Skip to main content

Letter to Narmada collector invokes fifth schedule of the Indian constitution, says Garudeshwar weir "illegal"

Women protesters at Narmada bank
By Our Representative
Giving a fresh twist to its opposition to the Narmada project, the Sitter Gaam Adivasi Sangathan, representing 70 villages around the Narmada dam, has taken strong exception to the Gujarat government going ahead with the Garudeshwar weir, being constructed about 12 kilometres downstream of the dam, without any approval from their gram sabhas. It has invoked Schedule V of the Constitution of India, under which approval from the gram sabhas is a must before going ahead with any major project that may affect their livelihood.
The Sangathan, which is backed by top Vadodara-based environmental NGO Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti, is driven by the fear that, with the construction of the weir, the entire 12 km stretch and the nearby areas, may be converted into a tourist spot, for which largescale land acquisition from several of the 70 villages may take place citing the “public purpose” clause of the amended land acquisition Act. Experts say, this cannot happen, as under Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 or PESA, gram sabha approval for any such land acquisition is a must if adivasis are involved.
In a letter submitted to the district collector, Narmada, following a protest rally on December 10, which happened on the Human Rights Day, the Sangathan said, “The Garudeshwar weir, which is going to be 31.75 metres high, is likely to submerge cultivable land of several of the villages like Gora, Vasantpura, Nana Pipariya, Mota Pipariya, Indravarna, Gabhana and Kevadia.”
Suggesting that this will adversely affect the livelihood of the tribals, the Sangathan said, “For us, the Narmada river is part of our cultural-spiritual life. In fact, it is our lifeline. We pray here, we bathe here, we wash our clothes here. We have been disposing of cremated bodies of our ancestors in this river. In case the river waters rise because of the weir, there is also the fear that the crocodiles may enter our villages. Besides, this is the area which is also the command area of the Karjan dam, which supplies water for irrigating our lands.”
Reiterating that the weir is being built without proper environmental clearance, as has been suggested by one of the Narmada Control Authority (NCA) members, Shekhar Singh, the Sangathan quotes from his letter dated March 24 to the NCA, saying, the Gujarat government should be immediately asked to stop construction of the Garudeshwar weir, as also all other activities related to it.
“The letter clearly said that unless the Gujarat government or the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd (SSNNL) does not get its full feasibility report on the weir to the environmental sub-group of the NCA, no work should be allowed for the weir”, the Sangathan, in its letter, said, adding, “Even this has been ignored by the authorities.”
Pointing towards an earlier protest against the weir, which took place November 5, 2913, following which the SSNNL officially told the Sangathan to report all future issues to the district collector, Narmada, the letter said, “It appears clear that you have not taken into account any of our demands. We again demand that till necessary clearances, including from the gram sabhas and the NCA, any work on Garudeshwar weir should be deemed as illegal and it should be stopped forthwith.”
The letter was submitted to the district collector’s office, and a copy was sent to the SSNNL, Gandhinagar, following the protest rally. A Sangathan statement issued following the rally said, “We had expected that the district collector and the deputy collector would personally turn up to receive our letter. However, unfortunately, the district collector shied away from meeting the protesters, many of whom were women, who personally approached him on phone.” Apart from the Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti, Vadodara-based women’s organization, Sahiyar, too, backed the rally.
---
Pix: Trupti Shah

Comments

TRENDING

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

BSF should take full responsibility for death of 4 kids in West Bengal: Rights defender

By Kirity Roy*  One is deeply disturbed and appalled by the callous trench-digging by BSF in Chetnagachh village under Daspara Gram Panchayat, Chopra, North Dinajpur District, West Bengal that has claimed the lives of four children. Along the entire stretch of Indo-Bangladesh border of West Bengal instead of guarding the actual border delineated by the international border pillars, BSF builds fences and digs trenches well inside the Indian territory, passing through villages and encroaching on private lands, often without due clearance or consent. 

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

How GMOs would destroy non-GMO crops: Aruna Rodrigues' key submissions in SC

Counterview Desk The introduction of Bt and HT crops will harm the health of 1 billion Indians and their animals, believes Aruna Rodrigues, who has made some 60 submissions to the Supreme Court (SC) during the last 20 years. As lead petitioner who filed Public Interest Litigation in 2005, during a spate of intense hearings, which ended on 18 January 2024, she fought in the Apex Court to prevent the commercialization of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in Indian agriculture. 

Social justice day amidst 'official neglect' of salt pan workers in Little Rann of Kutch

By Prerana Pamkar*  In India’s struggle for Independence, the Salt Satyagraha stands as a landmark movement and a powerful symbol of nonviolent resistance. Led by Mahatma Gandhi, countless determined citizens walked from Sabarmati Ashram to Dandi in Gujarat. However, the Gujarat which witnessed the power of the common Indian during the freedom struggle is now in the throes of another significant movement: this time it is seeking to free salt pan workers from untenable working conditions in the Little Rann of Kutch (LRK).

Corporatizing Indian agriculture 'to enhance' farmer efficiency, market competitiveness

By Shashank Shukla*  Today, amidst the ongoing farmers' protest, one of the key demands raised is for India to withdraw from the World Trade Organization (WTO). Let us delve into the feasibility of such a move and explore its historical context within India's globalization trajectory.

Jallianwala massacre: Why Indian govt hasn't ever officially sought apology from UK

By Manjari Chatterjee Miller*  The king of the Netherlands, Willem-Alexander, apologized in July 2023 for his ancestors’ role in the colonial slave trade. He is not alone in expressing remorse for past wrongs. In 2021, France returned 26 works of art seized by French colonial soldiers in Africa – the largest restitution France has ever made to a former colony. In the same year, Germany officially apologized for its 1904-08 genocide of the Herero and Nama people of Namibia and agreed to fund reconstruction and development projects in Namibia. .

Livelihood issues return to national agenda ahead of LS polls: SKM on Bharat Bandh

Counterview Desk  Top farmers' network, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) has claimed big success of Grameen Bharat Bandh and industrial /sectoral strikes, stating, the “struggle reflected anger of farmers, workers and rural people across India”, adding, the move on February 16 succeeded in bringing back peoples’ livelihood issues in the national agenda just ahead of the general election to the Lok Sabha.

A 'distorted narrative' of Indian politics: Congress failing to look beyond LS polls

By Prem Singh*  About 15 days ago, I told a senior journalist friend that there are not even two   months left for the Lok Sabha elections, Rahul Gandhi is roaming around on a delectation (tafreeh). The friend probably found my comment exasperating and replied that he is not on a delectation trip. The conversation between us on this topic ended there. 

How retraints were imposed on academic freedom on the IIM-Ahmedabad campus

By Sandeep Pandey*  This is the seventh consecutive academic year when I would have gone as a visiting faculty member to the Indian Institute of Management at Ahmedabad to teach an Elective course on Transformational Social Movements to the second year of Post Graduate Programme students. But the invitation has not come so far and it looks like it is the end of my teaching stint at IIM, at least, so long as the Bhartiya Janata Party remains in power at the centre.