Translation From Gujarati

Loksatta 19-1-2001

As The Gates Of The Narmada Dam Have Been Closed

Narmada Waters Turn Salty Since Past 15 Days (Headline)

If the water problem is not solved, there will be an Andolan (Agitation).(sub headline)

Bharuch, Dated 18: The villages on the banks of the river Narmada in the down stream of the Narmada dam have been using the sweet waters of Narmada for both drinking and irrigation since years. These people and animals and birds have a natural right to use Narmada waters. No one has the right to snatch away this right. Jayeshbhai Patel of Vyara district while presenting a memorandum told this.

As the gates of the Narmada dam have been closed, the flow of water in the downstream has extremely reduced, as a result the tide of sea waters have reached upto 50 to 60 Kms inside. Waters of Narmada have turned salty since past 15 days. Water scarcity has arisen in Bharuch district on north bank of the Narmada in villages from Dehgam to Janor and on the South bank from Dhanturia to Pathar. In this context a memorandum was submitted under the leadership of the district congress leader Jayeshbhai Patel to the District authorities.

As stated in the memorandum, agricultural crop in thousands of acres of land dependent on the irrigation from the river was getting dried up, as salty water cannot be used for irrigation. If this water were used in the fields, the crop would get destroyed. Salty water will turn the land saline. Occupation of fishery is in deep trouble. Issue of life and death of lacs of people, animals and birds has arisen due to this man made water scarcity.

Under such circumstances residents should immediately open the Narmada dam so that there is adequate flow of sweet Narmada waters. If required, a small dam should be built near Bharuch Golden bridge to stop sea water ingress as is done in the case of Tapi near Surat. If immediate steps are not taken to solve the water scarcity than the residents will start Andolan (agitation) on the lines of Gandhiji's non violent means.

There is also some information that due to salt water the Golden bridge at Bharuch has also started rusting due to the salt waters. This fact that the rusting process is increasing has also been admitted by the PWD.