profession and the youngsters of peasant families don't want to adapt it making the families vulnerable to all the problems of life.

Natural farming, which is a highly developed model of our traditional agriculture, is the gate way of freedom from intense economic exploitation of peasantry; use of costly and poisonous inputs; chronic poisoning of all living beings; destruction of environment and natural resources; destruction of plant and animal biodiversity and gross disturbance of forces of nature like global warming. A farmer practicing Natural Farming is the true disciple of our gurus who stands for "PAWAN GURU, PAANI PITA, MAATA DHARAT MAHAT".

We, the lovers of freedom of humanity, all living beings and nature have gathered in the familial village of Shahid-e-Aazam S. Bhagat Singh to hold our heads and hearts together to discuss the present scenario of our country and accept the challenge being posed by the imperialists and oppressors. They are imposing this new form of slavery through the science and techniques of agriculture. If we succeed in convincing our farmers to stop their model of enslavement and adapt the model of Natural Farming as model of freedom, we can stop this chain reaction. The farmers will have no link with the market as he has not to purchase any agriculture input. He prepares every input in his farm-seeds, fertilizers, pesticides and implements. After keeping the produce for his family and cattle, he will sell directly to the consumer through farmer-consumer co-operatives or to a small trader at a price of his choice.


Natural farming is proving to be a great success in various parts of the world including our own country. There are countries like Cuba who are doing Chemical Free Farming and are not only self-sufficient in food and agricultural products but are exporting the excess to other countries. In our own country it is becoming a highly successful movement in Maharashtra under the dynamic leadership of an agriculture scientist Mr. Subhash Palekar. In Andhra Pradesh, Centre for Sustainable Agriculture (CSA) is leading this movement. They have demonstrated the success of this model in ten lac acres of land. The State and the Central Governments have accepted their success and are coming forward to expand the land area to twenty five lac acres during the next year. In Punjab, hundreds of farmers in our villages have adopted this model and demonstrated its success beyond doubt. It is proving to be superior model in all respects as compared to the chemical farming. We need to do a lot to make it a popular movement. We have to organize camps in each village to teach the techniques of natural farming and establish a seed bank in each village to save and propagate our own improved seeds. We also need to launch a campaign of tree plantation in our villages.


Punjab today needs a mass movement which can effectively save our natural resources from further degradation and restore our sovereignty over it. This movement will become an integral part of a broad struggle for third phase of independence movement along with other movements for social justice and for opposing the process of globalization. This movement has to save our traditional knowledge of agriculture, enrich it with the experience of various states and countries and transmit it to the next generation. This movement has to restore the depleted fertility of our soil and purity of our water. This movement will help to detoxify our bodies from the cumulated toxins and restore our health. This movement will help to build a pro people non-polluting and sustainable model of development in industry as well as agriculture.

Farmers and all other nature loving people will be the base of this movement. We believe that issues discussed on this pious land of Kharkar Kalan will prove to be an important mile stone in the progress of this movement in our country. The philosophical and technical discussion about the new model of development and new mode of agriculture will have to be tested in the geographical, social and cultural contexts. The thoughts of our gurus expressed in Gurbani, the founder of Kuka Movement Baba Ram Singh, S Bhagat Singh, Bhagat Puran Singh and hundreds of other Freedom Fighters will be light houses for us.


Umendra Dutt Dr. Inderjit Kaur Prof. Jagmohan Singh Surjit Paatar

Dr. Nirmal Singh Satnam Singh Manak Dr. Daljit Singh Dr. Amar Singh Azad

Monday, September 1, 2008

Convention on Third Freedom Struggle for Peoples’ Right over Natural Resources

Convention on Third Freedom Struggle for Peoples’ Right over Natural Resources
Sunday, 21st September, 2008; Khatkarh Kalan, District: Nawanshahar, Punjab
Say No to GM Crops, Say No to Pesticides, Say No to new legal frameworks responsible for legalizing corporate control over Biodiversity, Water and Seeds
Resist and revolt against this onslaught on our sovereign right over natural resources and our knowledge system

Dear Eco Warriors,
September 28 is Birth day of Shaheed Bhagat Singh. To remember him along
with his compatriots is to rededicate to the concerns that young group had
about humanity in general and Indian toiling masses in particular.
During post 1857 war for Independence his Uncle Sardar Ajit Singh has raised
a slogan of "Pagri Sambhal' which became symbol of peoples struggle against
British colonial and Imperial rulers. The “Pagri" symbolises the self honour of the working people and particularly of Peasantry. This was a call to peasantry to stand tall and fight for honourable life.
Khatkarh Kalan, the ancestral village was the birth place of Sardar Ajit Singh who won the peasants rights and honour in 1907 but had to live exile for forty years. He kept the flag of fight against British Imperialism through out the world. He returned to India in 1947 to see the triumph of his commitment of seeing British direct rule end on 15th August, 1947 and he breathed his last on the twilight of Free India i.e morning hours of 15th August, 1947 at Daulaosie . His last message that part of the aim of our struggle started in the beginning of this century is fulfilled but now the implementation of its benefits to the toiling masses is the responsibility of the youth.
Shaheeds Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev also had written in their last
letter to Governor Punjab that:
"*That we were sentenced to death on 7th October 1930 by a British Court, L.C.C Tribunal, constituted under the Sp. Lahore Conspiracy Case Ordinance, promulgated by the H.E. The Viceroy, the Head of the British Government of India, and that the main charge against us was that of having waged war against H.M. King George, the King of England.** *
* The above-mentioned finding of the Court pre-supposed two things: Firstly, that there exists a state of war between the British Nation and the Indian Nation and, secondly, that we had actually participated in that war and were therefore war prisoners.*
* The second pre-supposition seems to be a little bit flattering, but nevertheless it is too tempting to resist the desire of acquiescing in it. As regards the first, we are constrained to go into some detail. Apparently there seems to be no such war as the phrase indicates. Nevertheless, please allow us to accept the validity of the pre-supposition
taking it at its face value. But in order to be correctly understood we must explain it further. Let us declare that the state of war does exist and shall exist so long as the Indian toiling masses and the natural resources are being exploited by a handful of parasites. They may be purely British Capitalist or mixed British and Indian or even purely Indian. They may be carrying on their insidious exploitation through mixed or even on purely Indian bureaucratic apparatus. All these things make no difference."*
The exploitation of toiling masses and Natural resources has been the deeper concern. So the freedom struggle was concerned with the future of Indian masses.
But today we are faced with much more sophistication of the tools of exploitation of Indian masses. Where 80 crore people are living on less than meager Rs twenty per day. The GDP is increasing not due to our manufacturing or agricultural production but due to consumption of foreign goods and exploitation of natural resources by foreign companies who are mining natural resources.
The past agricultural practices have pushed the farmer into debt trap and have virtually pushed him to brink of living. The corporate oriented agriculture system has ruined the fundamental right of our farmers - the right to honorable living.
The current realities demand that we should put our heads together and recommit our selves to the cause for which freedom struggle was fought. Remember we will only be doing our Fundamental Duty as per constitution
* " To cherish and follow the noble ideals which inspired our
national struggle for freedom."*
* *The imperialist forces are at play in more sophisticated way. The Ecology is the sustainer of life. The way it is under attack is our deeper concern. The toilers are under threat of extinction. Our culture , our way of life which sustained Indian life for centuries is under attack. The trees which symbolises our cultural life, Shesham , Kikar , Shatoot are dying. Is not that warning that our cultural reference it self will be extinct and our whole heritage will be beyond comprehension for future generations.
The result is in front of us. Socio-economic conditions of the ordinary people remain miserable. Poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, ill health and squalor remain rampant in the society. Health and education for common man is in shackles. The reverse has happened. The already existing institutions of health, education and social welfare have been systematically and knowingly murdered. They are fast being replaced by corporate sector who is concerned about their profits in a callous and greedy way. The exploitation of man by man is at its climax.
The greed of the vested interests has crossed all limits of decency. Now the greed is not limited only to economic exploitation of people only. The nature is being exploited, ruined and damaged beyond an extent from where it can’t recover itself. The whole nature has been put to ransom just to increase their profits and multiply their wealth. The use of highly poisonous and non bio-degradable synthetic chemicals in agriculture and industry is playing havoc with nature and life. All the components of environment-air, water and soil have been poisoned beyond permissible limits. These poisons have already reached the food chain, all living beings and humans to an extent to cause serious damage. In Punjab the gross ill effects are already obviously visible on human, animal ant plant health.
Now, they have come up with even more dangerous technologies, like genetically modified crops. The experts and well informed people are saying that the genetically modified foods, other agricultural products and organisms are going to prove the worst environmental disaster in the whole history of mankind. The whole of life is slowly moving towards death. The combination of chemicals and genetically modified crops will enhance the speed of this disaster.
The neo-liberal policies being imposed on the people of the world under the garb of science and general human good are the latest tools of these exploiters. All the natural resources including land and water are being snatched to make them tools of economic exploitation. The plant and animal biodiversity which is a common heritage of nation and humanity at large are being destroyed to enslave us. Our seeds are being snatched very fast. The science and technology has become the slave to serve the narrow vested interests. It is very obvious that the vested interests are so blind to the truth that they are unable to see the damage they are causing to the whole of the life and the humanity including their own families. The multinational corporations (MNCs)-foreign as well as national along with politicians and bureaucrats are holding the whole humanity to ransom.

Unfortunately these are the people who are leading the whole world and are playing a decisive role in the lives of crores of people. We have to think seriously if we can go on accepting their leadership and risk the fate of our families-our mother and father, sister and brother, son and daughter, and wife and the husband. This is a new form of slavery, where in addition to the extreme economic exploitation, whole of the environment, nature, humanity, all living beings and natural resources are being endangered to the extent of risk of extinction. We can’t wait any more. We must act before it is too late.
The private control of natural resources is an invasion on our livelihoods and our sovereign right to live with dignity. The people at the helm of affairs, are more eager to serve corporate interests, and are pushing legal frameworks which will legalize robbery, which will make this act of aggression on our ecological heritage a legal act and opposition to this will be termed as illegal. We already have notifications like Environment Impact Assessment, and laws like Plant variety protection and Farmers' Right Act, Patent Act are directed towards interests of the industry. Legislations like the Biological Diversity Act are being turned over from their original intent to only regularize access to “resources” with the conservation objectives being deliberately ignored. And then there are new frameworks in the offing in the form of the proposed Seed Bill and are National Biotechnology Regulatory Authority Bill or the Coastal Management Zone notification. All these in their text and/or intent of implementation are anti-people, anti-farmer and anti-nature and making easier the takeover of nature, entire legislation and Judiciary is going the corporate way , thus paving the way for hijack our ecological heritage and its destruction.
It is now or never situation. It is do or die now.

Let us forget our political, religious and regional affiliations to work on these common issues untidily because these are issues not only of whole of the humanity but all living beings who inhabit the planet. The life of humans and other living beings is one united whole and we have to fight this struggle of life and death on behalf of all living beings.
Let us declare a full fledged war of liberation and take the third phase of independence movement to a logical culmination. We want independence where all natural resources, human resources and science and technology will be used for common good of all humans and other species and not to fulfill the greed of few highly rich—where all human activities and development will be in accordance with the laws of nature and nature as whole will be nurtured with love and compassion for all its creations. There will be no poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, squalor or misery of any kind. Every living being will get clean air, pure and sweet water, balanced food and all other necessities of graceful life. Every body will live a life full of happiness, love and oneness with nature and God.
The deaths of farmers and workers must call us to awake. This is just an initiator towards a greater debate and commitment to action to address the fundamental maladies.
Kheti Virasat Mission-KVM, Jaitu and Shaheed Bhagat Singh Centenary Foundation, Khatkar Kalan with support of farmers ‘organizations, peoples’ movements, environmental groups, Writers’ forum, Intellectuals are organizing a Convention on Freedom Struggle for Peoples’ Sovereign Right on Natural Resources at Khatkar Kalan, - ancestral Village of Shaheed Bhagat Singh on Sunday, 21st September, 2008 at 10.00 AM
It is convention of pro-nature and pro-people concerned citizens.
You are invited to join this new freedom movement
Your suggestions are welcome.
Yours truly,

Prof Jagmohan Singh Dr Inderjit Kaur Dr Surjit Patar Dr Daljit Singh
Dr Amar Singh Azad Balbir Singh Billing Umendra Dutt Dr Nirmal Singh

Monday, May 19, 2008

Dialogue on GM Crops & Health Issues

Dialogue on

GM Crops & Health Issues

Organized by



1st June 2008 , Sunday; Venue-: Wheat Auditorium, PAU, Ludhiana

Environmental Health Action Group (EHAG) of Kheti Virasat Mission extends a warm invitation to you to join us in a One day conference titled Say No to GM Crops for Health on 1st June 2008.

Since the last three decades, thousands of farming community members suffered acute insecticide poisoning from deadly pesticides in Punjab. The last few years has seen a dramatic increase in the number of reports coming out which indicate that the prevalence of chronic pesticide poisoning in various forms is becoming alarmingly high in our people.

The list of poisonous substances in our environment is getting longer continuously - the latest addition to this list are the potentially harmful and toxic genetically modified crops. As in the case of other agrochemicals Transgenic crops are being pushed around as a solution for the agricultural distress. The interesting fact is that its it the same multinational agrochemical giants who are the also the promoters and benefactors of these novel product.

Genetic engineering (GE) or genetic Modification refers to a set of technologies that are used to change the genetic makeup of cells of plants and animals to bring about a desired function e.g. insect resistance, herbicide tolerance, etc. In the early 70s for the first time humans decided to alter the natural evolutionary process and create new plants and animals through techniques that involve complicated manipulations of genetic material and other biologically important chemicals. What has this interference cost us? Perhaps we will know when the last organism on earth has also lost its exclusivity.

In the 12000 year old history of agriculture there has been no technology that is as vehemently opposed by farmers, consumers and civil groups alike.

The major reasons for resistance against genetically modified crops can broadly be categorized in to three

  1. Impact on health.
  2. Impact on environment
  3. Socio-economic impact

The first two are inherent while the third grows out of the commercial interests that drive this technology.

A history of accidents

One of the greatest concerns about genetically engineering living organisms is the uncertainty of the outcome. Added to this is the risk of contamination. The history of Genetic Engineering is splashed with grave accidents that should be treated as learnings.

Such a doubt was first raised when Dr. Arpad Putzai at Aberdeen University in Scotland relialised that the rats that fed on genetically modified potatoes ended up with malfunctions of vital organs and reduced immunity. Though there was a serious effort from the Pro-GM industries to cover up the study, the incident brought about a great change in the way policy makers and consumers perceived the technology. This was followed by several such incidents the latest of which is the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization’s finding that the insect resistant pea they created had reduced the weight of internal organs of the test animals .This led to CSIRO winding up the research on GM pea.

The gravity of such research revelations is amplified by the uncontrollability of transgenic crops once released in to the fields. Once in the open air, transgenic crops spread uncontrollably by cross pollination or seed transfer. GM contamination register (www.gmcontaminationregister.org) which is an annual documentation of such contamination by Greenpeace and Genewatch reported 39 new instances of crop contamination in 23 countries over the past year. Most of the contamination involved staple crops as rice and corn, but also included soy, cotton, canola, papaya and fish. Over the last 10 years, the GM Contamination Register has recorded 216 incidents of contamination in 57 countries.

. This uncontrollability has led to increased concern over health and biodiversity across the world and has become the basis of a precautionary approach towards the environmental release of Genetically Modified organisms. The precautionary principle was advocated by the Cartegina Protocol on biosafety, under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity. The protocol came into force in September 2003 and has been ratified by 103 countries in the world, the notable exception being United states of America. India was one of the first signatories to the protocol. The two pillars of the precautionary approach are prevention is better than cure’ and ‘the rights of those who stand to be affected by an activity, must be prioritized rather than those who stand to benefit from it’.

The Indian scenario

India should pay great attention to the precautionary approach because of its environmental and socioeconomic situation. Especially, when we are on the verge of opening the gates for Genetically Modified food crops to enter our market. The lessons from the firth and only commercially available Gm crop, Bt cotton stands testimony to the potential dangers of transgenic crops. The un accounted deaths of thousands of sheep and goats in different parts of the country after grazing on Bt cotton stubbles, the unexpected diseases that started showing up in the Bt cotton plants and last but not the lease an abnormally high incidence of skin allergy and respiratory problems in cotton cultivators and farm laborers are all writings on the wall that can be ignored at our own peril.

The government, regulators, agricultural scientists and professional bodies are not taking due cognizance of the gravity of the situation to initiate an appropriate action plan for elimination of pesticides and other toxic chemicals in a phased manner and to mitigate the environmental health crisis being faced by Punjab.

The anti-GM battle in India has reached a crucial stage - soon, Mahyco, the Indian avataar of Monsanto, would be walking up to the regulators for permission for the second [and last] year of large scale trials this Kharif [starting June 2008] of Bt Brinjal, the first food crop in India and the first such GM vegetable crop with Bt gene anywhere in the world.

Elsewhere in the world, especially Europe, more countries are clamping bans on GM crops. More regions are declaring themselves GM-Free. In India, the central government is steamrollering ahead, with its support to the biotech industry and showing its lack of vision for Indian farming again and again. Certain state governments are fortunately taking a long term, holistic view on genetic engineering and are appreciating the environmental, human health, political, economic and socio-cultural implications of such a technology on Indian farming and society. However, the Union of India is not upholding even this Constitutional right of state governments and is blindly moving ahead with its approvals of various crop trials and experiments.

Bt Brinjal biosafety is questionable - in fact, we should not forget that the results of genetic engineering itself are very unpredictable and the very process of GE results in different unintended hazardous consequences.

The regulators sitting in Delhi have also proven themselves to be unaccountable, unscientific, wedded to conflicting interests and apathetic to the real experiences of farmers on the ground. If we continue to keep silent, more of this undemocratic thrusting down of unwanted, corporate technologies will continue to smother Indian farming as well as all of us - after all, you and I will not have any choices left if Bt Brinjal and other GM foods is allowed in. No systems of labelling will let you know if you are consuming Bt Brinjal or not, in this country.

It is in this context that we invite all right-thinking, pro-nature, concerned physicians, veterinarians, plant scientists and other sections of pro-people and right thinking persons to assemble on 1st June at Wheat Auditorium, PAU, Ludhiana for a one-day dialogue to discuss various aspects of GM crops. If you want the government to take our message seriously, you should be there to show that you are against GM crops too. Please block the date, plan your travel straightaway and bring as many people as you can to the conference site.

Hope to see you in Ludhiana - remember, if we don't show our concern strongly now, it might be too late later on. Do join us.

Several environmental action groups, civil society organisations and medical professional groups are likely to participate in the programme. Prominent among them are:

Dr Davinder Sharma, Dr G V Ramanjaneyulu, Kavitha Kuruganti and Rajesh Krishnan

Your participation is of immense value to this dialogue and we look forward to your participation and support in evolving a participatory civil society strategy to combat the current crisis.

With regards

Yours truly

Dr Amar Singh Azad

Working President

Kheti Virasat Mission


Dr Inderjit Kaur


Pingalwara Society


Dr G P I Singh

HoD, Dept of SPM, DMC&H and Convener, EHAG, Ludhiana

Dr Arun Mittra Dr Balbir Singh Dr Satish Jain Dr Jaswant S Thind

(Ludhiana) (Patiala) (MDOCH, Ludhiana) (Kapurthala)

Dr Manvir Gupta Dr Neelam Sodhi Dr Nirmal Singh Dr Harminder Sidhu

(Kotkapura) (Ludhiana) (Lambra- Jalandhar) (Raikot)

Dr K K Nayak Dr Satish Sharma Dr Rajinder Passi Dr Rajiv Shah

(Bathinda) (Jalandhar) (Phillaur) (Oswal Hospital)

Dr Ashok Goyal Dr Balbir Singh Bhaura Dr A S Maan Dr G S Mauji

(Amritsar) (Jalandhar) (Sangrur) (Bathinda)

Dr Mohinderjit Singh Dr Navteej Singh Dr Shub Prem Brar Manmohan Sharma

(Jalandhar) (Banur- Patiala) (Ecologist, Bathinda) VHAP, Chandigarh

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Blazing Punjab: Flaming Fields

Blazing Punjab: Flaming Fields

Burning of Crop residue – Need of Civilizational Intervention

By Umendra Dutt

Every day I pass through villages and see fires in the just harvested fields. An absolutely avoidable ecological destruction and
environmental violence is going on at the hands of brainwashed farmers.
The trees, the earth friendly creatures, the micro organisms are getting destroyed for no rhyme or reason. Farmers are burning the wheat stalks just in order to save a few hundred rupees, time .This dangerous practice is bound to play havoc in a few years and these shortsighted misadventures are going to extract a huge price in terms of money, time, environmental health, ecosystem and natural resources.
Countless innocent, man and crop friendly living forms are being criminalised. These living forms actually rejuvenate and energise our soil, our mother earth.

Punjab is burning, really. A very painful scene we are witnessing every day around us. Madness, a mass psychosis of people unconcerned with the results of their own misdeed is happening around us, which is terribly upsetting. It is reminiscent of ‘thousand fires in Rome’, but at the end of those, Nero added another page in human history. But what are we achieving here with these unnecessary fires in our fields? We are burning Wheat crop residue in more then 5500 Sq KMs and 12685 Sq KMs in Rice crop residues and according to a study based on satellite data, the Emission Factors (EFs) for wheat residue burning as estimated CO- 34.66g/Kg , NOx – 2.63g/Kg, CH4 – 0.41g/Km , PM10 – 3.99g/Kg, PM2.5 – 3.76g/Kg .

These large-scale burning, releases trace gases, along with sub micron-sized aerosols, which are known to aggravate lung and respiratory diseases. And we address earth as Dharti Ma.

Burning of the crop residue not only adds to atmospheric pollution and emission of green house gases but also leads to loss of rich renewable soil rejuvenating organic resources. It gives me an uneasy feeling about our society, its contemporary character and it also indicates a kind of shallowness of my society. It is so disturbing that I questions my own self. We have to pose this question to ourselves and to the so called experts as to why this seasonal burning at all?

Who is to blame? Are our farmers responsible? What is the reason for this? Why our society is behaving like this? Are the changing life styles also contributing in this indifferent attitude of our society? Why our social scientists are indifferently quiet on this burning issue?

Is it simple that farmers are burning up crop straw to save few hundred rupees only? Despite knowing the adverse effects of this devastating practice? Why the farmers are intent to burn stubble?

Then some more questions also need to have answers. Where is the solution? Can technology provide solution? Is it due to lack of technology and its application or adoption only? I think it is the unmindfull application of technology that is responsible for this crisis. Because technology doesn’t come in isolation, it carries a cultural imprint with itself along with a carbon footprint. Then, there is physiological baggage also. Any new technology we adopt, it impacts our way of thinking, our analysis, our perceptions and our relations with surroundings – the nature and the mankind.

We had propagated various new technologies in course of modern development and Green revolution. Our experts are proud of these new technologies; they are very fond of talking about its adoption rate, success rate and other benefits. We had started evaluating every thing mechanically in narrow terms of profitability. The green revolution agricultural paradigm has also displaced our value systems from agriculture; it has destroyed the very basic civilizational element in our convoluted agriculture vision.

When there is no moral code, no values, no beliefs, no ethics then certainly there will be no compassion at all, no feeling on oneness with our surroundings. Then the whole earth is supposed to be for our self-indulgence only, and the farm is only a piece of land, a mere area, which is owned by me, I am the owner of that , so it depends on me only - What I do to that land. I want maximum profits out of it, because I have to address my lust of money.

I was told by the experts to put poisons in my land to kill pests, they told me it is the development. I was taught by the experts and highly civilized persons that I should use machines – Harvester Combine to minimize my expenditure on human labour, as labour is a problem. Then one agriculture economist teaches me lessons of profitability – economic viability – and I was told that now I am a progressive farmer. When I was made totally self-centered unconcerned of my surroundings, my ecology, sustainability of life. Then this agriculture establishment celebrated my progress. They told me it is the way of life now; this is the new path of development. There is euphoria all around and no body has time to talk about my interdependence on Nature. New machines, technologies and new definitions have taken place of the wisdom I got from my ancestors.

The burning of crop residue should not be seen in isolation, we have to take a holistic picture. It is not a problem in itself… it a symptom of deep-rooted civilizational crisis of our society and our age. We have to address the crisis on much wider canvass.

Mankind is behaving like this towards every natural thing – wether it is water, air, trees, forests, animals, the mechanized mind and self-seeking way of life has made our whole society insensitive to nature. The crisis mitigation does not lie in technological interventions only. The agriculture expert mind- set and solutions suggested by it has already ruined our ecology and our agricultural heritage. Now we cannot ask them to suggest solutions. Those who were worshiped for more then four decades for their expertise now should not be asked for solutions, because they can provide another technological answer and mere technology is not a complete solution at all.

There are still thousands of farmers who have no rotavator or Happy-seeder but they are not burning the stubble. Agriculture implements are only tools to be used; the real answer is in our mindset, the vision and feeling of a relationship with Earth, other forms of life and whole ecology.

While NFL at Bathinda produces 5 lakh tons of urea which gives near about 2.5 lakh tons of nitrogen with lots of energy consumption, water consumption and environmental pollution, so one fifth of the total production of nitrogen is burned due to inefficient management systems put forth by the government.

Farmers burn 196 lakh MTs of straw every year, worth crores of rupees, besides losing 38.5 lakh MTs of organic carbon, 59,000 MTs of nitrogen, 2,000 MTs of phosphorous and 34,000 MTs of potassium every year. If government feels that this should be saved, it should take up a large campaign, asking farmers to use the straw as mulch, spread with Jeevaamrita kind of solutions. If it involves additional costs for the farmers, government should pay for it.

Several farmers associated with Kheti Virasat Mission who are practicing natural farming, have already adopted Jeevaamrita to mulch stubble in their farms. They are not into burning madness, not because of technology but due to their conviction. Off course farmer needs some methods to mulch all crop straw. Jeevaamrita provides appropriate solution.

We should develop a strong campaign asking Govt to initiate a process of asking people to adopt straw mulching; this would automatically lead to promotion of natural farming once we get space in the campaign. The prerequisite of the solution is a civilizational intervention to re-establish mother–son relation of farmer with Earth. We have to redefine the meaning of development, progressive farmer, profitability and sustainability. We have to evolve a new idiom to evaluate our contemporary ecological crisis.

The whole society and particularly the elite and experts must take the responsibility of their transgression; farmers are expressing the same what the society has taught them. This burning of stubble is the natural outcome of the economic and agriculture model we are pursuing from last fifty years. It is the result of a paradigm we had chosen, propagated by the experts of those times.

Let whole Punjabi society accept its role in this misadventure. This is the only one dimension of whole ecological-civilizational crisis that our society is facing and which will certainly affect lives of our future generations. We have to change Collective Mindset of our society and this can be only being done through a process for new model of development.

Let us start this voyage to build our own developmental paradigm to come out this self inflicting devastation.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Evaluating Draft Punjab State Water Policy




State Water Policy debate Paper - 1

National Water Policy, 2002 retains the control over water resources with the government and ignores the involvement of local communities. It remains inert and ineffectual because it fails to ensure community management despite being hit by water shortages due to unsustainable exploitation of rivers and centralized water resource management. National Water Policy was adopted in 1987. It claims that since then, a number of issues and challenges have emerged in the development and management of the water resources. Therefore, the National Water Policy (1987) has been reviewed and updated in 2002.

It was happened in Punjab .The first draft September 1996 of the state water policy has totally ignored the stake of ecology and wild life on water, as it is a gift of nature to earth for the survival of life, which includes flora and fauna apart from human beings. Hence must ensure traditional systems like ponds for the conservation of water, which have been totally given go- bye in Punjab state Water Policy.

Punjab has its Second draft of Water policy in 2004. This new draft is again missing the important component of people’s perceptions and aspirations. Any policy in Punjab, must address the real threats of abusive water exploitation by the industrial and agriculture consumer, especially when 108 out of 137 developmental blocks are over exploited including, four critical blocks. Commercialization of water, entrance of big corporate houses like Price Water House Cooper in the water management related projects of urban as well as rural areas, and implementation of WTO are the other fears & qualms expressed by the civil society groups. State water policy draft was circulated in 2004 is virtually a copy of the National Water Policy and is full of deficiencies with anti people consequences.

As per the spirit of constitution, a welfare state is supposed to formulate pro-people policies and implement these policies at every cost. State Water Policy has been formulated and developed by the state government without any consultation with civil society groups ignoring public opinion. Kheti Virasat Mission is of the firm belief that a wide debate with all inclusive participation by communities, civil society groups, PRIs, academia, scientists, economists, politicians, farmers’ groups, women groups and of course government departments must be started in order to build up an issue about the importance of this policy for the Punjab.

With this view KVM proposes first paper as a food for thought, written by eminent environmental economist Dr M S Rathore, from IDS Jaipur, who has done critical analysis of National Water Policy 2002.

KVM welcomes suggestions, inputs and critical comments on this paper.

With regards

Umendra Dutt


Gaps in Punjab State Water Policy


The State Water Policy document outlines the government’s framework for the long term sustainable development and management of water resources in the state. It emphasizes on: (a) introduction of legislation for regulating ground water; (b) improvement in the efficiency and productivity of water utilisation for irrigation, domestic and industry; (c) monitoring and regulatory measures to enhance water quality at the sources and minimise pollution at the outlet; (d) preparation of flood control, drainage and drought management plans; (e) progressive handing over of management to the users; and (f) to achieve these objectives the state is strategizing to formulate participatory approach whereby all users and polluters whether from the public or private sectors are involved to bring out the desired results.

The state policy will enable the Government of Punjab to carry out adequate measures to preserve its water resources. The major water problems in the state highlighted in the policy document are:

  • declining ground water table, presence of salinity, fluoride and iron
  • pollution of surface and ground water leading to high incidence of water borne diseases, particularly among young children
  • water logging and salinity
  • flood hazards
  • use of excessive fertilizers and chemicals in water causing water pollution,
  • Industrial pollution and inadequate sewerage system and treatment plants in urban areas.

In order to address the above listed problems, the policy document has outlined seventeen objectives and detailed strategies. Of them the major strategy is to create and to divide Punjab State into six hydrological units for better water resource management. To facilitate this, the state has listed creation of a 4-tier system of government bodies, viz.:

  1. Punjab State Water Resources Council (PSWRC)
  2. Punjab State Water Resources Committee (PSWRC)
  3. Punjab State Water Resource Technical Advisory Committee (PSWRTAC)
  4. Regional Water Resources Technical Advisory Committee (RWRTAC).

These ideas of new organisational structures at local and state level is excellent and bold step provided there is a serious political will and administrative capacity to make reforms in the present departmental set up and given socio-political milieu. As it will require resolving inter-departmental conflicts and inter- personal conflicts between technical/non-technical personnel’s. The composition of these advisory committees seems to be good except that there is no place for social and technical experts/researchers and NGO and civil society representatives. Since this will be first of its kind in the country, the reform has to be carefully carried out so that its success is ensured.

The Action Plan is given on pages 8-23 b picking up items from the National Water Policy. The gaps and clarification on each is discussed below. The second part of the draft policy document provides comparison of the National Water Policy with the changed Punjab Water Policy. For each item in the National Water Policy there is either a changed item in the State Water Policy or endorsing the same as in the National Policy. This itself is a problem as the National Water Policy is framed, as per the constitution, to guide the respective State Government’s to formulate their own water policies, i.e. the national water policy should be treated as a guideline and not to be verbatim adopted by the State. Hence, the first part of the Punjab State Water Policy document, the listed water problems specific to the State should be addressed in the second half of the policy document. It is not necessary to even maintain the same sequence or address all the items in National Water Policy.

The State Water Policy document outlines the government's development framework for the long-term sustainable development and management of water resources in the State. It emphasizes on: (a) multi-disciplinary, multi-sectoral, water planning, allocation and management, (b) establishment of a regulatory framework for managing water resources, including the full range of sector environment issues, (c) reorientation of government water institutions, coupled with increased participation of the private sector through farmer managed WUAs and other private sector entities,. However, there are major gaps in the State Water Policy document if it is analysed in the context of the objectives and the existing water problems faced by the society. The gaps become all the more significant if the intent of the policy are not clear and are not understood in the same light and sprit down the line by implementing agencies. Some of the gaps are discussed below.

The state water policy contradicts the basic premise of the sectoral reform by not clearly mentioning the decentralization of water resources management while aiming at people’s participation. This shows the intentions and nature of state of centralized command and control. It also shows complete lack of will in case of groundwater regulations even after lots of debate and discussion on the Groundwater Bill at various level, no time bound intentions or action are suggested.

The State Water Policy lacks long-term water vision to address the serious emerging problems, both in the rural and urban areas. Given the nature and extent of water available the State should re-define and formulate different sectoral policies keeping water saving in agriculture and controlling water pollution in urban and rural areas as its focal point.

The other important issue is about the process of policy formulation. None of the stakeholders directly concern were involved in the process of formulation of water policy. It is surprising that even most of the people’s representatives along with NGOs are unaware of the water policy document. May be because it is not available to public at large. Also it was never published in newspaper, even though water is a basic good and all living being on this earth, of course people of Punjab are affected by it. This further confirms the intentions of the state in not seeking stakeholders’ participation in water sector reform in the State.

Gender Issues in Water Resource Management

The Punjab Water Policy text is gender neutral in terms of descriptions. It uses several generic terms, i.e. farmers, water users, human lives, settlement etc. The recognition that development actors are both women and men, that they are constrained in different and often unequal way and that they may have differing, and sometimes-conflicting needs, interests and priorities, seems to be missing. The state water policy is gender blind.

The role of women in water resource management at household level and farm level is well recognized. However, when it comes to policy document it is almost missing. Even the present policy of decentralizing management of irrigation systems by handing over systems to Water Users Associations (WUAs) does not mention women representatives on the associations. An analysis of gender division of labour within the household reveals that fetching water is the main responsibility of women. Sexual harassment at water point is quite common.

The State Water Policy document is analysed point by point and the gaps identified are reported below:

  1. In the policy document mentions (page 6) “As an initial step, Punjab State will be divided into six hydrological units of water resource regions” all are given equal weightage, as also the case in National Water Policy and all other state’s policies, no region specific strategy is mentioned. May be it is assumed that the proposed 4-tier institutions will take care of the location specificities. Generally the regional issues are not addressed unless specified. Unless eco-system approach is adopted it will be difficult to conserve, utilize efficiently and sustain the natural resources, particularly water resources. Infect, land, water and vegetation are all naturally linked to each other and, therefore, system approach to deal with the natural resources should be the first item in the NRM policy including water policy.

The objectives listed on pages 4 and 5 are not addressed in the subsiquent sections in the same sprit and weightage.

2. The NRM policies, till now, were more to establish and maintain the centralized control and management of the State over resources. The present policy document does intend to partially decentralize the management of water in the State. However, the issues of ownership and control over natural resources are unattended in the policy document. Unless this is addressed the management will lead to more conflicts among stakeholders.

3 Information System: State is planning to have a well-developed information system (item 6.3, page 17) but do not address few fundamental questions such as:

a. Data/Information for whom? (As the nature, frequency and coverage is directly related to the user)

· For policy makers, policy analysts

· For technical persons, i.e. engineers

· For farmers, NGO’s

As the needs, capacity and purpose of use varies according to the client.

b. Objectives of the data collection.

c. Access to data, or people have to exercise the ‘Right to Information Law’ to obtain the data.

d. Meteorological data is key to successful planning of water resources and there is strong need to improve it. Infact, given the high rainfall variability in the State it is advisable even to go for village level rainguage stations.

4. Project Planning: Institutional and procedural reforms are proposed in future project planning but no mention is made of the rehabilitation policy. Rehabilitation policy should be part of the project right from the beginning. Oustees should be rehabilitated in the command area only, before completion of the project.

5. Maintenance and Modernization: The future policy is to turn over of the system, i.e., the project be handed over to ‘Water User Association’. It is well established that top down approach has failed, and chances are more when recipients are not prepared for the transfer. HRD reforms will not work until they are linked to reward and punishment policy. Administrative reforms supporting HRD policy be carried out simultaneously.

6. Ground Water Development: The geophysical conditions, quantity and quality of groundwater vary across regions, therefore, differential strategy has to be adopted. Past experience shows that there is lack of political will to regulate groundwater. It is difficult to bring out meaningful Ground Water legislation and then implement it through governmental agencies. There has to be multiple strategy to deal with the grave situation, i.e. there is immediate need to put a check on withdrawal rate of groundwater. Irrigation is the main use of groundwater and farmers lobby is so strong that State failure is clearly visible.

There is a strong need to integrate economic policy, agricultural policy, industrial policy with the groundwater policy. Groundwater can not be independently dealt with. Also there are few terms, such as, social equity, require clear definition on the part of the State, so that there is similar understanding down the line in the executing agency.

8 Water Allocation Priorities: The major question is what is the basis or rationale of drawing these priorities? Is it economic, or social, political or adhoc? The given priorities apply only to bulk surface water storage tanks, and canals. Groundwater, which is mostly privately owned and controlled, is out of the preview of this priority. Even industrial demand is also met from groundwater. How this policy of prioritizing water allocation will work? If it doesn’t apply to groundwater than the major crisis, because most groundwater is used for irrigation, leading to fast depletion of water tables. The important issue is of source wise allocation priority.

9 Drinking Water: Policy is completely silent on the issue of urban-rural conflict over sharing of water resources. There should be clear policy on priority and preference in drinking water supply to rural and urban population. If water is transferred / supplied from rural to urban areas than how to compensate rural population be mentioned. Also there is no mention about how to ensure equal access to water particularly to poor and marginalized sections. There should be clear guidelines for each source of drinking water supply for its ownership and use.

There are bad experiences of privatization of urban water supply services in different parts of the world, before suggesting this policy a careful review should be undertaken. Some Public-Private partnership model be evolved and tested in Punjab before giving clean chit for privatization.

Clear guideline be given as how the quality of drinking water will be handled. There are successful efforts in dealing with fluoride and other pollutants problems, those be taken note off before finalizing any policy.

10 Irrigation Water: There is a basic problem in understanding the irrigation issues and that is the reason for not finding clarity in irrigation water policy. The major policy questions are:

i. Extensive v/s intensive irrigation

ii. Protective v/s productive irrigation

iii. Productivity, per unit of land or water

iv. Sources of irrigation; large v/s small dams, traditional v/s modern dams or structures

v. Objective of water saving through drip or sprinkler or change in cropping pattern

vi. How to regulate use of water on farm?

vii. On and off farm efficiency in water

viii. Equity in distribution of water. Warabandi ensures only limited equity in water distribution

ix. How it is in line with the agricultural policy or other sectoral policies of the state?

x. Demand side v/s supply side management issues.

All these need to be clearly addressed in this section.

11. Water Rates: It is a welcome step to include demand side management in the Water Policy. But certain things need clarity right from the beginning. These are:

i. What is the objective of increasing water rates? To increase efficiency in water use, change in production system (cropping pattern), improve economic viability of the canal or irrigation system?

ii. Think in the context of new economic policy, WTO and status of our farmers vis-à-vis rest of the world and decide about water rates.

iii. Maintain parity between agriculture and industry i.e. terms of trade, while fixing water rates, as it will directly affect agricultural output prices.

iv. If surface water (irrigation water) and drinking water is privatized how to ensure fair prices to marginal and small farmers or poor rural and urban consumers.

12 Participation of Water Users: It is restricted to irrigation sector only. As there is plan to have River Basin Approach to Water Resources Planning no mention is made of representation of people on Water Resource Authority, River Basin Authority, etc.. However, participation without decentralization of power i.e., ownership and control over resources has no meaning.

13 Water Zoning: Unless the proposed zones are linked to the overall strategy of water resources management it will create more confusion. The proposed zones are overlapping and crosscutting, so how to resolve this issue? River Basin Zones is not mentioned but will this be made the basis for all the planing and strategies? More elaboration is needed on what will be the strategy for each of these zones and who will implement it.

14 Water Conservation: What is given is the role of state in conservation of water but what the different stakeholders are supposed to do is not mentioned. PRIs, NGO and people can play important role in conservation of water resources need special mention.

In case of domestic water supply distribution losses particularly in the urban supply is substantial and can be checked with little efforts, need mention in the policy. Similarly, in agricultural sector on and off farm efficiency is of outmost importance. Some mention is needed of the traditional conservation practices and those should be encouraged. Conservation through public awareness is a very important component and their involvement is must. The policy document needs to be widely distributed and debated across the state.

15 Drought Management: Water is critical input in drought management. Invariably drought leads to drying up of surface water sources. Groundwater storage is the best to deal with drought conditions. Therefore, the policy should be to conserve groundwater storage and use as buffer stock for drought years. Present sectoral policies in fact encourage maximum use of groundwater resources. On the contrary, the policy should be to check the use of groundwater and in the next step recharge groundwater.

Traditional services are found to be serving even today during drought periods so those be protected and maintained. Local coping strategies to fight with drought need to be strengthened special policy measures. Finally, water security should be the first objective of the state in the drought prone area and this should be mentioned as the basic policy objective of the State.

There were large number of water bodies in most villages of Punjab, those are either used as waste dumping ground or encroached for housing and other use, or their catchment areas are blocked so no water comes in them, etc. There is need for special plan for rejuvenating these water bodies to ensure the future of groundwater in the state.

16 Training and Education: Training should be important component of the restructuring plan of the water sector reforms in the state. However, its success will largely depend on the attitude of the state employees working in water related departments, mostly in the Irrigation and PHED. Presently training is not linked to their promotion or posting so it is considered to be a punishment. Even the postings in the water related training institutions is considered to be a punishment posting. Therefore, the importance of training needs to be established first before any policy actions.

PHED Policy

The main objective of the drinking water supply departments policy is "Universal access to safe drinking water covering all villages and habitation". However it is nowhere explained what they mean by universal access, is it to villages and scattered settlements, marginalised section of population, equal access, etc.? Also what is the notion of safe water; is it the fluoride and brackish water people are drinking is considered to be safe, polluted water in urban areas, etc.? Also no mention is made of how to ensure access to water by all sections of population, particularly poor and marginalized section as even today there are large number of people not allowed to have water from wells, village pond, Bawri or different drinking water sources. Untouchability is widely practiced.

State has a differential norm providing safe drinking water to the rural and urban population based on the life style, available technology, and complexities in managing high-density urban population. Rural drinking water issues are classified under four broad categories, namely, coverage, level of supply, quality of water and sustainability of supply. In all these aspects the source of supply play important role. In the X Plan the major thrust will be to switch over from ground water to surface water wherever it is possible. It is because of depletion of groundwater and quality of groundwater.

For urban areas major emphasis will be on improving distribution system to minimize losses through rectification of leakage, prevention of pollution through old and defective pipelines, rejuvenation of WTP and pumpsets, reduction of unaccounted water etc. Also besides the conventional supply side management approach there will be greater emphasis on demand side management. Recognizing pricing of water as an important instrument of demand management will do this and tariffs will be designed accordingly. Water pollution is considered a threat and measures will be taken to check misuse and pollution of drinking water sources. Concern is also shown about water conservation and reuse. Economic incentives, laws and regulations, and public awareness are the measures proposed to deal with the problem. State failure in universal access to drinking water through centralised modern systems is evident. In the process traditional systems of drinking water have been severely eroded, thrown into disuse and even eliminated in most parts. Still there are areas and population not covered by the present system dependent on traditional sources. One of the reason for this neglect was government's emphasis and open bias in favour of large, complex and costly systems with low capital efficiency ensuring that the power and authority stays with the bureaucracy and the community remains bonded to it (PHED, p.6). On the other hand traditional systems use low cost, user-friendly techniques and were easily kept in good operational condition by local communities. The shift in the policy is that if drinking water supply in rural Rajasthan has to be sustainable, equitable and community based, then the traditional systems have to be rejuvenated and developed along with the modern systems.