05.11.99: (26.10.99) Bugarian NGO's
actions against bulgarian/turkish dams
Bulgarian environmental NGOs hanged a banner : "ARDA DOES
NOT WANT A CA$CADE" during the official "ceremony" of the first sod of
Madan dam, which is one of the three planned
dams of the Gorna Arda cascade.
The "ceremony" was opened by the Prime-ministers of Bulgaria
and Turkey. There were also representatives of the Bulgarian National Electricity
Company and the Turkish "Dzheilan
Holding", which are the investors in the cascade. Turkey
takes part with half of the investments for the project and the commitment
of the Bulgarian Government is to export
electricity instead, within the so called "electricity
for infrastructure" transaction.
Dressed in black clothes with "STOP"signs on, the environmentalists
symbolized the neglection of public
participation in the decision making process linked
with the construction of the cascade. Their arguments against the construction
of the cascade are:
- There was not a complete Environmental Impact Assessment
(EIA) of the whole object of the Gorna Arda cascade. EIA was made only
for Madan dam, excluding the other two dams. This
violates the Bulgarian legislation on the EIA procedure.
- Protected by the Bulgarian Nature Protection Act and
the Bern's Convention for the protection of the European wild flora and
fauna plants' and animals' endemic and rare species representatives will
be threaten with extinction, such as Haberlea rhodopensis and Ciconia nigra.
- Arda river is the only one remaining big river with
natural upper current in the Southern Bulgaria, which is among the richest
biodiversity regions in the country with 22 kinds of orchids.
- The temporary employment of the local people during
the building of the cascade cannot be used as an argument for the solving
of the social problems in the region. Such an argument contradicts with
the sustainable development principles. The eco-tourism could be one of
the best solutions to the unemployment in the region.
- The constantly increasing amount of money, which Bulgaria
has to pay for the construction of this cascade can be invested in energy
efficiency programmes. Such a measure will avoid the construction of new
generation capacities (without harming the electricity consumption
and will improve country's position in front of the European
The Bulgarian environmental NGOs insist the construction
of the Gorna Arda cascade to be re-considered immediately. They require
the decision making institutions to act according to the current Bulgarian
legislation and to examine alternative variants for solving the social
problems in the region.
For more information: Maria Matorova
ZA ZEMIATA! (For the Earth)
p.o.box 975 Sofia 1000
Bulgaria tel/fax: 00359 2/ 9633125
04.11.99: Poland: VISTULA LIVES TO ANOTHER
PRESS RELEASE FROM SEK "KLUB GAJA", 4th November 1999.
The Polish Ministry of Environment on 3rd November had
to make a decision about whether to support the building of a proposed
dam at Nieszawa Ciechocinek on the lower Vistula River. Only pro-dam
representatives were invited to the meeting. Uninvited, but also
attending the meeting was representation from the Ecological and Cultural
Association "Klub Gaja" who, together with WWF, spoke in opposition to
the building of this dam.
Vice Minister of the Environment Marek Michalik said that
whilst it was considered that the building of this dam at Nieszawa Ciechocinek
was a good idea, it was obvious that there was opposition to this.
Wishing the decision to be made in concensus it was decided that it was
not possible to make a decision at this time due to obvious opposition.
In "Klub Gaja's" opinion this shows the value of lobbying
at this time.
Written by Jacek Bozek and Sally Naylor, SEK "Klub Gaja",
PO Box 261, 43-301 Bielsko-Biala 1, Poland. Tel/fax: + 48 (033) 8
12 36 94. E-Mail: email@example.com. Web site: www.onet.pl/klubgaja.
Stowarzyszenie Ekologiczno-Kulturalne "Klub Gaja" is an indedpendent, non-profit,
01.11.99 : Namibia: Epupa decision delayed
Epupa verdict put off (strap)Namibia, Angola still 'dams
TODAY'S LEAD STORY IN THE NAMIBIAN NEWSPAPER
A FINAL decision on a site for the controversial Epupa
has now been postponed till next year.
Namibia and Angola failed to meet as scheduled to consider
on which site on the Kunene river to build the proposed
Acting Director of Energy in the Ministry of Mines, Fernando
Friday ruled out any chance that the two sides would
meet this year.
The war in Angola is preventing Angolan government representatives
considering the project.
But Vahekeni would not be drawn into commenting on behalf
of the Angolan
NAMIBIA'S PLANS HIT
Namibia had hoped that a firm decision on the site would
be taken by
mid-year so the first phase of development could begin.
This includes mobilising funds, tendering, measures to
lessen the impact of
the construction of the dam on local people, possible
compensation, and the
final drawing up of plans.
Earlier the Director of Energy, Paulinus Shilamba, said
postponement of earmarking a site would definitely affect
These are said to include the Haib Copper Mine which
will need 180MW,
Scorpion Zinc Mine 70MW, Walvis Bay export processing
zone 50MW, Okahandja
Manganese Smelter 130MW and "many others".
"All these projects put pressure on us. And we are importing
up 70 per cent
of our power from South Africa at the moment while our
continue to rise. By 2006 we will have need for additional
power," he said.
Namibia favours the Epupa site while Angola is pressing
for the Baynes site.
The Angolans are believed to be keen on Baynes because
it will mean they
will be able to renovate and regulate the Gove dam which
was damaged during
the civil war and has not been regulated since 1975.
The Namibian Government contends that the Baynes site
is too small, despite
its environmental and social advantages compared to other
In contrast the Epupa site is regarded as a prestige
site by Namibia.
Namibia also cites the uncertain peace situation in southern
the millions of dollars needed to repair the Gove dam
as factors in favour
of the larger Epupa site.
The final report of the feasibility study by a consortium
Swedish, Norwegian and Angolan consultants states that
more damaging Epupa Falls dam site would be the more
option for the controversial project.
The Baynes site, some 40 km downstream from the Epupa
falls, is considered
s less likely to be economically viable. This is because
the operation of
a hydro-electricity scheme there would be dependent on
the regulation of
the flow of the Kunene river by the war-damaged Gove
Acknowledged shortcomings in the draft final report -
which had to be
addressed before the completion of the final report -
incomplete consideration of measures to lessen the impact
on the Himba
communities affected by the scheme and who have strongly
opposed the dam
The draft final report put the total price for the Epupa
site project at
US$539,4 million - around N$3 236,4 million - and the
cost of the Baynes
site scheme at US$551,2 million (around N$3 307,2 million).
Lori Pottinger, Director, Southern
and Editor, World Rivers Review
International Rivers Network
1847 Berkeley Way, Berkeley, California
Tel. (510) 848 1155 Fax
(510) 848 1008
29.10.99 : France : réforme de la
politique de l'eau, synthèse de la réforme
Lors de ma communication en conseil des ministres du 20
mai 1998, j’ai présenté les grands axes de la réforme
de la politique de l’eau que j’entends mettre en oeuvre. Le moment
est venu de faire le point sur l’avancement de cette réforme ;
c’est l’objet de ma communication en conseil des ministres de ce jour.
La réforme s’articule autour de trois priorités.
1. Premièrement, je souhaite renforcer la
transparence et la démocratie
dans le secteur de l’eau. D’ores et déjà, la
composition des comités de bassin et des
conseils d’administration des agences de l’eau
a été élargie pour y faire une place plus grande
aux associations de consommateurs et de
protection de l’environnement, ainsi qu’aux
représentants des grandes villes, qui étaient
alors sous représentées par rapport aux
La création, maintenant imminente, du Haut
Conseil du service public de l’eau et de
l’assainissement (le décret correspondant vient
d’être transmis au Conseil d’Etat) répond
également à cette exigence de transparence :
j’attends en effet de ce " comité des sages "
qu’il aide les collectivités et plus généralement
l’ensemble des consommateurs d’eau à y voir
plus clair dans leurs relations avec les grandes
compagnies distributrices ainsi que sur ce qui
peut légitimement figurer sur leur facture d’eau.
Le grand chantier qui nous attend maintenant,
c’est le vote par le parlement d’une loi sur l’eau
qui, en révisant les lois de 1964 et 1992,
approuvera les programmes pluriannuels
d’intervention des agences de l’eau, fixera ainsi
les assiettes de leur redevance et en encadrera
les taux, et plus largement assurera une
complète transposition en droit français de la
directive cadre en cours d’approbation au niveau
communautaire. A partir des suggestions du
haut conseil du service public de l’eau et de
l’assainissement, cette loi pourra également
mieux encadrer les conditions de facturation de
l’eau, notamment en réduisant la part fixe de
cette facture, ainsi que développer le comptage
individuel de l’eau dans l’habitat collectif, pour
une meilleure gestion, et renforcer le dispositif
de solidarité au bénéfice des personnes en
2. Ma deuxième
priorité, c’est de renforcer l’application du principe
pollueur-payeur dans le
domaine de l’eau.
Cette politique s’applique
sur deux piliers : d’une part, la création de " pollu-taxes " sur
certains produits polluants,
dans le cadre de la TGAP ; d’autre part, une réforme en
profondeur des redevances
des agences de l’eau.
Le gouvernement propose
en effet que l’an prochain, la TGAP s’applique :
- aux lessives, compte
tenu de leur caractère polluant et pour inciter à une réduction
leur consommation ; on
notera que les lessives contenant des phosphates seront
surtaxées du fait
du rôle important de ces phosphates dans l’eutrophisation des
- aux produits phytosanitaires
dont l’impact polluant pour les rivières et les nappes est
la quasi totalité des rivières et plus de la moitié
des nappes de notre
pays sont ainsi contaminées
par ces produits ; la taxe qui s’y appliquera sera fortement
modulée en fonction
de l’impact toxicologique ou écotoxicologique des molécules
- à l’extraction
de granulats du fait de son impact sur les milieux naturels et les
paysages, notamment dans
les vallées alluviales ; une incitation au recyclage de
matériaux de démolition
est ainsi attendue.
Le système actuel
des redevances des agences de l’eau est davantage conçu pour
financer selon une logique
mutualiste le programme de dépollution que pour inciter par
une réduction des pollutions. Pour changer cette logique et appliquer
réellement le principe
pollueur-payeur, la réforme qui sera mise en oeuvre par le projet
de loi sur l’eau, soumis
au parlement au début de l’année 2001, s’articulera autour
principes suivants :
- réformer la redevance
de pollution domestique payée par chaque consommateur dans
le sens d’une plus grande
équité et d’une plus grande efficacité et à
cette fin, en rendre
redevable les service
publics locaux d’assainissement et tenir compte pour son calcul
de la pollution nette
rejetée dans le milieu ;
- élargir l’assiette
de la redevance de pollution industrielle à l’ensemble des formes
et dans ce but, étudier l’opportunité et la faisabilité
d’une redevance sur
les rejets de substances
radioactives et sur ceux causant une augmentation de la
cours d’eau ;
- créer une redevance
sur les excédents d’azote épandus dans les exploitations
- créer des redevances
sur les ouvrages et aménagements qui modifient le régime
eaux et sont ainsi notamment susceptibles d’aggraver les
inondations : ouvrage
et travaux dans les rivières, remblais en zone inondable,
- réformer les redevances
sur les prélèvements d’eau pour tendre vers une neutralité
taux suivant les différents
types d’usages et à l’inverse les moduler selon la sensibilité
de la ressource en eau.
3. Enfin, je souhaite augmenter
l’efficacité de l’action de l’Etat et de ses
Celle-ci repose évidemment
au premier chef sur les programmes d’intervention des
agences de l’eau. Je remettrai
dès demain aux Président des comités de bassin et
agences une lettre de
cadrage qui leur permettra de préparer leur 8ème programme
d’intervention qui sera
soumis à l’approbation du Parlement en 2001. Parmi les priorités
qui leur seront ainsi
assignées figurent l’amélioration de la qualité de
l’eau potable, en
de la nouvelle directive européenne, mais aussi le soutien à
l’assainissement non collectif
dans les zones rurales et la prévention des pollutions
d’origine agricole. Cette
lettre précisera que pour satisfaire l’objectif d’une maîtrise
prix de l’eau, le produit
global des redevances répercuté sur les usagers domestiques
ne devra pas être
supérieur en francs constants à celui du programme actuel.
Certaines politique nationales
dépassent cependant le cadre des grands bassins
versants : connaissance
de la ressource en eau, préservation des zones humides, ainsi
que diverses actions d’intérêt
commun aux bassins qui peuvent nécessiter une forme de
(lutte contre les pollutions dues aux élevages, par exemple). C’est
mieux financer ces grandes
politiques que le gouvernement propose la création d’un
du trésor appelé fond national de l’eau. Il sera constitué
sections : le FNDAE, dont
les objectifs et la gestion par le Ministère de l'Agriculture et
de la Pêche sont
inchangés, et un nouveau " fonds national de solidarité pour
qui sera géré
par le Ministère de l'Aménagement du Territoire et de l'Environnement.
sera alimenté par
un prélèvement sur les recettes des agences de l’eau, à
500 MF pour 2000.
Enfin, pour que l’action
publique soit efficace il faut une police de l’eau à la hauteur
ses missions. C’est pourquoi
les moyens consacrés aux services en charge de
cette police ont été
considérablement augmentés dès 1999 : création
de 28 postes de
Conseil Supérieur de la Pêche, augmentation de 140 MF des
de fonctionnement des
services de police de l’eau, création de postes en DIREN et
dans les missions interservices
de l’eau, etc.
plus d'info :
29.10.99 : Frankreich plant ambitioese
Reformen zur Wassergesetzgebung
Deutschsprachige Zusammenfassung des franz. Originaltextes
welcher zu finden ist unter:
Die franz. (gruene) Umweltministerin Dominique Voynet
hat dem Kabinet eine weitreichende
Reform zur Wassergesetzgebung vorgestellt. Diese uebernimmt
bereits wesentliche Teile der
noch in Debatte stehenden EU Wasserrichtlinie. Die ambitioese
Gesetzesreform soll 2001 zur Abstimmung
vor das Parlament kommen.
Wichtige Elemente sind:
-Groessere Transparenz und mehr Demokratie in der franz.
Wasserpolitik und die Staerkung der
bereits flusseinzugsgebiet-orienterten Fluss- und Wassermanagementstrukturen
-Inkraftsetzung eines Hohen Rates zur Kontrolle und Regelung
von Fragen im Zusammenhang mit
-Neue Wege werden auch begangen in Sachen Hochwasserschutz.
Jegliche bauliche Massnahmen die
zur Beschleunigung des Wasserablaufes, zur Verringerung
der natuerlichen Wasserrueckhaltungspotentials
oder Verengung von Flusslaeufen fuehren und Hochwasserbildung
beguenstigen, werden (so ueberhaupt gesetzeskonform)
-Neue produktebezogenen Steuern fuer Wasserverschmutzer,
inbesondere fuer Hersteller von Pestiziden und von
"Detergents" '(besonders fuer phoshathaltige Produkte)
sowie fuer phytosanitaere Produkte..
- Auch Industrie (Verschmutzung), Landwirtschaft (Wasserentnahmen
sowie Duengereinsatz) und die Atomkraftwerksbetreiber
(Einleitung von Kuehlwasser) werden zur Kasse gebeten.
Das gleiche gilt fuer Kies und Sandentnahmen im Uferstreifenbereich.
Darueber hinaus sind auch Veraenderungen in Hoehe und
Struktur der Wasserpreise geplant,
auch hier soll mehr Anreiz zur Verminderung der Verschmutzung
und des Wasserverbrauches
29.10.99 : French water policy reform floated
(ENS) - French environment minister Dominique Voynet
revealed ambitious plans to reform the french water
laws. Under the plan, water
related taxes will be introduced next year, followed
by a reform of French water law in 2001.
The series of reforms seek to reinforce the polluter
pays principle in French water law
and pricing as well as effectively transposing into national
law the EU's water framework directive,
even though this is still being debated by governments
and the European Parliament.
The taxes will be integrated into the general tax on
polluting activities (TGAP), which
was introduced last year to bring together 17 existing
environmental taxes under one umbrella.
New water related taxes were promised in the environment
ministry's draft budget for 2000, published last month.
Targets for the new taxes are detergents, especially those
which can cause eutrophication, or over-enrichment, of
water bodies and rivers.
The "most toxic" pesticides will also be taxed, as will
be gravel extraction operations.
In a second element of the plan, a system of water charging
"more directed towards
curing pollution than preventing it," Voynet said, is
to be amended under a revision of
existing French water law to be proposed in 2001. Consumer
charges, which increased
more than three-fold between 1991 and 1997, are to be
stabilised. The minister is also
proposing to clarify the charging system imposed by municipalities
and to introduce mechanisms
to encourage them to invest in more sophisticated water
Industrial and agricultural users will have to pay more
for water. Farmers will have to pay
fees for excess use of nitrogen fertilisers as well as
for water use. Nuclear plants will also be
taxed as they increase water temperature.
Voynet has proposed a "national fund for water solidarity"
to finance common initiatives across
France's six main river basins. A "high council" for
public water services will be created to
arbitrate in disputes between municipalities and consumers.
This english texte is partially based on a presserelease
published in cooperation with ENDS Environment Daily
For full text and graphics visit:
FULL TEXTE IN FRENCH
26.10.99 : Judge Suspends Licensing Hidrovia
A federal judge in Cuiaba' yesterday suspended the licensing
the Araguaia-Tocantins Hidrovia, following new allegations
findings by scientists contracted to carry out the Environmental
Assessment were deliberately covered up in the final
document presented by
the Brazilian Transport Ministry to Brazilian environmental
Lawyers for the Socioambiental Institute in Brasília,
indigenous communities, obtained the court order.
Judge César Augusto Bearsi suspended a series of
public hearings, the first
of which was to have taken place today. In his decision
"frankly, a project of this size cannot be based on a
farce, nor can the
results of studies be presented to the public, leading
all to believe they
are real and serious, when in fact they were adulterated.
If the public
hearing were permitted to take place, the public would
know only those
facts "chosen" to show to them rather than the complete
studies carried out
by qualified professionals.
Glenn Switkes, Director, Latin America Program,
International Rivers Network
1847 Berkeley Way, Berkeley, California 94703, USA
Tel. (510) 848 1155 Fax (510) 848 1008
South America/América do Sul:
Tel/Fax/Message/Recados: +55 65 791 1313
25.10.99 : Narmada : Protesters Climb London's
Wheel protesters 'staying put'
Two environmental protesters perched on top of London's
Wheel have said they are determined to stay put until
Two police officers abseiled down the wheel after spending
talking to the pair, who were roped together close to
They are part of a group who evaded security and climbed
1,500-tonne structure on the banks of the River Thames
at about 0600
BST on Monday.
The activists, who are from Basque environmentalist group
Itoitz and Indian group Narmada UK, are protesting against
construction of controversial dams in Spain and India.
Seven of them came down voluntarily from the wheel and
were arrested for
suspected criminal damage. One had been arrested
earlier before being
able to climb onto the giant structure.
The Narmada dam project dates back 40 years and has caused
since work began 15 years ago.
The brainchild of India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal
environmental campaigners - backed by Booker Prize winner
- say it will submerge forest farmland and disrupt downstream
There is also anger over the displacement of up to 250,000
However, the protest has prompted a security review by
which sponsors the wheel, officially known as the London
spokeswoman said security will be "very different" when
the wheel is in
Site managers said there was little they could have done
to stop the
protesters, who scaled the wheel in about half an hour
by climbing a
Tim Renwick, from project construction firm MACE, said:
of using dogs and barbed wire here, there is nothing
we can do. We can't
stop them coming in by river."
The wheel, which affords spectacular views over the capital,
final position last Monday.
Due to open on Millennium Eve, it is London's fourth-tallest
will stay in position for at least five years, with a
capacity to carry 15,000
people a day.
22.10.99 : WWF campaign : Europe rivers
EU - Europe's rivers are being destroyed by damming projects,
irrigation and pollution from industry and agriculture, destroying species
and endangering public health, a leading environmental group said yesterday.
The World Wide Fund for Nature launched its "Living Rivers"
campaign by calling on the European Union to enact strong and binding water
protection legislation and to withhold subsidies if EU environmental standards
are not met.
"The EU needs to take action on a number of fronts to
restore Europe's rivers," said Tony Long, director of WWF's European Policy
Office. The EU's attitudes towards rivers would be the first test of whether
it is serious about taking account of environmental concerns.
Long said farming and regional development subsidies must
be withheld from any countries not meeting its environmental standards.
He pledged the WWF would closely monitor requests for funding submitted
by Greece, Spain, Ireland and Germany.
"The most pressing action in front of European decision-makers
now is the proposed water framework directive," he said.
"This is supposed to bring in a new era of good management
of Europe's precious rivers and water resources, but the current draft
is far too weak."
The WWF called for mandatory water charges, very limited
exemptions from the rules for the most heavily polluted rivers and a reduction
in the implementation period for the new laws, which could take as long
as 34 years to put into effect.
Europe now has just one large free-flowing river system
left untouched by dams built for power generation - Tornealven on the border
between Sweden and Finland.
The commercially valuable Atlantic salmon has been lost
completely from 124 rivers in Europe and North America.
Surveys of 1,000 river sites across Europe show that 11
percent are heavily polluted with organic matter, while nearly all lowland
floodplains in Spain have been lost to agriculture, WWF said.
22.10.99 : Malaysian NGOs say Bakun dam relocation
akin to 'ethnocide'
(AFP) - Groups opposed to Malaysia's giant Bakun
project Thursday described the forced relocation of 10,000
native people as
"ethnocide" and said some should now be allowed to go
"It is difficult to adequately capture in words the utter
dislocation being experienced by the indigenous communities
resettled because of the Bakun project," said a report
by the groups
entitled "Empty promises, damned lives".
"A gaping hole has been blown in their social fabric;
their culture and
their future is in serious jeopardy."
Kua Kia Soong, a representative of the Coalition of Concerned
Bakun, told a press conference: "Why move 10,000 indigenous
people when the
diversion tunnel or the new design for the dam is not
ready? It is
equivalent to ethnocide."
Kua, a member of a fact-finding mission to a Bakun resettlement
the eastern state of Sarawak on Borneo island in May,
said those who have
resettled in their new homes -- 200-300 kilometres (125-188
from the dam -- have lost interest in traditonal activities.
"They don't have peace of mind even to weave baskets,
activity, and have resorted to alcohol," he said.
"When we talk of ethnocide, we are talking about very
of a culture," said Kua.
He said that by relocating the Ukit tribe, "we are killing
the only Ukit
community in the world."
Kua said the resettlement area he visited at Sungai Asap
had a pre-school
building but no teachers and there was not enough land
He said that since the size of the dam had been scaled
down due to the
Asian economic crisis, those who wanted to move back
to their ancestral
lands should be allowed to do so.
The Bakun dam, one of Southeast Asia's largest infrastructure
attracted international controversy since it was approved
Environmentalists condemned the scale of the original
project, which would
have cleared 69,000 hectares (170,000 acres) of lush
forests and flooded an
area the size of Singapore -- including the burial grounds
of the tribal
The affected people are mainly from the Kayan, Kenyah,
Kajang, Ukit and
In 1997 the main developer, Ekran Bhd., pulled out of
the project, forcing
the government to take over and scale down the dam to
500 megawatts from
2,400 megawatts. It is unknown how much land will be
Earlier Thursday, members of the group handed the 99-page
report and a
videotape of the lives of resettled people to the office
of Deputy Prime
Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, a member of the cabinet
committee on the dam.
The report urged the government to investigate what it
deplorable conditions of the new homes.
"Establish as a matter of urgency an independent enquiry
into the way the
resettlement site was planned, designed, built and paid
for, and into the
whole issue of the housing, the price and contracts,"
The report also called for transparency on the Bakun dam
project and an
investigation into complaints by those people.
It said the lack of available or affordable food was affecting
and health and was a major cause of concern.
The report also urged the authorities to settle all outstanding
compensation and ensure lives and cultures are not destroyed.
Kua said the government could help by providing basic
as schools plus opportunities to market products.
Sem Kiong, a representative of the Indigenous People's
in Sarawak, said the government should allow those who
cannot afford to
move into the resettlement area to relocate elsewhere.
"We hope those who plan to move upriver are not viewed
by the government as
rioters. Don't isolate them," he said.
14.10.99 : Turkey : Guardian on ECAs, "Depraved
A shadowy agency underwrites scores of macabre schemes
The dam the Turkish government plans to build across the
Tigris river at
Ilisu in Anatolia has two main functions. The first is
to hold its
neighbours - Syria and Iraq - to ransom. The Ilisu dam
is big enough to
stop the flow of the Tigris completely for two or three
ruinous consequences for the countries downstream.
The second is an ethnic cleansing operation of precisely
the kind our
government contested in the Balkans. The dam will flood
one of the most
important centres of Kurdish culture and resistance,
forcing some 20,000
Kurds from their homes.
There are several strategic projects like this in Turkey,
but you should
know about this one in particular. For the British government,
foreign policy and sustainable development guidelines
still considering whether or not to help fund it.
If the government does back the Ilisu dam, it will be
just one of a score
of macabre schemes underwritten by a shadowy and secretive
agency called the export credit guarantee department.
Tomorrow is the
deadline for submissions to the trade and industry committee's
into the future of this department. I humbly submit that
the ECGD be
The ECGD exists to provide insurance for British companies
abroad. If the host countries cannot or will not pay
for the goods and
services these companies provide, the agency coughs up
instead. It then
uses its government-backed muscle to force the reluctant
reimburse it, with interest. It is, in other words, a
debt collector for
Like most national export credit agencies, the ECGD, has
obligation to take human rights, social justice or environmental
protection into account. It is so secretive that it refuses
even to give a
full list of the projects it has supported to parliament.
The advisory council overseeing its investments is stuffed
of the companies it insures. The result of arrangements
like this is that
export credit has now overtaken lending by multilateral
banks as the
biggest threat to sustainability and social justice on
The Ilisu dam is supposed to be an electricity generating
project, but the
money would be far better spent on upgrading Turkey's
inefficient transmission system. It will drown one of
archaeological regions on earth, including the ancient
city seen by the
Kurds as their cultural tabernacle.
To prepare for its construction, police and soldiers have
villages and forcibly evicting their inhabitants. Questioning
the need for
the dam is a criminal offence. Meanwhile, Syria and Iraq
rumbling about the diplomatic consequences of blocking
the river. The
British firm Balfour Beatty wants the ECGD to provide
it with #200m worth
of cover, so that it can start work on this illustrious
project as soon as
No one will be surprised if the department agrees. It
is already backing
two nuclear power plants in China, which will provide
energy at three or
four times the cost of power from sustainable sources.
It has underwritten
India's Nathpa Dam, which turns out, as predicted, to
be totally useless.
It has insured British Aerospace's sales of 40 Hawk aircraft
The ECGD is responsible for 95% of the debt owed by southern
the British government. It pursues its money with ruthless
even when the debts were incurred for projects crawling
corruption. As the think-tank Cornerhouse has documented,
activities conflict with the public policies of at least
The ECGD argues that its services are indispensable, as
the private sector
will not underwrite the schemes it supports. One cannot
help wondering why
not. There is no shortage of private money: indeed the
British government, citing a shortage of public funds,
has been requesting
private backing for its projects, under the lamentable
initiative. Could it be that business will not underwrite
the schemes the
ECGD supports abroad because it knows that many of them
are roaring white
For years, campaigners have been calling for reform of
arguing that it should apply ethical criteria to its
loans. But it seems
to me that export credit is by its very nature both corrupt
corrupting. There is no acceptable future for the ECGD.
It must be
18.10.99 : Population outrunning water
NEWS FROM THE WORLDWATCH INSTITUTE
Worldwatch News Brief 99-9
Lester R. Brown and Brian Halweil
(Third in a series of reports on global population issues
leading up to
of 6 Billion, October 12, 1999. Additional information
and resources can be
found at <www.worldwatch.org/alerts/pop2.html>.)
As world population approaches 6 billion on October 12,
water tables are
on every continent, major rivers are drained dry before
they reach the sea and
millions of people lack enough water to satisfy basic
Water tables are now falling in China, India, and the
United States, which
together produce half the world's food. Historically,
irrigated farming has
been plagued with waterlogging, salting, and silting,
but now, with the advent
of powerful diesel and electrically powered pumps, it
is also threatened by
In China, water tables are falling almost everywhere that
the land is flat.
Under the North China Plain, the country's breadbasket,
water tables are
by 1.5 meters, or roughly 5 feet, per year. Where wells
have gone dry, farmers
have been forced either to drill deeper, if they can
afford it, or to abandon
irrigated agriculture, converting back to lower-yield
In India, a country whose population hit 1 billion on
August 15, the
underground water is now estimated to be double the rate
of aquifer recharge
from rainfall. The International Water Management
Institute, the world's
premier water research group, estimates that India's
grain harvest could be
reduced by up to one fourth as a result of aquifer depletion.
In a country
adding 18 million people per year, this is not good news.
In the southern Great Plains of the United States, depletion
of the Ogallala
aquifer has already led to irrigation cutbacks.
Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and
Colorado have been losing irrigated land over the last
two decades. Texas, for
example, has lost irrigated land at roughly one percent
per year since 1980.
Rivers running dry provide an even more visible manifestation
as growing populations take more water. The Yellow River,
the cradle of
civilization, first ran dry in 1972. Since 1985, it has
run dry for part
year. In 1997, it failed to reach the sea during 226
days, or roughly 7 months
of the year.
During the dry season, the Ganges River has little water
left when it reaches
the Bay of Bengal. India, with more than a billion people
taking the lion's
share of the water, is leaving too little for the farmers
of Bangladesh during
the dry season.
In central Asia, the Amu Darya, one of two rivers that
once fed the Aral
now drained dry by farmers in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
As the Sea has
to scarcely half its original size, the rising salt concentration
all fish, eliminating a rich fishery that once landed
100 million pounds
Similarly, the Colorado, the major river in the southwestern
rarely ever makes it to the Gulf of California. The fishery
at its mouth that
once supported several thousand Cocopa Indians has now
Today the Nile, like many other major rivers, has little
water left when it
reaches the sea. Even though virtually all the water
in the river is now
claimed, the population of the three principal basin
and Ethiopia, where most of the water originates-is projected
to increase from
153 million today to 343 million in 2050, generating
intense competition for
Hydrologists estimate that when the amount of fresh water
per person in a
country drops below 1,700 cubic meters per year the country
is facing water
stress. In her new book, Pillar of Sand: Can the
Irrigation Miracle Last,
Worldwatch senior fellow Sandra Postel reports that the
number of people
in countries experiencing water stress will increase
from 467 million in
over 3 billion by 2025 as population continues to grow.
In effect, these
will not have enough water to produce food and satisfy
residential and other
Postel estimates the current world water deficit -- the
excess of water
over recharge from rainfall --at 160 billion tons per
year. Since it takes
1,000 tons of water to produce 1 ton of grain, this water
deficit is equal to
160 million tons of grain, a quantity only slightly less
than annual world
exports of 200 million tons.
Ironically, the excessive grain supplies that have depressed
in 1999 are partly the result of overpumping. If
falling water tables were
stabilized by a cutback in pumping, the resulting decline
in grain production
would likely drive prices off the top of the chart.
As water becomes scarce, the competition for water between
countryside intensifies. In this competition, farmers
almost always lose. In
North Africa and the Middle East, the region ranging
from Morocco in the
Iran in the east, virtually every country is experiencing
water shortages. As
cities grow, countries take water from agriculture to
satisfy expanding urban
water needs. The countries then import grain to offset
the water losses.
Given that importing one ton of grain is equal to importing
1,000 tons of
this is the most efficient way for water-short countries
to import water. Last
year the water required to produce the grain and other
farm products imported
into this region was roughly equal to the annual flow
of the Nile River. With
more and more countries looking to the world market for
food, spreading water
scarcity may soon translate into world food scarcity.
It is often said that the competition for water among
countries may take the
form of military conflict. But it now seems more likely
water will take place in world grain markets. It is the
countries that are
financially strongest, not those that are militarily
the strongest, that are
likely to win in this competition.
If the world could move from the U.N. medium population
projection of nearly 9
billion in 2050 to the low projection of less than 7
billion, water stresses
would be greatly alleviated, making the water problem
the world stays on the current population trajectory,
a growing share of
humanity may simply lack the water needed for a decent
LESTER R. BROWN is president and BRIAN HALWEIL is staff
Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based research organization.
Worldwatch News is maintained by the Worldwatch Institute
for subscribers interested in keeping up-to-date on global
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20.10.99 : Spain creates Wetland Conservation
Plan (from ENS)
MADRID, Spain, October 20, 1999 (ENS) - The Spanish environment
autonomous regional governments Tuesday signed a strategic
plan for the
conservation of Spain's wetland areas, amongst them some
of Europe's most
important wildlife habitats such as Doñana National
Park and the Ebro Delta.
Published in cooperation with ENDS Environment Daily
For full text and graphics visit:
18.10.99 : Narmada: SEEKING ENDORSEMENTS!
Letter to Worldbank
Below is a letter to the World Bank drafted by Paul Wolvekamp
of Both Ends
in the Netherlands together with IRN and Lori Udall and
with input from the
NBA. If you would like to endorse the letter please send
me your name and
affiliation (if you cannot endorse on behalf of an organization
an affiliation (eg university or company) for information
intend to send the letter at the start of next week so
please reply by
Friday 22 Oct.
Please circulate to any contacts you have who may also
want to endorse the
International Rivers Network, USA
Both Ends, Netherlands
Mr James Wolfensohn
Dear Mr Wolfensohn:
We are writing to update you about the latest developments
Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) and to urge you to inform
us on what steps the
Bank will undertake to fulfil its responsibilities to
mitigate the negative
effects of this Bank-sponsored project. We would also
like to know what is
the Bank's current and future involvement in other projects
related to the
Narmada Valley Development Project. We wish to emphasise
Government of India is still legally obligated to meet
the terms and
conditions in its loan and credit agreements with the
Bank on this project
(see Memo from Ibrahim F.I. Shihata to D.J. Wood, March
Following the submission of the report of the Bank-commissioned
Review of the Sardar Sarovar dam and irrigation project
(June 18th 1992),
the Indian Government and the World Bank agreed in March
1993 that the
World Bank would not extend further support for the project.
In 1995 the
Supreme Court ordered construction on the dam wall to
be suspended, with
the dam at a height of 80 metres above sea level. Unfortunately
1999, on the grounds of false information submitted by
governments, the Supreme Court allowed the dam to be
raised by a further
An NGO-fact finding team including some of the signatories
recently went to
the Narmada Valley in order to get a better understanding
of the impact of
SSP seven years after the Morse Commission's Independent
Review. The team
visited resettlement sites as well as villages which
are to be submerged,
and ones which are already partly submerged, in the states
Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. From what we have seen
and learned from
villagers and local experts the scale of social and economic
environmental destruction due to forced displacement,
and submergence is likely to surpass even the findings
and projections of
the Morse Commission.
The people we met at resettlement sites had suffered extreme
hardship and psychological trauma. Many had been displaced
of intimidation and physical violence by government authorities.
totally inadequate quality and quantity has been made
available to the
oustees. We heard numerous accounts of broken promises,
threats and neglect
from the government authorities.
We observed that people at resettlement sites are suffering
from a high
incidence of illness and malnutrition, and a sense of
mental distress and
disorientation. Communities and even families have been
fragmented among numerous different sites. Because they
have lost their
access to the river and forest commons, people have lost
their access to
free fodder, fuelwood, medicinal plants, food and other
Unable to eke out a living in the new resettlement sites,
have even returned to their (partially submerged) original
Tribal families who previously were able to meet most
of their basic needs
and sustain their cultural identity from a diverse natural
now exposed to dependency and exploitation by money lenders,
and traders, or face destitution in urban slums. We also
thriving rural economies in non-tribal areas face destruction
submergence. Hundreds of villages, tens of thousands
of hectares of fertile
arable land, forests, ancient temples and sacred burial
grounds are to be
Years after project construction began there is still
resettlement and compensation plan. It is estimated that
the number of
people to be displaced or otherwise harmed by the dam
irrigation canals, the construction colony, downstream
sanctuary, catchment treatment and backwaters will be
than the number anticipated when the Morse Commission
submitted its report
(which was also far larger than the number claimed when
the World Bank
approved the project).
The part-filled reservoir is already causing serious hardship
villages we visited along the banks of the Narmada. Riverside
gardens and fields have been submerged. With no other
source of potable
water, villagers are forced to drink from the muddy reservoir
increases in gastro-intestinal illnesses, especially
among children. The
thick deposits of mud created along the edge of the reservoir
serious nuisance in previous years, making it difficult
to fetch water and
to wash, and trapping cattle. This year the mud became
fatal: since July
two people, a seven-year-old girl and an elderly man,
have drowned after
becoming stuck in the mud. The reservoir has also flooded
paths and cut off
villages from each other and from towns outside the valley.
consequences of the part-built dam are a steep rise in
malaria cases in
villages near the reservoir, and increases in snake bites
In view of the fate of the oustees who have already been
tens of thousands of villagers who have yet to move have
no confidence in
the capacity and commitment of the relevant state governments
to resettlement and rehabilitation. The people are persistent
refusal to move, despite the hardships they face because
of the reservoir,
and repeatedly state that they are prepared to face the
rising waters since
no alternative options are available which would enable
them to continue a
decent life elsewhere.
During this monsoon, hundreds of villagers and activists
stayed in the
houses by the Sardar Sarovar reservoir and bravely faced
the rising waters
to show their opposition to submergence. In some houses,
the water rose to
knee-height, in others to people's waists, in once case
up to the people's
Just as the number of people predicted to lose their livelihoods
project have been dramatically underestimated, so has
the final economic
cost of the project. When the Planning Commission sanctioned
it was estimated to cost just under $3 billion at current
project authorities agree the cost will not be less than
Project critics believe the actual cost will be more
than twice this.
Yet, SSP is unlikely to deliver the benefits on the basis
of which it has
been justified. For a number of reasons, at least one-third
projected command area will not get irrigation waters.
These reasons (many
confirmed by the Bank's own Project Completion Reports)
* the overestimation of the amount of water in the Narmada
original project plans;
* the exaggerated irrigation efficiency used by project
* the promotion of water-intensive sugar cane growing
in the areas
near the head of the canal;
* the current plans to use water for industrial and municipal
although no water was allocated for these uses in original
* the need to allocate water for the 150 kilometres of
river and rich
estuary region downstream of the Sardar Sarovar dam.
This region needs
water for domestic, industrial, agriculture, fisheries,
uses, and to push back seawater. Yet no allowance is
made in planning
documents for downstream needs.
It is clear that the inevitable shortfall in water availability
felt most by those at the tail end of the huge canal
system - the poor and
drought-prone districts of Kutch and Saurashtra in whose
name the project
is being built. Even if the tailenders were to receive
the amount of water
promised this would still only be enough to benefit 1.6%
of the cultivable
area of Kutch and 9% of the cultivable area of Saurashtra.
officials claim that alternative solutions can solve
the water problems of
the remaining areas of Kutch and Saurashtra. But if 'alternative
are good enough for 98.4% of Kutch and 91% of Saurashtra,
they must also be
good enough for the remaining areas.
In 1992, the Morse Commission wrote: "The opposition,
especially in the
submergence area, has ripened into hostility. So long
as this hostility
endures, progress will be impossible except as a result
means." The Morse Commission was right. Construction
of Sardar Sarovar has
only been able to continue because of the unacceptable
and illegal flooding
of villages and the repression of peaceful protests.
If the dam is raised
any further it is certain that the repression will be
The Bank's initial support for SSP brought considerable
legitimation to the
project and has greatly contributed to the humanitarian
disaster which is
unfolding in the Narmada Valley. We therefore request
you to inform us what
the Bank has done and what it plans to do to ensure that
government adheres to the terms of the SSP credit and
notably with regard to resettlement and rehabilitation.
Furthermore, we request you to inform us whether the Bank
making financial assistance available - for example through
power sector loans - to the Sardar Sarovar dam and irrigation
Narmada Sagar dam and irrigation project and/or any other
part of the Narmada Valley Development Project, or whether
the Bank is
considering such support in future.
In view of the Bank's role in the crucial initial phases
of this project,
we consider the Bank co-responsible for the social hardship
and ecological damages resulting from the Sardar Sarovar
Dam. We call upon
you to urge the Indian government to fulfil its obligations
people affected by SSP and to halt any further increase
in the height of
the dam pending a comprehensive and participatory review
of the project by
an independent tribunal. Disbursements and approvals
of any World Bank
loans for Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra should
only be made when
these conditions have been met.
A copy of this letter will be shared with the governors
of the World Bank
and the parliamentary development committees of the respective
18.10.99 : Africa's potential water wars
The main conflicts in Africa during the next 25 years
couldbe over that most
precious of commodities - water, as countries fight for
access to scarce resources.
Potential 'water wars' are likely in areas where rivers
andlakes are shared by more than one country, according to a UN Development
Programme (UNDP) report.
The possible flashpoints are the Nile, Niger, Volta
The report predicts population growth and economic
development will lead to
nearly one in two people in Africa living in countries
facing water scarcity or
what is known as 'water stress' within 25 years.
Water scarcity is defined as less than 1,000 cu.m of
available per person per year, while water
stress means less than 1,500 cu.m of water
is available per person per year.
The report says that by 2025, 11 more African countries
will join the 14 than already suffer from water stress or water scarcity
The influential head of environmental research institute
Brown, believes that water scarcity is now "the
single biggest threat to global
He says that if the combined population of the three
countries the Nile runs through - Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt - rises as
predicted from 150 million today
to 340 million in 2050 then there could be
intense competition for increasingly limited water resources.
"There is already little water left when the Nile reaches the sea," he
says. And he predicts that Egypt is unlikely to take kindly to losing
out to Ethiopia - a country with one-tenth of its income.
Indeed water is already a catalyst for regional
The Economist magazine's Africa editor Richard Dowdon
says that part of Egypt's
motivation for supporting Eritrea in its conflict with
Ethiopia is its mistrust of
Addis Ababa's plans for the Blue Nile.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has already threatened
bomb Ethiopia if they build any dams on it, he says.
There is also another potential water war in Southern
involving Botswana, Namibia and Angola.
The River Cuito starts in the marshlands of the
Delta in Botswana before heading to Angola through
the Caprivi strip in
Namibia - an area that is no stranger to
tensions and conflict between neighbours.
Fresh water is also becoming increasingly unusable
But given increasing populations
Worldwatch identifies one way of easing
demands for water - importing grain.
Agriculture is by far the biggest user of
water in Africa accounting for 88% of
It takes about 1,000 tonnes of water to
produce every tonne of grain.
Worldwatch says that already the water
needed to produce the annual combined
imports of grain by the Middle East and
North Africa is equivalent to the annual
flow of the Nile.
Importing grain is much easier than
importing water, but for poorer countries
in Africa it may not be an option.
For this reason the UN proposes monitoring worldwide
reserves of drinking water
and establishing agreements for the use of water.
Lori Pottinger, Director,
Southern Africa Program,
World Rivers Review
International Rivers Network
1847 Berkeley Way, Berkeley, California 94703, USA
Tel. (510) 848 1155 Fax (510) 848 1008