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

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam*
RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

RSS supremo Deoras 'supported' Emergency, but Indira, Sanjay Gandhi 'didn't respond'

By Shamsul Islam*
National Emergency was imposed on the country by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on June 25-26, 1975, and it lasted for 19 months. This period is considered as ''dark times' for Indian democratic polity. Indira Gandhi claimed that due to Jaiprakash Narayan's call to the armed forces to disobey the 'illegal' orders of Congress rulers had created a situation of anarchy and there was danger to the existence of Indian Republic so there was no alternative but to impose Emergency under article 352 of the Constitution.

Letter to friends, mentors: Coming together of class, communal, corona viruses 'scary'

By Prof (Dr) Mansee Bal Bhargava*
COVID greetings from Ahmedabad to dear mentors and friends from around the world…
I hope you are keeping well and taking care of yourself besides caring for the people around you. I’m writing to learn how is the science and the society coping with the prevention and cure of the pandemic. I’m also writing to share the state of the corona virus that is further complicated with the long-standing class and communal viruses.

Hurried nod to Western Ghat projects: 16 lakh Goans' water security 'jeopardised'

Counterview Desk
Taking strong exception to "virtual clearances" to eco-sensitive projects in the Western Ghats, the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) in a statement has said urged for a review of the four-lane highway, 400 KV transmission line and double tracking of the railway line through the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary and Mollem National Park in Goa.

Disturbing signal? Reliance 'shifting focus' away from Indian petrochemical sector

By NS Venkataraman*
Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), a large Indian company, has expanded and grown in a spectacular manner during the last few decades, like of which no industrial group in India has performed before. RIL is now involved in multi various activities relating to petroleum refineries, petrochemicals, oil and gas exploration, coal bed methane, life sciences, retail business, communication network, (Jio platform) media/entertainment etc.

Oxfam on WB project: ICT 'ineffective', privatised learning to worsen gender divide

By Rajiv Shah 
A top multinational NGO, with presence in several developed and developing countries, has taken strong exception to the World Bank part-funding Strengthening Teaching-Learning and Results for States (STARS) project in six Indian states – Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Odisha – for its emphasis on information and communication technology (ICT)-enabled approaches for teacher development, student assessment and digital platform for early childhood education.

Case for nationalising India's healthcare system amidst 'strong' private control

Counterview Desk
A draft discussion note, prepared by Dr Maya Valecha, a Gujarat-based gynecologist and activist, sent to the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) as also a large number of activists, academics and professionals as an email alert, is all set to create a flutter among policy experts for its strong insistence on nationalizing India’s healthcare system.

Cruel legacy of Green Revolution? Covid-19 underscores 'risky, fragile' food system

By Moin Qazi*  The Covid-19 crisis has highlighted the risks of an unhealthy diet and the extreme fragility of food systems. The economic reconstruction that will follow the pandemic is the perfect opportunity to provide better nutrition and health to all. The pandemic should spur us to redefine how we feed ourselves, and agricultural research can play a vital role in making our food systems more sustainable and resilient.

Coal blocks for tycoons: Rinchi village tribals may be declared forest land encroachers

By Gladson Dungdung*
On June 18, 2020, the Government of India initiated the process for auctioning 41 coal blocks for commercialisation. These coal blocks are located in different states within India and most of them fall under Fifth Schedule areas. The Indian government claims that their decision to auction these coal areas is a big step towards making the country Atmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant) in the energy sector.