Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Upcoming Vidhan Sabha Elections : Multilogue on Sociopolitical Agenda on Environmental toxicity, Health, Agriculture and Ecological Crisis in Punjab


People’s Green Agenda Submitted to all Political Parties of Punjab to draw a Crisis-mitigate strategy for Environmental Health, Agricultural and Ecological Crisis in state.

Dear Friends,

As you know that state of Punjab is reeling under the severe economic-social-ecological and political crisis. Governance is failing and society is disintegrating. Working people in general and farmers in particular are under severe stress. Natural Resources in general and water and land in particular are depleting because of unsustainable model of agriculture and development. Natural Resources, Government Institutions, Economy, Health and Education have been put on sale to National and International Super Rich for earning profits. Multiple types of environmental toxicity are playing havoc with delicate ecological balance. It has resulted in unprecedented health crisis in the state. This whole crisis is creation of wrong governmental policies at Centre and State level.

There is urgent need that all the organizations of the working people including political parties should rise up to the occasion and come-up with their visions on Pro people Socio Political agenda in which the issue of saving Natural Resources, Environmental and Agriculture should be at the fore front. Sustainable Model of agriculture and development has to be the moving force of society. This needs clean, non corrupt and transparent Governance. Under such a broad pro people agenda for Punjab, Kheti Virasat Mission is trying to play its role through awareness generation regarding sustainable agriculture, environmental health, saving environment and saving farmers. The Punjabis are already discussing and debating these issues. To ignite this debate further we should try to make these issues as Political Agenda in the coming State Assembly Elections. We had already submitted a document to the State Government some times back. An abridged version of the document is attached for discussion.

In this context and in continuation of its efforts to build a civil society movement on the issues of Environmental toxicity , Health and Ecological Crisis in Punjab, KVM in partnership with SADED New Delhi and CRRID Chandigarh has decided to organise a Multilogue on 28-29 October 2011 with participation from medical professionals, toxicologists, ecologists, social scientists , agriculture experts, organic farmers, farmers' Unions , Political parties and other important stack holders.

Eminent Environment Activist Sunita Narayan, Director, CSE , New Delhi will inaugurate the multilogue . Eminent Environment Epidemiologist Dr S G Kabra , Jaipur will deliver key-note address.
Please confirm your participation ,

Umendra Dutt

Please find copy of Green Agenda for 2012 Vidhan Sabha Elections in Punjab......


Discussion paper for Multilogue on Sociopolitical Response to Environmental toxicity, Health, Agriculture and Ecological Crisis in Punjab, scheduled for Friday-Saturday: 28-29 October 2011 at Seminar Hall, CRRID, Sector 19-A, Madhya Marg, Chandigarh

People’s Green Agenda for Environmental Health, Agricultural and Ecological Crisis in Punjab Submitted to all Political Parties of Punjab by Kheti Virasat Mission

Ensure Community involvement and Participatory Action Research system for Mitigating Environmental Health Crisis in Punjab

There is significant scientific evidence available now which shows beyond doubt that our environment—soil, water and air- has been grossly polluted with highly poisonous/ toxic substances. These toxic substances have already reached the food chain and the human bodies. Their levels in human and animal tissues are high enough to disturb their physiology and cause or contribute to various diseases and premature death. That virtually means that we are being slowly poisoned along with other species who are consuming the same food for their survival. Punjab is sitting on a volcano of environmental health crisis, which is affecting not only the human beings but all the living species. We are neck deep in toxic environment. The effects of this chronic poisoning on human health are not being taken note of by medical profession, health department and the governments. Similarly the impact on animal and plant health is not being given the urgently needed due attention by the concerned departments.

The toxins are coming from multiple sources. The use of highly poisonous agro-chemicals (pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers); discharge of untreated or partially treated industrial waste into natural water bodies and coal based power plants seem to be the main sources of pollution. The highly toxic waste from industrial units is being discharged into the natural water bodies without proper treatment which is a must according to law. This toxic water further contaminates the soil and dangerous substances enter our food chain.

Also, the data from All India Coordinated Research Project on Pesticide Residue clearly indicates the presence of DDT, HCH and BHC in cereals, milk, butter, fruits, vegetables and even infant formula samples from Punjab. The edibles have residues of other pesticides like Phosphamidon, Quinalphos, Chlorpyriphos, Endosulfan, Malathion, Parathion, Monocrotophos and lindane. This is an alarm bell for devastation in offing. Moreover the presence of pesticides in blood as detected by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) also raises serious questions. The CSE report cites the presence of a cocktail of 6 to 13 pesticides in blood samples. CSE also finds organo-chlorine and residues of the newer and so-called ‘non-persistent’ pesticides, organophosphates, in blood. The rising levels of these dangerous chemicals in human bodies and bodies of other living beings, in the soil, water and food items, much beyond safe limits is the warning sign to take corrective steps urgently. This situation demands that pesticide-free food must be first offered to the people of Punjab.

The following must be done to keep a check:--

  1. Testing the water samples from---

(a) The spot where an industrial unit is discharging its waste water.

(b) The natural water body in which the waste water is being discharged.

(c) The tube wells, rivers, canals and all other sources from where water is being drawn to be used for agricultural purposes as well as for consumption of animals and human beings.

(d) Water being supplied for drinking.

  1. The water samples should be tested for the following---

(a) Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD)

(b) Chemical Oxygen demand (COD).

(c) Total Coli form And E-Coli Bacteria.

(d) Total Suspended Matter.

(e) Total Dissolved Salts (TDS).

(f) Pesticides—Organochlorine, Organophosphorus, Carbamates and others.

(g) Heavy Metals and other toxins—mercury, arsenic, lead, chromium, cadmium, fluoride, zinc, iron, nitrates, radio active substances and other industrial and plastic based chemicals etc.

  1. Samples of food –vegetables, fruits, fodder, grains, pulses, bovine milk, eggs and meat- should be tested for the levels of pesticides, heavy metals, other industrial toxins and radio active substances.
  2. Samples of animal and human secretions and tissues—blood, urine, milk, saliva and mucuos membrane scrapings--- should be tested for levels of pesticides, heavy metals and for evidence of genetic mutations.
  3. Epidemiological studies among the affected communities.
  4. Planning remedial measures.
  5. High levels of pesticides and heavy metals have been reported in the food chain and the human bodies but the doctors are unable to correlate it with the disease pattern prevalent in the community. The doctors should be sensitized/ trained to suspect the chronic poisoning and then to confirm it by testing the tissue levels. If the suspicion of chronic poisoning is strong enough to need further investigation then the Health Department should try to pin point the source of that poisoning in collaboration with PPCB, Public Health, Animal Husbandry and Agriculture Departments.

Five types of evidence is clearly visible-

1. The levels of various toxins in the environment are very high.

2. The use of various toxins is unregulated and very high.

3. The levels of these toxins in the human tissues including breast milk are alarming.

4. There is an ample number of studies in the world scientific literature which correlate the levels of these toxins with specific clinical entities.

5. Similar clinical entities are clearly visible in our people who are living in the toxicity-affected environment.

We have enough indications/ evidences to raise the questions. We have to work hard on all the five levels to find answers to our problems. The task is very big. We have to work hard to find out the solutions. The problem of environmental health is very grave. It is particularly critical for the coming generations because there are clear evidences of toxicity induced genetic mutations. The effects on human reproductive system have been found to be very serious. There are clear indications that the toxic substances affected the reproductive system of species which have become extinct. The other visible effects on human health are--increase in the prevalence of toxicity related cancers, declining herd immunity and rising prevalence of infections, rising prevalence of neurological disorders, spontaneous abortions, congenital abnormalities, diabetes mellitus, heart and blood vessel diseases, asthma, allergies, auto immune disorders, menstrual disorders, declining sperm count and increasing prevalence of childless couples and host of other clinical entities which are directly or indirectly associated with environmental toxicity.

Similar pattern of ill health is visible in our cattle. The adverse effects on our crops and plant biodiversity are clearly visible. The adverse effects on our soil and water are also obvious. Human Health, Animal Health and Plant Health are part of a bigger concept of Health of all Living Beings. All of them share the same environment and are part of the same food chain. Health of all living beings is directly related to the health of soil, water and air. The whole ecosystem is one single entity and is being gravely affected by the activities around us. Highly delicate ecosystem is being gravely disturbed.

Let us join our heads and hands to save our ecosystem, environment, human health and our future generations.

  1. Government / Health Institutions should immediately undertake a widespread and multi-centric epidemiological mapping through extensive and participatory research and pinpoint the environmental causes of chronic poisoning.
  2. As Punjab has suffered the most severe ecological crisis, thus it needs a paradigm shift to prevent ecological suicide. The government should get an ecological audit to seek an analysis on ecological condition of Punjab. A high power working group should be constituted by involving independent experts to take up this study. This is indeed very important to get a clear picture of ecological damages and hence to evolve a strategy for ecological revival and environmental sustainability in Punjab.
  3. A balance sheet regarding the collapse of Green Revolution also needs to be drawn. We need to know what went wrong with agriculture, so that we don't repeat the same mistakes. A post-mortem of the Green Revolution is absolutely necessary.
  4. Research Project on Pesticide consumption and residue: As Punjab has one of highest levels of pesticide consumption in India, it subsequently has the highest pesticide load on its people and eco-system. Punjab is already facing severe adverse impacts of agro-chemicals used in last four decades. Now at this crucial juncture, the Punjab Government should take bold steps to ensure a safe environment and eco-system to the future of generations of Punjab. For this the Punjab Government should take these steps:

· Complete a detailed study on pesticide consumption patterns in Punjab and evaluate it in comparison to other states and countries. We should also compare its usefulness in comparison to non chemical models of agriculture.

· The government should immediately ban aggressive marketing of pesticides including all forms of advertisements, publicity and promotion schemes for pesticides and other agro-chemicals along with all incentives given to the pesticide and agro-chemical dealers’ network.

· Raise awareness about the dangers of pesticide use through well-financed education campaigns. These must ensure the dissemination of information regarding ill effects of pesticides to all users.

· The government should evolve an action plan for the immediate and time-bound phasing out of the most deadly pesticides: Class I A, I B and Ii.

· The vital task of properly compiling residue data, already generated by the agriculture universities should be completed.

· It is also very disappointing that the disease wise data collection is very poor in government hospitals and is almost non-existent in private hospitals. The registration of diseases should be made fool proof so that we can know the disease pattern of the community and try to find the underlying root cause.

· It is really disturbing to note that our mainstream health care system is mainly focused on giving palliative care to the sick and is least bothered about knowing the root causes of the diseases. It is a well known fact now that most of our diseases are directly or indirectly related to our environment. Hence this registry should be more strict and accurate in the case of diseases which are known to be the result of environmental degradation such as cancers; congenital abnormalities; spontaneous abortions and other clinical entities related with reproductive system; cerebral palsy, mental retardation, autism and other handicaps; infectious diseases and all other patients needing indoor treatment. All deaths including still births should be investigated in detail including their tissue levels of pesticides and heavy metals.

  1. Declare ecological and environmental health emergency in Malwa: The southwestern Malwa region has been identified as facing the most severe environmental health crisis. The use of toxic chemicals is the highest in this belt. This entire area should be treated as a toxic hot spot. To focus its efforts, the government must declare and impose immediately the state of ecological and environmental health emergency in the entire belt. For this, specially drawn plans are needed with a specific focus on natural and organic farming, with adequately allocated funds for the targeted problem.

  1. Constitute Environmental Health Crisis Mitigation Task Force: Even while the assessment is being done, an environmental health crisis of this intensity can only be mitigated by large scale community intervention and participation. Thus the governments should form an Environmental Health Crisis Mitigation Task Force under the aegis of Institute for Environmental Health Research and Studies with the majority participation from NGOs and farmer groups. A senior epidemiologist or environmentalist should head this task force with powers minimum of the secretary rank of the government. This task force should be constituted by taking members from medical fraternity, social activists, and teachers of life sciences, farmers and experts from various governmental departments.

The primary work of this task force would be to prepare and implement a Comprehensive Relief and Remedial Programme in the acutely affected areas. The entire medical fraternity and medical students must be involved in this programme to rejuvenate the health of the community. The medical fraternity needs to be sensitized and suitably augmented to include specific content on toxicology and contemporary crisis of environmental health.

  1. Sustainable Agriculture:

a) The agriculture of Punjab needs a fresh vision for its sustainability as well as sustainability of natural resources. To take up this issue with urgent priority

THE PUNJAB GOVERNMENT should formulate a policy and action plan with a fixed time frame to promote sustainable agricultural practices and various eco-friendly methods of farming. Special budget allocations should be made available for the purpose.

b) THE PUNJAB GOVERNMENT should ask Union Government to immediately ban at least those pesticides that have been banned in other countries and all Class 1a and Class 1b pesticides

c) Subsidy on chemical fertilizers should be diverted to organic farming subsidies and for subsidizing labour component required for conversion to organic farming. This will actually imply a lot of savings for the government
d) Soil should be tested at regular intervals and the prescriptions given by the government should be organic with a variety of organic options provided for addressing the specific conditions of a particular soil sample
e) Government should ensure that successful experiences of organic farmers in Punjab and other states should be documented and highlighted. The expertise of organic farmers should be utilized for the formulation of agriculture policies and they should be used as resource persons for further outreach
f) Agriculture department of Punjab should take up adaptive trials and promote organic farming, without having to wait for long-term research findings from PAU on specific components of organic farming or on specific inputs, as is the case in several other states. There should be large scale promotion of organic farming by the creation of appropriate materials including translation of experiences from other states into punjabi.

Political Parties must respond to Ecological and Environmental Health Crisis: The mess of multiple ecological and health crisis is creation of wrong governmental policies, bewildered political vision and incorrect precedence of governance. The Governments must respond to rectify it. All political parties must come-up with their vision of Environmental Governance. Environmental governance capability in each political party is must and more essential prerequisite for good and holistic governance. It was experienced in last two decades that the issues of the environment have not been effectively integrated in overall development planning and programmes. The development paradigm clearly lacks Ecological Concerns. Instead, the most frequent thought is that environmental securities curbs and antagonize the mainstream economic and social development. In the face of this attitude, citizens, encouraged by certain civil society activists are developing ecological and sustainable empowerment strategies for sustainable development. Governments in last one decade Punjab are miserably failed on this front and particularly in context of multiple environmental toxicity and environmental health crisis and especially cancer governmental apathy, callousness and non-committal to their own words widened the scope of problem and deepened the ecological crisis.

Environmental governance is a concept in Political Ecology which is needed to achieve ecological sustainability and environmental security. All human activities -- political, social and economic — should be understood and managed as subsets of the environment and ecosystems. There is urgent need is to make the shift from the current situation where ecology is a subset of economy, to one in which economy is a subset of ecology. Environmental Governance includes Governments along with business and civil society. Political parties have to develop their in-house capacities to deliver Environmental Governance too.

In context of above said KVM along with other likeminded organizations appeal to all political parties: To declare their agenda and action plan for Organic Farming , Ecological Crisis and Environmental Health along with other components of genuine pro people agenda well before the assembly elections.

Each Political Party of Punjab must constitute Environment Cell in their Political Set-up and each political party of Punjab must come-up with their Environmental Policies, so that voters can evaluate political parties on ‘Ecological Merit’ also.

Multilogue on Sociopolitical Agenda on Environmental toxicity, Health, Agriculture and Ecological Crisis in Punjab

Friday-Saturday: 28-29 October 2011
Venue: Seminar Hall, CRRID, Madya Marg, Chandigarh

Safe Environment, Safe Food and Ecological Sustainability are the right of People of Punjab.

Let us evolve Environmental Governance in Punjab

Tentative Program

Day -1: Friday 28th Oct.

Registration :10 to 11.00 AM

Inaugural Session

11.00 to 1.30

Compering : Hemant Goswami

Inaugural Address by

Sunita Narayan

Keynote by

Dr S G Kabra

Sunita Narayan ,

Dr S G Kabra ,

Dr Sucha Singh Gill,

Dr Inderjeet Kaur


1.30 PM to 2.15

Session -2

2.15 PM to 4.00

Compering : Hamir Singh

Toxicity of Environment, Ecology, Biodiversity and Natural Resources

Dr Jagmohan Singh

Gopal Krishan

Sant Balbir Singh Seenchewal

Madhu Sareen

Sukhdev Singh Bhopal

Kamal Sharma


4 to 4.30 PM

Session -3

4.30 to 6.30 PM

Comparing :

Health and Multiple Environmental Toxicity

Dr Inderjit Kaur

Dr S G Kabra

Dr J S Thakur

Dr Sudhirendar Sharma


7.00 to 8.30 PM

Compering : Shubh Prem Brar

International Political Economy and Political Ecology

Shri Arun Shrivastav

Dr Amar Singh Azad

Dr Shalina Mehta

Hemant Goswami

Dinner : 8.30 PM

Day-2 : Saturday 29th Oct.

Session -5

9.00 AM to 11.00

Compering :

Agriculture and Rural Livelihood

Davinder Sharma

Dr Sucha Singh Gill

Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan

Dr Satnam Singh Ajnala

Tea : 11.00 to 11.30 AM

Session -6

11.30 to 1.30 PM

Compering :

Dr Amar Singh Azad

Political Agenda for Future : Policy shift and evolving Environmental Governance

And Eco-Economics

Chander Bhushan

Dr R S Ghumman

Dr Sudhirendar Sharma

Avinash Rai Khanna MP

Sukhpal Khaira MLA

Gopal Krishan

Lunch :1.30 to 2.15 PM

Concluding Session

2.15 to 4.00 PM

Compering : Umendra Dutt

Gobind Thukral

Madhu Sareen

Sukhdev Bhopal

Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan

List of other political leaders shall be finalized shortly