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World Bank grants a $37 million additional loan for Mid-Himalayan Watershed Development Project

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Project Signing: Government of India and World Bank Sign $37 Million Additional Financing Agreement for Himachal Pradesh Mid-Himalayan Watershed Development Project – 40,000 Farmer Households to Benefit

NEW DELHI, November 20 2012 – The government of India, the government of Himachal Pradesh and the World Bank today signed a $37 million additional credit agreement for the ongoing Himachal Pradesh Mid-Himalayan Watershed Development Project to support the government of Himachal Pradesh build sustainable watershed treatment models.

The original $60 million Mid-Himalayan Watershed Development Project is aimed at reversing the process of degradation of the natural resource base, improve productivity, and raise rural household incomes. So far around 6,151 water harvesting tanks, 1,093 ponds/tanks, 287 dams, 263 lift/gravity irrigation schemes, 43 small underground tanks used for irrigation — also known as makowal structures — and 203 km of irrigation channels have been developed under the project. The benefits from these structures have reached some 100,000 families.

The project has converted about 9,000 ha of rainfed area into irrigated land through watershed management techniques. At the mid-term review (November 9-18, 2009), there was an increase in yields of paddy (236 percent), maize (163 percent), and wheat (90 percent), which has surpassed the end-of-project target of 50 percent. The increase in milk yield was 11 percent. It has also played a vital role in reversing the degradation of natural resources and has brought about significant increase in biomass and water availability in project areas, allowing expansion of irrigated lands with subsequent improvements in agriculture yield and household income.

The additional funding will consolidate some of the gains made in the original project by adding another 102 contiguous gram panchayats (village councils) to the existing 602 gram panchayats that fall within the same micro-catchment area where the Project is operational, but are not included in the on-going project; consolidate drainage line treatment in areas that fall within the same drainage line that are already being treated; consolidate some of the agri-businesses which can be replicated by other projects; and increase the financial allocation to support cost overruns, due to price escalation. Such additional watershed treatment for panchayats that fall in the same river basins is expected to maximize impact and ensure the long term hydrological sustainability of the region.

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The agreement for the Mid-Himalayan Watershed Development Project was signed by Prabodh Saxena on behalf of the government of India, Bharathi Sihag, Principle Secretary, Forest, on behalf of the government of Himachal Pradesh and Michael Haney, Operations Advisor, World Bank, India on behalf of the World Bank.

At the mid-term review, overall household incomes rose by 13 percent. This is largely being attributed to the Project’s extension services, in particular, improved agricultural production technologies and market linkages. About 10,000 farmers benefited from cultivating and marketing high value crops, such as vegetables and spices. The Project grouped 1,500 farmers into milk federations and established links with milk chilling plants.

“The ongoing project has achieved many milestones on its path to achieving its desired objectives. We hope this additional financing to Himachal Pradesh will help the state scale up its efforts at enhancing its natural resource base and contribute to improving the livelihoods of the people living in rainfed areas,” said Michael Haney, Operations Advisor, World Bank, India.

In this project, producer companies will add value to agriculture products and improve their marketing capacity. Revolving funds will provide capital to small farmers and their groups to invest in machinery, tools and inputs that will generate a return on investment and, therefore, become a source of further investments in similar items, in a revolving fashion. Interventions to reduce erosion and water runoff through check dams, biomass (planting grass and trees), building water harvesting structures, and putting in place a monitoring system to manage the overall hydrological (water) balance, will help increase the overall availability of water, intensify irrigation, thereby, improving farmers’ incomes. Scaling up vermi compositing and other sustainable agriculture practices will help increase the amount of organic matter in the soil and increase the water retention capacity of the soil in making agriculture sustainable and productive.

“While this project will have the same approach and strategy of the on-going project, we hope the focus on new activities will help consolidate incomes and generate further employment among the people of the state,” said Norman Piccioni, Lead Rural Development Specialist and the Project’s Task Team Leader. “The inclusion of additional gram panchayats will also help in treating contiguous gram panchayats and drainage lines, which will subsequently ensure proper distribution of water along the water sources – springs and streams,” he added.

The Project will be financed by a credit from the International Development Association (IDA) – the World Bank’s concessionary lending arm – which provides interest-free loans with 25 years to maturity and a grace period of five years.
Press Release: World Bank

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India to Surpass China as Most Populous Country by 2027, Debate Erupts Over Need of Population Control Law

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Population Control Law in India needed

The world’s population continues to grow, albeit at a slower pace than at any time since 1950, owing to reduced levels of fertility. From an estimated 7.7 billion people worldwide in 2019, the global population could grow to around 8.5 billion in 2030, 9.7 billion in 2050, and 10.9 billion in 2100, says a reported “World Population Prospects 2019: Highlights” released by the Department of Economics and Social Affairs, United Nations.

Current projections indicate that India will surpass China as the world’s most populous country around 2027, the report says.

India is expected to add nearly 273 million people between 2019 and 2050, while the population of Nigeria is projected to grow by 200 million. Together, these two countries could account for 23 per cent of the global population increase to 2050.

India's Population Growth Projections

The hashtag #Population Control Law was trending on Twitter as the findings of the reports were published by media. The people were of the view that India needs to take immediate measures to control population explosion, which would put huge pressure on already exhausting resources of the country. The one-child policy was being suggested by several people as one possible measure that could be introduced by forming a new law.

As per the findings published in the report, disparate population growth rates among the world’s largest countries will re-order their ranking by population size. China, with 1.43 billion people in 2019, and India, with 1.37 billion, have long been the two most populous countries of the world, comprising 19 and 18 per cent, respectively, of the global total in 2019. They are followed by the United States of America, with 329 million in 2019, and Indonesia, with 271 million.

After this re-ordering between 2019 and 2050, the ranking of the five largest countries is projected to be preserved through the end of the century, when India could remain the world’s most populous country with nearly 1.5 billion inhabitants, followed by China with just under 1.1 billion, Nigeria with 733 million, the United States with 434 million, and Pakistan with 403 million inhabitants.

In 2019, around 40 per cent of the world’s population lives in intermediate-fertility countries, where women have on average between 2.1 and four births over a lifetime. Average lifetime fertility of 2.1 live births per woman is roughly the level required for populations with low mortality to have a growth rate of zero in the long run. Intermediate-fertility countries are found in many regions, with the largest being India

Between 2019 and 2050, 55 countries or areas are expected to see their populations decrease by at least one per cent. In the largest of these, China, the population is projected to shrink by 31.4 million, or 2.2 per cent.

More than half of the projected increase in the global population up to 2050 will be concentrated in just nine countries: the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, the United Republic of Tanzania, and the United States of America.

Another major finding of the report said that in 2018, for the first time in history, persons aged 65 years or over worldwide outnumbered children under age five. Projections indicate that by 2050 there will be more than twice as many persons above 65 as children under five. By 2050, the number of persons aged 65 years or over globally will also surpass the number of adolescents and youth aged 15 to 24 years.

This continued rapid population growth presents challenges for sustainable development. The 47 least developed countries are among the world’s fastest-growing – many are projected to double in population between 2019 and 2050 – putting pressure on already strained resources and challenging policies that aim to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and ensure that no one is left behind. For many countries or areas, including some Small Island Developing States, the challenges to achieving sustainable development are compounded by their vulnerability to climate change, climate variability and sea-level rise, the report said.

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Himachal Lost 408 Human Lives, 207 Animals in Winter Season Alongwith Extensive Horticultural, Agricultural Damages

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winter season loss in himachal pradesh 2019

Shimla-Himachal Pradesh suffered major loss and damage in the winter season due to heavy snowfall, avalanches, landslides, hailstorms, and heavy rains. Between January 1 to March 31, 2019. The state lost as many as 408 human lives and 207 animal lives. Similarly, 1346 houses, 9516 water supply schemes were damaged, 30,921 electricity lines were disrupted, 10,260 LT electrical poles were damaged. Besides, 13,733-kilometre roads length and 377-hectare horticulture crop area was affected during the period.

Chief Secretary B.K. Agarwal, who chaired a meeting of the Inter-Ministerial Central Team (IMCT) on Friday, released this information. The Team was on the three-day visit to the State to assess the damages and losses occurred during winter season-2019 in the State.

Based on this assessment, the State has submitted a memorandum of loss and damages to the government of India amounting to Rs. 374.21 crore.

The State suffered damage to the horticulture and agriculture sector to the tune of 0.54 crore, animal husbandry Rs. 0.19 crore, fishery 0.015 crores, housing Rs. 10.46 crore, community assets Rs. 2.50 crore, forest Rs. 6.78 crore, Public works department Rs. 242.27 crore, IPH Rs. 43.97 crore and Power Rs. 51.17 crore. Besides Rs. 16.32 crore have been distributed as ex-gratia for human lives lost during the calamities in the winter season, informed Director-cum-Special Secretary, HP Disaster Management Authority D.C Rana.

The IMCT team headed by Joint Secretary, KB Singh from Freedom Fighters Rehabilitation department assessed the damages at various places in Shimla, Kinnaur, Chamba, Kullu and Mandi districts.

The other members if the IMCT were Director (Horticulture) Dr. M.N. Singh, Director (Expenditure) S.C. Meena, Deputy Director (Ministry of Rural Development), Deputy Director from Rural Development SS Modi, Director, Central Water Commission OP Gupta, Deputy Director, Power OP Suman, Regional Officer, Road Transport and Highways Vipnesh Sharma.

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Shimla-Rash Private Bus Driver Allegedly Rams Bus Loaded With Passengers Into a Parked Tipper

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Private Bus Accident in Shimla due to rash driving

Shimla-Private bus operators of Shimla are already infamous for rash driving and racing with each other, competing over timings. Several accidents and incidents of rash driving have been reported in the past as well. However, the laxity of the district administration and the police continue to encourage them to carry on with their death races.  

In yet another such incident, driver of a private bus ‘Rajendra’ rammed the bus loaded with passengers into a tipper parked on the roadside near BCS in Shimla City on Saturday evening. Fortunately, except a couple of passengers who received minor injuries, no one was hurt. The collision crushed the front part of the tipper. No one was present inside the tipper when the incident took place.

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While the driver cited mechanical fault ( broken axle) as a reason for the accident, the passengers narrated a different story. The passengers could be seen telling the police that the driver was driving very rashly right from the Old ISBT. Several passengers asked the driver repeatedly to not drive rashly. The driver and the conductor, the passengers said, did not listen at all. Rather, they told passengers that it’s not a big deal and nothing would happen.

The passengers also complained that the driver and conductor were continuously passing obscene remarks to drivers of other vehicles including tourist vehicles. They also alleged the driver appeared to be under the influence of some intoxicating substance.

On the other hand, instead of apologizing to the passengers, the driver was seen arguing with them in the presence of the police. While the driver of the bus and tipper arrived at a mutual compromise, the injured passengers were not taken for medical examination, and simply sent to fetch medicines from nearby chemist.

The passenger also complained that the police took their statements, which were not recorded, lightly.

The accident has again exposed how laxity on the part of the district administration and the traffic police is turning private bus operators into a mafia. This mafia doesn’t care for traffic rules or the lives of the passengers.

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