Water crisis, heat stress to bring down food supply in India and across the globe

News Network
March 18, 2023

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New Delhi, Mar 18: Food supply in India and across the globe will go down by at least 6 per cent by 2050 as water crisis and heat stress caused by climate change will hit productivity, the Global Commission on Economics of Water (GCEW) has warned.

The commission is convened by the Government of the Netherlands and facilitated by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Its latest report used a large dimensional computable general equilibrium model to project impacts on global irrigated food production and food security.

Food supply decreases were projected for two climate change scenarios or representative concentration pathways (RCP) based on the intensity of the greenhouse gas emissions. The optimistic RCP 4.5 based on drastic cut in emissions and RCP 8.5 the worst-case scenario. The model used 2014 as base year.

"Even under the best-case climate change scenario of RCP4.5, most African countries experience an increase in people with severe food insecurity by more than one third," the report 'The What, Why and How of the World Water Crisis' said.

The "best case" scenario for India meant a 6.52 per cent fall in food supply while it was 16.1 per cent in the worst case scenario. In China, it was 8.97 per cent and 22.4 per cent, respectively while the fall in the US was pegged at 4.8 per cent and 12.6 per cent.

Food insecurity affects 72-81 crore people globally and is linked to water insecurity. The fall in production, the study said, will push 100 crore people into severe food insecurity, the report said.

In another report titled 'Turning the Tide', the GCEW issued a seven-point agenda for collective action: managing global water cycle with just and equity, adopt outcomes-focussed approach to water conservation, cease underpricing water, phase out subsidies in agriculture and water, establishing just water partnerships, fortifying freshwater storage systems and reshape the multilateral governance of water. 

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News Network
February 16,2024

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Bengaluru: Asserting his government's commitment to implement various irrigation and drinking water projects related to inter-state rivers including Mekedatu over Cauvery, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Friday in the state Assembly detailed clearances and approvals pending with the Central government.

Presenting the 2024-25 budget in the Assembly, he listed out steps to implement various projects such as Mekedatu, Kalasa-Banduri, Upper Krishna, Upper Bhadra and Yettihanole, among others.

A separate project division and two sub-divisions have already been set up to implement the ambitious Mekedatu Balancing Reservoir and drinking water project of Cauvery river valley, Siddaramaiah said, adding that a survey to identify land that will be submerged under this project and the counting process of trees have already been initiated.

He also said action will be taken on priority to commence work early after obtaining remaining necessary clearances from the competent authorities.

The Chief Minister said that the Central Water Commission has given clearance to the Detailed Project Report for utilising 3.9 TMC water under Kalasa-Banduri Nala Diversion Project and the state government has begun the tender process anticipating forest clearance from National Board for Wildlife.

"However, in the meeting of the National Board for Wildlife headed by the Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, the forest clearance has been deferred," he noted.

He also said that priority will be given to land acquisition and resettlement and rehabilitation as well as to complete sub-schemes under North Karnataka's ambitious Upper Krishna Phase-III Project, and that all necessary legal measures will be taken up along with pursuing the Central government to notify the final award of Krishna Tribunal-II.

Pointing out that the Central Government had announced grants of Rs 5,300 crore for implementation of Upper Bhadra Project in its 2023-24 Budget, Siddaramaiah said that no grant has been released so far.

The previous state government congratulated the Prime Minister in its Budget for declaring Bhadra Project as a National Project, he said.

"However, this has been proved false as the Central Government has not yet declared the project as a national project. Under this project, the State Government is planning to bring about 75,000 acres of land in Chitradurga district under irrigation and pursue with the Central Government to release the grants as announced in its budget to provide benefits to farmers."

To address the problem of reduction in water storage capacity of Tungabhadra reservoir due to silt accumulation, and to also fulfil a long-standing demand of farmers of the area, a detailed project report has been prepared for constructing a balancing reservoir near Navali in Koppal district at a cost of Rs 15,600 crore, Siddaramaiah said.

Consultation with Andhra Pradesh and Telangana regarding implementation of the project has been started, he said, adding that priority will be given for execution of the project.

Further, a pre-commissioning test has been conducted by discharging water to a delivery chamber near Doddanagara under Yettihanole Integrated Drinking Water Project, he said. Balancing reservoir work will be taken up in the current year along with completing all the lift components under the scheme as well as discharging water into the gravity canal.

The Chief Minister also said a plan to make Brindavan Gardens at the prestigious Krishnarajasagar dam a world-class tourist attraction will be taken up under public-private partnership.

A scheme will be implemented under public-private partnership for installing solar parks in back waters and lands owned by the Water Resources Department on the lines of Pavagada Solar Parks.

Several lift irrigation projects will be implemented at an estimated cost of Rs 7,280 crore in the current year. Irrigation potential of 97,698 hectares will be created from these projects.

In the current year, 115 works of lake development, check dam and bridge-cum-barrage at an estimated cost of Rs 200 crore will be taken up to ensure adequate supply of water for drinking purposes, agriculture and industry.

The ongoing 272 tank filling scheme under KC Valley-2nd Phase will be completed in the current year at an estimated cost of Rs 455 crore, Siddaramaiah added.

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News Network
February 13,2024

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New Delhi, Feb 13: Tear gas has been fired at farmers massing at the Shambhu border point between Punjab and Haryana - a key meeting point for farmers from each state heading to Delhi as part of their 'Delhi Chalo' call - and many have been detained as they try to remove cement barriers obstructing their progress.

Visuals showed huge plumes of smoke - making visibility almost impossible - and hundreds of farmers, as well as media personnel, running helter-skelter to the sound of tear gas shells being fired. 

The shelling - the first signs of violence - broke as the clock struck noon and the farmers began their push to Delhi. An estimated two dozen shells were fired, despite no immediate signs of provocation.

Visuals from the Shambhu border - over 200 km from Delhi - also showed the police and security personnel - already outnumbered - dropping smoke bombs from drones to disperse the farmers.

Videos also showed farmers, with scarves wrapped around their faces, jumping concrete barriers to push aside metal barricades, and war zone-like scenes with green fields shrouded in smoke and gun fire (from tear gas guns) in the background. In one video farmers are throwing stones at the police.

Around 200 farmer unions - and an estimated one lakh farmers from neighbouring Haryana, Punjab, and Uttar Pradesh - began marching on the national capital Tuesday morning, in a worrying replay of the 2020/21 protests, in which dozens died and the city was blockaded and cut-off for months.

Police in each of those states have been prepping for this protest for the past few days, positioning concrete slabs and heavy metal barricades to block highways, and stop farmers and tractors pulling trolleys full of food and essential supplies - a signal of their intent to launch a second long-term protest.

Concrete blocks and nails have also been placed on key roads leading into Delhi to prevent tractors and trollies from entering the city, where orders banning large gatherings are in force till March 12.

Within Delhi, police have shut down key border crossings into each state, resulting in traffic jams at the Ghazipur and Chilla points, which connect the city with Ghaziabad and Noida in UP.

Other border points, including Singhu and Tikri, which were major protest sites four years ago, have also been fortified. These include setting up nail strips across roads to stop farmers' vehicles from forcing their way past check posts and placing metal barricades, including barbed wire fences.

The Singhu border - the main Delhi-Chandigarh road - has been blocked on both sides.

Also in Delhi, police are practising firing teargas shells; a video shows cops firing teargas shells in an open area in north Delhi, an exercise that left area residents in discomfort.

Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government over the anti-protest measures; "Is the laying nails in the path of farmers 'amritkaal' or 'anyaykaal'?" Ms Gandhi Vadra asked on X, attacking the ruling BJP for not fulfilling promises to farmers. "Mr Prime Minister! Why such behaviour with the country's farmers? Why don't you fulfil the promises..."

"We Have Everything We Need..."

Farmers marching on Delhi say they are coming prepared for another siege-like situation.

"From a needle to hammer, we have everything we need, including tools to break stones. We left our village with six months' ration with us. We have enough diesel, even for our brothers from Haryana," Harbhajan Singh, from Punjab's Gurdaspur, who was part of the 2020 protest too, said.

"We didn't budge through 13 months last time. We were promised our demands will be met, but the government didn't keep its promise. This time, we will leave only after all our demands are met."

Government Races To Contain Protests

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party - aware of a potentially disastrous impact on its public image weeks before a general election - has already held one meeting with reps of protesting farmer unions.

Two union ministers, including junior Agriculture Minister Arjun Munda, met farmer leaders late Monday. Some progress was made - an agreement was struck on repealing the Electricity Act, 2020 and on providing compensation to farmers killed in UP's Lakhimpur Kheri.

However, there was no resolution of the farmers' primary concerns - a law to guarantee MSP, or minimum support price for all crops, loan waivers, and implementation of the Swaminathan Commission's recommendations - meaning the second "Delhi Chalo" protest began as scheduled.

Mr Munda said "some people want to create problems" and called on the farmers to have patience and trust the government. "The government is committed to the interests of farmers," he said.

"The talks did not lead to any result. We will start our march to Delhi... we will, however, discuss proposals given by the government. The government is at fault here," a farmer leader said.

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News Network
February 20,2024

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United Nation's (UN) experts have raised concern over reports of human rights violations against Palestinian women and girls in Gaza and the occupied West Bank since Israel launched its war on Gaza on October 7.

In a statement on Monday, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said that it had received information that Palestinian women and girls have been subjected to multiple forms of sexual assault at the hands of Israeli army officers, reported Al Jazeera.

"We are particularly distressed by reports that Palestinian women and girls in detention have been subjected to multiple forms of sexual assault, such as being stripped naked and searched by male Israeli army officers. At least two female Palestinian detainees were reportedly raped while others were reportedly threatened with rape and sexual violence," the UN experts said.

The experts also said that the OHCHR has received reports of 'arbitrary execution' of Palestinian women and girls, often with their families.

"We are shocked by reports of the deliberate targeting and extrajudicial killing of Palestinian women and children in places where they sought refuge, or while fleeing. Some of them were reportedly holding white pieces of cloth when they were killed by the Israeli army or affiliated forces", they said.

Israel waged a brutal war on besieged Gaza on October 7 after the Palestinian Hamas resistance group carried out its historic operation against the occupying entity in retaliation for its intensified atrocities against the Palestinian people.

So far, the Tel Aviv regime has killed at least 29,092 Palestinians, mostly women and children, and injured 69,028 others.

In the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem too, Israeli forces intensified raids, killing hundreds of Palestinians and detaining thousand others.

UN experts raised alarm over the arbitrary detention of hundreds of Palestinian women and girls, human rights defenders, journalists and humanitarian workers in Gaza and West Bank.

Many women have reportedly been subjected to inhuman treatment, denied menstrual pads, medicine and food. The OHCHR said that they have also suffered severe beatings and on at least one occasion. Palestinian women detained in Gaza were allegedly kept in a cage in the rain and cold, without food.

UN experts noted that photos of the detainees in 'degrading circumstances' were taken by Israeli forces and then posted online.

An unknown number of Palestinian women and children have gone missing since Israel began its war on Gaza, the experts said.

“There are disturbing reports of at least one female infant forcibly transferred by the Israeli army into Israel, and of children being separated from their parents, whose whereabouts remain unknown,” they said.

The experts have called for an 'impartial, independent and effective' investigation into the allegations and for Israel to cooperate.

The experts further expressed, "taken together, these alleged acts may constitute grave violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, and amount to serious crimes under international criminal law that could be prosecuted under the Rome Statute."

"Those responsible for these apparent crimes must be held accountable and victims and their families are entitled to full redress and justice."

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