Skip to main content

Opposition to weir on Narmada picks up: Green tribunal issues notice, villagers to stage protest on R-Day

A previous protest against weir
By Our Representative
The Sitter Gaam Adivasi Sanghathan (SGAS), an organization of 70 villages formed to oppose the proposed Garudeshwar weir being constructed 12 km downstream of the Narmada dam for promoting tourism, has decided to hold a protest rally on the Republic Day at Indravarna, one of the villages to be affected, saying, the rally will start immediately after flag-hoisting ceremony. In a statement, SGAS has said, the weir is being constructed in violation of the state environmental laws, and construction of the weir be immediately stopped.
Pointing out that various representations about the “illegality” of the weir have already been made, the statement said, on October 15, 2013, senior Cabinet ministers Anandiben Patel, Nitin Patel and Ganpat Vasava assured the villagers that a reasonable solution would be found. However, as nothing happened, on December 10, the villagers staged a protest, handing over a written representation. “Instead of answering questions in a calm and non-violent way, on January 3, at around 11 am contractors’ trucks brought in state reserve police (SRP) cops to put up tents in an effort to cow down frequent protests", it said. While the villagers, mainly women, ensured that the truckers did not unload the tents, and the SRP jawans had to leave, SGAS added, it has still not received reply to any of the issues raised in the letter sent to the district collector on December 22.
These were:
· More than 1,000 acres of land will submerge for several days in a year after the weir is constructed. It will damage the crop.
· There is a danger that some of affected villages will turn into an island on construction of the weir. There is no clarity on the matter.
· Land acquisition for the weir has been going on since 1994, and has continued at different stages. Now, even more acquisition will be carried out. What is the cut-off date for providing benefits to the affected families?
· Environmental permission for the construction of the weir has still not been taken, nor has any public hearing been held for it.
Meanwhile, the National Green Tribunal (NTG), the top quasi-judicial authority, has issued a notice to the Gujarat government and the Union ministry of environment and forests in response to a petition filed by senior environmentalist Rohit Prajapati, in association with other activists, demanding immediate stay on the construction of Garudeshwar weir, which they allege is being constructed without complying with the environmental protection Act, 1985, not to talk of going into formalities such as taking a nod of the Narmada Control Authority (NCA).
The petition, it is learnt, alleges that the weir would lead to the submergence of 11 villages -- Garudeshwar, Gabhana, Kevadia, Vagadia, Navagam, Limdi, Gora, Vasaantpura, Mota Piparia, Nana Piparia and Indravarna, directly or indirectly affecting 11,000 villagers. Sources close to the development say, the petition is based on the fact that the original Narmada Project got permission in 1987 but did not “concretely envisage” the weir, did not it include assessment of social or environmental impacts of the weir.
The sources added, there was some “random land acquisitions in 1991 in the submergence areas of the Garudeshwar weir” but “substantial acquisition” took place over the last one decade. In March 2012, the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Narmada Nigam Ltd (SSNNL), implementing the Narmada project, handed over contract of the weir to Ritwik Project Limited for Rs 299 crore and in September 2013 the work for the weir began.
The sources also pointed out that Shekhar Singh of the NCA has already written to the Union ministry of environment and forests that environmental and social impact of construction and operation of Garudeshwar weir did not have clearance of the environmental sub-group of the NCA. He warned against potential adverse effect on fisheries in the upstream and downstream areas, and also impact on biodiversity of the area.
Meanwhile, the government tried creating “confusion” as to whether the Garudeshwar weir was part of the Narmada Project or it was a separate project altogether. It said, the Narmada Project has a relief and rehabilitation package which is not applicable to the Garudeshwar dam affected villagers.
One of the activists told Counterview: “If they were part of the Narmada Project they would have been offered this package. When they protested, a high level committee meeting took place on October 10, 2013 of the Government of Gujarat which included various ministers from the cabinet and concerned bureaucrats and a new relief and rehabilitation policy was formulated for affected people of the Garudeshwar weir.”
The activist further said, “The Garudeshwar weir is part of the power component of Narmada Project in which Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra share is 57 per cent and 27 per cent, respectively, both in cost and benefit. The implementation of the Garudeshwar weir cannot be taken up without express consent from these states. The two states have not agreed to the weir, and have refused to part with the cost of the share.”

Comments

TRENDING

India performs 'poorly' in Quality of Life Index, ranks 62nd out of 64 countries

Counterview Desk “Expat Insider”, which claims to be one of the world’s most extensive surveys about living and working abroad, in a survey of 20,259 participants from around the globe, has found that of the 64 destinations around the globe, has found that while Taiwan is the best destination for persons living outside their native country, closely by Vietnam and Portugal, India ranks 59th.

Youngest of 16 activists jailed for sedition, Mahesh Raut 'fought' mining on tribal land

By Surabhi Agarwal, Sandeep Pandey* A compassionate human being, always popular among his friends and colleagues because of his friendly nature and human sensitivity, 33-year-old Mahesh Raut, champion of the democratic rights of the marginalised Adivasi people of Gadchiroli, Maharashtra, has been in prison for over two years now.

Human development index: India performs worse than G-20 developing countries

By Rajiv Shah A new book, “Sustainable Development in India: A Comparison with the G-20”, authored by Dr Keshab Chandra Mandal, has regretted that though India’s GDP has doubled over the last one decade, its human development indicators are worse than not just developed countries of the Group of 20 countries but also developing countries who its members.

India's GDP down by 50%, not 23%, job loss 200 million not 122 million: Top economist

By Our Representative  One of India’s topmost economists has estimated that India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) decline was around 50%, and not 23%, as claimed by the Government of India’s top data body, National Statistical Organization (NSO). Prof Arun Kumar, who is Malcolm S Adiseshiah chair professor, Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi, said this was delivering a web policy speech, organised by the Impact and Policy Research Institute (IMPRI), New Delhi.

Stan Swamy vs Arnab Goswami: Are activists fighting a losing battle? Whither justice?

By Fr Sunil Macwan SJ* It is time one raised pertinent questions over the courts denying bail to Fr Stan Swamy, who was arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), and granting it to Arnab Goswami, editor-in-chief of the Republic TV, arrested under the charge of abetting suicide of Avay Naik, who ended his life in 2018. It is travesty of justice that a human rights activist is not only denied bail but is also made to wait for weeks to hear a response to his legitimate request for a straw to drink water, while Arnab Goswami walks free.

US publication blames Gates Foundation for 'accelerating' India's healthcare crisis

By Rajiv Shah A new book, published by the New York-based Monthly Press Review (MPR), has blamed Microsoft founder Bill Gates for “crowning” the crisis allegedly engulfing India’s health sector, stating, the top American billionaire’s foundation of late has acquired “extraordinary influence" over India’s public health governance,  giving a fillip to a policy that deprives access of public healthcare facilities for majority of the country’s population.

India among heavily impacted by Covid-19, China 'notoriously' evading transparency

By NS Venkataraman* With the year 2020 inevitably ending in the next few weeks, the thought amongst the people all over the world is whether the coming year 2021 will be free of Covid-19 (often dubbed as Wuhan virus, as it known to have spread from Wuhan in China).In the early 2020, many people thought that Covid-19 would be a localized affair in China but later on, it proved to be a global pandemic.

Namaz in Mathura temple: Haridwar, Ayodhya monks seek Faisal Khan's release

By Our Representative As many as 23 members of the Hindu Voices for Peace (HVP), including the founder president of the well-known Haridwar-based Matri Sadan Ashram, Swami Shivananda Saraswati, and a one of its top monks, Brahmachari Aatmabodhanand, have expressed their “dismay” over the arrest of Khudai Khidmatdar chief Faisal Khan and three others on charges of “promoting enmity between religions” and “defiling a place of worship” after they offered namaz in Mathura’s Nand Baba temple premises on October 29.

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Government of India 'refuses' to admit: 52% of bird species show declining trend

Finn's Weaver  By Our Representative The Government of India has been pushing out “misleading” data on the country’s drastic wildlife decline, says a well-researched report, pointing towards how top ministers are hiding data on biodiversity losses, even as obfuscating its own data. It quotes “State of India’s Birds Report 2020” to note that of the 261 out of 867 bird species for which long-term trends could be determined, 52% have declined since the year 2000, with 22% declining strongly.