Skip to main content

Gujarat govt suffers setback: Lack of environmental compliance forces NCA to "postpone" Narmada dam decision

Medha Patkar addressing Gujarat oustees
By Our Representative
In a major setback to the Gujarat government, the powerful Narmada Control Authority's (NCA's) environmental sub-group has “refused to look into” the request to close the gates, currently under installation on the Sardar Sarovar dam on river Narmada. A crucial letter by an expert with the NCA to the Government of India on lack of environmental compliance is said to have played a role.
Environmentalists say, closure of the gates would take the dam's reservoir level to 138.64 metres, up from 121.92 metres, leading to “massive submergence” in the upstream. They argue, thousands of oustees still remain to be resettled, yet the agenda for the dam's closure is being pushed through.
Gujarat, projected as a model state by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, wants to project the closure of the Narmada dam as a major success, as it claims it would help irrigation 18 lakh hectares (ha) parched lands of the state, apart from providing power to Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra/ The issue is now likely to be discussed at the next NCA meet, scheduled for December.
An inter-state body consisting of officials from Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan – the four states who would benefit from the dam's irrigation and power potential – the NCA, said sources, took the matter off agenda the environmental compliance in the command and submergence areas of the dam was found “not to have been completed.”
The matter was taken off agenda amidst continuing protests by the biggest anti-dam organization in the valley, Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), both in Delhi as also in the Narmada valley against the possibility of nearly 15,500 dam oustee families being “adversely affected” in case the gates are closed down. These families have not been counted in the resettlement list, argues NBA.
The development took place amidst a crucial meeting of NBA leader Medha Patkar and her colleagues with Union environment minister Anil Madhav Dave, where the minister was told that the gates were sought to be closed without any environmental impact assessment and ground realities. The minister assured Patkar that he would closely examine the matter before reaching a decision.
Sources said, a report by Shekhar Singh, the non-government expert with the NCA, played a major role in the refusal of the NCA to discuss the gates closure. Singh is said to have written a strongly-worded letter to the the secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC), on why the dam's gates should not allowed to be closed as of today.
“The issue was discussed in detail and the secretary MoEFCC, who is also chairman of the NCA, agreed for the need for strict compliance and the need for independently monitoring of compliance of environmental impact of the dam”, said a knowledgeable source.
The letter, it is said, insisted that the conditions laid out for environmental compliance way back in June 1987, as also details laid out in the environmental sub-group guidelines, as also the Supreme Court judgments, must be complied with before allowing closure of the 30-odd gates on the dam.
“These conditions include pari passu resettlement of the dam-affected families, as well as new issues emerging in the area such as sand mining, increased health impact because of the submergence, and so on”, the source pointed out.
The NCA environmental sub-group meeting finally eneded after deciding that the issue of the closure of the dam's gates should be taken off agenda and, it was agreed, the points raised in Singh's letter should be thoroughly examined. The next meeting is proposed for December 2016.

Comments

TRENDING

Modi, Shah 'forget': Gandhi’s first Satyagraha was against citizenship law of South Africa

By Nachiketa Desai*
Hindu fanatic Nathuram Godse assassinated Mahatma Gandhi once on January 30, 1948 but his followers raising the war cry of ‘Jai Sriram’ are killing the Mahatma every day. In his home state of Gujarat, Gandhiji was killed a thousand times in 2002 when over 2,000 Muslims were butchered, their women raped, homes and shops plundered and set on fire and even unborn babies ripped out of the wombs of their mothers.

Union Budget 'moves away' from Right to Education, 1.3 lakh schools closed down

By Dr Aparajita Sharma*
It was a shocking reply by the Union human resource development minister to a question raised in Parliament on closure of schools in a country where lakhs of children are still out of school. On December 2, the minister, Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’, told Lok Sabha that the NITI Aayog’s education project, Sath-E, has led to 35,996 schools of different levels being merged in Madhya Pradesh, 4,312 in Jharkhand and 1,803 in Odisha. NITI Aayog is the Central Government’s policy think-tank.

CAA-NPR-NRC will 'target' 99% homeless, who are without birth certificates: NCU

Counterview Desk
Claiming to base on a survey in five states (Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu), which finds that over 99% of the homeless people do not have birth certificates, a civil rights organization which networks activists, researchers, urban practioners, lawyers, informal sector workers, has claimed that the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), as also the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the National Population Register (NPR), are likely to adversely impact this section the most.

Modi 'warned': Will not remain silent when women are labelled terrorists and traitors

Counterview Desk
As many as 13 women's rights organizations and 162 individuals have issued an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi stating that in the light of hate speeches during Delhi elections, especially directed against women, it is his "Constitutional duty to protect all citizens" and tell his partymen "to fight the elections in a manner that upholds the Constitution, not one that increases the fear and insecurity among women."

Law 'governing' world's tallest Statue of Unity refers to local tribals as occupiers

By Rohit Prajapati, Krishnakant*
The recently enacted Statue of Unity (SoU) Area Development and Tourism Governance Act, 2019 in Gujarat comes amidst a terrifying atmosphere of intimidation, house arrests, detentions and FIRs, not to mention the overarching implementation of Section 144 across the state.

Anti-CAA: Mallika Sarabhai joins students, faculty to protest dy CM's 'divisive' talk

By Our Representative
Taking strong exception to deputy chief minister Nitin Patel’s statement against those protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC), well-known danseuse Mallika Sarabhai has joined tens of activists and students and faculty of Gujarat University, CEPT University, Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad, Gujarat Vidyapeeth and Nirma University to say that they are seeking “azadi” from the fascist and communal forces of the country.

Mystery around Gujarat PSU 'transfer' of Rs 250 crore to Canadian firm Karnalyte

By AK Luke, IAS (Retd)*
While returning from a Board meeting of the Oil India Limited (OIL) in Ahmedabad some time in 2012, two officers of the Gujarat State Fertilizers and Chemicals Ltd (GSFC), Nanavaty and Patel,  saw me off at the airport. They said they were proceeding to Canada in connection with a project GSFC had entered into with a company there. As we were running late, I hastily wished them the best.

Ramchandra Guha on how Gandhi outgrew his Gujarati bania 'parochialism'

By Rajiv Shah
More than a fortnight ago, prominent historian Ramchandra Guha, who calls himself Gandhi scholar and not a Gandhian, came to Ahmedabad. While I was part of a small group of persons who met him at lunch, his lecture on Gandhi in the evening, where he sought to interpret what swaraj meant to Gandhi, surely, interested the selected audience that had been called to listen to him.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam*
RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.