Skip to main content

Eco-destruction? Narmada's natural flow down to what it was 10 years go, farm lands go saline, fish catch down

Aliyabet
By Our Representative
The Gujarat government closing down all the 30 gates on the the Sardar Sarovar Narmada dam in June this year may have "helped" raise the water level to the full reservoir level, 138.68 metres, swelling the dam’s live storage from 1.27 million acre feet (MAF) to 4.73 MAF. However, this has allegedly led to a major ecological destruction downstream of the river, 150 km away, on the river mouth, on the Gulf of Khambhat.
Says South Gujarat's well-known environmentalist MSH Sheikh, who heads the Brackish Water Research Centre, Surat, the flow in the river, despite increase in the dam's capacity, has actually gone down to what it was 10 years ago. He has told Counterview, "It was decided to release 600 cusecs (cubic feet per seconds) of environmental flow by dam authorities without considering the effects on downstream at the time of planning the dam."
Pointing out that even this 600 cusecs of water is only being released "on paper", Sheikh says, "A recent National Green Tribunal (NGT) order said that 25% of river flow should be considered as ecological flow for downstream area", adding, the main reason behind this is the dam authorities' belief that "the release in the downstream is wastage of the fresh water; they have no value for the 150 km of Narmada river downstream from the dam."
He notes, "Narmada is the biggest west flowing river which had the continuous freshwater flow necessary for fish breeding throughout the year. The flow has come down drastically. The fresh water flow is confined to merely 20 meters of the riverbed at Chandod in the downstream of the dam, though the width used to be 250-300 metres before the dam was constructed."
Another major ecological consequence of the "non-release of the fresh water", says Sheikh, has been "tidal water intrusion much deeper than before", insisting, "The salt water is affecting farmers. Farmers on the river bank cannot take the river water for agriculture as it has no dilution of freshwater. Tidal effects are depositing silt in the mouth of the river from Bharuch to Dahej, creating the various mud islands."
Pointing out that "the morphology of the river and riverbed is totally changed due to the decrease of river flow", Sheikh says, "There was a delta of river Narmada when the Sardar Sarovar dam was not constructed, which was called Aliyabet, having lush green 'aal' grass. The villagers of the northern and southern portion of the river were grazing animals on it. After the construction of dam and non-release of adequate water, the delta has disappeared."
"The southern portion of the delta has merged with the land and created a desert", Sheikh says, adding, "Decrease in the river water level has made the entire estuary very shallow. The fishermen are not having adequate depth in the estuarine mouth. Uneven topography has permanently changed the river estuary and delta."
According to Sheikh, "The fishermen who were fishing before the dam was constructed from Hansot to Kantiyajal in 20 km stretch in southern portion of the delta do not have the river any more, as it has merged in land and become desert. The Pagadiya fishermen have to go tens of km away from their native village for fishing."
Meanwhile, in order to come to grips with the ecological destruction because of the reduced release of water from the dam, the state government has proposed Bhadbhut barrage on the mouth of the river. Sheikh says, "Fishermen are opposing the barrage as they are now fishing in the flowing river during the tidal water in the river and the estuary."
He adds, "The closer of the estuary at Bhadbhut will shorten their fishing ground and breeding ground of Hilsa fish, which is one of the major fish species in Narmada river and estuary. All movement of the water flow will stop, which will result in stopping of breeding of the species, which requires brackish water area where the salinity varies."

Comments

ALSO READ

India failing to dictate diplomatic preferences of Nepal, Bhutan, is unfairly blaming Beijing: Chinese daily

By Our Representative
In a sharply-worded editorial, a top Chinese media outfit, described by BBC as state-run, has said, commenting on India's foreign relations with its neighbours, that "speculation and suspicion" is "certainly not diplomacy". Published in "China Daily", the largest circulating English Monday-to-Saturday newspaper with branches across the world, the editorial notes (September 20) that "several recent events" in Nepal and Bhutan, are "gnawing worrywarts in New Delhi".
The editorial -- which comes close on the heels of a sharp critique of India's foreign policy in a state-supported Russian media outfit, Sputnik International, calling India's anti-Pak diplomacy as having "gone awry" following Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "half-baked" push for anti-terror drill down "others' throat" -- says, the " worrywarts" include "Nepalese troops taking part in a joint…

Accused of being RSS plant, Modi man, Hyderabad Urdu varsity chancellor asks President to probe "irregularities"

Counterview Desk
Refused entry in the Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU), the central university's newly appointed chancellor Firoz Bakht Ahmed, who claims to be grand nephew of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, has, in a letter to the President of India, said that MANUU vice-chancellor (V-C) Dr Aslam Parvaiz has accused him of being an RSS plant and a Modi man, whose sole aim is to "interfere in the working of the university".

Ahmedabad, GIFT, Adani city get 1.68 lakh acre ft Narmada water; Gujarat's rural areas just 4.27 AF: Letter to CM

Counterview Desk
Well-known farmer rights leader Sagar Rabari, in an open letter to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, has demanded a transparent account of Narmada water, saying, while he has received a "routine reply" from him to his earlier, the data emerging from his RTI application show huge quantity of water being directed to Ahmedabad, the 10 km stretch of Sabarmati for the Ahmedabad riverfront, and nearby elite urban areas, including the Adanis' Shantigram township and GIFT City.

17 lakh Jharkhand elderly, widows, differently abled do not receive pension: Public hearing told, aadhaar is a hurdle

By Our Representative
Hundreds of elderly, widows, single women and differently-abled persons from different districts of Jharkhand gathered near the Raj Bhavan in Ranchi for a public hearing organized by the Jharkhand Right to Food Campaign and Pension Parishad demanding the right to universal social security pensions ahead of World Elderly Day on October 1.

Ethnocide in Caribbean island filmed following award winning docufilm on Jamaica's anti-colonial Indian roots

International awards winner for Best Feature Documentary Linda Aïnouche for “Dreadlocks Story” (2014), which shows how Indians are entangled in the Jamaican society, and how Hinduism was a source of inspiration for the Rastafari movement, is all set to release her new documentary, “Marooned in the Caribbean”, which aims at documenting the awful desolating living conditions that Raizal people, the native inhabitants of San Andres Archipelago, endure.
Sons of slaves, these islanders have fallen prey to what the Colombian government calls Colombianization. “It’s a process”, according to her, “which kills the Raizal culture; it’s the killing of the Raizal soul. Colombianization subjugates Afro-descendants of San Andres to an ethnocide.”

Explorer, director and producer, Linda Aïnouche writes exclusively for Counterview: ***
Nobody escapes from blood and thunder in Colombia, and definitely not in the archipelago of San Andres, situated closer to Managua and Kingston than Bogota. The Raizal p…

India to deport Rohingya refugees, as the world moves towards prosecuting Myanmar for genocide

By Tapan Bose*
Seven Rohingya Muslims refugees who were held at a detention centre in Assam since 2012 will be handed over to Myanmar. The Supreme Court of India has refused to stop their deportation. The new Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gagoi said, "We are not inclined to interfere on the decision taken".

An elite Kutir set up by Modi far from the "madding" crowd: This Gandhi museum is formal, unapproachable

By Rajiv Shah
Have you ever heard of a Gandhi museum, sough to be projected as the “largest” on the Mahatma, yet totally inaccessible, in sharp contrast to Ahmedabad’s humble, approachable and unassuming Gandhi Ashram on the banks of Sabarmati, set up by the Mahatma during the heydays of the freedom movement? It exists about 30 kilometres away, its idea was conceived by none other than a person who has today become even more inaccessible than he ever was: Narendra Modi, India's Prime Minister.

History less known: Kasturba's role as an independent woman and a freedom fighter in her own right

By Nandini Oza*
Even the most deserving of women do not find a place that equals their worth in history. Kasturba is one such woman whose contribution to India’s struggle for freedom has been exemplary, and yet, it has not received the recognition it deserves. Kastur Makhanji Kapadia was born in the year 1869, the same year and in the same town of Porbandar in Gujarat as Gandhiji. In fact she was older than Gandhiji by a few months.

Hyderabad-based Urdu university "bars" entry of its new chancellor, who had "initiated" reforms in institute

Counterview Desk
In an unusual controversy, Aslam Parvaiz, vice-chancellor of of the Hyderabad-based Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU) has restricted the entry of its newly appointed Chancellor, Firoz Bakht Ahmed, allegedly because he was trying to initiate reforms, including setting up of a Maulana Azad Center for Composite Culture and Progressive Studies, Model Madrasa, Center for Empowerment of Muslim Women, Course for the Development of Legal Vocabulary and Legal Consciousness in Urdu, and so on.

Poor response to tenders for Gujarat's bid for the world's tallest statue, no international firm shows interest

By Our Representative
The Gujarat government’s claim that its decision to build the world’s highest statue in the world, in the memory of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, would attract “tremendous” response top international construction companies, has gone phut. The state government floated international tenders in August to build the statue, which is slated to be 182-metres high. Despite the “international” character of the tenders and big claims, well-informed Sachivalaya sources close to Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi say, “not one international firm has come up to offer to carry out the construction activity.”