Skip to main content

Failure to explain environmental compliance off Narmada: Green tribunal's fresh concession to Gujarat govt

Women protest against the weir next to the Narmada river
By Our Representative
The National Green Tribunal (NGT), India’s powerful quasi-judicial environmental watchdog, has agreed to a Gujarat government plea for “more time” to replay to the case filed by senior environmentalist Rohit Prajapati demanding immediate stay on the construction of Garudeshwar weir, which he has alleged 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 weir is proposed as part of the effort to turn downstream areas of Narmada dam into a tourism spot, even as providing water to industries in the belt around Ankaleshwar and Bharuch.
In a statement, Prajapati has said, the very fact that the Gujarat government had to seek more time suggests that the state officialdom “is not in a position to give any clear cut explanation / information whether Garudeshwar Weir has environment clearance or not or under which law of the land or notification or permission the construction of Garudeshwar Weir is going on”.
Prajapati added, “This reflects the so-called efficient administration of the Government of Gujarat. Not just today but to provide such information about environment clearance and issues raised by us in our petition Government of Gujarat needs two month time to prepare the reply. That clearly indicate that even prima-facie all is not well with Garudeshwar Weir and there are lots of problem with legality of the ongoing of Garudeshwar Weir."
The NGT order allows the state government to submit its reply by April 17. This was for the second time that the government sought more time and was allowed. Earlier, on January 31, the NTG allowed the state government to file its reply by February 25. However, the government failed to do so. The petition alleged 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.
The petition is based on the fact that the original Narmada Project got permission in 1987 but did not “concretely envisage” the weir, not did it include assessment of social or environmental impacts of the weir. Random land acquisitions for the weir first took place 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 petition is based on a letter by Shekhar Singh of the NCA to the Union ministry of environment and forests, which says that environmental and social impact for the construction of the Garudeshwar weir had not been taken, hence the weir cannot be constructed.
Singh, in his letter had also warned against potential adverse effect on fisheries in the upstream and downstream areas, and also impact on biodiversity of the area. Meanwhile, the state government kept saying that 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.
A senior activist said: “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

Nobel laureates join international figures, seek release of Bhima Koregaon accused activists

Nobel laureates Olga Tokarczuk,  Wole Soyinka Counterview Desk  As many as 57 top international personalities, including Nobel laureates, academics, human rights defenders, lawyers cultural personalities, and members of Parliament of European countries, have urged the Prime Minister and the Chief Justice of India to ensure immediate release of human rights defenders in India “into safe conditions”.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

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".

Top ex-Gujarat babu tells Modi: Not yoga but solar system is our biggest source of energy

By Rajiv Shah  An email alert to Counterview from a top ex-IAS bureaucrat, termed as Gujarat’s turnaround man for revamping loss-making state public sector undertakings (PSUs), has sought to take a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remark on the Yoga day – that the ancient Indian exercise provides an “infinite solutions” within ourselves, offering “the biggest source of energy in the universe.”

Hunger, lack of food security behind India's 'slip' in UN's sustainable development rank

By Dr Gian Singh*  According to a report released by the United Nations on June 6, 2021, India's ranking of achieving Sustainable Development based on the 17 Social Development Goals (SDGs) set by the 193 countries in the 2003 agenda, which was 115th last year, has slipped to 117th position this year. India ranks not only the lowest among the BRICS countries -- Brazil, the Russian Federation, India, China, and South Africa but also below the four South Asian countries -- Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Bangladesh.

Collapse of healthcare system? Why 90% of Covid patients treated at home survived

By Bobby Ramakant, Sandeep Pandey* Well known Hindustani classical singer Padma Vibhu shan Channulal Mishra, chosen as one of the proposers of Narendra Modi in Lok Sabha elections, lost his wife and elder daughter to Covid in private hospitals in Varanasi. Younger daughter has accused Medwin Hospital of charging Rs 1.5 lakh for treatement of her sister and not being able to explain the cause of death. Pandit Channulal Mishra has asked for a probe into his daughter’s death from the Chief Minister. The family has also asked for the CCTV footage of the ward where deceased daughter was admitted for a week.

Rooted in mistrust? Covid-19’s march into rural India is a very different ball game

By Sudhir Katiyar* As the Covid-19 virus penetrates rural India, the rural communities are responding very differently from their urban counterparts who rushed to the hospitals. The rural communities are avoiding the public health facilities and any mention of the disease. The note argues that this supposedly irrational response is based on a deep-seated mistrust of the state by the rural communities. It can not be resolved with routine Information, Education and Communication (IEC) measures suggested in the Government of India SOP for tackling Covid-19 in rural areas.

Courageous, in-depth attempt to confirm common spiritual values of Christ, Buddha

By RB Sreekumar, IPS*  All religions, both theistic and atheistic designed conceptual and practical architecture, for holistic and comprehensive elevation and enlightenment of humanity. PK Vijayan, in his novel “Nirvana of Jesus Christ” (Notion Press, 2020) through creative imagination portrayed personality evolution of the two progenitors of God-centric and sagaciously logical major religions – Jesus Christ of Christianity and Gautama Buddha of Buddhism.

Why hasn't Govt of India responded to US critique of freedom of religion under Modi?

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ* About two weeks ago, on May 12, 2021, the US Secretary of State Antony J Blinken released in Washington the ‘2020 International Religious Freedom Report.’ This official annual report of the US Government details the status of religious freedom in nearly 200 foreign countries and territories and describes US actions to support religious freedom worldwide. Mandated by the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, this report highlights the fact that ‘religious freedom is both a core American value and a universal human right’.

Covid fear? Cremation rituals gone upside down, Dalits asked to do Brahminical rituals

By Abhay Jain, Sandeep Pandey*  As Covid consumes human life in a very conspicuous way we are confronted with additional problem of disposing of human corpses. Cremation grounds are lit with continuous pyres, graveyards are running out of land and now Ganga has become a mass grave potentially polluting its water.