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

Congress 'promises' cancellation of Adani power project: Jharkhand elections

Counterview Desk
Pointing out that people's issues take a backseat in Jharkhand's 2019 assembly elections, the state's civil rights organization, the Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha, a coalition of activists and people’s organisations, has said that political parties have largely ignored in their electoral manifestos the need to implement the fifth schedule of the Constitution in a predominantly tribal district.

Gujarat refusal to observe Maulana Azad's birthday as Education Day 'discriminatory'

By Our Representative
The Gujarat government decision not to celebrate the National Education Day on !monday has gone controversial. Civil society organizations have particularly wondered whether the state government is shying away from the occasion, especially against the backdrop of "deteriorating" level of education in Gujarat.

Hindutva founders 'borrowed' Nazi, fascist idea of one flag, one leader, one ideology

By Shamsul Islam*
With the unleashing of the reign of terror by the RSS/BJP rulers against working-class, peasant organizations, women organizations, student movements, intellectuals, writers, poets and progressive social/political activists, India also witnessed a series of resistance programmes organized by the pro-people cultural organizations in different parts of the country. My address in some of these programmes is reproduced here... 
***  Before sharing my views on the tasks of artists-writers-intellectuals in the times of fascism, let me briefly define fascism and how it is different from totalitarianism. Totalitarianism is political concept, a dictatorship of an individual, family or group which prohibits opposition in any form, and exercises an extremely high degree of control over public and private life. It is also described as authoritarianism.
Whereas fascism, while retaining all these repressive characteristics, also believes in god-ordained superiority of race, cultur…

Ex-World Bank chief economist doubts spurt in India's ease of doing business rank

By Rajiv Shah
This is in continuation of my previous blog where I had quoted from a commentary which top economist Prof Kaushik Basu had written in the New York Times (NYT) a little less than a month ago, on November 6, to be exact. He recalled this article through a tweet on November 29, soon after it was made known that India's growth rate had slumped (officially!) to 4.5%.

With RSS around, does India need foreign enemy to undo its democratic-secular fabric?

By Shamsul Islam*
Many well-meaning liberal and secular political analysts are highly perturbed by sectarian policy decisions of RSS/BJP rulers led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, especially after starting his second inning. They are vocal in red-flagging lynching incidents, policies of the Modi government on Kashmir, the National Register of Citizens (NRC), the demand for 'Bharat Ratna' to Savarkar who submitted 6-7 mercy petitions to the British masters (getting remission of 40 years out of 50 years' sentence), and the murder of constitutional norms in Goa, Karnataka and now in Maharashtra.

Rushdie, Pamuk, 260 writers tell Modi: Aatish episode casts chill on public discourse

Counterview Desk
As many as 260 writers, journalists, artists, academics and activists across the world, including Salman Rushdie, British Indian novelist, Orhan Pamuk, Turkish novelist and recipient of the 2006 Nobel Prize in literature, and Margaret Atwood, Canadian poet and novelist, have called upon Prime Minister Narendra Modi to review the decision to strip British Indian writer Aatish Taseer of his overseas Indian citizenship.

Worrying signs in BJP: Modi, Shah begin 'cold-shouldering' Gujarat CM, party chief

By RK Misra*
The political developments in neighbouring Maharashtra where a Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government assumed office has had a trickle down effect in Gujarat with both the ruling BJP and the Congress opposition going into revamp mode.

Church in India 'seems to have lost' moral compass of unequivocal support to the poor

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*
In 2017, Pope Francis dedicated a special day, to be observed by the Universal Church, every year, as the ‘World Day of the Poor’. This year it will be observed on November 17 on the theme ‘The hope of the poor shall not perish for ever’; in a message for the day Pope Francis says:

'Favouring' tribals and ignoring Adivasis? Behind coercion of India's aborigines

By Mohan Guruswamy*
Tribal people account for 8.2% of India’s population. They are spread over all of India’s States and Union Territories. Even so they can be broadly classified into three groupings. The first grouping consists of populations who predate the Indo-Aryan migrations. These are termed by many anthropologists as the Austro-Asiatic-speaking Australoid people.

'Discussed' with Modi, Gujarat Rann Sarovar proposal for Kutch runs into rough weather

By Rajiv Shah
Top Saurashtra industrialist Jaysukhbhai Patel’s by now controversial proposal to convert the 4,900 sq km Little Rann of Kutch area, an eco-sensitive zone – a UNESCO biosphere, world’s only wild ass reserve, and a nesting ground of lesser flamingoes – into a huge sweet water lake, called Rann Sarovar, has suffered a major roadblock. At least three Central agencies have expressed serious doubts about its feasibility.