Narmada Samachar: 12 March 2001

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Water Scarcity in Gujarat

Saurashtra to get Narmada water from mid-March ; Indian Express - March 9
Areas facing water problem to get Narmada water: CM ; Times of India - March 8
AMC promises water twice a day ; Indian Express - March 6
Ahmedabad to get Narmada water from March 13 ; Times of India - March 9
GANDHINAGAR: Ahmedabad would start getting Narmada water via the Raska wier
from March 13. Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel told a post-Cabinet news
conference that, with this, "the current cut, in force for the past several
months in Ahmedabad city, would come to an end". If the city has been
getting 50 million gallons per day (MGD) of water till now, the total
supply would go up to 85 MGD March 13 onwards.

The CM also announced that the Vadodara Municipal Corporation, too, would
start getting drinking water from Narmada by this weekend. "The canal near
Vadodara has already got water. At present, its gates are closed. They
would be opened this week to transfer water to Ajwa. This would enable
the city to get Narmada water by the weekend," water resources minister
Narottam Patel said.

Other areas that would benefit from the Narmada water include villages of
Bhavnagar, Amreli, Rajkot and Junagadh districts through a network of
pipelines already in place in Saurashtra. However, neither did the CM nor
the water resources minister clarify how much water these places would get
and when. There was a hint that Vadodara, or the above mentioned places,
would not need to tighten their belts as thought earlier.

Under the original project of Rs 103 crore, scaled down to Rs 43 crore, as
many as 54 pipes with a diametre of four metres are being used for pumping
out nearly 1,150 to 1,200 cusecs of water and flowing it into the Narmada
canal.  Another 44 such pipelines would be laid to take water to be pumped
out of the Narmada reservoir to 1,500 cusecs.

A senior ruling BJP politician alleges that a lot of this water is being
taken out of the reservoir and put into the canal by using a small bypass
tunnel in "complete violation of the Narmada Control Authority guidelines".
A bigger bypass tunnel is being constructed and used for channelling water
within a week. "This is for the first time that Gujarat has not complied
by the four lateral states' agreement," he said.

A top government official, refusing to comment on this for fear of its
triggering a major controversy, says, "We are not talking about the bypass
tunnel at all, as it is not in Gujarat's interests". He refuses to say how
much water the state is getting by the bypass tunnel and how much more it
would get in future. The NCA has already rejected the state's request to
allow building a bypass tunnel.

Narmada water started flowing in the canal on February 27. On February 28,
all the four dikes were filled by water from the Narmada reservoir.
On March 1, water already reached 145 away, at the Mahi junction canal.
On March 7, water filled up Panam Aquaduct. "We have gates at every 12.5 km
on the Narmada canal. Only when water reaches about three metres do we open
fresh gates", Narottam Patel said.

After a long time, the CM gave all the credit for the "good work" done in
bringing the Narmada water to his known political opponent, Narottam Patel,
a votary of Union textile minister Kashiram Rana. "This has been done in a
record time," the CM said, adding, "The work has continued unabated despite
the quake crisis."


Earthquakes and dams

Panels to monitor repair work on quake-hit dams ; Times of India - March 6
69 dams in the region damaged in earthquake ; Times of India - March 6
Sixty-nine dams have been damaged in the quake in the Saurashtra region.
The total damage has been placed at Rs 70 crore by officials.

Sources in the irrigation department said that while some dams had
developed cracks, parapet walls of other dams had been damaged while
others needed a fresh coast of plaster.

The Rajkot irrigation circle controls 28 dams and the damages have been
placed at around Rs 36 crore. This includes the Nyari-2 site where the top
portion of the dam, the canal lining and the parapet walls have been
damaged. The wireless cabin at the dam site has also been damaged.

Dams in Jamnagar and Surendranagar, which also fall under the Rajkot
circle, have also been damaged. These include damages of Rs 239 lakh for
earthen works, Rs 69 lakh for canal works and Rs 59 lakh for buildings and
other items.

Damages at dams like Bhadar have been put at Rs 14 lakh, Machhu-1 Rs 18
lakh, Machhu-2 Rs 33 lakh, Und-1 Rs 375 lakh and Brahmni dam Rs 12 lakh.
Forty-one minor irrigation dams have also suffered considerable damages.

Technical engineers and experts have called for caution and said that
these damages have to be rectified at the earliest.
Quake burden will hit development projects ; Times of India - March 5
Gujarat may be drawn into a debt trap ; Times of India - March 5


Other News

Man Project affected tribals storm NABARD office;
NABARD officials agree not to give additional money to the Man Project if rehabilitation conditions are not met
;
NBA Press Release - March 10
Ranjit Sagar dam oustees yet to get compensation ; Times of India - March 5
JAMMU: Dozens of villagers, who were uprooted when the Rs 3,800-crore
Ranjit Sagar dam was built at Thein near Basohli, are yet to be
rehabilitated.

At least 272 families were provided only Rs 208 per kanal for the land
which got submerged in the dam as they used to cultivate government land,
according to Congress legislator Lal Singh who represents the Basohli
constituency. In contrast, the government paid Rs 18,400 per kanal to
hundreds of other farmers who lost their land in the dam, he pointed out.

Besides, the number of actual oustees is much higher than 767 families
identified as potential oustees initially, he added. This happened because
the dam's height was raised substantially mid-way through the project
implementation but new oustees were not taken into account. The members of
such families have thus not been provided any government jobs (mainly near
the dam itself), as was promised earlier, and neither have they been given
adequate compensation, Singh alleged.
......
Follow World Commission on Dams Guidelines: Prof Ramaswamy Iyer ; Kathmandu Post - March 5
Professor Ramaswamy R Iyer, former Water Resources Secretary of the
government of India, devoted all his life to India's civil service. He is
also considered as the `spirit and man behind India's Water Resources
Policy' introduced in 1987. He was also part of the high-level Hanumanta
Rao Committee on Tehri dam (in 1996-1997) and the Sardar Sarobar project
(in 1993-1995).

Professor Iyer says he his a little bit worried about the idea of building
high dams in the Himalayas. "This area is earthquake prone and building a
quake-resistant dam could cost enormous," he says. And, on the Nepal-India
relations, he says every thing will be all right "if there is one example
of good and successful cooperation between the two neighbours. Professor
Iyer was here last week to participate in a water management meeting.
Surendra Phuyal and Hari Thapa of The Kathmandu Post talked on a wide
range of issues pertaining to water resources and development with him.
....


Feature Article: Take a more constructive approach - Tirtho Banerjee

The Telegraph - March 7, 2001

The Sardar Sarovar dam over the Narmada falls in the area of the triple
junction of a fault zone. This means it is seismologically sensitive and a
geologically disturbed area. Similarly, Sunderlal Bahuguna, the noted
environmentalist, avers that if the Tehri dam cracks due to an earthquake,
Rishikesh would drown in 63 minutes and 17 minutes later, Hardwar would be
inundated.

The earthquake in Gujarat has brought to the fore the danger of building
large dams in quake-prone zones. Geologists and seismologists believe that
both the Narmada and Tehri dams could spell doom if an earthquake above
eight on the Richter scale takes place. Besides, both these projects can
even induce seismic activity and trigger earthquakes.

While calculating the safety of the dams, reservoir induced seismicity
must be taken into consideration. RIS gets accelerated by a large mass or
body of water. If there is more stored water which seeps down the earth,
the possibility of an earthquake increases. In both Tehri and Narmada
dams, the RIS factor is high because they are quite huge and the pressure
exerted by the weight of water is tremendous.

A senior geologist at the National Geo-Physical Research Institute points
out that Koyna in Maharashtra is highly RIS prone. The largest known
reservoir-induced quake measuring 6.3 on the Richter scale occured here.
There are 12 more sites in India which are vulnerable to reservoir-induced
quake. The Jabalpur earthquake in 1998 was RIS related.

Handle with care

A University of Colorado research has warned that the Tehri dam might
release elastic strain energy along the faultline between Nepal and Tibet.
This might trigger an earthquake of as high as 8.9 on the Richter scale or
four quakes of 8.2 in the time to come. In fact, the Himalayas are
earthquake prone and building a 260.5 metre high dam in the mountains
defies logic. Earthquake experts underline that stress is building up
along the `active faultline' in the Himalayan ranges. Already the
Uttarkashi and Chamoli quakes few years back have destroyed parts of the
ecology of the region.

However, Indian planners are still not heeding the warning signals. The
Bhuj and Uttarkashi earthquakes indicate that big dams should not be built
in areas ecologically and geologically fragile. The way out is to build
small check dams on fast mountain rivers. The strong pro-big dam lobby has
to be grounded by the government while weighing the pros and cons of every
project.

Experts believe that the government should ensure that every dam that is
built passes through a screen of several checks and balances that clearly
evaluate all types of ecological and social effects likely to be created.
And although big dams might generate more energy, they should not be
allowed in fragile regions.