P. N. Venugopal uses the small town of Alappuzha, Kerala, to highlight the issues of waste management in many towns and cities in India, and the amazing things that can be achieved jointly through community and government action. Picture above: Aerobic compost unit in Alappuzha Municipality.
Sesame known as the Queen of Oil Seeds is grown extensively in Karnataka, Maharashtra and Orissa. It is drought resistant and many pests find it inedible because of its salty tang. The only requirement is regularity in the rainfall pattern. With the accelerating changes in climate the inherent need of the sesame crop for good rain at planting and dry spells during harvesting has become skewered. Ganapathi Bhat observes that this unpredictability has reduced productivity and many farmers are seeking alternate means of livelihood.
Unbridled usage of chemical fertilizers and toxic pesticides had denuded the soil of its rich micro nutrients and drastically reduced yield. The skyrocketing debt and lack of productivity led many farmers to commit suicide. The youth moved to cities for better prospects, lived in abysmal conditions and earned a pittance which was hardly enough to meet their obligations. Mallikurjana Hosapalya writes about reverse migration from cities to villages through stories of some of the youth and urban experienced couples who had chosen to return to the villages, to take up agriculture, using time honed methods that had stood the test of time.
The wide range of Millets that are grown in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and the Deccan Plateau, have nourished the consumer and sustained the soil. They just require 200-300 mm water as against 2500 mm needed for “Green Revolution“ rice farming. Arthi Chandrasekar has learnt from her elders about the innumerable possibilities of cooking delicious dishes from Millets. She passionately advocates the need for reversing the decelerating trend in climate change and the looming crisis in water.
There is a dire need to shift from chemical fertilizer and pesticides induced agriculture to traditional methods of farming. Modern agriculture brought in by the Green Revolution of the 1960’s has increased GHG emissions. Earlier domesticated cows contributed dung and urine to fix nitrogen and fertilise the soil. Inter-cropping, vermicomposting and mulching regenerated the land. M.N. Kulkarni writes about farmers in Kariyamanappara Village in Tumkur District returning to the time tested methods of cultivation.
Wayanad’s coffee and pepper with its temperate climate and even rainfall thrived in its rich fertile soil. Subini S. Nair writes that the temperature increase over the years have led to a proliferation of pests and diseases which are gradually destroying the crops. To offset the reduction in yield and decrease in quality of the harvest, the gates for imports have been opened. This has affected the economic sustainability of the farmers. Unable to pay his debts they resort to committing suicide. Real Estate development has further annihilated livelihoods.
The pristine backwaters of Alappuzha and Kuttanad, the Rice Bowl of Kerala, is being polluted with oil, human waste and disposable plastics. Sumesh Mangalassery has decimated the idea that the tourism is a boon to the local community. Livelihoods have been destroyed and the ecology of the land laid to waste. Greenhouse gases brought in by Tourism is destroying the coasts. He argues that measures to mitigate its impact needs to be implemented on a war footing.
The fishermen communities on the Kerala-Maharashtra coast in the West and in the Orissa-Tamilnadu coast in the East are facing the brunt of climate change. Oamjie John in his well researched article states that Sardines and Mackerel have moved to deeper waters in the wake of increase in temperature, variability in rainfall patterns and uncontrolled spewing of toxic waste and effluents along the coast. Night time trawlers have also depleted the density of fish. This has had a direct impact on the livelihoods of many living along the seacoast.
Effluents and emissions of greenhouse gases have polluted the estuaries and marshy lands of Pazhaverkadu and Koddikarai in Tamil Nadu. Coral reefs have attenuated and micro organisms have disappeared. Flamingos and Plovers travel phenomenal distances to feed and rear their young. Their numbers have reduced with the drastic effects of climate change. E. Shanmuganantham emphasises the need to protect our natural resources, and preserve the habitats for migratory birds.
Arcattuthurai, a fishing hamlet in Tamil Nadu is facing a human crisis with its men folk, abandoning their vocations and going abroad to sustain their livelihoods. There they work at menial jobs and put their health at risk. G. Sakthivel Murugan asserts that climate change, and differing wind patterns are destroying their means of survival. Mackerel and Pomfret have migrated to deeper waters as it gets warmer closer to shore. He submits that newer technologies like GPS, Walkie Talkie and Echo Sounder should be made accessible to Fishermen.