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

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.

JP advised RSS to give up Hindu Rashtra, disband itself: Ex-IAS officer tells Modi

Counterview Desk
Major MG Devasahayam IAS (Retd), chairman, People-First, in an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the occasion of Jayprakash Narain’s (JP’s) death anniversary (October 11) has wondered whether he remembers “a patriot called Jayaprakash Narayan”. Recalling what JP thought on issues such as communalism, freedom, democracy, Hindutva etc., Devasahayam says, Modi has been been doing “the very opposite of the principles and values for which JP lived and died.”

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

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".

UP chief secretary, DGP have 'surrendered' to political diktat: 92 retired IAS, IPS officials

Counterview Desk
In an open letter to Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, 92 retired IAS, IFS and IPS bureaucrats, commenting on “blatant violations of the rule law” following the Hathras incident, have blamed that the Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police for abjectly failing to exercise control over a “highly compromised” administration the state.

Hathras reflects Manu's mindset dominates: 'Women are false, it's in their nature to seduce'

By Parijat Ghosh, Dibyendu Chaudhuri*
The woman died and then we woke up to protest. She was alive for two weeks after the heinous incident. Many of us even didn’t notice what had happened at Hathras, how she fought during the next 15 days. Those who noticed, many of them were not sure what actually had happened. So much so, we as a nation were more busy in finding out who among the Bollywood actresses were taking drugs, who smoked weed, who had ‘inappropriate’ or more than one relationship, what kind of private conversations they had in their chat boxes and what not!

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.

Atrocities against Dalits: Why don't MPs, MLAs from the community ever speak up?

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*
In Gujarat, a young Dalit activist lawyer Devji Maheshwari, belonging to the Backward and Minority Communities Employees Federation (BAMSCEF) was killed in Surat, allegedly by a goon who was warning him against his Facebook posts not to speak up against Brahmanism. Facts have come to light suggesting there are other issues also which led to the murder, mostly related to land disputes, many a time ignored by activists.

Delhi riots: Even British didn't accuse Bhagat Singh of reading Lenin, Jack London

By Vikash Narain Rai*
After the #BlackLifeMatters movement seriously tested the credibility of police across America, the Houston police chief Art Acevado talked of ending “lawful but awful” policing. No comparison, but in India, a citizens’ committee comprising former top judges and bureaucrats is now set to inquire into the role of the state machinery and media in handling the February 2020 Delhi violence, which followed protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), “as the investigation by the Delhi Police has evoked extensive critical commentary in recent times.”

Human rights 'abuses': Funding to India should be vetted, Greens tell Australian govt

Counterview Desk
A roundtable organised by Australian Greens, which is the third biggest political group in the country, held to discuss human rights situation in India at the New South Wales Parliament in Sydney has insisted that parliamentarians, human rights activists and lawyers should play a more active role “standing up for human rights not just in their own places but also in India.”