Skip to main content

Lack of environmental concern "endangers" Narmada dam's 48,000 ha catchment area in Madhya Pradesh

Medha Patkar discussing environmental issues at NCA, Indore
Counterview Desk
In a letter to the Union environment secretary, well-known social activist Medha Patkar has apprehended that thousands of hectares (ha) of catchment area in the upstream of the Narmada dam in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat still remain “untreated”, putting villages and towns situated next to the river in peril if the dam’s reservoir is filled up to the brink.
Patkar’s letter, running into about 4,000 words, comes amidst reports that the Government of India is all set to fill up the Narmada dam up the full reservoir level (138.64 metres) during the next monsoon by allowing the Gujarat government to close down the radial gates installed on the dam.
Pointing out that this would cause “a serious damage to environment and the riverian communities”, Patkar, who heads the anti-dam Narmada Bachao Andolan, says, completion of the environmental work “is highly important”, as it is the “pre-conditional” for achieving the final dam height.
Giving figures, Patkar says, as per a Madhya Pradesh report, 47,684 ha of catchment area is yet to be treated, with large areas vulnerable to flooding and therefore remains “highly degraded”. Further, Maharashtra has an untreated area of 9547 ha.
Insisting that catchment area treatment is particularly essential “to prevent soil erosion and siltation”, Patkar says, she is “utterly shocked” that the Environmental Sub-Group (ESG) of the Narmada Control Authority, which is the final authority of allowing the Narmada dam to become fully functional, has not taken into account the “massive illegal sand mining that has been on for last five years.”
Pointing out that huge areas have been leased out in village after village in the districts of Badwani, Dhar, Khargone and Alirajpur by the mining department of Madhya Pradesh, Patkar says, “The environmental impacts causing damage/loss due to sand mining in the catchment of the Narmada dam is before National Green Tribunal’s Bhopal bench.”
Saying that sand mining is “directly draining” and degrading the catchment area, Patkar says, “The illegal mining, which is resulting in demolition of river banks and the natural embankments, is threatening villages and existing civic amenities”, making them vulnerable to floods and water logging.
Narmada dam oustees protest at NCA office, Indore
Not only has the ESG failed to look at the catchment area, Patkar says, even the environmental impact on the downstream of the Narmada dam has been summarily ignored. “Gujarat is facing massive sea ingress up to 30 km, leading to major problem of salinization of surface and ground water, destruction of top soil and closure of industries for days and weeks”, she says.
Another issue which needs to be looked into, says Patkar, is the need for seismological monitoring centres which should be functional at nine places on the banks of Narmada river, yet they are not functional at some spots. Pointing that the Narmada dam is situated on a faultline, she adds, “The centres at Kukshi and Badwani are lying close and almost dead for years.”
Then, says Patkar, there is the failure to look into the impact on healthcare measures. “Maharashtra is the only state where there is a floating dispensary on a big barge donated by the European Commission, though running irregularly”, she says, adding, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh have nothing in this respect.
“Neither medical services on boat, nor upgraded primary health centres (PHCs), are seen in the villages in Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat”, Patkar says, adding, “Hilly communities of adivasis have been left for themselves for reaching out to the dispensaries, spending hundreds of rupees to reach hospitals by boats and private jeeps.”
Finally, the letter regrets, as for protecting the historical sites, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has been left its study half way. This has happened despite the fact that there are “various articles published in the archeological journals on the pre-history archaeology of Narmada have concluded that Narmada is the oldest civilization in the world and the only places where the remnants of all ages right from the Paleolithic age are available here.”

Comments

TRENDING

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.

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

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".

Contempt of court? UP CM taking 'personal vendetta' against Dr Kafeel Khan: Activists

Counterview Desk
Demanding that the Uttar Pradesh government immediately release well-known paediatrician Dr Kafeel Khan, a group of more than 100 academicians, activists, researchers, doctors and lawyers have said in an open letter that he is being “targeted at the behest of the chief minister”, wondering, “When is an act of challenging the government a threat under the National Security Act (NSA)?”

A locked up offer? Govt of India 'not serious' in involving NGOs: IIM-A survey

By Rajiv Shah
Was the Government of India serious when it asked 92,000 civil society organizations (CSOs) in early April to “assist” state governments and district administrations in taking care of food, shelter and other needs of migrant workers, known to have been affected by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’ sudden 21-day lockdown in order to “combat” the spread of Covid-19 virus, announced on March 24?

Gujarat link of controversial US doctor who 'forced' WHO quiz Trump's wonder drug

By Rajiv Shah
A top American doctor, Sapan Sharankishor Desai, born and raised in the “affluent” North Shore (Chicago) region of Illinois by Indian parents, at one point of time involved in NGO activity through the Desai Foundation dedicated to “improving” the lives of the impoverished in Gujarat, is in the eyes of a major international storm following his paper in a “Lancet” questioning Donald Trump-promoted drug hydroxychloroquine.

Will Govt of India, ICMR end 'perverse' practice of extracting profits from ill-health?

By Asmita Verma, Surabhi Agarwal, Bobby Ramakant*
The Epidemics Act, 1897 gives the central and state governments authority to impose any regulations which may be necessary to contain the outbreak of a disease. Some state governments such as Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhatisgarh have already used this power to bring private healthcare facilities in their state under government control.

Dalits in India, Blacks in US suffer 'similar' humiliation: Macwan drafts letter to Trump

Counterview Desk
Well-known human rights activist Martin Macwan, recipient of the prestigious Robert F Kennedy Human Rights Award in 2000, has drafted an open letter to US President Donald Trump following the disturbing turn of events with the murder of George Floyd, leading to widespread protests in the US. He has sought signatures of concerned citizens before sending it to Trump.

Savarkar 'opposed' Bhagat Singh's, Netaji's dream of India, supported British war efforts

By Shamsul Islam*
In a shocking development, the student wing of the RSS put the busts of martyrs Bhagat Singh and Subhash Chandra Bose with Savarkar's on one pedestal at the University of Delhi late in the night on August 20, 2019. Bhagat Singh sacrificed his life for a socialist-democratic-secular republic and Netaji raised Azad Hind Fauj (INA) consisting of people of all religions and regions for armed liberation of India.

'Violation' of migrant workers' human rights: Legal notice to IIM-A director, govt babus

By Our Representative
Taking strong exception to the police action against protesting migrant workers off the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A) on May 18, senior Gujarat High Court advocate Anandvardhan Yagnik, in a legal notice to the IIM-A director "on their behalf" has said that the workers had only been seeking to to go back to their home states, Jharkhand and West Bengal, for the last more than 20 days because they were not paid their “earned wages because of the lockdown.”