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(all in original language, en langue originale, in Originalsprache):


    "Newer" News

    05.11.99 : Bugarian NGO's actions against bulgarian/turkish dams
    04.11.99 : Poland: Vistula lives another day
    01.11.99 : Namibia: Epupa decision delayed 
    29.10.99 : French water policy reform floated (fr) (ger)
    26.10.99 : Judge Suspends Licensing Hidrovia Araguaia-Tocantins
    25.10.99 : Narmada : Protesters Climb London's Millennium Whee
    22.10.99 : WWF campaign : Europe rivers in danger
    22.10.99 : Malaysian NGOs say Bakun dam relocation akin to 'ethnocide'
    20.10.99 : Spain creates Wetland Conservation Plan (from ENS) 
    18.10.99 :  Population outrunning water 
    18.10.99 : Africa's potential water wars
    18.10.99 : Narmada:  SEEKING ENDORSEMENTS! Letter to Worldbank 
    14.10.99 : Turkey : Guardian on ECAs, "Depraved debt collectors"

Text : 

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 export)
and will improve country's position in front of the European Union.

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) 975   Sofia 1000
Bulgaria tel/fax: 00359 2/ 9633125 


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:  Web site:  Stowarzyszenie Ekologiczno-Kulturalne "Klub Gaja" is an indedpendent, non-profit, non-governmental organisation.

01.11.99 : Namibia: Epupa decision delayed 
Epupa verdict put off (strap)Namibia, Angola still 'dams apart'


A FINAL decision on a site for the controversial Epupa hydropower scheme
has now been postponed till next year.
Namibia and Angola failed to meet as scheduled to consider recommendations
on which site on the Kunene river to build the proposed dam.
Acting Director of Energy in the Ministry of Mines, Fernando Vahekeni, on
Friday ruled out any chance that the two sides would meet this year.
The war in Angola is preventing Angolan government representatives from
considering the project.
But Vahekeni would not be drawn into commenting on behalf of the Angolan


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 the continued
postponement of earmarking a site would definitely affect several key
Namibian programmes.
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 power demands
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 sites considered.
In contrast the Epupa site is regarded as a prestige site by Namibia.
Namibia also cites the uncertain peace situation in southern Angola, and
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 of Namibian,
Swedish, Norwegian and Angolan consultants states that the environmentally
more damaging Epupa Falls dam site would be the more economically viable
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 Dam.
Acknowledged shortcomings in the draft final report - which had to be
addressed before the completion of the final report - included the
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 Africa Program,
    and Editor, World Rivers Review
    International Rivers Network
   1847 Berkeley Way, Berkeley, California 94703, USA
    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
                                   communes rurales.

                                   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 de
      leur consommation ; on notera que les lessives contenant des phosphates seront
      surtaxées du fait du rôle important de ces phosphates dans l’eutrophisation des
      rivières ;

      - aux produits phytosanitaires dont l’impact polluant pour les rivières et les nappes est
      considérable : 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
      utilisées ;

      - 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
      elles-mêmes à 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 des
      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 de
      pollution rejetée 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
      température des cours d’eau ;

      - créer une redevance sur les excédents d’azote épandus dans les exploitations
      agricoles ;

      - créer des redevances sur les ouvrages et aménagements qui modifient le régime
      d’écoulement des eaux et sont ainsi notamment susceptibles d’aggraver les
      inondations : ouvrage et travaux dans les rivières, remblais en zone inondable,
      imperméabilisation, etc. ;

      - réformer les redevances sur les prélèvements d’eau pour tendre vers une neutralité des
      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
      établissements publics

      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 des
      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
      application notamment 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 du
      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
      péréquation (lutte contre les pollutions dues aux élevages, par exemple). C’est pour
      mieux financer ces grandes politiques que le gouvernement propose la création d’un
      compte spécial du trésor appelé fond national de l’eau. Il sera constitué de deux
      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 l’eau ",
      qui sera géré par le Ministère de l'Aménagement du Territoire et de l'Environnement. Il
      sera alimenté par un prélèvement sur les recettes des agences de l’eau, à hauteur de
      500 MF pour 2000.

      Enfin, pour que l’action publique soit efficace il faut une police de l’eau à la hauteur de
      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
      gardes-pêche au Conseil Supérieur de la Pêche, augmentation de 140 MF des moyens
      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 
der Trink-Wasserverteilung

-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 fuer Bewaesserung 
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 
geschaffen werden.

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 containing phosphates, 
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 treatment equipment. 
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
Website: }
For full text and graphics visit:


26.10.99 : Judge Suspends Licensing Hidrovia Araguaia-Tocantins

A federal judge in Cuiaba' yesterday suspended the licensing process for
the Araguaia-Tocantins Hidrovia, following new allegations that critical
findings by scientists contracted to carry out the Environmental Impact
Assessment were deliberately covered up in the final document presented by
the Brazilian Transport Ministry to Brazilian environmental authorities.
Lawyers for the Socioambiental Institute in Brasília, representing Xavante
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 he  stated
"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 Millennium Whee

Wheel protesters 'staying put'

Two environmental protesters perched on top of London's Millennium
Wheel have said they are determined to stay put until morning.

Two police officers abseiled down the wheel after spending an hour
talking to the pair, who were roped together close to the top.

They are part of a group who evaded security and climbed the
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 Solidarios con
Itoitz and Indian group Narmada UK, are protesting against the
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 protests
since work began 15 years ago.

The brainchild of India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru,
environmental campaigners - backed by Booker Prize winner Arundhati Roy
- say it will submerge forest farmland and disrupt downstream fisheries.

There is also anger over the displacement of up to 250,000 people.

However, the protest has prompted a security review by British Airways,
which sponsors the wheel, officially known as the London Eye. A
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
maintenance ladder.

Tim Renwick, from project construction firm MACE, said: "Short
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, reached its
final position last Monday.

Due to open on Millennium Eve, it is London's fourth-tallest structure and
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 in danger

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 Dam
project Thursday described the forced relocation of 10,000 native people as
"ethnocide" and said some should now be allowed to go home.

"It is difficult to adequately capture in words the utter desperation and
dislocation being experienced by the indigenous communities forcibly
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 NGOs on
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 scheme in
the eastern state of Sarawak on Borneo island in May, said those who have
resettled in their new homes -- 200-300 kilometres (125-188 miles) away
from the dam -- have lost interest in traditonal activities.

"They don't have peace of mind even to weave baskets, a traditional
activity, and have resorted to alcohol," he said.

"When we talk of ethnocide, we are talking about very visible disappearance
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 to farm.

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 projects, has
attracted international controversy since it was approved in 1993.

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
Penan tribes.

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 cleared.

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 called the
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," it said.

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 nutrition
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 infrastructure such
as schools plus opportunities to market products.

Sem Kiong, a representative of the Indigenous People's Development Centre
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 debt collectors"

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 months, with
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, ethical
foreign policy and sustainable development guidelines notwithstanding, is
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 government
agency called the export credit guarantee department. Tomorrow is the
deadline for submissions to the trade and industry committee's inquiry
into the future of this department. I humbly submit that the ECGD be
closed down.

The ECGD exists to provide insurance for British companies operating
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 country to
reimburse it, with interest. It is, in other words, a debt collector for
British corporations.

Like most national export credit agencies, the ECGD, has no legal
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 with directors
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 earth.

The Ilisu dam is supposed to be an electricity generating project, but the
money would be far better spent on upgrading Turkey's notoriously
inefficient transmission system. It will drown one of the richest
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 been burning
villages and forcibly evicting their inhabitants. Questioning the need for
the dam is a criminal offence. Meanwhile, Syria and Iraq are already
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 to Indonesia.

The ECGD is responsible for 95% of the debt owed by southern countries to
the British government. It pursues its money with ruthless determination,
even when the debts were incurred for projects crawling with corporate
corruption. As the think-tank Cornerhouse has documented, the agency's
activities conflict with the public policies of at least three government

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 private finance
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 this agency,
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 and
corrupting. There is no acceptable future for the ECGD. It must be

18.10.99 : Population outrunning water 

Worldwatch News Brief 99-9
Lester R. Brown and Brian Halweil

(Third in a series of reports on global population issues leading up to
the Day
of 6 Billion, October 12, 1999. Additional information and resources can be
found at <>.)

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 needs.

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
aquifer depletion.

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 rainfed farming.

In India, a country whose population hit 1 billion on August 15, the
pumping of
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 of water
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
of each
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
Sea, is
now drained dry by farmers in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. As the Sea has
to scarcely half its original size, the rising salt concentration has
all fish, eliminating a rich fishery that once landed 100 million pounds
of fish
per year.

Similarly, the Colorado, the major river in the southwestern United States,
rarely ever makes it to the Gulf of California. The fishery at its mouth that
once supported several thousand Cocopa Indians has now disappeared.

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 countries-Egypt, the
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
1995 to
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 world grain
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 cities and
countryside intensifies. In this competition, farmers almost always lose. In
North Africa and the Middle East, the region ranging from Morocco in the
west to
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 that the
competition for
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 much more
manageable.  If
the world stays on the current population trajectory, a growing share of
humanity may simply lack the water needed for a decent life.


LESTER R. BROWN is president and BRIAN HALWEIL is staff researcher at
Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based research organization.

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20.10.99 : Spain creates Wetland Conservation Plan (from ENS) 

MADRID, Spain, October 20, 1999 (ENS) - The Spanish environment ministry and
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
Website: }
For full text and graphics visit:

18.10.99 : Narmada:  SEEKING ENDORSEMENTS! Letter to Worldbank 

Dear Friends

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 please give
an affiliation (eg university or company) for information purposes). We
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


Patrick McCully
International Rivers Network, USA
Both Ends, Netherlands

Mr James Wolfensohn
World Bank
Washington, DC

Dear Mr Wolfensohn:

We are writing to update you about the latest developments regarding the
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 that the
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 30, 1993).

Following the submission of the report of the Bank-commissioned Independent
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 in February
1999, on the grounds of false information submitted by the state
governments, the Supreme Court allowed the dam to be raised by a further
five metres.

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 of Gujarat,
Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. From what we have seen and learned from
villagers and local experts the scale of social and economic hardship and
environmental destruction due to forced displacement, construction works
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 economic
hardship and psychological trauma. Many had been displaced under conditions
of intimidation and physical violence by government authorities. Land of
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 separated and
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 essential products.
Unable to eke out a living in the new resettlement sites, many villagers
have even returned to their (partially submerged) original villages.

Tribal families who previously were able to meet most of their basic needs
and sustain their cultural identity from a diverse natural environment are
now exposed to dependency and exploitation by money lenders, land owners
and traders, or face destitution in urban slums. We also witnessed how
thriving rural economies in non-tribal areas face destruction due to
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 no overall
resettlement and compensation plan. It is estimated that the number of
people to be displaced or otherwise harmed by the dam reservoir, the
irrigation canals, the construction colony, downstream impacts wildlife
sanctuary, catchment treatment and backwaters will be considerably larger
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 in the
villages we visited along the banks of the Narmada. Riverside vegetable
gardens and fields have been submerged. With no other source of potable
water, villagers are forced to drink from the muddy reservoir leading to
increases in gastro-intestinal illnesses, especially among children. The
thick deposits of mud created along the edge of the reservoir were a
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. Other
consequences of the part-built dam are a steep rise in malaria cases in
villages near the reservoir, and increases in snake bites and crocodile

In view of the fate of the oustees who have already been displaced, the
tens of thousands of villagers who have yet to move have no confidence in
the capacity and commitment of the relevant state governments with regard
to resettlement and rehabilitation. The people are persistent in their
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 to the
project have been dramatically underestimated, so has the final economic
cost of the project. When the Planning Commission sanctioned the project,
it was estimated to cost just under $3 billion at current prices. Now
project authorities agree the cost will not be less than $4.5 billion.
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 of the
projected command area will not get irrigation waters. These reasons (many
confirmed by the Bank's own Project Completion Reports) include:

* the overestimation of the amount of water in the Narmada in
original project plans;
* the exaggerated irrigation efficiency used by project planners;
* 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 uses
although no water was allocated for these uses in original project plans,
* 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, and navigation
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 will be
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. Gujarat
officials claim that alternative solutions can solve the water problems of
the remaining areas of Kutch and Saurashtra. But if 'alternative solutions'
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 of unacceptable
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 intensified.

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 the Indian
government adheres to the terms of the SSP credit and loan agreements,
notably with regard to resettlement and rehabilitation.

Furthermore, we request you to inform us whether the Bank is presently
making financial assistance available - for example through agriculture or
power sector loans - to the Sardar Sarovar dam and irrigation projects, the
Narmada Sagar dam and irrigation project and/or any other projects forming
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 economic
and ecological damages resulting from the Sardar Sarovar Dam. We call upon
you to urge the Indian government to fulfil its obligations vis-à-vis the
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 donor

Yours sincerely,

Juliette Majot
Lori Udall
Paul Wolvekamp

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 andZambezi basins.

 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 water
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    Nile battle

 The influential head of environmental research institute Worldwatch, Lester
  Brown, believes that water scarcity is now "the single biggest threat to global
    food security".

 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 conflict.

 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 to
bomb Ethiopia if they build any dams on it, he says.
 There is also another potential water war in Southern Africa
involving Botswana,   Namibia and Angola.

 The River Cuito starts in the marshlands of the Okavango
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.

  Grain imports

 Fresh water is also becoming increasingly unusable because
of pollution.

                                     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
                                     water use.
                                     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,
        and Editor, World Rivers Review
           International Rivers Network
              1847 Berkeley Way, Berkeley, California 94703, USA
                  Tel. (510) 848 1155   Fax (510) 848 1008

back to the Homepage

These pages and their content are © Copyright of European Rivers Network.
For more information, remarks or propositions, send us a message !.
>  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,
        and Editor, World Rivers Review
           International Rivers Network
              1847 Berkeley Way, Berkeley, California 94703, USA
                  Tel. (510) 848 1155   Fax (510) 848 1008

back to the Homepage

These pages and their content are © Copyright of European Rivers Network.
For more information, remarks or propositions, send us a message !.