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Solar powered irrigation improves nutritional outcomes in Chattisgarh tribals – EQ

Solar powered irrigation improves nutritional outcomes in Chattisgarh tribals – EQ


In Short : In Chhattisgarh, solar-powered irrigation has enhanced nutritional outcomes for tribal communities, promoting sustainable agriculture and improving food security.

In Detail : Limited dietary intake and lack of variety in the meals of tribal families was a cause of malnourishment and stunting among young children in Chattisgarh. This was because the only source of irrigation in the villages was rainfall and so most of the cultivation was done during the monsoons while people either migrated out for work or survived with whatever work they could find.

But all this changed after villages in Koriya, Surajpur and Surguja districts were electrified in 2021 through solar panels in every household. Solar photovoltaic sheets convert solar energy to power water pumps at communal taps, light street lamps and provide electricity in these villages. A 90 percent subsidy has been provided by the state government to set up solar pumps and this has helped villagers to irrigate their farmlands. A total of 20,000 irrigation pumps have been installed and about 466 hamlets have been electrified through solar panels in the three districts.

After the villages were solar powered, people began irrigating their fields through solar irrigation and drips by drawing water. In 2023, Watershed Organisation Trust (WOTR) reached out to these villages and helped them switch to organic farming for vegetables and develop kitchen gardens in their backyards. They were provided 11 varieties of seeds comprising proportionate amounts of greens, reds, and yellows to complete an all-colour diet. Around 288 households in the region are now regularly harvesting vegetables from their nutrition gardens, feeding nutritious food to their children, and supplementing their families’ incomes.

Green jobs on the rise in India’s renewable energy industry

India stands 4th globally in renewable energy installed capacity, 4th in wind power capacity and 5th in solar power capacity, as per International Renewable Energy Agency – Renewable capacity statistics 2023. The recent government initiatives have played a major role in this. For example, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has approved 50 solar parks with an aggregate capacity of around 37,490 MW in 12 states across the country as of November 2023.

India has also committed to an ambitious 5 part Panchamrit pledge that included reaching 500 GW of non fossil electricity capacity, generating half of all energy requirements from renewables, to reducing emissions by 1 billion tonnes by 2030 at the COP26 held in 2021.

India also aims to reduce the emissions by 45 percent and commits to net zero emissions by 2030. About 44 percent of India’s energy requirements at present come from non fossil sources and these are likely to increase as high as 65 percent by 2030, much higher than what it pledged for in the COP Summit in 2021 (Times of India).

Dolphins thrive in the Ganges

The unprecedented efforts being made by the government through the Namami Gange Mission to make Ganga clean and pure, seem to be producing results. The dolphin population is increasing in the river. Experts see this as a positive development that indicates that the dolphins are getting a favorable environment in the Ganga as the water of the river is clean. The number of dolphins is expected to further increase in the coming years.

According to the Wildlife Institute of India, the Ganga and its tributaries harbour about 4,000 dolphins. The number of Gangetic dolphins in Uttar Pradesh is expected to be 2,000, which is more than half of the total number of Gangetic dolphins found in India. This is because of the new tourism policy for the state that has declared the Chambal area as a Dolphin Sanctuary, which has recorded 111 dolphins.

Human activities are changing rivers by altering decomposition rates: Study

Agriculture and urbanisation are likely speeding up the process of breakdown of plant litter in rivers and streams globally, which could contribute to increased greenhouse gas emissions and disrupt the food chain, finds a new study.

Leaves that reach the rivers are decomposed by bacteria and fungi. They are, in turn, consumed by insects, which are then preyed upon by fish. Faster decomposition rates mean the carbon is released into the atmosphere even before the insects get a chance to absorb the carbon from the leaf. This increase in decomposition rates may be problematic for the global carbon cycle and animals, like insects and fish, that live in streams.

The study found that accelerated decomposition rates were observed at higher altitudinal areas in tropical regions such as Central America, the Amazon basin, Western Africa, and the Indo-Pacific. Many areas in middle latitudes with known human impacts such as central Europe, eastern China, central North America, southeastern South America, and Japan also saw elevated decomposition rates while boreal forests exhibit slower rates, especially in northern Asia, eastern Scandinavia, and northeastern Canada. The drivers of increased decomposition rates were higher temperatures and increased nutrient concentrations.

Odisha villagers unite to deal with forest fires

Forest fires continue to destroy ecosystems, threatening both wildlife and local livelihoods. However, villagers from a remote village of Nitigotha have come together to save their forests and prevent forest fires.

The villagers of Nitigotha, who have a deep reverence for the forests that surround their homes, came together and decided not to let the flames consume their natural heritage. They rushed to the forest’s edge, using whatever tools and resources they could find to battle the blaze. Armed with determination and a collective sense of purpose, they cleared away flammable vegetation and prevented the fire from spreading further into their village.

The impact of forest fires extends far beyond the immediate destruction. For example, when the forest is damaged, the animals that rely on it for shelter and sustenance are forced to venture closer to human settlements, leading to increased instances of human-wildlife interactions.

Recognising the urgent need to address these interrelated challenges, the community of Nitigotha has been working closely with the local authorities and conservation organisations to develop a comprehensive strategy for forest fire prevention and management.

One such initiative involves the formation of a multi-stakeholder ‘multi-actor process’ that brings together the pidho (a traditional institution involving a group of villages) leaders, government officials, Panchayati Raj Institution (PRI) representatives, civil society organisations and community members. This platform allows for the open exchange of ideas, sharing of data-driven insights and the coordinated implementation of interventions.

The villagers of Nitigotha have also worked along with their local Gram Panchayat Development Plan (GPDP), leveraging funding and resources to support their initiatives. The local authorities have recognised their efforts, commending their dedication and offering to reward other villages that follow the example of Nitigotha.

Anand Gupta Editor - EQ Int'l Media Network