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Gujarat govt disaster management plan puts Narmada submergence levels 11 metres higher: Medha Patkar

By Our Representative
In a fresh calculation, the backwater levels in some of the villages along Narmada during heavy floods in Madhya Pradesh would be around around 155 metres once the Narmada dam across Gujarat, currently under construction, reaches the full reservoir level (FRL) at 138.68 metres.
Pointing this out on the basis of the 2015 Disaster Management Plan document of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd, well-known anti-dam social activist Medha Patkar has said, this is 11 metres higher than what the government authorities have been saying so far.
In an analysis of the backwater levels on the basis of the Disaster Management Plan forwarded to Counterview, Patkar says, it states that in Gazipura/Khalghat village, Madhya Pradesh, "the backwater levels would come to a height of 149.85 metre, due to the current 122 metres dam height and a peak flood of 24.5 lakh cusecs. This is an up to date figure based for construction up to June 2015."
Patkar says, "According to this document the backwater curve would begin at the dam site at a level of 134.32 metres (which is called the afflux level) and grow in height as the water backs up to Gazipura/Khalghat in Madhya Pradesh and beyond."
"If the dam is fully constructed and gates are installed, then the curve would begin at the dam site at the Full Reservoir Level (FRL) of 138.68 metres, which is a 4.36 metres higher afflux level. In other words at Gazipura/Khalghat the backwater levels would reach 149.85 + 4.36 = 154 to 155 metres with the gates installed and dam at FRL", she adds.
According to Patkar, if the Disaster Management Plan document is correct, a higher backwater level would mean "the submergence waters could be as much as 4-10 metres higher – that would impact tens of thousands more" as against what the authorities had been trying to make out so far.
The authorities had calculated that for Gazipura/Khalghat village, for instance, with the dam at "the full dam height of FRL 138.68 meters, for the same 24.5 lakh cusecs peak flood, the backwater levels were calculated (or should we say manipulated?) to be only 144.92 metres", Patkar says.
In fact, according to Patkar, "Even for the dam at 122 metres, Gazipura/Khalghat's backwater level of 149.85 metres is already much higher than 144.92 mts that is being used to deny rehabilitation to families whose homes are surely going to be submerged."
Drawing parallel, Patkar says, "To imagine the scale of the problem the villages and town to be affected by Narmada are facing, consider a coastal city like Mumbai or Chennai."
She adds, "Now imagine that the sea level rises by 5 to 10 metres. What would be the impact to all the homes in the city next to the sea due to such a tsunami? How far will the water go in and how much damage will it do? This is the scale of the injustice that the villagers from the Narmada valley are facing."
Criticizing the government policy of rehabilitation of Narmada dam affected people in this context, Patkar says, "Instead of rehabilitating families, the governments at the centre and states have chosen to violate the Narmada Tribunal Award and Supreme Court orders by creating a second lower backwater level."
"Families who previously were eligible for rehabilitation were deemed to be out of submergence zone. However, the true disaster is reflected in the annual Disaster Management document", she concludes.

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