Skip to main content

Narmada dam stands like statue, not satiating Kutch-Saurashtra thirst: Medha to Modi

Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar
Counterview Desk
Commenting on the Prime Minister's recent speech in Parliament, top Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) leader Medha Patkar and her colleagues* have said that Narendra Modi's statement on Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) on Narmada river is "rootless and proofless", insisting, the Madhya Pradesh government’s stand on the issue, of inability to provide more water to the dam, is "rational and realistic".
In their strongly-worded critique, they have said that the Prime Minister cannot be expected to act like the chief minister of Gujarat and be callous about lakhs of people in the Narmada valley, their nature and culture.

Text:

In his response to the President’s address in the Lok Sabha, Prime Minister Narendra Modi didn’t forget to refer to the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP), which he considers his pet project for himself and his state, Gujarat. He also boasted about the successful completion of the gigantic dam of SSP on the Narmada river.
The dam is no doubt standing like a statue, but the fact is, it has neither served the real purpose of satiating the thirst of the drought-affected Kutch and Saurashtra, as promised, nor have lakhs of people (Adivasis, farmers, fisher people, labourers and others), affected by it been rehabilitated as per the law and demands of justice.
Modi criticized all those who according to him are spreading "false news" about SSP. He was probably referring to both the people from the Narmada valley in Madhya Pradesh and from Gujarat. The latter are left high and dry since they haven’t yet received waters from SSP, which is proving to be a mirage.
As for the people from the valley, in all 30,000 families are still residing on the river bank of Narmada till date, and they certainly cannot be expected to support raising the SSP water level to 139 metres, which is the dam's full reservoir level. They still await rehabilitation, and have the legal right to stay put in their original villages till that happens.
If he is targeting farmers protesting in Gujarat, is he unaware about 481 companies that are being supplied SSP water? This is happening even as farms are still without micro network of canals, which are a prerequisite for getting irrigation water.
Modi has been craving for credit for completing the big dam, ignoring the violations of legal and human rights as also environmental laws. Is this being done unknowingly or deliberately? Does he not know how the Narmada Water Dispute Tribunal (NWDT) award and several Supreme Court verdicts, as also state policies (including that of Gujarat), have provided for rehabilitation, aimed at better standard of living post-resettlement?
Is he ignorant of the fact that whatever rehabilitation has happened is due to 34 years' long people’s struggle? And yet, thousands of families are yet to receive all those benefits, for which state administrations are responsible, with Gujarat providing full financial support?
Is Modi unaware that both Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh governments are bereft of funds, which is a genuine necessity for the enormous balance work for rehabilitation, that was concealed during the legal proceedings at the Apex Court and High Courts?
Instead of taking stock of legal and mandatory responsibility and unattended environmental impacts, which remain uncompensated, too, the Prime Minister seems to be giving a push to Gujarat’s dream of filling the dam without fulfilling the mandate. Within Gujarat, too, the pull and push is more from industries than from ordinary farmers or the drought-affected people.
You, Mr Prime Minister, are no more just a chief minister of Gujarat. Please try to understand the changed position and the related duty you are expected to perform. You have to save the lives and livelihoods of Adivasis, Dalits, farmers, labourers and all who are entitled to an alternative life and livelihood with shelter and amenities, when displaced.
And you can’t call the assertion of the present Congress government of Madhya Pradesh, that they can’t fill the waters and create a grave for lakhs of people, to be irrational or political. They have to review all wrong data, decisions and lapses in execution, including corruption, left behind by your counterpart, Shivraj Singh Chouhan. They can’t and will not be permitted to take any decision against their electoral promise, commitment and public interest.
The Prime Minister can’t also hide facts regarding the distribution of benefits. Where is power from SSP, due to be supplied to Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh after investment of crores of rupees?
Why has the power generation reached the lowest in recent years, much less than the magnitude achieved at a much lower (17 metres less) dam height in 2008? Why is it that water shortage, the risk of climate change, as also issues regarding regulation and monitoring of cascade of dams on Narmada, need to taken more seriously today than ever before?
Shouldn't he take into account these factors and bring to the drawing room all the stakeholders and hold a dialogue? Why are environmental laws in the downstream not followed, assuring fisher people and others struggling for a river flowing in order to prevent sea ingress?
Can Gujarat promise 1,500 cusecs of water to be released from the dam to the downstream without any review of the water requirement in the downstream and allocation in the upstream, even as looking into the readiness by the government of Madhya Pradesh for this?
The people from the valley raise these questions for the Prime Minister to respond, as without this, he can’t just claim his big contribution through the ‘51 hours fast’, which was actually a ‘5 star fast’, only to counter 21 days' fast by us, the people from the valley.
The Prime Minister's plan appears to be aimed at violating the NWDT award, to submerge and kick out thousands of families, not follow the known policy decisions undertaken on SSP, and impose Narmada ‘tourism' on a people who have lived an honest, simple and self-reliant life along the river.
We once again pledge to stay put and to drown but not leave our motherland and mother-river without rehabilitation.
---
*Devram Kanera, Wahid Mansuri, Saraswati, Jagdish Patel, Rahul Yadav, Devisingh Tomar, Gokhru Solanki

Comments

TRENDING

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".

Examples of support to Hindu temples, scriptures, saints by 'Muslim' rulers galore

Siya Ram coin issued by Akbar By Bharat Dogra* At a time when the country as well as the world are passing through very difficult times leading to more urgent need for strengthening national unity for meeting several big challenges ahead, unfortunately disputes relating to religious places have been allowed to raise their ugly head once again. It is well-realized by now by many people that it is not historical facts but narrow considerations of political gain and spreading of fanatic ideas of intolerance which are behind such mischief, but due to the increasing threat of mob violence and patronage available at higher levels to groups spreading intolerance many people are reluctant to openly and fearlessly express their views. Hence there is urgent need for broad-based peace committees with wider social support to spread the message of communal harmony and to appeal against the dangers of spreading false messages regarding places of worship which can ultimate

Barefoot women solar engineers join farmers, 'rediscover' benefits of biodiversity

Leela Devi, Monica By Bharat Dogra*  At a time of increasing concern over climate change, contributions of several women, farmers and innovators have given reason for increasing hope in mitigation as well as adaptation work in villages of India. When Leela Devi was married in Tilonia village (Ajmer district of Rajasthan), she had not heard of solar energy. But making use of the existence of solar centre of the Barefoot College (BC) near her new home, she learnt adequate skills within a year to set up rural solar units and assemble solar lanterns. Later as India’s External Affairs Ministry teamed up with BC to start an international program for training women in rural solar energy systems, Leela teamed up with other friends from BC to form a team of trainers. A training programme has been designed for training women as barefoot solar engineers. When I visited the Tilonia campus (before the training program was temporarily discontinued due to COVID) , a group of women (several of them Gr

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.

Himalayan tragedy: Labour laws for migrant workers violated at Ramganga dam site

By Bharat Dogra* The extremely tragic death of 10 workers at a tunnel construction site in Ramban on Jammu-Srinagar highway has again drawn attention to the serious hazards faced by workers employed in highways and dams in Himalayan region, several of them in very remote areas. These workers were trapped after a landslide hit the under-construction tunnel on May 19, followed later by one more landslide. Apart from these deaths, the remaining workers suffered injuries. While overall conditions at many such construction sites are known to be hazardous, according to preliminary reports the risks here increased due to sub-contracts which resulted in work being handled by those who did not have much experience or knowledge of such hazardous conditions. Sub-contracting is a common practice in such work and the principal employer gets away with less legal liability for hazardous conditions. Workers face more risks under this system and their rights are adversely affected. This

Why there's strong likelihood India may resurrect its presence in Afghan capital

By Anand K Sahay* Since India evacuated its mission in Afghanistan once the Taliban re-took Kabul last August practically under American aegis, following what came to be called the Taliban’s Doha “negotiations” with the US, New Delhi is evidently doing a re-think. It is considered likely that an Indian representation will soon be restored in Kabul, even if this will be small and not at the level of ambassador. This is reflective of realistic thinking. Of course, there can be no question at present of according recognition to the Taliban regime. That is likely to happen when a broad consensus amongst the leading powers emerges. Currently the Taliban government is not helping its own cause of gaining world recognition- which will help it access overseas funds at a time when the country is in dire straits- by imposing severe restrictions on women and girls in serious violation of human rights. More basic is the issue that the Taliban regime is not considered r

Dalit scholar's comment on Lord Shiva 'harming' Muslims, 'damaging' secular cause

Shahid Siddiqui, Bobby Naqvi By Our Representative   Bobby Naqvi, who is with the "Gulf News", and is a well-known name among Muslim intellectuals, strongly objecting to the social media post of Prof Ratan Lal, has said that "a big reason for majoritarian hatred against Muslims is irresponsible remarks by people like Prof Ratan Lal of Delhi University." In a Facebook comment , which has attracted paise, among others, from journaliat-politician Shahid Siddiqui, Naqvi said, "Their commentary on Hinduism and icons of Hinduism (while angering religious and liberal Hindus alike) also triggers a massive backlash against Muslims. When the likes of Prof Lal criticize Hinduism on social media, Hindus bring Islam and Islamic practices and ask 'what about this' or 'what about that'." Naqvi insists, "Muslims (without their fault) and Islam get caught in this crossfire between the so called Hindu liberal class and the religious Hindus. And the ult

Message to 'high caste' attackers? Dalit leader's daughter rides elephant in wedding march

By Our Representative  In what has been termed as “jumbo celebration”, a Gujarat Dalit rights leader belonging to Saurashtra region ensured that his daughter rides an elephant as part of wedding celebrations which took place in Vadhwan town of Surendranagar district. Natubhai Parmar, who shot into prominence for organising a unique protest against the notorious Una flogging incident in 2016, in which five Dalit boys were flogged as they allegedly slaughtered a cow. Belonging to the Rohit community, whose traditionally live by skinning dead cows, in 2016, Parmar reached Surendranagar district collector’s office with vehicles full of carcasses of cows asking him to organise them disposal of, declaring, his community had decided not to continue with the caste occupation, as it had been termed cow slaughter by saffron vigilantes. The decision to make his daughter ride the elephant, which he brought to Ahmedabad, was to send a message to members of the dominant castes, whose aggressive atta

Govt of India 'ignores' GMO regulation, 'overlooks' Constitutional process

Counterview Desk Dr Narasimha Reddy Donthi, independent public policy expert, in a letter to Nareshpal Gangwar, additional secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), New Delhi, has expressed “seriously concern” that a recent office memorandum (OM) has sought to exempt certain types of gene-edited plants from the country's genetically modified organism  (GMO) regulations, without any reason or basis or representation. Dr Reddy regretted, “Such a serious decision, with an impact scale of unimaginable proportions, in terms of time and ecology, is being pushed through an ordinary office memorandum”, insisting, “This is circumvention of the processes enshrined in Indian Constitution, which has defined democratic participation in matters of critical importance.” Stating that the exemption from regulation is a policy decision and has legal implications, he demanded immediate withdrawal the OM, insisting, the government should take a "strong stand again

This varsity succumbed to extra-academic mobocracy, 'ignored' Hindutva archives

By Shamsul Islam* Open letter to Sharda University vice-chancellor Sub: Discarding a Question on Linkages of Hindutva with Nazism/Fascism is blatant Academic Dishonesty! Dear Professor Sibaram Khara Saheb, Namaskaar! According to your esteemed University’s portal: “The name of University, 'Sharda' is synonymous to 'Goddess of knowledge and learning-Saraswati'. She is identified with 'veena', an Indian musical instrument and the ‘lotus’, where she resides. The lotus in our logo symbolizes the seat of learning that the University is created for.  "Variety of colours signify the variety of disciplines the university offers and the overlap between petals creating new colours demonstrate the ethos of collaboration between students and teachers of different programme, nationality, creed and colour working towards creating new knowledge…the University's cherished mission to provide education beyond boundaries and to facilitate the students and faculty to achie