Moscow actively considering diverting Siberian river
- Moscow actively considering diverting Siberian river water for profit
FAIRBORN, September 21 – Stimulated by a World Bank projection that the sale of water will bring more than a trillion US dollars in annual profit worldwide a decade from now to those involved in that industry, Moscow is considering developing plans to revive the diversion of Siberian river water to southern Russia, Kazakhstan, Central Asia and possibly China.
Under Mikhail Gorbachev, Soviet plans to divert Siberian river waters to Central Asia were killed by Russian nationalists who saw this gigantist project as a threat to the Russian land. Under Vladimir Putin, renewed plans to do so were killed by Russian ecologists who warned of its negative consequences to the environment more generally.
But now as water shortages spread outward from Central Asia, the idea is attracting attention again and appears to be gaining traction because of the enormous profits that such a scheme might bring to its organizers, according to an analysis of the most recent moves by Aleksandr Bakhtutov (www.islamnews.ru/news-26720.ht...
Earlier this year, Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev proposed resuscitating the river diversion plans that had been vetoed in 1986 and 2002, and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev indicated that he was prepared to reconsider “certain former ideas” which were rejected at the time.
Medvedev’s comments have had an impact on discussions about Russia’s water strategy, Bakhtutov says, most significantly leading those preparing it to argue that Moscow must make plans not just out to 2020 as originally required but to 2030 or even 2050. And in that time frame, diverting some of the flow of the Siberian rivers to the south makes sense.
In addition to the humanitarian and security aspects of this issue, Bakhtutov continues, Moscow has been struck by World Bank projections that “the annual profit of private organizations involved in the administration of water resources can achieve by 2020 about a trillion dollars a year.”
“In this sense,” the analyst argues, “the project of diverting part of the flow of Siberian river can represent a serious interest for foreign and Russian businessmen who could receive their share of this market.” In short, what political will could not achieve in the past, the profit motive may in the future.
Kamil Kanteyev, a specialist on water use, says that officials in Penza oblast “completely support the initiative of Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev about the diversion of part of the flow of the Siberian rivers to the southern regions of Russia and Kazakhstan where a water deficit has taken shape.” Such a project “will not represent any harm” to Siberia, he said.
According to Kanteyev, Bakhtutov says, past plans to divert Siberian river water were killed by people who knew little about the water problems of the country but used this issue for their own political purposes. Indeed, he says, they reduced the whole idea to a cliché rather than considering it rationally and scientifically.
Now that the private sector is involved as well, Kanteyev continues, there is a growing recognition that “without water resources, the southern regions of Russia and the countries of Central Asia do not have any perspectives for development. They will simply dry up altogether. Thus, life itself makes the realization of this project a necessity.”
In the near future, Kanteyev sys, “water will become more expensive than oil.” That is because there are alternative to oil but there are no alternatives to water. Russia is “water rich” and thus can “rationally use its national wealth” to promote its interests and its profits. And it should be prepared to do so.
Not only can Moscow rely on assistance from the private sector, but the situation in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan is so dire that the governments of those Central Asian states as well as that of Kazakhstan can be counted on to provide some of the funding for river diversion, thus lowering the costs of the project to Russia itself.
Once again, “the diversion that would not die” has resurfaced. And despite the arguments of Kanteyev, the opponents of this enormous and enormously expensive project have not disappeared. But they now face a new obstacle to blocking it: the profits those behind it expect to make from a privatized diversion effort.
Kazakhstan proposes diversion of Siberian rivers to help drought-hit Central Asia
The planet is facing major water challenges, said Montrealer William Cosgrove, a former World Bank vice-president who coordinated the United Nations World Water Development Report published last year.
Oromia-Ethiopia: Latest Updates on Land Grab – Reports from the World Bank and the Oakland Institute
Water: Tibet, China, and Asia
- Oromia-Ethiopia: Latest Updates on Land Grab – Reports from the World Bank and the Oakland Institute
September 25, 2010 at 10:21 pm · Gadaa.com
The World Bank’s Report on Land Grab
The much anticipated report from the World Bank (WB) on land grab (which is termed as “land acquisition” in the report) was received with a number of criticisms; the WB’s report, titled “Rising Global Interest in Farmland: Can It Yield Sustainable and Equitable Benefits?”, was published earlier in September 2010.
The report can be accessed from the World Bank website. Below are given excerpts from this report on Ethiopia.
The World Bank report discloses that the government of Ethiopia has transferred ~1.2 million hectares of land in five years, between 2004 and 2009. The report also says that, in most cases, “the expected job growth and net investment were very low.” The following table shows countries with the “large land acquisitions.”
Regarding the environment impact assessments (EIAs) of the said projects, the report says that EIAs “are often waived”:
“In Ethiopia, few agricultural investment projects had an environmental impact assessment (EIA) as required by law. Key reasons were a lack of capacity and a rush to approve projects by the investment authority that precluded sectoral agencies from performing due diligence …
EIAs in Ethiopia, though required, are often waived as sunset clauses for project approval …
In Ethiopia, the mandate of requiring or reviewing agricultural EIAs has been passed to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development or respective regional bureaus, which lack the technical capacity and motivation to make compliance with EIA regulations a priority.”
The report also shows that the economic benefits of the “land acquisitions” are rarely documented and tracked:
“In Ethiopia, many project proposals, even in regions with more advanced governance, only vaguely indicate intended land uses and lack key information, such as the value of the investment and the type of production. Moreover, checks on economic viability do not exist.”
On job creation, the report remarks that a maximum of 6,000 jobs have been created thus far; note that this is a “maximum” as data is not available for all cases. The government, however, claims these projects have created “tens of thousands of jobs.” (for this claim, see the Oakland Institute’s report given below – report #2 under Resources.)
“Expected job creation in Ethiopia is similarly limited, with an average of 0.005 jobs/ha for cases where figures are given.”
“In Ethiopia, land-for-land compensation is available in some standard expropriation scenarios but not when investors who will gain access to the land are responsible for compensation. Although this arrangement reportedly facilitates timely payment of compensation, it has also contributed to landlessness of communities that find that they have few options to use the money they receive to purchase land elsewhere.”
Probably, the most interesting finding of the report:
“In Ethiopia, some large investors not only received land and water free of charge, but also got tax benefits. This gave them an advantage over local smallholders who had to pay land taxes and various other fees but, to the extent that compensation is paid only for improvements rather than land itself, also constituted a regressive subsidy from the poor to the rich …
In Ethiopia, incentives for investors are clearly specified, but various privileges are often discretionary and thus may have negative impacts on the incentive scheme.”
Regarding abandoned and redirected projects, the report says:
“… (I)n Ethiopia, the government is entitled to cancel a concession if it is not implemented within six months.”
Criticizing World Bank’s Report on Land Grab
GRAIN, a non-profit organisation that works to support small farmers and social movements in their struggles for community-controlled and biodiversity-based food systems, slammed WB’s latest report on land grab as follows:
The report is both a disappointment and a failure. Everyone was expecting the Bank to provide new and solid on-the-ground data about these “large scale land acquisitions”, to use their terminology, that have created so much controversy since 2008. After all, the Bank should have access to governments and corporations in a way that journalists and non government organisation (NGO) researchers never would. The Bank itself says this was its central ambition. But there is hardly anything new in the whole 160-plus page document. The Bank said it was going to look concretely at 30 countries, but it only looked at 14. As it turns out, companies refused to share information about their farmland investments, as did governments providing the lands. So the Bank turned instead to farmlandgrab.org, a website run by GRAIN, made a database of all the deals that the media reported on there, and then sent out teams of consultants to see if they were real or not. Is
this the best that the World Bank could do? Read More …
--- On Sun, 9/26/10, brent_ns <brent_ns1@...> wrote:
From: brent_ns <brent_ns1@...>
Subject: [energyresources] Moscow actively considering diverting Siberian river
Date: Sunday, September 26, 2010, 2:47 PM
Oromia-Ethiopia: Latest Updates on Land Grab – Reports from the World Bank and the Oakland Institute