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

Mystery around Gujarat PSU 'transfer' of Rs 250 crore to Canadian firm Karnalyte

By AK Luke, IAS (Retd)*
While returning from a Board meeting of the Oil India Limited (OIL) in Ahmedabad some time in 2012, two officers of the Gujarat State Fertilizers and Chemicals Ltd (GSFC), Nanavaty and Patel,  saw me off at the airport. They said they were proceeding to Canada in connection with a project GSFC had entered into with a company there. As we were running late, I hastily wished them the best.

Savarkar in Ahmedabad 'declared' two-nation theory in 1937, Jinnah followed 3 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.

Indians have made 119 nations their ‘karma bhumi’: US-based Hindu NGO tells Rupani

Counterview Desk
In a stinging letter to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, the US-based Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR), referring to the report citing his justification for the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) – that “while Muslims can choose any one of the 150 Islamic countries in the world (for residence), India is the only country for Hindus" – has said, he should remember, Hindus have made several countries, including USA, their home.

J&K continues to be haunted, as parts of India 'degenerate' into quasi-Kashmir situation

By Rajendran Narayanan*, Sandeep Pandey**
“Jab har saans mein bandook dikhe toh baccha kaise bekhauf rahe?” (How can a child be fearless when she sees a gun in every breath?) remarked Anwar, a gardener from Srinagar, when asked about the situation in Kashmir. On November 30, 2019, a walk through an iron gate in a quiet neighbourhood of Srinagar took us inside a public school. It was 11 am when typically every school is abuzz with activity. Not here though.

Tata Mundra's possible closure? Power ministry's 'pressure tactic' on consumer states

By Bharat Patel*
Tata power has announced to the Union Ministry of Power that Tata Power may be forced to stop operating  its imported coal-based Mundra Ultra-Mega Power Project (UMPP) after February, 2020. It is not only unfortunate but also criminal that irreversible damage has been caused to the fragile ecosystem of Mundra coast for a project that will have a running life of only seven years.

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.

Population control? 10% Indian couples want to delay next pregnancy, but fail

Counterview Desk
Shireen Jejeebhoy, director at Aksha Centre for Equity and Wellbeing, previously senior associate at the Population Council, India, argues that the debate on the country's population was fuelled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day address to the nation, where he drew attention to “concern” about the challenges posed by this ‘exploding’ population growth, needs to centre around the promotion of rights and education, instead of the language of explosion and the threat of coercion that this term implies.

Savarkar 'opposed' Bhagat Singh's, Netaji's dream of India, supported British war efforts

By Shamsul Islam*
In a shocking development, the student wing of the RSS put the busts of martyrs Bhagat Singh and Subhash Chandra Bose with Savarkar's on one pedestal at the University of Delhi late in the night on August 20, 2019. Bhagat Singh sacrificed his life for a socialist-democratic-secular republic and Netaji raised Azad Hind Fauj (INA) consisting of people of all religions and regions for armed liberation of India.

Kerala governor turned History Congress into political arena, 'insulted' Prof Irfan Habib

Counterview Desk
In a signed statement, office bearers of the Aligarh Society of History and Archaeology (ASHA), Prof Syed Ali Nadeem Rezavi (president), Prof Jabir Raza (vice-president), Prof Manvendra Kumar Pundhir (secretary) and Prof Farhat Hasan (joint secretary), have said that Kerala governor Arif Mohammad Khan had sought to insult veteran historian Prof Irfan Habib, 88, at the 80th session of the Indian History Congress, even as turning it into his “political arena”.