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

132 Gujarat citizens, including IIM-A faculty, others declare solidarity with Kashmiris

Counterview Desk
A week after it was floated, 132 activists, academics, students, artists and other concerned citizens of Gujarat, backed by 118 living in different parts of India and the world, have signed a "solidarity letter" supporting the people of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), who, it claims, have been silenced and held captive in their own land. The signatories include faculty members and scholars of the prestigious Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A).

Amit Shah 'wrong': Lack of transparency characterized bank frauds, NPAs, jobs data

Counterview Desk
India's senior RTI activists Nikhil Dey, Anjali Bhardwaj, Venktesh Nayak, Rakesh Reddy Dubbudu, Dr. Shaikh Ghulam Rasool, Pankti Jog and Pradip Pradhan, who are attached with the National Campaign for Peoples' Right to Information (NCPRI), have said that Union home minister Amit Shah's claim that the Government of India is committed to transparency stands in sharp contrast to its actual actions.

Untold story of Jammu: Business 'down', students fear lynching, teachers can't speak

By Rajiv Shah
A just-released report, seeking to debunk the view that people in Jammu, the second biggest city of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) after Srinagar, people had gone “out celebrating” abrogation of Article 370 which took away the state’s special status, has reported what it calls “abominably high levels of fear” across all sections in the town.

Success of 'political' Hinduism: Kashmiris being depicted as antagonists of rest of India

By Anand K Sahay*
There are times in history when facts call attention to themselves; they assert their independence in all its amplitude and are in no need of the crutch of interpretation. Such a moment is visible in Kashmir now. Merely by being on the table, the facts there taunt the regime’s proclamations.

Gujarat's incomplete canals: Narmada dam filled up, yet benefits 'won't reach' farmers

By Our Representative
Even as the Gujarat government is making all out efforts to fill up the Sardar Sarovar dam on Narmada river up to the full reservoir level (FRL), a senior farmer rights leader has said the huge reservoir, as of today, remains a “mirage for the farmers of Gujarat”.
In a statement, Sagar Rabari of the Khedut Ekta Manch (KEM), has said that though the dam’s reservoir is being filled up, the canal network remains complete. Quoting latest government figures, he says, meanwhile, the command area of the dam has been reduced from 18,45,000 hectares (ha) to 17,92,000 ha.
“According to the website of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd, which was last updated on Friday, while the main canal, of 458 km long, has been completed, 144 km of ranch canals out of the proposed length of 2731 km remain incomplete.
Then, as against the targeted 4,569 km distributaries, 4,347 km have been constructed, suggesting work for 222 km is still pending. And of the 15,670 km of minor canal…

Kashmiris in a civil disobedience mode, are going against 'diktat' to open shops

Counterview Desk
A team of concerned citizens, including Ludhiana-based psychiatrist and writer Anirudh Kala, Mumbai-based activist and public health professional Brinelle Dsouza, Delhi-based journalist and writer Revati Laul, and social activist Shabnam Hashmi, travelled to Kashmir and Jammu to understand the impact of the abrogation of Article 370 and the subsequent security clampdown and communication blockade on the lives of the people of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).

Ceramic worker dies: 20,000 workers in Thangadh, Gujarat, 'risk' deadly silicosis

By Our Representative
Even as the country was busy preparing for the Janmashtami festival on Saturday, Hareshbhai, a 46-year-old ceramic worker from suffering from the fatal lung disease silicosis, passed away. He worked in a ceramic unit in Thangadh in Surendranagar district of Gujarat from 2000 to 2016.
Hareshbhai was diagnosed with the disease by the GCS Medical College, Naroda Road, Ahmedabad in 2014. He was found to be suffering from progressive massive fibrosis. He is left behind by his wife Rekha sister and two sons Deepak (18) and Umesh (12),
The death of Hareshbhai, says Jagdish Patel of the health rights group Peoples Training and Research Centre (PTRC), suggests that silicosis, an occupational disease, can be prevented but not cured, and the Factory Act has sufficient provisions to prevent this.
According to Patel, the pottery industry in the industrial town of Thangadh has evolved for a long time and locals as well as migrant workers are employed here. There are abou…