Skip to main content

Ensure natural flow of Narmada to salvage sea ingress in downstream river: People's Tribunal testimony

By Our Representative
A Peoples’ Court or Jan Adalat, held in Bhopal on culmination of week-long struggle, called Narmada Aur Kisaani Bachao Jung, has been told that efforts should be stepped up to ensure the natural flow of Narmada river is properly monitored and regulated at a time when several major and minor dams have been built on it and its tributaries. This, it was suggested, necessary to protect the river's ecosystem, which is facing severe strain.
Those who gave testimonies following a 220 km rally, which began next to the Narmada dam, converting into a 55 km foot march from Sihore to Bhopal, were adivasi, farmers, fish workers agricultural labourers and mill workers, many of whom who faced displacement.
Issues raised included the bleak situation along Narmada, allegedly resulting from destructive development projects, especially large dams, devouring prime forests and other resources; displacement without rehabilitation; downstream impact of the Sardar Sarovar dam, and so on.
Heralbhai, a fish worker, and Kamleshbhai, an advocate, who had come from the downstream region of the Sardar Sarovar dam, said a serious issue of sea ingress demanded no new barrage, currently under implementation at Bhadbhut on the mouth of Narmada river. It would adversely affect the estuary and the coastal regulatory zone CRZ, affecting downstream fisheries and the river's ecology, they said.
They demanded that the Sardar Sarovar dam's gates should be opened up and there should a release of 6000 cusecs of water. Pointing out that a several decades old report by international expert Wallingford had recommended only 600 cusecs as the adequate flow for the downstream, they said, when the population has increased manifold and water requirement of industry and agriculture has gone up drastically, there is a need to review this.
Giving testimony, fish workers of Sardar Sarovar, Indira Sagar and Bargi reservoirs asserted their fishing rights, while the Sardar Sarovar-affected tribals and farmers talked of the devastation faced by them because of the dams.
Kailash Avasya spoke about injustice done to hilly adivasis who are still not rehabilitated, while Ranvir Tomar, Suresh Pradhan, Kamla Yadav, Shyama Behen and Madubhai pointed towards rehabilitation and resettlement (R&R) issues in the plains of Nimad. Wahid Mansuri raised questions about the clearance given by the Narendra Modi government to the Sardar Sarovar dam, demanding he dam's gates be opened till rehabilitation is concluded.
Rajkumar Sinha said new proposals for 13 power plants on Narmada river need to be rejected, as there is no further requirement of power for Madhya Pradesh. The proposals have been made to help private corporate power generators, he said,, while Meera Bai and Dadulal Kudape insisted that the proposal to have nuclear power plant at Chutka should be rejected because of its environmental issues.
VM Singh, a farmer leader, demanded that two laws need to be passed urgently -- one on freedom from debt and another on appropriate prices for agricultural products. These bill, he said, are already before Parliament, demanding a separate session for this.
Among those who heard the testimonies, Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar said forcible acquisition of land was taking place by undermining the 2013 land law, while former Justice of Supreme Court, Gopala Gowda acknowledged the seriousness of the situation along Narmada, wondering, “In a democracy, where majority rules, when 74% of the poor rural population belongs to the farming sector, how can we be ruled by the corporate sector?”

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).

Bharat Ratna nominee ‘joined hands’ with British masters to 'crush' Quit India

By Shamsul Islam*
The Quit India Movement (QIM), also known as ‘August Kranti' (August Revolution), was a nation-wide Civil Disobedience Movement for which a call was given on August 7, 1942 by the Bombay session of the All-India Congress Committee. It was to begin on August 9 as per Gandhi's call to 'Do or Die' in his Quit India speech delivered in Bombay at the Gowalia Tank Maidan on August 8. Since then August 9 is celebrated as August Kranti Divas.

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…

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…

Cess for Gujarat construction workers: Spending less than 10%; no 'direct help' to beneficiaries

By Our Representative
While the Gujarat government’s Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board, set up in 2004, as of March 31, 2019, has collected a total cess of Rs 2,097.62 crore from the the builders, it has spent less than 10% -- Rs 197.17 crore. And, as on May 31, 2019, the total cess collection has reached Rs 2,583.16 crore, said a statement issued by Bandhkam Majur Sagathan general secretary Vipul Pandya.
Pointing out that just about 6.5 lakh out of 20 lakh workers have been registered under the board, Pandya said, vis-à-vis other states, Gujarat ranks No 13th in the amount spent on the welfare of the construction workers, while 11th in the amount collected.
And while the builders are obliged to pay just about 1% of the total cost of their project, the calculation of the cess is flawed: It is Rs 3,000 per square yard; accordingly, Rs 30 per square yard is collected. “Had the cess been collected on the real construction cost, it would have been at least Rs 7,000 cr…