Skip to main content

Adverse impact on saltpans, biodiversity, wild ass as Narmada waters flood Kutch Rann

By Pankti Jog* 

If you visit Kharaghoda, Zinzuwada or Halvad Rann, or even Santalpur Rann areas in the Little Rann of Kutch these days, you will be surprised to see Narmada waters are flowing in the Rann areas, which are otherwise supposed to be a dry desert for eight months of a year.
The Narmada waters are continuously flowing in these areas for the last two plus months, spreading to up to as far as 40 km inside, inundating widespread areas of the Rann.
From where are the waters released and how are they reaching the Rann?
The Rann is triangular shaped, spread over approximately 5,000 sq km area, and lies between Surendranagar (Patadi, Dhangadhra block), Morbi (Halvad, Maliya block), Patan (Santalpur block) and Kutch (Rapar block) districts.
Many rivers like Rupen, Banas and small-big streams in these districts meet the Rann, and during the rainy season, they carry rainwater into the Rann. Waters also come in from the Surajbari creek, turning the Rann into a brackish water lake for 3-4 months. However, by September, the waters dry up, and flow back into the creek, and cracked mud-flats emerge, making into into a mud desert for the rest of the period.
The Narmada waters are released in large quantity in these rivers and streams for the purpose of irrigation, but they reach the Rann areas, thus get wasted. This happens mostly December onwards.

Impact on salt farms

Gujarat produces 76% of India’s total salt production, and the Rann contributes 31% of it. Large scale water released from the Narmada canal during the salt season makes severe impact on the salt farming inside the Rann. Salt farms are inundated, and the density of the brine reduces when the Narmada waters get mixed with the brine in the salt farms.
Sometimes bunds constructed by saltpan farmers are washed away by these waters. The salt farmers', or Agariyas', access to their well and farm (Agar) gets restricted, thereby affecting salt production.
Worse, once the Rann is flooded with Narmada waters, water tankers and mobile health vans cannot reach the Agariyas, depriving them of health service and drinking water supply.
In fact, floods in Rann due to Narmada waters are a recurring incident and this has been going on for the past several years.
In 2017, the sudden release of waters in Banas river led to huge floods and the Agariyas had to immediately rush back to their villages from salt farms. One pregnant Agariya women died as she got labour pain and could not reached hospital on time.
Narmada waters are released in large quantity in rivers and streams for irrigation, but they reach the Rann areas, thus get wasted
In 2021, Kharagodha and Zinzuwada were flooded with Narmada waters, and 159 salt farms were destroyed. A committee headed by the director (civil) Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam (SSNNL) visited the Rann and met Agariyas for analyzing the situation and filed a report. Damage assessment was done but no compensation was given.

Impact on wild life and biodiversity

The Rann is the Wild Ass Sanctuary, and such frequent floods with Narmada waters are bound to affect the rare species' habitat, apart having adverse impact on the biodiversity of the Rann.
The wild ass requires a dry desert environment, and it can't reside in wetlands. It walks, wanders and runs in the dry mudflats of the wild ass sanctuary. More than 6,000 wild asses are conserved here.
Inundation of the desert during winter and summer restricts the movement of the wild ass, which may have long-term impact on its habitation and growth. Additionally, the Rann has many species like spiders which make rare nets in the mud-flat cracks, and reptiles stay in underground holes. All of this may also get affected.
One wonders:
  • What is the reason for releasing Narmada waters in Banas and Rupen rivers?
  • Has the SSNNL estimated the water requirements of the farmers on the periphery of the Rann in order to release reasonable amount of water?
  • What is the planning by the SSNNL for storing extra waters that are not used by farmers?
  • Who is responsible for such a huge loss of Narmada waters?
  • Who will give compensation for the livelihood loss of the Agariyas?
*Social worker with Agariya Heet Rakshak Manch



'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site The article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Don't agree on domestic subsidies, ensure food security at WTO meet: Farmer leaders

Counterview Desk  The Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements (ICCFM), a top network of farmers’ organizations in India, in a letter to Piyush Goyal, Minister of Commerce and Industry, has asked him to “safeguard food security and sovereignty, even as ensuring peasants' rights" at the 13th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO MC 13), to take place from 26 to 29 February 2024 in Abu Dhabi.

Sharp 61-85% fall in Tech startup funding in India's top 'business-friendly' States

By Rajiv Shah Funding in Tech startups in top business-friendly Indian states has witnessed a major fall, a data intelligence platform for private market research has said in a series of reports it has released this month. Analysing Tech startup data of Telangana, Maharashtra, Delhi NCR, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala, Tracxn Technologies Ltd , the Bengaluru-based research firm, finds that except for Kerala, funding witnessed a fall of anywhere between 61% and 85%.

Maize, bajra, jute, banana cultivation banned off West Bengal border: Plea to NHRC

Counterview Desk  West Bengal-based human rights defender Kirity Roy, who is secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Manch, and is national convenor of the Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity, in a representation to the chairman, National Human Rights Commission, second within few days, has bought to light one more case of trespassing and destruction of a fertile banana plantation by BSF personnel along the Indo-Bangladesh border, stating, despite a written complaint to the police has taken "no initiative".

India second best place to invest, next to UAE, yet there is 'lacks support' for IT services

By Sreevas Sahasranamam, Aileen Ionescu-Somers*  The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the best place in the world to start a new business, according to the latest annual Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) survey. The Arab nation is number one for the third year in a row thanks to a big push by the government into cutting-edge technology in its efforts to diversify away from oil.

Solar energy funding dips 9% in 2023; 2024 'kicks off' with US$1 billion investment

By Lakshmitha Raj*  Solar energy tech companies have already secured slightly over US$1 billion in funding in 2024 (till Feb 7, 2024) after total funding into Solar Energy companies in India fell 9% to US$1.55B in 2023 from US$1.7B in 2022. A total of 39 $100M+ rounds have been closed till date, with Delhi leading the city-wise funding, followed by Gurugram and Mumbai.

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".

Mahanadi delta: Aggressive construction in flood plains, reduced fish stock, pollution

By Sudhansu R Das  Frequent natural calamities, unemployment, low farmers’ income, increase in crime rate and lack of quality human resources to strike a balance between growth and environment etc. continue to haunt the state. The state should delve into the root causes of poverty, unemployment and natural calamities.

Narmada Valley's fossil evidence: Ground for 'nationalists' to argue primates' India roots?

By Saurav Sarkar*  In December 1982, a geologist digging in India’s Central Narmada Valley found something he did not expect. Arun Sonakia, who at the time worked for the Geological Survey of India, unearthed a hominid fossil skullcap from the Pleistocene era. The discovery sent shockwaves through the field of paleoanthropology and put South Asia on the map of human prehistory. Some experts concluded that the skull likely belonged to a member of a predecessor species of ours, Homo heidelbergensis , or perhaps was a hybrid of homo species, while Sonakia himself suggested “ an affinity… to Homo erectus .”