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

Why do I lend my support to voices protesting world class renovation of Gandhi Ashram?

By Martin Macwan* One would not expect an activist working on Dalit rights to join such a protest. Dalits carry unhealed trauma that Gandhi caused to Dr BR Ambedkar and the Dalit cause of effective political representation by using violent means of his own definition in the event of the Poona Pact. This apart, Gandhi’s ideas in general, which changed often, on caste were orthodox. I have nothing to add to the subject after the sharpest critique offered by Dr Ambedkar.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Inaccurate gender-relevant data 'spoiling' government policy on Covid social impact

By Simi Mehta*  The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has been different across vulnerable groups. They were hit by the pandemic at various stages, whether it was accessibility to medical treatment or financial support. The second wave witnessed human suffering at a level where one can never forget the traumatized faces of people due to the inaccessibility and unavailability of essential medical services such as hospitals beds and oxygen. The probability of the third wave has also been one of the major upcoming challenges.

Flamboyant 'demagogues' adjust politics, personality in shadow of democracy

Modi, Erdogan, Bolsonaro By Ajit Singh The terms dictators and demagogues are used interchangeably in various contexts, but there is a difference. The former rule over a totalitarian states where governments are able to exercise complete influence over every aspect of citizens’ life, whereas the latter are a "wannabe dictators" but due to the system of checks and balances they are are not fully capable to create police states.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara 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".

2002 riots: Gujarat assembly 'misinformed' about dereliction of duty, says ex-DGP

By Rajiv Shah  Former Gujarat topcop RB Sreekumar, an IPS officer of the 1971 batch, has alleged that the Gujarat government gave “totally false information” on the floor of the State Assembly regarding the appeal he made to the Gujarat governor for the “initiation of departmental action against those responsible for culpable negligence in maintenance of public order and investigation of genocidal crimes” during the 2002 riots.

Celebrating birthday amidst image of 'coerced, submissive' India ruled by a strong leader

Pushkar Raj*  As the weeks long birthday festivity of the leadership was being rejoiced India wide, the Covid was still raging in several parts of India. The carnival was in line with the post-Covid decisions and actions of the leadership demonstrating a pursuit of personal power and glory instead of national interest in times of disease and death.

'Devastating impact': Rural workers suffer as Govt of India NREGA budget down by 34%

Counterview Desk  A civil rights group, the NREGA Sangharsh Morcha has sent a letter to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj stating that 34 per cent decrease in the fiscal budget of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGA) for year 2021-22 has added to woes on India’s rural population, already suffering from “devastating impact” of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Catholic women warn: Kerala Bishop turning Church into puppet in political games

Counterview Desk A group of Catholic women under the banner Concerned Catholic Women of India has said that they are deeply concerned over "a bishop’s controversial statement" which may threaten communal harmony in India. As many as 89 Catholic women from across India have urged the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India and its Kerala unit to take special steps to "foster peace and avoid strife."

No space for 2 lakh waste pickers in Delhi masterplan for next two decades: Study

By Our Representative  A new survey report prepared by the NGO Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group on the challenges faced by waste pickers in managing solid waste in Delhi, “Space for Waste - 2021”, has regretted that currently, there is no provision of workspace for waste workers, hence they carry out their work of segregation, repairing, and composting at different locations.