Palaces For The People
Thursday, December 04, 2003
 
Guardian Unlimited Politics | Special Reports | Allies at odds over how to fight Afghan drugs boom

Allies at odds over how to fight Afghan drugs boom

Richard Norton-Taylor and James Astill in Kabul
Friday December 5, 2003
The Guardian

Britain and the United States are at odds over how to deal with the massive growth in the cultivation of opium poppies in Afghanistan.

Poppy growing areas in the country doubled between 2002 and 2003 to a level 36 times higher than under Taliban rule, according to figures released by the US last week.

But European intelligence sources and independent experts say that Washington, while publicly expressing concern, in practice is turning a blind eye to the opium crop because it needs the support of the warlords, including those in the north of the country who control the bulk of the poppy harvest.

As the White House put it: "A challenging security situation... has complicated significantly the task of implementing counter-narcotics assistance programmes, and will continue to do so for the immediate future."

The area planted with poppies, used to make heroin and morphine, was 152,000 acres (61,500 hectares) in 2003, compared with 76,900 acres in 2002 and 4,210 acres in 2001, the White House office of national drug control policy said.

The crop will be worth about £2bn, with the poppy farmers getting about £1bn and the traffickers a similar amount, according to official US estimates.

The writ of President Hamid Karzai's administration does not run beyond the capital, Kabul, and there are insufficient American and other Nato troops in Afghanistan to maintain law and order in the rest of the country, the intelligence sources add.

"If you take the warlords out, the whole system of government goes," said a well-placed official.

A request this week from Lord Robertson, the outgoing Nato secretary general, to allied defence ministers for more forces for Afghanistan received a lukewarm response. The US and Nato also need the warlords to combat the continuing threat posed by fighters supporting the Taliban and al-Qaida, official sources say.

Another factor, they say, is the relative significance of the Afghan-based heroin trade for the US and Europe.

The bulk of the heroin is smuggled through northern Afghanistan to Russia, or through Iran and Turkey to western Europe. Afghan poppies are responsible for 90% of the heroin reaching Britain, according to the government. Very little reaches the US.

An eradication and compensation plan promoted by MI6 two years ago ended without a lasting effect because of the lack of any follow-up scheme.

The former Taliban regime controlled poppy cultivation, but even it was open to corrupt dealings. Now poppy growing is increasing rapidly, particularly in north-eastern areas of Afghanistan under Tajik control, Christopher Langton of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said.

If any poppy eradication and replacement programme has a hope of succeeding, "the international community will have to increase resources", he said.

Mr Langton said some of the opium was "leaking" south to Pakistan, and that al-Qaida might be getting hold of some of it.

Today the British government will announce the "Kabul gates" scheme - checkpoints designed to deter drug smuggling, manned by Afghan security forces trained in a British-led programme.

Britain is organising a conference in Kabul early next year to promote "greater sharing of the [drug] problem", the foreign minister Bill Rammell told the Guardian.

In a separate development, Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary, yesterday praised two Afghan warlords for surrendering their tanks and howitzers, in what was heralded as a significant boost to the country's security.

The deal between General Abdul Rashid Dostum, an ethnic Uzbek, and the ethnic Tajik commander Ustad Atta Mohammed was negotiated with the help of a British provincial reconstruction team led by Colonel Dick Davis. The two warlords had recently engaged in armed clashes near the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif.

Within hours of the deal being announced, a rocket exploded outside the US embassy in Kabul late yesterday, during Mr Rumsfeld's fleeting visit to the country. It landed in wasteland about 250 metres from the embassy, said an Afghan army spokesman, who blamed the attack on Taliban insurgents or members of another Islamist militia.

No one was hurt in the explosion. It was not clear whether Mr Rumsfeld was inside the embassy, or even in Kabul, at the time.

An Afghan aid worker was killed and 11 people wounded yesterday in an ambush in western Farah province. The killing takes to 15 the number of aid workers murdered in Afghanistan in recent months.
 
Shall Dhaka open eyes? 30 river links identified

Shall Dhaka open eyes? 30 river links identified
By Special Correspondent
Nov 16, 2003, 05:43


The Indian Supreme Court on Monday asked the Centre to give a status report on the progress made in the Rs 5,60,000-crore river networking project. The project aims at linking major rivers by 2016. The second phase of the project has already begun, says a message received from Delhi.

A Bench comprising Justice Y K Sabharwal and Justice S B Sinha gave four weeks’ time to the government to file an affidavit, detailing the progress made in the working out of the action plan II of river networking.

Appearing for the Centre, counsel Sayed Naqvi stated that a task force, chaired by former environment minister Suresh Prabhu, had already identified 30 major links in networking of the rivers to minimise the effects of flood and drought.

This contradicts the Bangladesh government’s ‘contentment’ that the Indian government has not initiated a project for river linking, because during the last Joint Rivers Commission meeting held in Delhi in September, the Bangladesh side was assured that the thing was still at a ‘conceptual stage’.

India watchers are surprised that the Bangladesh government has taken assurance from the Indian water Resources Minister Arjun Charan Sethi as words of Bible when his Prime Minister AB Vajpayee and President Abdul Kalam reaffirmed their commitment to implementation of the river-linking plan.

In last April, the Indian task force on river-linking had considered and adopted the first action plan, which gave the outline of the time schedule for the completion of feasibility studies, detailed project reports, estimated cost, implementation schedule, concrete benefits and advantages of the project.
The Centre said that under the action plan II, two committees had been set up under K V Kamath to look into the financial aspect of the project.

Naqvi informed the court that the river networking had been taken up by the government on priority basis. He said work had started in the Betwa and Parvati rivers in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh respectively.

The feasibility report of the link had already been drawn for the Betwa river. A detailed report was being worked out, he said. For the Parvati river too, the feasibility report was being worked out, he added.

 
SC seeks report on river linking - The Times of India



SC seeks report on river linking

PTI[ TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 2003 02:16:59 AM ]

NEW DELHI : The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Centre to give a status report on the progress made in the Rs 5,00,000-crore river networking project. The project aims at linking major rivers by 2016. The second phase of the project has already begun.

A Bench comprising Justice Y K Sabharwal and Justice S B Sinha gave four weeks’ time to the government to file an affidavit, detailing the progress made in the working out of the action plan II of river networking.

Appearing for the Centre, counsel Sayed Naqvi stated that a task force, chaired by former environment minister Suresh Prabhu, had already identified 30 major links in networking of the rivers to minimise the effects of flood and drought.

In April, the task force had considered and adopted the first action plan, which gave the outline of the time schedule for the completion of feasibility studies, detailed project reports, estimated cost, implementation schedule, concrete benefits and advantages of the project.

The Centre said that under the action plan II, two committees had been set up under K V Kamath to look into the financial aspect of the project.

Naqvi informed the court that the river networking had been taken up by the government on priority basis. He said work had started in the Betwa and Parvati rivers in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh respectively.

The feasibility report of the link had already been drawn for the Betwa river. A detailed report was being worked out, he said. For the Parvati river too, the feasibility report was being worked out, he added.

 
Withdrawal of water from common rivers Timely steps taken against Indian move

Withdrawal of water from common rivers Timely steps taken against Indian move
By BSS, Dhaka
Nov 19, 2003, 01:43

Water Resources Minister Hafiz Uddin, Bir Bikram, on Tuesday told the Jatiya Sangsad that the government had taken appropriate steps in time against Indian move to withdraw waters from trans-boundary common rivers.

Replying to a question from Shah Mohammad Ruhul Quddus of Khulna-6, Hafizuddin said the government had lodged formal protest on August 13 this year against the proposed Indian mega- project for river inter-linking.

Under the proposed project, the Indian government is out to unilaterally withdraw and divert the waters of the international rivers of the Ganges, Brahmaputra, Teesta and other cross- border common rivers.

Besides, the minister said, by this time a task force has been formed for observation, monitoring and evaluation of the project as well as for assisting the government in this regard. The government has been evaluating the report of the task force being submitted from time to time.
The minister further informed the JS that this crucial issue was raised and discussed in the 35th meeting of the India-Bangladesh Joint River Commission held in September last.

Hafijuddin said in the meeting, Bangladesh conveyed its deep concern about this river-linking project of India to the Indian side. Bangladesh also strongly demanded that Indian authorities refrain from implementation of the project till a consensus is reached between the two countries through mutual understanding and negotiations, he added.

He informed the house that owing to the firm stand of Bangladesh the JRC agreed to include this issue in the agenda of the commission. As a result, the door has opened to resume further discussions on the issue in the next meeting of the JRC.

The minister categorically said that through including this issue in the agenda of the JRC meeting, it was accepted as an international issue, not merely a bilateral matter.
 
Business Standard .. Panel to study river linking project

Panel to study river linking project

Our Agriculture Editor in New Delhi
Published : November 20, 2003

The International Water Management Institute (IWMI) has taken up an elaborate project on the strategic analysis of India’s ambitious river-linking programme.

Besides ascertaining the adequacy of the proposed inter-basin links in meeting the future water needs, the research proposal will assess its cost-effectiveness and sustainability.

Revealing this at a press meet here, IWMI officials said the river-linking project prima facie appeared practical though several hurdles would have to be overcome before it could be implemented. The three-year study would aim at identifying the best practices to implement the project as well as the national water sector perspective plan (NWSPP) as a fallback strategy in case the river-linking project failed to come up. Moreover, it will also generate a national debate on the inter-basin transfer of water.

Water everywhere

* The river-linking project will be the largest infrastructure works ever undertaken in the world

* Under the project, 30 links and some 3,000 storages will be built to connect 37 Himalayan and Peninsular rivers to form a gigantic water grid

* It will cost a whopping $120 billion and handle 178 sq cubic kms of inter-basin water transfer per year

* 12,500 km of canals will be built, 35 giga watts of hydro-power capacity created and 35 million hectares will be added to the total irrigated area

The IWMI is one of the 16 international farm research institutes (called Future Harvest Centres), supported by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). Its headquarter is in Sri Lanka.

The IWMI opened an office in New Delhi yesterday, signalling a growing commitment towards addressing vital water-related issues in India. It already has an office at Anand in Gujarat.

The mammoth river-linking project, being formulated by the high-powered multi-disciplinary task force headed by Suresh Prabhu, will be the largest infrastructure project ever undertaken in the world. Under the project, 30 links, some 3,000 storages and 12,500 km of canals will be built to connect 37 Himalayan and Peninsular rivers and form a gigantic water grid.

According to rough calculations, it will cost a whopping $120 billion and handle 178 sq cubic kms of inter-basin water transfer per year.

The project will create 35 giga watts of hydro-power capacity and add 35 million hectares to the total irrigated area.

It will also generate a substantial volume of navigation and fishery benefits. The IWMI officials pointed out the institute’s work in India would be aimed basically at finding new and innovative ways to address the water needs of the poor. Its experience has shown that wastewater can constitute an important source of irrigation.

At present, wastewater irrigation is growing rapidly along the Musi river in Hyderabad. This helps meet part of the city’s requirement of food, fodder and ornamental crops.

An estimated 45,000 hectares of land are irrigated with domestic and industrial wastewater flowing from the city. Utilisation of wastewater for irrigation as such is relatively more economical than its treatment to make it fit for other uses, they maintain.
 
B'desh seeks Japan's help to stop India's river-linking plan : HindustanTimes.com

B'desh seeks Japan's help to stop India's river-linking plan
Press Trust of India
Dhaka, December 2

Bangladesh sought Japan's help on Tuesday to stop India from carrying out its plan to link 37 rivers flowing into the Bay of Bengal.

"Bangladesh gets 65 per cent of water through the flow of the Brahmaputra river and if the water is withdrawn in the upstream, a large part of Bangladesh will be turned into a desert," Water Resources Minister Hafizuddin Ahmed was quoted by the official BSS news agency as telling a Japanese parliamentary team.

He urged Japan to play a role so that Bangladesh was not affected by the Indian plan.

He alleged the plan violated international laws on sharing water from rivers which flow through more than one country.

Shin Sakurai, head of the five-member Japanese team, said Bangladesh should consult with China, India and Nepal to improve water resource management in the region, BSS said.

Bangladesh has demanded India halt planning for the project until an agreement is reached between the two countries.
 
The KIRLOSKAR BROTHERS LIMITED -- 83rd ANNUAL REPORT 2002-2003

The most ambitious river-linking project interlinking 37 rivers at an estimated cost of Rs.5600 billion, as and when implemented, will generate a huge requirement for water handling equipment over a period of at least two decades. The objective is to deliver 173 billion cubic meter (bcm) of water to irrigate around 35 million hectares of land. The other spin off would be generation of 40,000 MW of Hydel power. The scheme is going to throw up good opportunities in water infrastructure sector and likely to benefit pump industry.
 
- posted by lion @ 6:16 PM
 
LEADER ARTICLE
Monsoon Magic: Creating Rivers of Hope in India - The Times of India


FRIDAY, DECEMBER 5, 2003
THE TIMES OF INDIA
EDITORIAL

LEADER ARTICLE
Monsoon Magic: Creating Rivers of Hope in India
SANJAY C KIRLOSKAR

[ THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 2003 12:01:45 AM ]

It is no secret why floods and droughts occur in India — because some parts of the country receive much more than normal rainfall leading to floods, especially in the Ganga and Brahmaputra rivers.

At the same time, large chunks of peninsular India receive less than normal rainfall, leading to droughts. We cannot control rainfall in India. But we could manipulate the manner in which rainwater is allocated. It is a distribution issue; and like most distribution problems, it has to be solved by removing the demand and supply side bottlenecks.

That is why I am so upbeat about the recently announced river interlinking plan for India’s peninsular and Himalayan rivers. The government’s grand proposal, which seeks to retrieve floodwater going waste to the sea and distributing it to water-scarce areas, will link 37 rivers through 31 links and 9,000 km of canals.

This is necessary because water resources in the Brahmaputra and Ganges basin make up 60 per cent of the country’s total resources. In contrast, water resources in Gujarat’s Sabarmati basin account for only 0.2 per cent of India’s total resources. The result? The Brahmaputra region is the most flood-prone region; and Sabarmati the most drought-prone.

If we add to this the problem of shifting patterns of precipitation and run-offs associated with climatic change, as well as an inability to predict and manage the quantity and quality of water, we have a king-sized crisis during bad years. In 2002, for example, India incurred a loss of Rs 250 billion just on account of crop loss because of the drought.

Relatively speaking, lack of water is a bigger problem than excess water in India. The country’s annual requirement of water is projected to increase from 634 billion cubic metres to 813 billion cubic metres by 2025. Unlike floods, which are restricted to eastern India, droughts persist over a much bigger geographical area. As a result, the impact on the economy because of a lack of water is much more severe.

This is why the project is so significant. Take its impact on food security. The Planning Commission estimates that the country will need 450 million tonnes by 2050. At the current growth rate of production, India will have to import heavily to meet this forecasted demand. On the other hand, once river interlinking enhances India’s irrigation potential by 140 million hectares, foodgrain production could double from the current level of 212 million tonnes to 450 million tonnes.

In other words, India could continue to retain its food security 47 years from now, even if population grows at the current pace to 1.8 billion by 2050. Or consider the impact of the power sector. The project is estimated to produce up to 35,000 megawatts of hydroelectric power, and meet the increasing energy demands of an expanding economy.

So far, we’ve only looked at the benefits of the project when it is completed. Actually, the physical task of creating a network of water storage reservoirs across the country will also have a huge multiplier effect on the economy. Every once in a while, the country needs a big push to make it roll forward, and then gather a special momentum on its own. The Golden Quadrilateral Project is one such project: The government kick-off, linking India’s metropolitan cities, has created thousands of jobs for India’s rural landless, besides giving a fresh lease of life to India’s steel, cement and automobile industries.

India now needs another heave to keep the growth momentum going. This is where the river networking project could fit in nicely. There will be huge requirements of steel, cement and other construction materials.

Hundreds of feasibility reports and geological studies will require a large number of consultants, and hundreds of housing agencies could be involved in rehabilitation work. But the most positive impact of the project, however, will be in the number of jobs it manages to create: 10 million through direct employment and ano-ther 10 million through outsourced contract jobs.

The big question: Will this mega project work? There is no reason not to hope. China has begun work on a $59 billion project to divert water from the damp south to the arid north. Scheduled to be completed by 2010, the first phase of the project will deliver water through two massive aqueducts. Each as big as a medium-sized river, the two aqueducts, up to 1,300 km long, will bring water from the Yangtze river to Beijing and the nearby industrial towns.

In fact, we needn’t even look outside India for inspiration. Drought conditions in western Rajasthan are now virtually history, thanks to the transfer of surplus water from the Ravi-Beas to the deserts of Jaisalmer in Rajasthan through the Indira Gandhi Canal.

But here’s the bigger question: Will divergent interest groups allow this project to work? Will there be political issues to be resolved? Will the government be able to win over environmental sceptics who are already voicing concerns about degradation?

Equally important, will the government be able to hardsell the financial viability of this project to potential investors? Most important, of course, the project will have to be sold to the people. Sure, the road ahead won’t be easy, but river interlinking is an idea whose time has come.

( The author is chairman & managing director, Kirloskar Brothers Ltd )

 
Channelnewsasia.com

Quarter of a million without drinking water in French floods


Related News »
• France braces for the worst as triple epidemic breeds panic
• Young girl the latest flu fatality in Britain
• Weather alert lifted as clear-up begins after French floods
• Disaster declared, thousands without water in French floods

MARSEILLE, France : A quarter of a million people were without drinking water in the south of France as flooding threatened to contaminate tap water and disrupted and road and rail transport.

 
France links fatal floods to global warming - www.smh.com.au

France links fatal floods to global warming

By Jean-Francois Rosnoblet in Marseilles
December 5, 2003

Disaster zone ... an aerial view of the flooded southern French city of Arles. Photo: AFP

Floods that have killed five people and forced 15,000 from their homes in south-eastern France eased around the city of Marseilles yesterday, but the situation remained critical elsewhere.

Concern focused on the wine-growing region further west around the River Herault, whose level continued to rise amid torrential rain and heavy winds early yesterday.

A government minister directly linked the floods to global warming.

"As far as Marseilles and the Rhone Estuary is concerned, we are over the worst. But around the Herault the catastrophe is continuing," the Deputy Foreign Minister, Renaud Muselier, a regional deputy, told France 2 television.

"It seems clear the climate is changing," he said when asked to explain flooding that has ravaged this part of south-east France two years in succession.

In September 2002, the nearby Gard region was hit by similar floods.

Powered by Blogger