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Monthly Archives: March 2012

Ground Zero of the protests at Koodankulam

“The urgent need is for journalists to pour into the village and cover as many of the layers of violence and the struggle of the people to withstand and oppose it.”

Perhaps, the above lines posted on a blog on Kafila.org by a victim of Koodankulam protest/supporter of the protest, instigated me to go to the village and check the reality. I was unaware of the cruelty that was inherent to lives surrounding the Koodankulam village. It was/is not news outside Koodankulam. I am still shocked as to why is it not a news. Possibly, Sachin’s 100, Trivdi’s exit, UPA 2’s fiasco and the budget was far more important for the media than the inhumane torture which was happening in a remote corner of the village.

Harassment and torture are not an accepted norm. leaving aside who funds the protest, civil liberties cannot be violated. I was even more shocked to know that Sec 144 of CrPc (prohibiting an assembly of more than five people in an area) is imposed in the entire Taluk and not just the village.

As I write, the police troops are gathering at Koodankulam suspecting that the Naxals are present in the region and are funding the protest. the State repression continues on the protesting villagers in Tamil Nadu.

Detailed story to follow soon. In the meanwhile, have a look at the pictures.

Thousands of wind turbines generators installed at Radhapuram Taluk (Koodankulam and surrounding villages) capable of producing 2,000 KW (2 MW) power. Who benefits? Not definitely the villagers. The entire power is supplied to other cities.
Refer link http://www.hindu.com/2004/08/19/stories/2004081907630600.htm

Villagers have blocked roads leading to protest site at Idithankarai fearing TN police would enter the protest site and create havoc.

the presence of police in large numbers inside the village makes it difficult for the movement of essential commodities. Villages resort to sea route to procure food supplies from nearby coastal villages.

As the prohibitory order of Sec 144 is imposed, movement of people in large numbers to the protest site via road is difficult. So, people are arriving via seat routes to Idithankarai. Also, bus service is not completely restored inside the village.

Close to 4,000 people participated in the protest on Friday, March 23, to express solidarity for 15 people who are on hunger strike fighting against the nuclear power plant at Koodankulam. The count is reported to have doubled over the weekend. (Organisers explaining the protesters of the ill effect of nuclear power plants)

Children as young as 7, practice songs (social message) to keep the protesters motivated and stick to their goal to fight against the nuclear power plant.

Reality: Food (rice porridge) cooked in the community kitchen, helped by volunteers, being served to all protesters, villagers and the media persons. There is a difference of what happens at Ramlila or Jantar Mantar in Delhi and St Lourdes Church grounds in Koodankulam. Crippled with fear, and blinded by the absence of their future, people who have seen the worst during Tsunami are participating in the protest.

Violation of rules: Close to 450 families reside within 1 km from the nuclear power plant violating the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) guidelines. Story reported by Gangadhar Patil http://bit.ly/zANwlC. This photo was taken from the roof of one of the houses built by the Government for Tsunami victims.

Lessons Learnt: Posters of victims of Chemobyl nuclear disaster in 1986 and the effect of radiation on humans being displayed.

 
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Posted by on March 25, 2012 in News and Views

 

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Revival of ragi through value addition

BANGALORE: Ragi (Fingermillet), the crop which once flourished in Karnataka, lost its resemblance over the years due to lack of support from the State government. However, of late, the crop has been reintroduced with many Self Help Groups (SHGs) showing interest in processing ragi into various marketable products.

Ratnamma of Doddaballapur taluk, grows ragi in her one acre of land and utilises the produce for processing value added products like pappad, vermicelli, mixture, and other home-made recipes.

“Gandhi Krishi Vignan Kendra (GKVK) has given us training for producing Ragi-based bakery products and this has acted as a great source of income. A member of the SHG can earn anywhere between� Rs 10,000 to 15,000. We market the products on our own and supply it to different districts,” she added. The grain is nutritious with balanced protein, higher calcium and iron and dietary fibre. This provides with enough opportunities for developing and promoting nutritious utility products from Ragi.

Ragi is grown in rain-fed areas adjoining the border of Karnataka, in the south and south-western region. It is predominantly grown including Mysore, Mandya and Bangalore Rural and Bidar districts.

Ragi is an important dry land crop valued for food grain and straw. One of the important features of Ragi is its resilience and ability to adjust to marginal agro-climatic conditions in terms of soil fertility, rainfall and other weather parameters.

“There are ample opportunities for small entrepreneurs among rural women through development and marketing innovative value added products that is being highly promoted in recent years. This can transform rural employment and retain youths in farming sector,”  S M Savitha, subject matter specialist at GKVK, Bangalore, said.

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(This article was published in TNIE city edition dated March 09, 2012)
 
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Posted by on March 9, 2012 in News and Views

 

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Organic certification needs subsidies

BANGALORE: Organic farming certification is still considered to be a costly affair for farmers across the state. A farmer has to spend upto Rs 1 lakh for certification and inspections for a three years, depending on the certifying agency.

“The stringent procedure for the certification process and the time involved in addition to the huge cost involved for certification is a discouraging aspect,” said Narasimha Reddy, a farmer from Gauribidanur in Kolar district. “Though the government is doing enough, unless the certification cost is brought down or subsidised, many farmers might not come under the belt of organic farming,” he stated.

In India, currently there are around 22 accredited inspection and certification agencies which follow a rigorous process, to bring farms up to code with organic standards. These are dictated by National Project on Organic Farming (NPOF) under Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA).

Though there is no direct subsidy given for certification, the government encourages group certification through farmers cooperatives, the government officials argue.

“In Karnataka, there are close to 150 clusters with 50 farmers each operating with a group certificate programme. A group of farmers can form a society and apply for certification, so that they can share the cost,” said K. Dorai Raj, chief operating officer, Apof Organic Certification Agency (AOCA).

AOCA provides certification service to farmers at a cost of Rs 60,000 for a period of three years.

“Unlike in individual certification, there needs to be a strong internal control system and peer checks in the group certification process. Also, the certification done by a foreign agency will cost more compared to an Indian certifying agency, as they would mainly follow export procedures,” Additional Director and President of Jaivik Krishik Society Dr K Ramakrishnappa said.

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(This article was published in TNIE city edition dated March 08, 2012)
 
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Posted by on March 8, 2012 in News and Views

 

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‘50% hostels under-occupied and lack facilities’

BANGALORE: Nearly 50 per cent of hostels maintained and run by Social Welfare Department in Bangalore Rural and Urban district are under-occupied. Of the 7,800 plus accommodations in 83 pre-metric and post-metric hostels set up to provide facilities for the students of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, close to 4,000 accommodations are available.

In a reality check conducted by Express, in around 20 different hostels across the city, it was found that the number of students admitted to the hostels were less than the number of students shown on records. Surprisingly, some of the hostels have closed long ago due to non-availability of students.

Though the hostel inmates do not complain regarding lack of facilities, the records maintained by the Department of Social Welfare show that only 50 per cent of the hostels have basic library facility and only 30 per cent have sports equipments, despite funds being earmarked every year.

“There were issues of hot water and toilet facilities earlier, but now it has been improved,” a student at a hostel in Hoody said.

In 2010-11, the department allocated `1.3 crore for each district, for maintenance and repairs works of hostels across the state. The officials agree that the situation is same across the state and they plan to improve facilities in next fiscal year.

“The fund allocation has increased three-fold in the last three years and there is no dearth of funds for hostels. Two reasons that are attributed for vacancy are, first, the hostel warden’s attitude and second, the lack of facilities,” said Naveen Raj Singh, commissioner, Karnataka Social Welfare Department. “We have resolved in a meeting today to provide sports and library facility to all hostel by next year and impart training to hostel wardens to improve their attitude,” he added.

However, deputy director of Social Welfare Department, P Nagesh said that it is the lack of will to educate children from poor Dalit families and the economic empowerment in the recent years for the students to back out of hostels.

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(This article was published in TNIE city edition dated March 06, 2012)
 
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Posted by on March 6, 2012 in News and Views

 

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No organic support

BANGALORE: With organic farming addressing rural development and nature conservation effectively, people’s consciousness towards healthy food, ecology and pollution-free environment is increasing and accordingly the demand for organic food too is on the rise in Bangalore.

Despite the government taking initiatives to promote organic farming, there are no marketing linkages created exclusively for organic products. This eventually forces many farmers to sell their produce at lesser margins.

“Lack of marketing facilities is a major problem faced by the organic farming community in Karnataka. Unless the market linkages are strengthened, the demand-supply gap will widen,” said Dr K Ramakrishnappa, additional director and president, Jaivika Krishik Society.

In Karnataka, as per the State Policy on Organic Farming framed in 2006, the government was supposed to have strengthened the existing channels of marketing of agriculture/horticulture produces like SAFAL, APMC, HOPCOMS and KAPPEC to create separate markets for organic produce marketing.

In addition, the policy aimed at supporting direct marketing of organic produce from farmers’ associations, self-help groups and NGOs to buyers, and in providing subsidy for transport from point of production to customers. However, nothing has changed in the last five years, as no such facility has been made available for farmers around the state, except for the Jaivika Krishik Society set-up on Lalbagh premises in Bangalore.

“Though our products are certified, they do not fetch us much profit (relatively) as we spend money on transporting the goods to the customer point,” said Narasimha Reddy, a farmer from Gauribidanur Taluk of Chikkaballapur district in Karnataka.

“If the government provides a marketing platform, it might encourage many farmers to practice organic farming and sustainable agriculture,” he added.

The government officials attribute irregular and short supply of produce as a reason for not setting up a separate marketing unit. “It is irregular and we do not get adequate supply of organic produce. Hence setting up a marketing unit at this stage is very difficult and will not be beneficial. It will take another 4-5 years to come up with such a facility,” said Shakeel Ahmed, Deputy Director, Department of Horticulture in Chikkaballapur taluk.

In contrast, to take advantage of the situation, there are many privately-owned stores that have been established in and around Bangalore that only stock up on organic products. Econet in Thippasandra, Dharani at ISKON, Avani Organic on Bannerghatta Road and FabIndia are some players providing a marketing platform in order to encourage organic producers. “We mostly approach private NGOs and private agro companies for marketing our produce or selling it to JKS at a reasonable price,” said Narasimha Reddy.

Phalada, an agro-based company, provides marketing facilities for farmers by having direct tie ups with them. “There are not many big retailers who are ready to invest in this segment. They only look for short term gain and source it from farmers,” said Bharath B, marketing manager at Phalada Agro Research Foundations Pvt Ltd.
“There are plans for setting up a separate ‘organic mall’ in Bangalore to attract customers and educate them on organic produce,” said Ramakrishnappa.

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(This article was published in TNIE city edition dated March 06, 2012)
 
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Posted by on March 6, 2012 in News and Views

 

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Organised Farming: Less investment, high profits

Bangalore: On the lines of Milk Co-operative Society’s method, the University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore, is promoting community-based farm practice, which will help small and marginal farmers sell their produce without the intervention of middlemen.

Growers of mangoes, jackfruit and other pulses in Chintamani and Doddabalapur taluks have joined hands to create the production-supply chain, wherein, the whole process will be managed and run by the farmers.
“With the decreasing per-capita land every day, it has become a compulsion for farmers to choose community -based farming,” said Srinivas Gowda, president of Mango Growers Association in Chitamani.

According to research by Initiative for Development Foundation, small farmers cultivating on less than a hectare of land constitute 83 per, of which only 42 per cent of the farmland is cultivable and the total output from this land is only half, constituting 51 per cent of the overall farm output.

Under community-based farming, farmers unite to produce the same crop sharing technical inputs and farm practices. Also, other aspects such as research, input supply, extension, credit, collection of produce, processing, and marketing are all integrated to maximise the returns on investments.

Community-based farming reduces the food processing and transportation cost for farmers and increases the profit margin, as it provide a platform for them to sell the produce without the intervention of middlemen.

“Fragmented land holding has made it difficult for farmers to investment on machinery, labour and fertilisers. Through community-based farming, they can utilise the land to its full capacity and sell their produce at a higher price without the involvement of middlemen,” said Dr. Narayana Gowda, vice-chancellor, UAS. “This model has been successful in Chintamani and Doddaballapur and will soon educate farmers across the state to adopt this method,” he added.

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(This article was published in TNIE city edition dated March 09, 2012)
 
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Posted by on March 2, 2012 in News and Views

 
 
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