CM’s hollow promises leave Narmada valley oustees at the margins

25 December 2017

Chief Minister’s hollow promises leave Narmada valley oustees at the margins

20 December 2017, Badwani: Thousands of SSP oustees of Narmada valley gheraoed the Rehabilitation Office of Narmada Valley Development Authority and demanded resolution of their issues. Oustees led by Medha Patkar, Devram Kanera and Balaram Yadav questioned Land Acquisition officer Abhay Singh Ohariya about the status of implementation of rehabilitation and resettlement.
Chief Minister’s declared package of 5 lakhs 80 thousand is still not disbursed. Some oustees have received mere 3 lakhs as compensation. After forcibly demolishing houses of villagers and rendering them homeless, the government machinery is forcing them to keep coming back to the Rehabilitation Office in the hope of getting some compensation. Rehabilitation officers are now saying that they do not have the orders of giving 5 lakh 80 thousand. Similarly, those eligible to receive 60 lakhs package are also yet to receive it. Oustees who were trapped in the fake registry scam and were supposed to get 15 lakhs are yet to receive the amount.

Digvijay Singh visits Narmada valley

22 December 2017, Dhar: Former Chief Minister and MP Digvijay Singh reached village Pipripura in Dhar and later to village Nisarpur as part of Narmada Parikrama. MLA Honey Baghel received the politician. NBA leader Medha Patkar met Digvijay Singh and his wife Amrita Rai in Nisarpur. Digvijay Singh’s rally also visited village Chikalda.

Observations of Environmental Appraisal Committee constituted to reconsider Environment Clearance given to Pancheswar Multipurpose (5,600 MW) project in Uttarakhand by by M/s Pancheswar Development Authority (PDA) on the environmental hazards flagged and raised by Civil Society

Pancheshwar project is a joint project of India and Nepal, and in addition to its tangible benefits of hydro-power, flood control, water conservation, indirect benefits of a general uplift to the economy, there are also enormous intangible benefits, pertaining to strategic issues in the geo-political context. Although EAC is an Expert body, it is also multi-disciplinary and it is aware of the strategic implications.

– The EAC does not agree with the contents of the letter of the NGO that “casting of floods as an undesirable phenomenon to be controlled, is an obsolete and tired ontology”. Flood control is an important part of river management and welfare of the people. Damodar valley is an excellent example of the benefits of flood control through large dams.

– The EAC also does not agree with the statement that flood control benefits of Pancheshwar are not real.

– Observations such as “. . . a seismically uncertain context” are alarmist because seismic activity is always uncertain. Further, a certain degree of risk is always present in any human endeavour. Nothing can be 100% risk free. Evaluating the uncertainty and providing for it, is an important task in engineering. “The seismic risk that is being referred to is one, of building such a large impoundment over a series of active thrusts and faults…” is not new. All this has been stated earlier too, in case of Koyna, Bhakra and most recently Tehri dam. But, the engineers in India have demonstrated their ability to successfully build large dams anywhere in India; and the Tehri dam has successfully withstood major earthquakes that caused devastation elsewhere.

(Courtesy: Environics Trust)

River interlinking: One more water dispute in the making?

Opposition comprising of Congress and the NCP alleged in the Maharashtra Assembly that the BJP-led state government may divert more water to neighbouring Gujarat from the proposed Damanganga-Pinjal and Par-Tapi-Narmada projects.

Leader of Opposition and Congress MLA Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil said the state government should protect the interest of the people of Maharashtra as far as the river-linking projects are concerned.

Damanganga-Pinjal project

The Damanganga-Pinjal project proposes to divert the surplus water of the Bhugad and Khargihill reservoirs in the Damanganga basin to Mumbai, via the Pinjal dam on the Pinjal river in the Vaitarna basin.

Bhugad village is located in Nasik district of Maharashtra near the border of Valsad district of Gujarat.

The project is expected to provide 909 million cubic metres of water to Mumbai for the city’s domestic and industrial requirements.

Par Tapi Narmada Link

The Par Tapi Narmada Link proposes to transfer water from the water surplus regions of Western Ghats to the water deficit regions of Saurashtra and Kutch. The link project includes seven reservoirs proposed in north Maharashtra and south Gujarat.

The water from the seven proposed reservoirs would be taken through a canal, which would save Sardar Sarovar water. That water will be used to extend irrigation in Saurashtra and Kutch region.

Allaying the concerns raised by the Opposition leaders, Water Resources Minister Girish Mahajan said “not a single extra drop” of water will be given to Gujarat.

“The Damanganga-Pinjal river link project proposes to provide additional drinking water to Mumbai. The total cost of the project is Rs 2,746.61 crore,” the minister said,

Referring to Union government sanctioning Rs 10,800 crore to the Gujarat government for the Par-Tapi-Narmada project, Mahajan said, “We demanded similar allocation for the Maharashtra as well. The Centre has also approved our demand and given funds for the river linking projects”.
Source: The Hindu and Outlook India
Sardar Sarovar’s creates another calamity: Salt farms of Rann of Kutch affected

Recently, in the heat of elections, huge quantities of water were released from the Kuda minor canal of Narmada in Surendranagar district. The water released was continuous and, obviously, to please the farmers, as elections were approaching.
However, farmers could not use much of the water during that period, and the rest of the water was then released into the Rann. It washed away 150 salt farms completely, while an equal number got partially affected.
– Pankti Jog (Mahiti Adhikar Gujarat Pahel, Ahmedabad) reports…read the Counterview article, click here

When engineers of the Nuclear Power Corporation India Limited (NPCIL) visited Chutka village in July this year to take deep-soil samples, dozens of women gathered and chased them away. They also seized their equipments which still lies in village. The scars of displacement and fear of being uprooted again is visible on the faces of all inhabitants of the village – most of whom are Gond adivasi tribes. For the Bargi dam, built between 1974 and 1990, they had to leave their villages in the valley and flee uphill. Chutka is located in the Mandala District in the state of Madhya Pradesh. It is surrounded by rich biodiversity, dense forests, scenic hills and beautiful water bodies. Nagpur-based National Energy and Environment Research Institute (NEERI) which has become notorious for peddling farcical reports for obtaining environmental clearances for government and private-owned mega-projects has prepared the EIA for the power plant. Farmers in Chutka and surrounding villages grow at least 3 crops every year – of millet, oil-seeds and corn on their lands, which have been declared barren in the EIA report. The local administration had to cancel the EIA public hearings twice in 2013 due to strong protests by local communities at the venue. Finally, a cruel farce was carried out in 2014 by deploying thousands of police and paramilitary forces to orchestrate a public hearing by allowing only chosen people. After witnessing such violent bulldozing of their democratic rights, tribal people from Chutka travelled all the way to New Delhi on 4 March 2014, to register their protest near India’s Parliament. Since then, local protests have been ongoing.
Kumar Sundaram reports…read the article here.

Arati Kumar-Rao, an independent environmental photographer and writer has spent the last four years documenting the waters of the Ganga-Brahmaputra basin and the resulting work, A Slow Violence – Chronicling a river and its people, is being showcased at the ongoing Serendipity Arts Festival in Goa. Kumar-Rao’s fascination with rivers goes back to her childhood. “My father was very involved with environmental issues. He was part of the Narmada Bachao Andolan and of the Save the Western Ghats movement. We had all these books lying around, lots of talk about dams and rivers. So when I graduated and wanted to do something in this space along with storytelling and writing, there was no other topic that was as important as this one. It was a foregone conclusion that I would do something related to the environment.” The Ganga-Brahmaputra basin is the largest river basin in the world flowing through Tibet, Nepal, India and Bangladesh. Over 500 million people live in this region, making it the world’s most populated river basin as well. “The nature of freshwater is such that everyone wants a little part of it,” said Kumar-Rao. “So it becomes contentious and there are vested interests as well. It is one of the defining issues of our times and it is important to spend time with it – not writing just one article and then you’re out, but spending time to see how it affects various things because it’s all interconnected.”
She says, “People are amazing and it is a shame that our development does not take into account what they really need”. View the Scroll reporting of the exhibition here…

The Gujarat high court in December issued a notice to various authorities, including central ministries, in response to a public interest litigation (PIL) by petitioner, Kirtikumar Bhatt, who is an advocate seeking to stop the release of untreated sewage into Narmada river —by eleven towns in Madhya Pradesh. He wants high court to initiate legal proceedings against Madhya Pradesh and local authorities which release sewage into the Narmada. He has sought action against the Madhya Pradesh Pollution Control Board for failing to stop the release of untreated sewage into the river. The PIL states that there are sufficient laws to control pollution, but the implementing authority does not take action against the polluters. It says that all central laws have force in Madhya Pradesh and therefore it is the duty of the Centre as well as of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and the state of Madhya Pradesh to ensure that pollution of Narmada is stopped immediately. After hearing the case, the high court issued a notice to the department of water resources department, the Government of Gujarat; the Gujarat Pollution Control Board; the Union ministry of drinking water & sanitation; the Union ministry of environment, forests & climate change; and the CPCB. The court has sought a reply by next month. Read more…

In Narmada district, home to PM Modi’s Sardar Patel statue project, BJP crumbles. Bhartiya Tribal Party president Mahesh Vasava won by a margin of 21,700 votes against sitting MLA Motisinh Vasava. It was not only in Dediapada, but also in Nandod Assembly segment in the district where the BJP suffered a big upset, losing its hold in the tribal district completely. The BJP’s high-pitched appeal that the Statue of Unity — Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet project of erecting the 182-metre-tall statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel — would change the fortunes of the tribals here brought no dividends. The BJP’s defeat in Nandod has put the party’s leaders in an embarrassing spot. The BJP’s wipeout from Narmada district, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived on September 17 to inaugurate the Narmada Dam after the work of installation of 30 flood gates was complete, has certainly come as a jolt to the BJP. Read the post-election analysis here…

Gujarat Model of Development does not apply in the tribal districts of the state. Here, displacement, landlessness and Ponzi schemes form a three-pronged threat, one that is exacerbated by a lack of government intervention on each front. The four districts are Dang (with a tribal population of 94.64%), Tapi (84.17%), Narmada (81.55%) and Dahod (74.31%). Here, large chunks of the population live below the poverty line — 40% in Dahod, 34% in Narmada, 31.5% in Dang and 28.36% in Tapi. By contrast, the wealthier plains district of Rajkot has 9.69% under the poverty line; the state’s average is 16.8%. According to 2011 census data, 57.09% of the scheduled tribe population in Gujarat is agricultural labour and earns an average of Rs 180 a day. They hover at the bottom of the state lists when it comes to availability of roads, schools and banks too. The major political parties are, for the most part, not plugged into the demands of this demographic. The tribal population makes up just under 15% of Gujarat’s voter base and accounts for 27 of the state’s 182 MLAs — but it is a fractured slice of the electorate. In the Dang, Tapi and Narmada districts, many of the tens of thousands of people displaced by dam projects are still waiting to be rehabilitated as much as 45 years later. Some were shifted to areas that fall under the forest division. Under the forest rights Act, they should have been allocated plots for agriculture but this process is dragging, as it has tended to do across states. Meanwhile, eager and desperate tribals are becoming prime prey for a rash of pyramid schemes rising and crumbling in Gujarat, making offers of 100% returns on deposits as small as Rs 10 a day, collecting money steadily over two or three years and then vanishing overnight. When Odisha-based activist Alok Jena filed a public interest litigation in the Supreme Court in 2014 asking that the CBI be directed to investigate 78 chit fund companies, it turned out that 17 of them were either based or operating in Gujarat. It also emerged that the state had the highest number of chit fund victims after Odisha. Now, there is talk of a new land-gobbling undertaking in the Dang district — a river-linking Par-Tapi-Narmada project. Since it was first proposed in 2011, as a state-Centre undertaking, it has caused such widespread protests among the local tribal populations that even the local BJP leader, former MLA from Dang Vijaibhai Patel, has joined in marches and denies that the project is coming up. Read the article here…

Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan in a meeting detailed out Ekaatm Yatra to be held between December 19 and January 22 under the campaign.‘Save girl child’ and woman security will be included in the campaign. Signature drive will be undertaken for making the law for capital punishment to rape accused during the Yatra. Saints will lead this unique and amazing campaign. Shivraj said, “Adi Shankaracharya had united the India culturally. He gave philosophy of Adaivt (not two), and set up Chardham in the four different directions. His giant statue will be installed in Omkareshwar. Soil from every panchayat and ward of the cities will be collected in a metal pot during the Ekaatm Yatra, which will be used for constructing the stand for the statue.” Local Bhajan Mandalis will present programmes Group recitation of Aadi Shankaracharya Strotam will be organised at divisional headquarters. Beside this, painting, essay and Shloka recitation contests will be held. Statue installation ceremony will held in Omkareshwar with the participation of entire state on January 22. Chairman of State Mining Development Corporation Shiv Choubey, Vice Chairman of Jan Abhiyan Parishad Pradeep Pandey and Chief Secretary BP Singh and Senior Officers were present in the meeting. Article…

On the bank of Indira Sagar dam on river Narmada, Hanuwantiya Island, every year in October, India’s largest water carnival, Jal Mahotsav, takes places for 80 days. This year, Jal Mahotsav will be held till 2nd January, 2018. The island becomes a mini tent-city. Making full benefit of dams through tourism etc., the Madhya Pradesh government further approved the Rs 7,546-crore Narmada – Parvati river linking project that seeks to create irrigation facilities on two lakh hectares of agriculture land in Malwa region of the state. Narmada Control Board (NCB), in a meeting held on 12 December, approved the project for linking the two rivers- Narmada and Parvati- in Malwa region, a public relations department official said. He added that chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan chaired the meeting. The official said, “The construction of Narmada- Parvati river linking project will be completed in four phases. Each phase will create the capacity to irrigate at least 50,000-hectares.” The official added that the river-linking project would benefit farmers of 369 villages of Sehore and Shajapur districts. “For this project, nearly 1.08-million-acre-feet water will be lifted from Indira Sagar Reservoir. The water for irrigation will be supplied through underground pipelines. The project would need acquisition of about eight hectares of land,” the official said.
The official informed that the implementation of Narmada – Kshipra river linking project has been completed. It has sorted out the water crisis of Ujjain and Dewas districts, he said. Complete Article

Creative Commons *25-12-2017* *Narmada Bachao Andolan*
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