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Tremors in Surat, Bhavnagar: Quake measurement centre hasn't functioned properly around Narmada dam

By Our Representative
Tremors of the magnitude of 4.7 on the Richter scale in Gujarat, from Surat to Bhavnagar, has once again initiated the debate on whether the Narmada dam is safe. While official sources immediately spread that the dam is strongly built to face tremors, critics have said, the presence of a large dam does not ensure the safety of the surrounding areas and the people residing there.
In a statement, top anti-dam activist Medha Patkar has said, "All the dams on Narmada, including the Sardar Sarovar and other large dams, have been built on fault-lines, thereby making the entire region earthquake-prone.”
Pointing out that this fact is “known to those in power”, the statement says, “According to the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd (SSNNL), the foundation of the Sardar Sarovar Dam is claimed to be stronger than any other large dam in the world.”
It is further claimed, says the statement, that the “treatment of geological fault involved 2,14,000 m3 of excavation, 2,50,000 m3 of rock excavation and 2,56,000 m3 of pre-cooled concrete and 53,000 tonnes of reinforcement steel.”
Yet, says the statement, “it is sought to be demonstrated that the dam authorities have little or no concern for ecological balance (given the amount of excavation in the river), concerns over earthquake etc. and completely turns a blind eye to the environment.”
Not that this was never realized, the statement says. Thus, “it was agreed upon in 1987 that proper and complete research would be carried out on the issue of seismicity and also regularly informing the people of these changes.”

“The three states of Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh took up the responsibility of setting up centres to measure earthquake indicators and magnitude levels. Nine centres were set up, with five in Gujarat, three in Madhya Pradesh and one in Maharashtra”, the statement says.

“Despite regular visits and expertise of experts from the USA and India, there has been no serious work undertaken on earthquake of magnitude levels over 3 in the Richter scale”, the statement says.

It points out, “It is also mentioned in the Annual Reports of the Narmada Control Authority (NCA) that the Institute of Seismology Research and the Gujarat government had to conduct regular research work, which was however not done.”

“This very serious research undertaking was allotted only a meagre sum of 6,82,740 for research work from 1995 to2003 and beyond; it also encompassed the research work done in 2007-09”, the statement says.

Revealing that the findings of these research undertakings have not been made public, the statement says, “The epicenter of the Kutch earthquake too was close to the Sardar Sarovar Dam, and despite a petition filed by scientists such as late Mukul Singh and others in the High Court, no hearing was held.”
The statement regrets, despite repeated attempts, the Government of Gujarat and the Central Government have not disclose all the information related to the causes of earthquakes”. It adds,“Therefore, it is imperative for the people of Gujarat, and particularly Kutch and Saurashtra, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh to speak up and demand for full truthful disclosure of information.”
“In the cases of earthquakes from both the Bargi Dam on the Narmada or the Koyna Dam in Maharashtra, there was indeed a damage of crores of life and property”, the statement says, adding, “It is therefore necessary that the people of Gujarat realize the truth about the potential dangers of large dams immediately!”

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