Till the cows no longer come home
by P. Sainath, Aug 19, 2009, The Hindu

The distress sale of cattle is one of the most sensitive indicators of crisis in the countryside.

“Truckloads of cattle have left this village,” says Maruti Yadavrao Panghate in Devdhari village of Yavatmal. “Many more will go. There is no fodder or water for them.” Panghate, who owns five acres, feels he has lost “80 per cent of my soybean, 70 per cent of cotton and 50 per cent of all the jowar I’ve sown. Late rains even at this point will retrieve something, though not much. However, it could help with fodder and some water. Without that, the rest of the cattle will go, too. Already bullocks worth Rs.10,000 are selling at Rs. 4,000. It’s the same in other villages.”


Rivers are in stress and dying. Odisha is no exception. All of its rivers including major rivers Mahanadi, Brahmani are dying of quantitative and qualitative degradation and decrease. Water salinity in the lower Brahmani has gone up as river flow has almost stopped in crucial summer months. Water flow in the Mahanadi River too is decreasing at a rapid rate. A comparison between second half of the post Hirakud dam period with the first half shows about 15 percent of decrease in average annual flow. Other rivers like Baitarani, Subarnarekha, Vanshadhara, Rushikulya and Nagabali etc. are also suffering the same fate. The problems are manifold. Unsustainable growth of population; industrialization led pollution; climate change and many other problems have virtually wrecked havoc on the fate of the rivers. The rivers are dying and are surely spelling doom for the civilizations around them.
Orissa River Conference
by , Indian River Network, 18 April, 2009
Departing from the traditional way of building katta using mud and stones, Krishna Moorthy used sandbags and UV stabilised ‘silpaulin’ sheets to build 35 meter-long katta across the river. This helped to store water for a length of 1.5 kms besides turning the attention of the local people towards this slowly dying art of water harvesting.In the later years, this technique was simplified and many more kattas came up on the same river as well as in other places.Now Krishna Moorthy’s katta technique that makes use of sand and plastic sheets is famously known as Varanashi katta and is being adopted at many places both in Karnataka and Kerala.In association with renowned expert on water harvesting Shree Padre, he has also brought out a book entitled Kattagalu on various aspects of this wonderful method of storing water by building barrages across seasonal rivers and streams. Rainwater harvesting is also done at Varanashi Farms through catch pits, percolation pits and recharging of borewells all of which have made Varanashi Farms an important model for water harvesting in the district.
This one\'s for green thumbs
by Sushma Mohan, Deccan Herald, 24 February, 2009
A depleting water table and an unsure monsoon brings any agricultural activity to a grinding halt. “Especially, when changes in the regular seasons are a common occurrence today, future agriculture depends much on water conservation and usage,” says Mr. Ostwald Quintal, Director, Kudumbam (an organisation for rural development), Tiruchi , Tamil Nadu. A visit to Kongathiraiyanpatti village (40 km from Pudukottai in Tamil Nadu) shows how water conservation along with tree planting helped prevent farmers from migrating to towns and rebuild their lives. Basically a rainfed area, the farmers grew paddy and groundnut. Around 35 wells in the village catered to both drinking and irrigation needs.
Where there is a will, there is a way, says a Tiruchi voluntary organisation
by M.J. PRABU, The Hindu, 12 February, 2009
“China banned river sand mining in Poyang, the country’s largest freshwater lake to protect its aquatic environment. The ban is considered significant in protecting nearly one million migratory birds that make their habitat there,” according to recent reports. In India too, such bans have often been imposed on sand mining at ecologically endangered river basins. The big difference, however, ban or no ban, is that from most of the river beds, dredging is done relentlessly because of high demand for construction sand in recent years. River sand mining has been a critical environmental issue in India over the years as it seriously affects the eco-system of riparian regions surrounding major and minor rivers.
River sand mining poses eco threat
by S V Upendra Charya, The Deccan Herald, 24 February, 2009