Press Release : Water Initiatives Orissa

Guest Post by: Ranjan Panda

Sambalpur 27.5.2009

What 'Water Initiatives Orissa (WIO)' had found out three years ago have been substantiated now by a World Bank report, titled 'Climate Change Impacts in Drought and Flood Affected Areas: Case Studies in India'. The World Bank report , which took Orissa as a case study of flooding in a climate change scenarios - has referred to projections that 'temperatures, precipitation, and flooding are likely to increase, with adverse impacts on crop yields and farm incomes. Among the more substantial effects is a spatial shift in the pattern of rainfall towards the already flood-prone coastal areas'. Three years ago the WIO had found out significant increase in average annual rainfall in coastal districts like Baleswar and Puri. Now the World Bank report has projected 23 per cent increase in annual mean rainfall in that region.

- Latest report from the World Bank says that Orissa's climate is deteriorating rapidly. - Rainfall in flood prone coastal areas to be higher. - Report also projects dramatic temperature rise of up to 3.7 degree Celsius. - Water Initiatives Orissa (WIO) had warned of such trends with clear examples 3 years ago. - WIO demands that Orissa government must prepare 'Orissa Climate Change Mitigation Plan' now and start sincere action.

This shift in rainfall will result in 'dramatic increase in the incidence of flooding', says the report. Elaborating on that the report cautions that the probability of discharge exceeding 25,000 cubic meters per second (about 9 lakh Cusec) at Naraj may grow from the present 2 percent to 10 percent due to climate change.

The World Bank report has also mentioned that average annual maximum temperature will increase between 2.3 to 3.7 degree celcius. This is also one trend that the WIO has already established very clearly with startling figures that average annual highest recorded temperature has increased everywhere in Orissa and up to 6.6 degree Celsius in centres like Sambalpur in just a decade. Even cities with moderate climates like Puri and Gopalpur centres have shown an increase of 2 degree Celsius or more.

Following on that finding, the WIO had pursued a state-wide public perception study of climate change. That study clearly indicated such distinct geographical phenomenon within the state including extraordinarily high changes in temperature in some places, especially in the coal/mining and industrial belts, the temperature rise has surpassed by several degrees from the average increase that has been found out by the WB.

We are continuously alerting the people about serious climate degradation in Orissa since we have found unnatural trends. But required seriousness has not been shown. Now, we cannot escape without serious intervention by government. So far as organizations like World Bank are concerned they often release such reports as a prelude to more loans. But till now the World Bank or any other such organizations have not laid out any major climate change mitigation plans, except the coastal livelihood project. We demand serious action and strategic intervention to include environment conservation in real earnest. For that we need to have a clear and well laid out 'Orissa Climate Change Action Plan'. Without waiting for big loans from World Bank like institutions we can utilize the NREGS to create climate combating resources. We must act now to stop disasters from happening and not wait for eternity when we are left bereft of any option to reverse the damage.

For further information, please contact:

Ranjan K Panda (Convener),
Water Initiatives Orissa
C/O: Manav Adhikar Seva Samiti (MASS) Dhanupali,
Sambalpur 768 004 Orissa, INDIA
Phone: +91-663-2540043 / 2540067
Mobile : +91-9437050103 (Ranjan), +91-9438488563 (Bimal Pandia)