Skip to main content

Sardar Sarovar dam, industrial effluents in South Gujarat "adversely affecting" fish catch in Narmada estuary

Fisherfolk near the Narmada estuary
By Our Representative
Is the anti-dam sentiment downstream area of the Narmada river finally beginning to raise its head in Gujarat? This is the impression gained by senior activists of Delhi-based NGO, South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP), and Ahmedabad-based NGO Paryavaran Mitra, who visited areas next to the Narmada estuary. An interview-based analysis by Amruta Pradhan of SANDRP, based on the visit, suggests that fisherfolk particularly are clearly feeling the pinch of the obstructions in the Narmada river, especially by the dam, which is situated about 126 km on the upstream.
Pradhan quotes Kamalesh Madhiwala, an advocate, to represent the sentiment of the fisherfolk: “Yield of hilsa has drastically reduced after the Sardar Sarovar dam was built. There has been a reduction of 65 to 70 per cent. Overall water level of the estuary has gone down. Post-monsoon, the river becomes so dry that we can walk across the riverbed. This had never happened in the past before the Sardar Sarovar dam was built.”
In fact, Pradhan was told, a decade ago there used to be 70 to 80 types of fish varieties available in the estuary. Now they get only about 10 to 12 fish varieties. Earlier, along with hilsa many other riverine species like prawns, mahseer etc. were equally important, but all these “vanquished” in after the dam. Now the fisher people’s income is solely dependent on hilsa which is very sensitive species.
Accompanied by Bhupat Solanki of the Paryavaran Mitra, during a meeting with locals it was also revealed that people, especially fisherfolk, are also sharply attacking the industrial development in South Gujarat, especially in Bharuch district for a drastic reduction in the yield of hilsa, the most important fish which remains the main source of their livelihood.
Apart from the dam, Pradhan says, the Narmada estuary is “facing growing pressures from industrial estates. Bharuch district has 13 industrial estates with 137 medium- and large-scale units of chemicals, textiles, plastics, fertilizer sectors. Industrial estate of Dahej, which is in close proximity to Bhadbhut, releases its untreated effluent in the sea near Bharuch. This is affecting the overall water quality of the estuary", affecting the fish catch. The Petroleum and Petro-Chemical Industrial Region (PCPIR) in the region has further accelerated things, they feel.
Meanwhile, the view has gained that with the proposed construction of the barrage on the Narmada river, next to Bhadbhut, at the cost of Rs 4,000 crore, things would only further deteriorate. On July 7, 2014 local fisherfolk organized a protest rally at the district magistrate’s office and more than 4,000 fisher people were a part of this. This is our fourth rally opposing the project. 
Boats in the estuary
Pradhan quotes Praveen Madhiwala, a fish trader and exporter, to say, “If the dam at Bhadbhut comes up, hilsa will be finished. Not only that, but the dam will prove to be destructive to the entire estuary.” The explanation, is this: “Tidal flow of water spreads 60 km from sea shore to upstream of the estuary. They are planning to build the barrage just 25 km upstream of the sea shore. What will happen then to the incoming salt water during high tide?”
Madhiwala adds, “It is bound to spread laterally along the barrage spreading in the coastal region and will be destructive to the settlements along the coastline. Calculating all these numbers on paper is very different than experiencing the destructive power of sea. We know what the sea can do.”
The fisher people’s cooperative, Bhadbhut Matsya Udyog Sahakari Mandali, said Pradhan, is preparing to file a public interest litigation (PIL) “challenging the barrage project”. At stake is the “livelihood of more than 30,000 people.” Praveen Macchi, a fisherman, is quoted as saying that “the overall salinity of the estuary has gone up due to severely restricted freshwater flow into the estuary. Fish diversity has reduced and riverine fish movement is obstructed due to SSP. Hilsa would be available till December-January.”
He says: “Narmada has been hilsa’s favoured habitat. Earlier hilsa was found in Tapi estuary near Surat as well. But after the Ukai dam was constructed, only two to five per cent of hilsa arrive at the Tapi estuary. Lives of fisherfolk in the estuary have been devastated. The problem of livelihood of these people became so serious that there are instances where women of the community had to get into prostitution.”

Comments

TRENDING

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

"Misleading" satellite images being shared on Balakot surgical strike on Jaish camp

By Dr Vinay Kate*
With every passing day more questions are being raised about the surgical strike India did in Balakot as a response to Pulwama attacks. So far the Indian media has claimed mass casulaty of 300+ terrorists of Jaish-e-Mohammad in this surgical strike, but there is hardly any report from foreign media about the same.

Extreme repression, corporate loot, cultural genocide "characterise" India's tribal belt

Counterview Desk
As Lok Sabha polls approach, there is considerable ferment in one section of the population -- India's Adivasis, forming about 8.6 per cent of India's population. Things became particularly critical following the February 14, 2019 Supreme Court order, allegedly seeking to evict lakhs of tribals from their forest lands.

Industry in India "barely growing", export growth 0%, whither moral anchors?

Counterview Desk
In a sharp critique of the Modi government, the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A), one of world renowned economist Prof Kaushik Basu, who is Professor of Economics and Carl Marks Professor of International Studies at Cornell University, has told students at the IIM-A’s 54th Annual Convocation on March 16, 2019 that they have a “special responsibility” on their shoulders, “the responsibility to reject narrow sectarianism, uphold scientific thinking, openness to new ideas, and freedom of speech.”

Gujarat model? Industrial effluents "invade" borewells, discharge coloured water in farms

By Rajiv Shah
In a major embarrassment for Gujarat model, of the 21 samples taken by officials of the state government's environmental watchdog Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) in two villages of Vadodara district and analyzed by its laboratory in Gandhinagar, the state capital, to find out pollution level in groundwater, 16 were assessed as highly contaminated – these were, in fact, found to be discharging reddish, brownish, reddish, or yellowish water.

Refugees as criminals? US govt report blames Amit Shah for calling Bangladeshis termites

Counterview Desk
The chapter “Freedom of Movement” of the US State Department’s “India 2018 Human Rights Report”, released recently, has criticized BJP chief Amit Shah for terming alleged Bangladeshis who may be in Assam as “termites”, because their names were struck down from the list of National Register of Citizens, under preparation in the state.
Pointing out that four million residents were excluded from Assam’s final draft list, leading to “uncertainty over the status of these individuals, many of whose families had lived in the state for several generations”, the report regrets, the Indian law does not even contain the term “refugee,” treating refugees like Rohingiyas as “any other foreigners.”
“Undocumented physical presence in the country is a criminal offense. Persons without documentation were vulnerable to forced returns and abuse”, the report says.
Text of the Freedom of Movement chapter: The law provides for freedom of internal movement, foreign travel, emigration, a…

Congress would win just 9 of 26 Lok Sabha seats: Gujarat Assembly segment-wise analysis

By Rajiv Shah
Even as the Congress plans its first working committee meet in Gujarat on February 28 after an almost 58 year gap, there is reason to wonder what is in store for India’s grand old party in a state which has been long been a BJP bastion – in fact ever since mid-1990s. Ahead of the then assembly polls in late 2012, talking with me, a senior Gujarat Congress leader, currently Rajya Sabha MP, frankly said he saw no reason why Congress would win.

"Pro-corporate" Supreme Court order on FRA would further marginalize Adivasis

By VS Roy David, JP Raju*
For millions of Adivasis and other traditional forest dwellers February 13, 2019 will go down in history as the day of apocalypse. This is like the proverbial Black Friday where millions of most marginalized people of India were ordered by malicious anti-people draconian Supreme Court order depriving them the life and livelihood by evicting them from their habitats.

Financial inclusion? Not micro-loans; India's poor "need" investment in health, education

By Moin Qazi*
India has grown into a global powerhouse. Its economy is soaring but the picture on the ground is still quite arid. The green shoots that you see are only a patch of its landscape. Most Indians are hapless victims of inequity. India is one country where intense poverty abounds in the shadow of immense wealth.

India, Pakistan told to eliminate nuclear weapons: N-war "would kill" 2 billion

Counterview Desk
The International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), a non-partisan federation of national medical organizations in 64 countries, representing tens of thousands of doctors, medical students, other health workers, and concerned citizens, claiming to share the common goal of creating a more peaceful and secure world freed from the threat of nuclear annihilation, has warned that “an unprecedented global catastrophe” awaits the globe against the backdrop of warmongering in India and Pakistan.