Narmada Samachar: 19 March 2001


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Water Scarcity in Gujarat

Narmada Kumbh Poojan ; Indian Express - March 12
The city unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will organise a
Narmada Kumbh Poojan (worship of Narmada water) in all the 43 wards
of Ahmedabad on March 14. City BJP president Dr Mayaben Kodnani said
the Narmada waters would be first worshipped at Jinjar village on
March 13 and then representatives from 43 city wards would bring
pots of water from their city and hold the poojan programmes in
their respective wards the next day.  Kodnani has thanked the
Chief Minister for securing the Narmada waters for the city.
Phase II of quake relief: Gujarat gears up to tackle water crisis ; Hindustan Times - March 13
The Raska Weir cum pipeline project was completed last year at
a cost of Rs 110 crore and had eased the drinking water shortage in
Ahmedabad city. This project, which involves water from Narmada
reservoir travelling 148 km through canals up to Timba and then
joining the Shedi canal to Raska Weir, will be launched on Tuesday.

With this scheme, the daily supply of water to Ahmedabad will go up
from 50 million gallons per day (GDP) to 80 million GPD, State Water
Supplies Secretary R K Tripathy told the Hindustan Times on Sunday. 
City starts drawing Narmada water ; Times of India - March 14
According to sources in the Vadodara Municipal
Corporation (VMC), water from Narmada main canal
was taken to Vadodara branch canal and from there to
the Ajwa reservoir. "The main Narmada canal has been
closed for some days. This would increase the water
level here and water would naturally flow from the
main canal to the branch canal and finally to the Ajwa
reservoir," said an official. They say that water from the
Narmada river would ensure that the city gets water
throughout summer.
Narmada water reaches city ; Indian Express - March 14
AHMEDABAD, MARCH 13: The Narmada water finally started flowing into
the Raska weir on Tuesday. From here, it will be distributed to
Ahmedabad city and will also flow into the Pariyej tank to reach
Saurashtra by March 31.

Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel said an action plan for providing
drinking water to drought-affected areas is being implemented in
a time-bound manner by pumping water from the Narmada canal.

A function was held at Jinjar village where the Raska weir is
located. Ahmedabad city will for the first time get Narmada water
that will be pumped into the weir. The water will first be pumped
into the Narmada canal, then into the Mahi canal and then into
the Shedi branch of the Mahi canal that opens into the Raska weir.
Political parties take credit for Narmada ; Indian Express - March 14
AHMEDABAD, MARCH 13: Even as the Keshubhai Patel-led State Government
is taking pride in reaching Narmada waters to Ahmedabad amid fanfare,
the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are trading charges
of using the occasion for political gains.  Both the parties have
come out with their own versions of how they were instrumental in
getting the project to its logical end.

The BJP leaders insist that their Government has not forgotten other
important projects even at times when it was busy tackling earthquake
relief and rehabilitation work. To project this view, it has planned
Narmada Kumbh Poojan programmes in all the 43 wards of the city on
Wednesday. "It is basically a party programme by which we want to
convey to the people that the Government cares for them," asserts
city BJP president and Naroda MLA Dr Mayaben Kodnani.
Come summer, and there's water, water nowhere ; Indian Express - March 15
RAJKOT, MARCH 14: The quake might have pushed the water issue
into the background for some time, but it is back in the limelight.
Protests have begun all over Saurashtra as the State Government
has failed to make any relief provisions and has also no alternate
drinking water provision to offer.

Gondal town was totally ``closed'' after the authorities failed
to supply water for 12 days in succession. And in the midst of it,
political parties continued their game of one-upmanship.  Tension
gripped the town as both, the BJP and the Congress, had made the
bandh a prestige issue Congress leaders gave the call for the bandh,
while the BJP asked people not to heed the bandh call as
``Narmada water would reach them shortly.''
Gujarat govt attempts to rebuild image through water project ; Deccan Herald - March 15
In a bid to rebuild its image which is tarnished in the country's
worst earthquake in Kachch, the Keshubhai Patel government has
diverted the people's attention and announced that Narmada waters
will reach the parched areas of Kachch in 15 months through a
Rs 1,400 crore project.

The Patel government which could not cope with disaster management
of the earthquake the worst in two centuries, re-inaugurated the
Raska weir near Ahmedabad on Tuesday to bring in 50 MGD Narmada waters
to the city, amidst boycott by the Mayor of the Congress ruled
Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation. The weir was inaugurated by
Union Home Minister L K Advani last year amidst massive fanfare.
The BJP and its government which had twice during its tenure
from 1995 scrapped the Narmada pipeline project approved by the
Congress government to give Narmada water to the parched areas
of Saurashtra , has today through an improvised system started
distribution of the water from the downstream of the Narmada dam.

Maheshwar project

FIs to pick up 49% stake in S Kumas' hydel project ; Economic Times - March 13
WHEN Ogden Energy of US followed Bayernwerke and VEW Energie of
Germany to walk out of the Shree Maheshwar Hydel Power Corporation,
the 400 mega-watt hydel power project in Madhya Pradesh seemed to be
in deep trouble. 

The Indian promoters -- S Kumars Group and Indian financial institutions
(who held 15 per cent stake in the project), now seem to have decided to
execute the project without foreign equity partners. 

In a frantic effort to salvage the project, FIs are putting together a new
formula, by which they will pick up to 49 per cent stake. 
Loan of Rs. 200 crores falls through, Harza out of Project;
Escrow cover for Maheshwar Project collapses;
NBA demands White Paper on the Project
NBA Press Release - March 15
In a lethal blow to the controversial Maheshwar Hydro-electric Project
being built on the river Narmada in Central India, the Portuguese
government has in a recent development, refused to give the COSEC guarantee
to the multinational firm Asea Brown Boveri. The ABB had applied for
this guarantee from the Portuguese export credit Agency COSEC, in order
to secure a tied loan of Rs.200 crores (US dollars 46.28 millions)
from the private German bank- Hypovereinsbank for the sale of ABB
produced hydro-mechanical equipment to the Maheshwar Project. In the
absence of the COSEC guarantee the Hypovereinsbank loan of Rs.200 crore
to the Maheshwar Project has also fallen through. As a result,
Alstom - the French Power utility that had recently bought ABB's
hydro-power division is without the guarantee that can help make
the supplier's contract that they have with the Project promoters
of the Maheshwar Project a reality. 
Portugal move a blow to hydel project: NBA ; The Hindu - March 16
Maheshwar project ; Hindustan Times - March 18
PTI, Bhopal 
THE MADHYA Pradesh Government on Saturday said that it was
committed to the implementation of the Maheshwar project on
Narmada river and described as "totally contrary to facts"
reports that the project was not receiving clearance.

Issues of rehabilitation

Medha leads march of the displaced ; Indian Express - March 15
MUMBAI, MARCH 14: Hundreds of people displaced by various projects
in the state gathered at Azad Maidan and led by National Alliance
of Peoples Movement leader Medha Patkar they asserted their rights
to jal, (water) jungle (forest lands) aur zameen (land), querying
the state's rehabilitation plans.

People displaced by mega developmental projects such as dams, flyovers
and highways joined hands with those who had been evicted from
sanctuaries and national parks.  Retrenched mill workers and fisherfolk
affected by aquaculture joined the march, denouncing the government's
rehabilitation plan as bogus and warning that if their homes were
demolished without alternatives, they would put up tents at
Azad Maidan itself.
Call to involve project-hit people in discussions ; Times of India - March 15
MUMBAI: Is the villager who has to leave his lands and make way
for a highway or dam nothing more than one of the side effects
of a project? Or can he be considered as an investor, whose
opinion matters as much as any other share holder? On Tuesday,
Medha Patkar, along with several others from the National Alliance
of People's Movement, called for a more inclusive decision-making
process, which would encompass the views of project-affected people
into the planning process. "The displaced and the affected should
actually be considered investors who have given the rights to
their land for the project. As such, they must be part of the
decision-making process in any project," she said.
Early rehab of displaced people sought ; Hindustan Times - March 16
Patkar charges state govt. with betraying oustees ; Times of India - March 15
NEEMUCH: Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) leader Medha Patkar
has charged the Madhya Pradesh government with betraying
the interests of the oustees of various dams built in the state.

The NBA leader, in a letter to the adviser of Gandhi
Sagar Oustees Association, r ram prasad gupta, said the
state government had adopted a discriminatory approach
towards those ousted due to the gandhisagar project. 
Medha Patkar arrested in Bombay ; Rediff on the Net - March 14
Patkar arrested ; The Hindu - March 15