Skip to main content

Fisherfolk show black flags to Modi at proposed Bharbhut barrage on Narmada river mouth, detained

By Our Representative
Even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday was laying foundation stone for the long-pending scheme for constructing Rs 4,000 crore Bhadbhut barrage on the Narmada river's mouth on the Bay of Khambhat, attracting media attention, what is little known is, about the same time, hundreds of fisherfolk waved black flags at him, riding on about 100 fishing boats.
Sailing into the river and shouting slogans, the fisherfolk were detained for five-and-a-half hours for demanding that there should not be any damming of the river at Bhadbhut, as they believed, it would destroy their prized catch, hisla, which breeds in brackish waters.
About 250 of them were detained and were kept under police custody from about 11.00 am to 4.30 pm. They were released after up to 2,000 fisherfolk, mostly women, reached the detention place to express their solidarity and seeking the release of those detained. By the time they were released, Modi had already left.
Well-known environmentalist Himanshu Thakkar comments, it was a "sad day for Narmada river" as "thousands of fisherfolk families will further suffer due to the Rs 4,000 crore Bhadbhut dam for which Modi laid the foundation stone", adding, it was "great to see boat protest by the fisherfolk families with black flags" showing "amazing courage". He regrets, "National media, unfortunately, seems happy to ignore this."
Significantly, the Gujarat government-sponsored environmental public hearing for the Bharbhut barrage project on river Narmada’s mouth in Bharuch district proved to be a non-starter in 2013, with as many as 1,500 farmers and fisherfolk turning up to attend the hearing on July 19, but walking out en mass.
The farmers and fisherfolk protested against the proposed project as “anti-people”, with Pravin Tandel, the fisherfolks’ local leader, saying the project would “adversely affect the fish catch, especially hisla, once the it is implemented.” He added, “Currently, Hisla fetches Rs 1,200 per kg, and is our main source of livelihood. To say that fishing is a side activity is a misnomer.”
A state-sponsored study, “Environmental Impact and Risk Assessment for the Proposed Barrage Across River Narmada near Bhadbhut, Dist. Bharuch”, by top consultants National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), has admitted that “in the event of construction of the barrage and the creation of the fresh water reservoir at the barrage, the concern of the fishermen regarding deprivation of the presently available fishing advantage is quite genuine that deserves very careful consideration for policy-level action.”
The study quotes fishermen as saying that once the barrage at Bharbhut is built, there will be a reduction of flow of riverine water into the downstream estuary which may cause variation in salinity of the estuary water, affecting the upstream migration of the hilsa fish. In their view, the barrage would be a barrier to the movement of fishermen and also to the migration of hilsa and other fishery species across the barrage.
The fishermen also feel, says the study, that after the barrage is constructed, the breeding ground of hilsa fish will disappear. In the context of the new barrage construction, they should be treated as the “Project Affected Persons”, they said, and need to be compensated suitably.
This is particularly necessary, it says, because “unlike agricultural farmers having permanent asset of land on which they have legal right, the fishermen do not have any exclusive legal right for fishing in any part of the estuary or the sea. This encourages outsiders to encroach in their fishing area and thereby deprive them of their livelihood”.

Comments

TRENDING

#MeToo moment in Hyderabad Urdu varsity? Two girl students seek action against authorities

Counterview Desk
Has the #MeToo movement reached Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MAANU)? It would seem so if a recent letter by newly-appointed chancellor Firoz Bakht Ahmed to MAANU vice-chancellor Dr Aslam Parvaiz is any indication. Seeking reinstatement of two girl victims of “sexual harassment and humiliation”, the letter specifically names head of the department of the Media Centre for Journalism, suspecting, the problem could be much deeper.
Text of the letter: It is a matter of utmost perturbation for me to receive the two representations from the girls studying in the MCJ (Media Center for Journalism) regarding their sexual and subsequently, mental and social harassment at the hands of Prof Ehtesham Ahmad Khan, the HOD, MCJ.
We do not know, how many girls have been exploited by him and preferred to be silent for saving their family’s honour; however, there are two brave girls who stood to the depraved advances and misuse by Prof Ehtesham and came up with written complai…

"Ineligible" funding of Sardar Statue in Gujarat: CAG tells Central PSUs, it's not a heritage CSR activity

By Our Representative
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, in its recent report on Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSE), has qualified public sector undertakings’ (PSUs') funding the 182-metre world’s highest Sardar Statue, currently being constructed in the Narmada river downstream of the Sardar Sarovar dam as an “ineligible” corporate social responsibility (CSR) activity.

Gujarat BJP MLAs, youth leader "incited" attack on North Indians: Cong releases video

Counterview Desk
Senior Gujarat Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil, currently in charge of Bihar and national spokesperson, All-India Congress Committee, has sent a legal notice to chief minister Vijay Rupani threatening criminal case and civil defamation suit for accusing him with "baseless statement" that he was responsible for attacks on north Indians in Gujarat.

29th "NRC-related" suicide in Assam, as Nirod Baran Das takes his life by hanging on a fan

By Our Representative
Reporting 29th case of National Register of Citizens (NRC)-driven suicide in Assam, one of India’s human rights campaign sites has said that, on October 20, tragedy struck Kharupetia town in Darrang district of Assam, when a retired school teacher and advocate Nirod Baran Das “took his life by hanging himself to a fan in his home.” The report adds, “The NRC process has so far claimed over two dozen such lives in the past four months alone.”

"Highly irregular" for PSUs to fund Sardar Statue under Corporate Social Responsibility

Counterview Desk
In a letter to I Srinivas, secretary, Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India, former secretary (economic affairs), Ministry of Finance, EAS Sarma, has raised questions on the funding of the Sardar Patel statue in South Gujarat by Central Public Sector Undertaking (CPSUs) relying on the Comptroller and Auditor General report (No 18/2018).

Murder of Tamil Nadu teenage Dalit girl: "Stoic silence" despite #MeToo movement

Counterview Desk
Brinelle D'souza, who is with the Centre for Health and Mental Health, School of Social Work, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, has prepared a strong statement to protest the brutal murder of 13-year-old Rajalakshmi. "Other than a few media reports, this gruesome killing has not caught national attention despite a very vibrant #MeToo campaign currently underway", regrets D'souza.

Post-MJ Akbar resignation: #MeToo movement and fears of backlash

By Sheshu Babu*
For the last few days, #MeToo movement has picked up momentum and many women are coming out with horrific tales of severe harassment in their past lives. They are not afraid anymore to expose famous persons including those at ministerial levels. As a senior journalist Neeraja Chowdhury opined (“An exit, a beginning”, October 18, 2018, indianexpress.com), "The #MeToo revelations are like the eruption of a volcano which was imminent, given the journey working women have covered. It was not easy to make public what they had gone through,and take on powerful men.”

Bank account frozen, raid on Amnesty office: Govt of India "treating" human rights NGOs like criminal enterprises

By Abhirr VP*
Amnesty India’s bank accounts have been frozen by the Enforcement Directorate, effectively stopping its work. Amnesty India is thus the latest target of the government’s assault on civil society in the country. The accounts of Greenpeace India were frozen earlier this month.

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

60 ex-civil servants seek release of CAG reports on Rafale, demonetisation before 2019 polls

Counterview Desk
As many as 60 retired civil servants have asked President Ram Nath Kovind to expedite the release of Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) reports on demonetisation and the Rafale deal. The letter, signed mainly by former Indian Administrative Service, Indian Foreign Service and Indian Police Service officers, regrets that the status of the audit is "unclear”. According to them, “An impression is gaining ground that CAG is deliberately delaying its audit reports on demonetisation and Rafale deal till after the May 2019 elections so as not to embarrass the present government”.