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Gujarat's Bharuch suffers drought, as Madhya Pradesh industries offtake 172 crore litres Narmada water per day

Piped water to industry
Counterview Desk
Top anti-Narmada dam organization, Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), has estimated that about eight lakh rural people are in the grip of severe drought in Bharuch district of Gujarat stretching in a 41 kilometres area up to the spot where Narmada river merges in the sea, thanks to lack of fresh water inflows in the river from the upstream.
Blaming it on the ambitious Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP), especially the Narmada dam, NBA in a statement believes that things have also worsened because Madhya Pradesh is “lifting away big chunks of water, 172 crore litres per day through just two of its mini links, for its industries.”
NBA says, “SSP and downstream may be left without the estimated water supply, adding, “Today the sea has begun entering into the river bed of Narmada substantially affecting the farms, the ground water, drinking water, irrigation and industrial water.”
Already, says NBA, “Narmada river has shrunk to 400 meters instead of 1.5 km near Bharuch city”, adding, “For those who are shocked at this, must also learn from the official documents and meeting minutes of the environmental sub-groups of the Narmada Control Authority which which have strongly stated that the river would flow within 3 meters width in certain summer months.”
“Hilsa, the rare species of fish, it was reported, may soon disappear, as it can’t be replenished through artificial breeding and regeneration”, NBA says, adding, “All this and much more is yet to come.”
Simultaneously blaming it on the Narmada dam for this, the NBA says, things would worsen as the dam, under construction, soon about to reach 139 metres.
Calling the current drought-like situation in Bharuch “the result of Arabian Sea ingress and depleting width of the river Narmada in Bharuch”, NBA says this has exposed the region to “severe environmental impact”, also worsened because of a “series of dams built upstream” in Madhya Pradesh.
Pointing out that the agricultural lands and fish workers as well as the industries in the Dahej coastal areas in Bharuch have been seriously affected because of this, the NBA says, “It was always an anticipated impact of building a monstrous dam and stopping the huge water flow of Narmada coming from a distance as long as 1,300 km.”
The statement, signed by NBA leader Medha Patkar, Jikubhai Tadvi and Rahul Yadav, the top organization which has been fighting for Narmada oustees' plight for about three decades says, “In the past, whenever NBA raised the issue of downstream impacts of the Narmada dam, the model answer by Gujarat officials was that ‘we have studied those enough'.”
Demands for a thorough study of environmental impacts and preparation of mitigation plans while providing conditional clearance to the SSP granted in June 1887 was rejected on the ground that those “impacts would start coming up years later” and the authorities “would take care of it, when it happens”, says NBA.
“However, the impact has already begun and taken a serious turn even before the dam is complete and the gates are closed, since Gujarat has not cared to ensure required environmental flows for the downstream population”, says NBA.
“For saving the downstream affected families at least, Gujarat and its own leadership at the Centre, must not close the gates of the Narmada dam in order to protect the nature and the people”, NBA says, warning agitation in Gujarat if this does not happen.

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