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

Girl child education: 20 major states 'score' better than Gujarat, says GoI report

By Rajiv Shah
A Government of India report, released last month, has suggested that “model” Gujarat has failed to make any progress vis-à-vis other states in ensuring that girls continue to remain enrolled after they leave primary schools. The report finds that, in the age group 14-17, Gujarat’s 71% girls are enrolled at the secondary and higher secondary level, which is worse than 20 out of 22 major states for which data have been made available.

Savarkar in Ahmedabad "declared support" to two-nation theory in 1937, followed by Jinnah three years later

By Our Representative
One of the top freedom fighters whom BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi revere the most, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, was also a great supporter of the two nation theory for India, one for Hindus another for Muslims, claims a new expose on the man who is also known to be the original proponent of the concept of Hindutva.

Congress 'promises' cancellation of Adani power project: Jharkhand elections

Counterview Desk
Pointing out that people's issues take a backseat in Jharkhand's 2019 assembly elections, the state's civil rights organization, the Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha, a coalition of activists and people’s organisations, has said that political parties have largely ignored in their electoral manifestos the need to implement the fifth schedule of the Constitution in a predominantly tribal district.

Hindutva founders 'borrowed' Nazi, fascist idea of one flag, one leader, one ideology

By Shamsul Islam*
With the unleashing of the reign of terror by the RSS/BJP rulers against working-class, peasant organizations, women organizations, student movements, intellectuals, writers, poets and progressive social/political activists, India also witnessed a series of resistance programmes organized by the pro-people cultural organizations in different parts of the country. My address in some of these programmes is reproduced here... 
***  Before sharing my views on the tasks of artists-writers-intellectuals in the times of fascism, let me briefly define fascism and how it is different from totalitarianism. Totalitarianism is political concept, a dictatorship of an individual, family or group which prohibits opposition in any form, and exercises an extremely high degree of control over public and private life. It is also described as authoritarianism.
Whereas fascism, while retaining all these repressive characteristics, also believes in god-ordained superiority of race, cultur…

Ex-World Bank chief economist doubts spurt in India's ease of doing business rank

By Rajiv Shah
This is in continuation of my previous blog where I had quoted from a commentary which top economist Prof Kaushik Basu had written in the New York Times (NYT) a little less than a month ago, on November 6, to be exact. He recalled this article through a tweet on November 29, soon after it was made known that India's growth rate had slumped (officially!) to 4.5%.

With RSS around, does India need foreign enemy to undo its democratic-secular fabric?

By Shamsul Islam*
Many well-meaning liberal and secular political analysts are highly perturbed by sectarian policy decisions of RSS/BJP rulers led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, especially after starting his second inning. They are vocal in red-flagging lynching incidents, policies of the Modi government on Kashmir, the National Register of Citizens (NRC), the demand for 'Bharat Ratna' to Savarkar who submitted 6-7 mercy petitions to the British masters (getting remission of 40 years out of 50 years' sentence), and the murder of constitutional norms in Goa, Karnataka and now in Maharashtra.

Post-Balakot, danger that events might spiral out of control is 'greater, not less'

By Tapan Bose*
The fear of war in South Asia is increasing. Tensions are escalating between India and Pakistan after the Indian defence minister's announcement in August this year that India may revoke its current commitment to only use nuclear weapons in retaliation for a nuclear attack, known as ‘no first use’. According to some experts who are watching the situation the risk of a conflict between the two countries has never been greater since they both tested nuclear weapons in 1998.

Rushdie, Pamuk, 260 writers tell Modi: Aatish episode casts chill on public discourse

Counterview Desk
As many as 260 writers, journalists, artists, academics and activists across the world, including Salman Rushdie, British Indian novelist, Orhan Pamuk, Turkish novelist and recipient of the 2006 Nobel Prize in literature, and Margaret Atwood, Canadian poet and novelist, have called upon Prime Minister Narendra Modi to review the decision to strip British Indian writer Aatish Taseer of his overseas Indian citizenship.

Worrying signs in BJP: Modi, Shah begin 'cold-shouldering' Gujarat CM, party chief

By RK Misra*
The political developments in neighbouring Maharashtra where a Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government assumed office has had a trickle down effect in Gujarat with both the ruling BJP and the Congress opposition going into revamp mode.

'Favouring' tribals and ignoring Adivasis? Behind coercion of India's aborigines

By Mohan Guruswamy*
Tribal people account for 8.2% of India’s population. They are spread over all of India’s States and Union Territories. Even so they can be broadly classified into three groupings. The first grouping consists of populations who predate the Indo-Aryan migrations. These are termed by many anthropologists as the Austro-Asiatic-speaking Australoid people.