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Narmada-Flooding

Badwani, Madhya Pradesh | September 15, 2017: The statement by the chief minister of Gujarat, Mr. Vijay Rupani on Narmada Dam inauguration, on the eve of the Grand Ceremony planned to celebrate PM’s birthday begins and ends with falsehood. All the lies as well as serious mistakes, certainly it doesn’t behove the chief minister of state that is to control, operate and monitor the monstrous project. We have witnessed about this giant, controversial dam during last 32 years and once again will experience on this special occasion which needs to be dissected and exposed; since the plan of ‘Dedicating the Dam to the Nation’, all the people across the country must know the truth through the response from the people of Narmada Valley that follows-

First and the foremost, how has Rupani calculated a period of 56 years since the laying of the foundation stone for today’s Sardar Sarovar Dam? The foundation stone laid by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was not for the Dam of today, it was for a much smaller dam of 162 feet height. The present dam, a result of the Narmada Water Dispute Tribunal Award (NWDTA) is 455 feet i.e. 138.68 meters high, declared by the Tribunal after 10 years long enquiry into the serious conflict among 3 riparian states, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat. It was all party (then Jan Sangh and Congress) opposition in Madhya Pradesh that had questioned and challenged through even violent resistance, that got settled as NWDTA is considered to be a decree, i.e. law.

However, the Dam is still not the country’s highest dam or a world’s second biggest dam, claims made only on the basis of the volume of concrete going into the Dam. It is one of the biggest, no doubt and the decision on the same came in December 1979, the date of the Declaration of the Award (NWDTA), not in 1961.

Even after the Award the work on the same was soon stopped and the clearance to it, following River valley guidelines of 1993 and Environmental Protection Act, 1986, came only in June 1987. The said clearance too was conditional since studies and plans on not less than 8 critical aspects of the project were not conducted nor completed till then. Those included rehabilitation, Flora and Fauna, seismic risks, catchment area treatment, command area development, downstream impacts.

Mr. Rupani obviously hasn’t looked into either data or documents related to each of these, concerning all 3 states with the non-riparian state of Rajasthan and the union of India as monitoring government with certain powers when he refers to the benefits of the Dam, he makes a serious mistake in saying that Maharashtra is to get 56% and Madhya Pradesh, 27% of the electricity to be generated, which is exactly the opposite, indicating the CM’s ignorance.

There is no mention of the firm confirmed power to be generated and only mentioning the capacity, obviously since the benefit shares are only out of whatever is actually generated and not the planned capacity.

There is no share in water benefit to either Maharashtra or Madhya Pradesh, who are to pay the biggest cost in losing best of land, fresh and most tragically, affecting lakhs of people in 244 villages and 1 township. This is what is not noted in the CM’s statement, as is always forgotten by Gujarat and forgiven by his counter parts in other 2 states.

The scale of irrigation and drinking water supply in Gujarat and Rajasthan is certainly exaggerated as can be proved. The irrigation statistics, showing big failure till date, not because of the stoppage of the Dam work for genuine social, environmental reasons, but mismanagement and manipulations to favour industries at the cost of farmers and drought affected in Gujarat. Even when waters were impounded up to 121.92 meters, Gujarat didn’t take it into the canal network which was left incomplete and has more than 50% balance even today. Whatever it did, was lost to sea via Sabarmati giving light and sound show due to no way to take to fields without canals, nor to be stored !

The irrigation scandal is fully exposed through a detailed statement by none else but the former chief minister of Gujarat Suresh Mehta. It is less than 3 lakh hectares when at least 8 to 10 lakh was expected at 121.92 meters dam height just because it has no priority for the commercial state!

How many villages in Gujarat is the dam going to supply drinking water? The number changes from para to para in this single statement, from 9000-9663! Remembering the past, let people of Gujarat and Bharat know that the figure has changed from 4200+ to 8000+ and now to 9000+, always including more than 240 barren villages with no habitation to drink the water, even if supplied! Which are the 131 urban centres to get this benefit, we must know along with how much of their thirst saturated till date? If it was only 0.86 million cubic feet for drinking water, it means out of 1.6 MAF, the share for municipal and industrial water, let there be the latest allocation details coming in from the official sources! People of Gujarat are in the dark about the agreements made with Coca Cola, car industries (to include new Suzuki plant, thanks to the visit by Japanese Premier), Adani’s and Ambani’s projects and all the industrial estates to come up in Gujarat as a part of the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor full of investment regions covering 60% of Gujarat with Huge costs to farmers! Who will exhibit the real costs and real benefits & when?

Moreover, it’s an absolutely false contention that Maharashtra is also to be get 37500 hectares of irrigation from Sardar Sarovar Dam. This is the benefit Maharashtra may get out of its own rainfall & water flows in its Narmada catchment, not from the Sardar Sarovar Reservoir. Maharashtra has no benefit of water from the dam after losing 33 adivasi communities.

The biggest lie and unscientific claims is to say that 18 lakh hectares of land in Gujarat will be irrigated, with the inauguration of the project, as Narmada water will flow to over 9000 villages of Gujarat through a canal network. Does the network to that extent, exist today when at least 41000 kms long network to take water to village and fields doesn’t exist. Thanks to Modi Government in Gujarat that totally ignored this aspect, while merely blaming the opposition, inside and outside the electoral politics for stalling the Dam project.

It’s revealing that even on the eve of the irrigation, neither the CM nor the PM is sensitive to the huge number of the adivasis, farmers fishworkers and labour who are compelled to sacrifice for the project. They may not have nor the realistic information to be shared with the Nation. There are about 40000 families still in the submergence area, beyond the game of numbers played by the governments of Madhya Pradesh at times to extent, Maharashtra and the union authorities.

Not just the serious lapses but large-scale corruption and violation of the laws, policies and court judgments up to the apex court, especially in Madhya Pradesh have been totally ignored by even Modi Ji since it’s not congress but his own party – BJP – government in power in Madhya Pradesh. If it was the other, he would not have left any stone unturned, in exposing them. Will he take pains to read Justice Jha Commission report and not bluff but act against the corrupt officials and agents in action even today?

And what about the ex-prime minister’s taking a position against pushing the construction of the Dam without rehabilitation of thousands of families, mandatory under law. Mr. Manmohan Singh had given a written commitment to the Supreme Court on this, on April 17th 2006. Mr. Rupani was not in the picture then, rather if I remember correctly, he was claiming that Gujarat can use its total water share through a pipeline project, without destruction of land, if NRIs support it financially.

Was the stand taken by UPA government, which too had faced our 21 days of fast and 51 hours five star fast by the Prime Minister, anyway illegal or unjust. Mr. Rupani, it’s shameful and not a matter of pride that Mr. Modi took a decision to push the Dam height to 138.68 meters beyond 121.92 meters where it was stayed, within 17 days after coming into Government.

He didn’t just ignored his minister such as Uma bharti and Mr. Gehlot, both from Madhya Pradesh but also the shockingly dense populations with thousands of houses, prime agriculture and horticulture, a few thousand temples and tens of mosques, a million (at least) trees and the total infrastructure, ages and generations old that is to be submerged or affected at the full height that he is to boast of !

The absolute callousness shown to even the tribal oustees of Gujarat on the path of agitation even today is equally exhibitory of the experience of ours over 32 years. The violation of the supreme court judgements on Rehabilitation as well as environmental measures, destruction of ecosystem and natural resources, the loss of human history with pre-history archeological remnants not removed and stored, total neglect of compensatory and preventive environmental works all is to be the result of Modi’s inauguration and celebration which will not be before the Nation, until it all occurs. The huge cost of 99000 crores for the single project which was never honestly estimated will be a huge burden on the state of Gujarat and the countries exchequer, to be borne mainly for the industries, the capitalists pursuing it at all cost.

The Programme on the Sept 17th, the birthday of PM is seen as the deadline or deathline for thousands and thousands fighting for justice with those sensitive and cautious of false propaganda and farce, beware of flawed developmental claims and model, demand an open public debate. Or as Amit shah said “Gujarat ka Sher kisi sawal ka jawab nahi dega!”.

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2 Comments

  1. Okay, we went through a similar situation in my state: MA in USA. It worked out well since we need the water for current and future generations. Accordingly the government paid fair prices for whole towns of people to relocate at fair prices for their homes, businesses and properties, as well as helped with relocation expenses.

    Here you go. This is what we got and with huge tunnels, other water bodies elsewhere located connected and so on. It is one of the crown jewels of MA and is one of the reasons that we will not run out of water unlike MANY other regions of the USA in times to come.

    You ought to see this place. It is one of the most beautiful places in the world:

    Quabbin Reservoir – Wikipedia
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quabbin_Reservoir
    The Quabbin Reservoir is the largest inland body of water in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and was built between 1930 and 1939. Today along with the …
    Water volume‎: ‎412,000,000,000 US gal (1.56 …
    Surface area‎: ‎38.6 mi² (99.97 km²)
    Location‎: ‎Massachusetts‎, US
    Average depth‎: ‎51 ft (16 m)

    Look, judge for yourself if you are dubious about it being incredibly wonderful and gorgeous: Images for quabbin reservoir

    Now, here’s what, in my opinion, you need to do. Bring a class action suit all the way up to the supreme court if necessary to compensate the displaced people being harmed by this new dam. … I, actually, know an incredible human rights lawyer In India, who I can recommend lend help. So if you are interested in this option, contact Binu Matchew, editor of Countercurrents, and we’ll contact him. (Binu knows him, too, and we could contact him for support.)

    I recommend that you “go for this option.” What do you have to lose by doing so? Nothing.

    What do you have potentially to gain? Plenty! … Don’t be sheeple! Go proactively ahead instead!

  2. K SHESHU BABU says:

    Exposing the false data and arguments put forward by the rulers is important for public awareness. The government which violated supreme court verdicts on many occasions is likely to violate any judgement given by the court and continue its anti people policy