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

Bill Gates as funder, author, editor, adviser? Data imperialism: manipulating the metrics

By Dr Amitav Banerjee, MD*  When Mahatma Gandhi on invitation from Buckingham Palace was invited to have tea with King George V, he was asked, “Mr Gandhi, do you think you are properly dressed to meet the King?” Gandhi retorted, “Do not worry about my clothes. The King has enough clothes on for both of us.”

Displaced from Bangladesh, Buddhist, Hindu groups without citizenship in Arunachal

By Sharma Lohit  Buddhist Chakma and Hindu Hajongs were settled in the 1960s in parts of Changlang and Papum Pare district of Arunachal Pradesh after they had fled Chittagong Hill Tracts of present Bangladesh following an ethnic clash and a dam disaster. Their original population was around 5,000, but at present, it is said to be close to one lakh.

What's Bill Gates up to? Have 'irregularities' found in funding HPV vaccine trials faded?

By Colin Gonsalves*  After having read the 72nd report of the Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on alleged irregularities in the conduct of studies using HPV vaccines by PATH in India, it was startling to see Bill Gates bobbing his head up and down and smiling ingratiatingly on prime time television while the Prime Minister lectured him in Hindi on his plans for the country. 

Anti-Rupala Rajputs 'have no support' of numerically strong Kshatriya communities

By Rajiv Shah  Personally, I have no love lost for Purshottam Rupala, though I have known him ever since I was posted as the Times of India representative in Gandhinagar in 1997, from where I was supposed to do political reporting. In news after he made the statement that 'maharajas' succumbed to foreign rulers, including the British, and even married off their daughters them, there have been large Rajput rallies against him for “insulting” the community.

Magnetic, stunning, Protima Bedi 'exposed' malice of sexual repression in society

By Harsh Thakor*  Protima Bedi was born to a baniya businessman and a Bengali mother as Protima Gupta in Delhi in 1949. Her father was a small-time trader, who was thrown out of his family for marrying a dark Bengali women. The theme of her early life was to rebel against traditional bondage. It was extraordinary how Protima underwent a metamorphosis from a conventional convent-educated girl into a freak. On October 12th was her 75th birthday; earlier this year, on August 18th it was her 25th death anniversary.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Stagnating wages since 2014-15: Economists explain Modi legacy for informal workers

By Our Representative  Real wages have barely risen in India since 2014-15, despite rapid GDP growth. The country’s social security system has also stagnated in this period. The lives of informal workers remain extremely precarious, especially in states like Jharkhand where casual employment is the main source of livelihood for millions. These are some of the findings presented by economists Jean Drèze and Reetika Khera at a press conference convened by the Loktantra Bachao 2024 campaign. 

Youth as game changers in Lok Sabha polls? Young voter registration 'is so very low'

By Dr Mansee Bal Bhargava*  Young voters will be the game changers in 2024. Do they realise this? Does it matter to them? If it does, what they should/must vote for? India’s population of nearly 1.3 billion has about one-fifth 19.1% as youth. With 66% of its population (808 million) below the age of 35, India has the world's largest youth population. Among them, less than 40% of those who turned 18 or 19 have registered themselves for 2024 election. According to the Election Commission of India (ECI), just above 1.8 crore new voters (18-and 19-year-olds) are on the electoral rolls/registration out of the total projected 4.9 crore new voters in this age group.

Mark Lee: A spiritual leader who thought conventional religions are barrier to liberation

  By Harsh Thakor*  The Krishnamurti Foundation of America (KFA) lost Roger Edwin Mark Lee, who was a devoted disciple of Jiddu Krishnamurti, one of the greatest and most self realised spiritual philosophers of our time. Mark passed away due to pneumonia complications on April 6, 2024, at he Ventura Community Memorial Hospital in California. His exit was an irreparable loss to the spiritual world.

Fossil fuel projects: NGOs ask investors to cut TotalEnergies’ main sources of finance

By Antoine Bouhey, Lara Cuvelier, Helen Burley*  Reclaim Finance has joined 58 NGOs from around the world, including Banktrack, in signing an open letter calling on banks and investors to stop participating in bonds (loans granted by investors and facilitated by banks) issued by TotalEnergies. The 58 NGO signatories include 350.org , Amazon Watch, BankTrack, Centre for Environmental Law and Community Rights (CELCOR, Papua New Guinea), Justiça Ambiental (Mozambique) and Friday for Future (Uganda), Oil Change International and Urgewald (Germany).