Skip to main content

Seismic activity "responsible" for polluted Narmada waters, make data public: NBA

Counterview Desk
Well-known anti-dam organization, Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), has alleged that seismic activity could be a major reason why the Narmada water got polluted and undrinkable. A statement signed by several senior NBA activists, including Medha Patkar, Kailash Awasya , Mukesh Bhagoriya, Kamla Yadav, Rahul Yadav, Suresh Patidar, Jagdish Patel and Devram Kanera, has asked the Madhya Pradesh government to pressure the Gujarat government to make public all the data on seismic activity along the dam and its impact.

Text of the statement:

While Narmada Jayanti will be celebrated by thousands of people in the valley on February 12, the mother river itself is facing an unprecedented danger. An alarm regarding this has been raised by none other than the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB). The whole issue started when lakhs of fishes were found dead on the banks of the canals of the Sardar Sarovar project.
These fishes had died, according to initial news reports, due to some chemicals coming out of the power turbine of the Sardar Sarovar dam. Later on, there was suspicion, which was partly proved, that some chemicals were used to capture crocodiles and remove them, so that a sea plane could become a tourist attraction in one of the dykes of the Sardar Sarovar dam, through which the reservoir water flows into the canals.
It is now known that 15 crocodiles were removed from that the dyke No 4, and put into the reservoir waters. There are around 500 crocodiles in the dykes situated next to the dam.
On finding that the taste and odour of the water had changed, and doubts began being expressed about its potability, GPCB officials accepted that something was wrong and started investigation. The Gujarat government, meanwhile, announced that it is stopping water supply to 138 villages which were using canal waters from Sardar Sarovar for drinking purposes. This was done for the safety of life, which was allegedly in danger.
But everyone knows that the canal waters do not flow to 138 villages alone; they are used for potable purposes in Vadodara, Gandhinagar and Ahmadabad cities as well.
It is a matter of investigation whether there was a toxic gas coming out of the bottom of the Sardar Sarovar dam, where some seismic activity appears to be going on. GPCB says, it does not have necessary manpower and expertise to ascertain the cause, hence it has taken help of organisations like Oil and Natural Gas Commission (ONGC), which can take samples to test.
GPCB has also involved the Gujarat Water Supply and Sewerage Board (GWSSB) as well as the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited (SSNNL) in its investigation. It has asked the Madhya Pradesh government to take samples from Omkareshwar and Indira Sagar dam reservoirs as well.
As for the seismological issue, it has been discussed for years in the meetings of the environmental sub-group of the Narmada Control Authority (NCA). In every meeting it was reported that a number of studies are yet to take place, and the assignments are entrusted to some organisation or the other, which would have the necessary expertise.
It's no more a hidden fact that the ground of the Narmada lineament is full of seismic risk and seismic activity, and there are a number of fault zones around the dam site of the Sardar Sarovar. When Kutch earthquake occurred in 2001, apprehensions were expressed about possible outcome in case the epicentre was the Sardar Sarovar dam.
None other than late Mukul Sinha, courageous scientist lawyer, drafted a petition through his organisation Janhit Manch, which was not heard by the Gujarat High Court. There has been a lot of pressure from the Gujarat government not to do scientific in-depth investigation of the issue.
It is known that the seismic activity along the dam has increased, and a number of recordings have been made even at the seismographic stations in near Shahada, Maharashtra, for many years. The activity beyond three Richter scale is considered alarming and it should have been taken cognizance of.
However, the reality is that, seismographic stations in Madhya Pradesh in the Narmada valley in Badhwani and Dhar districts are almost non-functional. Data from these stations is not available in Madhya Pradesh, nor is it being monitored by the state government.
Meanwhile, all the data was transferred through an electronic device to Gandhinagar straightaway after the Modi government came to power. GPCB has now asked this data to be monitored and assessed, without which there can be no concrete evidence about the seismic activity and its impact, including the quality of water.
It is said that dissolved oxygen in the water is reduced from 4 to 5 milligram per litre to 1-2 milligram per litre, and that is the reason why pollution due to the saturation of sulphides has taken place. This has made Narmada water no more potable, i.e. drinkable.
If this is the situation in the Gujarat part of the Sardar Sarovar dam’s reservoir, from where the canal water flows and kills fishes, what about the water being used for drinking and other purposes by lakhs of people in the Narmada valley in the Madhya Pradesh region?
We demand:
  •  The Madhya Pradesh government should take cognizance beyond political lines and carry out investigation, even as compel Gujarat to come clean about seismic activity and made public seismographic data of Madhya Pradesh that has been gathered in Gandhinagar over the last many years. 
  • The people of Narmada valley will be celebrating Narmada Jayanti on February 12 because the river is their life and livelihood. As their right to right to life and livelihood is at stake, they the right to know what is the reason behind the polluted Narmada waters.

Comments

TRENDING

Girl child education: 20 major states 'score' better than Gujarat, says GoI report

By Rajiv Shah
A Government of India report, released last month, has suggested that “model” Gujarat has failed to make any progress vis-à-vis other states in ensuring that girls continue to remain enrolled after they leave primary schools. The report finds that, in the age group 14-17, Gujarat’s 71% girls are enrolled at the secondary and higher secondary level, which is worse than 20 out of 22 major states for which data have been made available.

Savarkar in Ahmedabad "declared support" to two-nation theory in 1937, followed by Jinnah three years later

By Our Representative
One of the top freedom fighters whom BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi revere the most, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, was also a great supporter of the two nation theory for India, one for Hindus another for Muslims, claims a new expose on the man who is also known to be the original proponent of the concept of Hindutva.

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.

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…

Hindutva founders, not Congress, were actual 'proponents' of two-nation theory

By Shamsul Islam*
No other organization, in the present world, can beat Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in double-speak. In fact, what George Orwell termed as "doublespeak" would be an understatement in the case of RSS. The latest proof of this nasty case was provided by the Union Home Minister Amit Shah, de facto Prime Minister and senior RSS leader in the Lok Sabha (akin to the House of Commons in England) on December 9, 2019.

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.

Ships recycling Bill 'allows' India to be turned into a landfill for foreign hazardous waste

Counterview Desk
In a letter to M Venkaiah Naidu, chairman, Rajya Sabha, senior activist Gopal Krishna of the Toxics Watch Alliance has said that the Recycling of Ships Bill, 2019 should be referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology, Environment, Forests and Climate Change to "safeguard country’s maritime environment from harmful and hazardous wastes and materials".

Post-Balakot, danger that events might spiral out of control is 'greater, not less'

By Tapan Bose*
The fear of war in South Asia is increasing. Tensions are escalating between India and Pakistan after the Indian defence minister's announcement in August this year that India may revoke its current commitment to only use nuclear weapons in retaliation for a nuclear attack, known as ‘no first use’. According to some experts who are watching the situation the risk of a conflict between the two countries has never been greater since they both tested nuclear weapons in 1998.

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.