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

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.

Critics of your government should not be in jail: PUCL shoots open letter to Modi

Counterview Desk In an open letter, Ravikiran Jain, national president, and Dr V Suresh, general secretary, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) have taken strong exception to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s view that raising human rights issues can ‘tarnish’ the country’s reputation, stating, those who raise human rights concerns do it “through established United Nations mechanisms such as the UN Human Rights Council, the Office of the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights.”

When judges behave more like priests, delivering sermons from high podium...

By Ajit Singh*  The theory of separation of power found its origins in ancient Greece but with the passage of time it became widespread in other parts of Europe. Early proponent of the theory Greek philosopher Aristotle in “Politics” argued that implementation of constitution in letter and spirit can only be possible if the three elements among whom the power has been distributed are well arranged.

'We are scared to even raise our voice': Delhi sewer workers tell roundtable

By Our Representative  A roundtable attended by more than 100 sewer workers in Delhi, saw sharp voices against the contract system, poor wages and lack of any social benefits. Organised by the Dalit Adivasi Shakti Adhikar Manch (DASAM), which has refused to reveal the identity of the sewer workers who spoke on the occasion for fear of retaliation from the authorities, saw workers complain that have been working for more than 10 years, hoping that someday they would be made permanent.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara 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".

Muck being thrown in Uttarakhand rivers: Villagers face 'existential' crisis

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  The Uttarakhand government must act fast to clear the path of Dhauli Ganga river about two kilometres ahead of village Neeti and about one kilometre from Ghamsali village, which is about 90 kilometer from Joshi Math town in district Chamoli. The creation of an artificial lake due to throwing of muck and mud can create a catastrophic situation like what happened on February 7, 2021-- the Rishi Ganga-Dhauli Ganga tragedy at Tapovan and Raini village in which over 200 people lost their life.

How Indore turned into water minus city after authorities 'managed' Water Plus title

Water harvester cleaning up hyacinth from an Indore river By Rahul Banerjee*  Recently, the city of Indore was declared the first Water Plus city in India under the Swachh Sarvekshan programme of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development for its ostensibly exemplary waste water management. However, the reality is quite different as a detailed study of the prevailing wastewater management situation in the city shows.

UP govt 'ignoring' demand to fill up teachers' posts despite unemployment: Rights groups

Sandeep Pandey with Shikha Pal Counterview Desk  Commenting on the unique protest undertaken by Shikha Pal atop an overhead water tank for nearly four months, the Socialist Party (India), in association with several civil rights group, Yuva Shakti Sangathan, Socialist Yuvjan Sabha and Rihai Manch, have wondered why has the Yogi Adityanath government is so “insensitive” towards her demands and is looking the “other way.”

Restricting use of public places for religious purpose: Will Gehlot govt respect HC order?

By Kavita Srivastava*  The People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), Rajasthan, has welcomed the judgment of the Rajasthan High Court dismissing the petition by Pooja Gurnani which challenged a circular of the Rajasthan government which restrained the construction of a ‘Pooja Sthal’ in the premises of a police station.

Rehabilitation site 'offered' to 6000 displaced Khori villagers not livable: Team Saathi

By Our Representative  Second round of the Chitthi Andolan (letter movement) of the Khori village residents, whose more than 6,000 houses were demolished as they were allegedly built on forest land, has begun, with hundreds of them telling the authorities of the Municipal Corporation, Faridabad, that no one has received the promised financial assistance of meagre Rs 2,000.