Narmada Samachar: 26 March 2001

Headlines


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     http://www.narmada.org/pressclippings.html
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     http://www.narmada.org/pressrelease.html

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Man Project in Madhya Pradesh

Page devoted to the Man Project ;
Contains background, critique, press releases and contact information of
important officials associated with the project.
False Charges Of Atrocities On Adivasis Filed On Those Fighting For The
Rights Of Adivasis! Will Anyone In This Country Listen To What The
President Has To Say
;
NBA Press Release - March 25, 2001
Harrasment By The State Administration Continues As More false Charges Have
Been Filed Against Them; The Man Project Affected Adivasis Still Kept
In Jail For The Fourth Day.
;
NBA Press Release - March 24, 2001
Nationwide Condemnation Of The Shameful Act Of The Government Of Arresting
The Adivasis Affected By The Man Project; All The Arrested Adivasis
Fast On The 3rd Day In Jail; Big Dams Like The Man Project Are The
Cause Of Drought.
;
NBA Press Release - March 23, 2001
Asked for rehabilitation but received jail!!!
Day 2: Project affected adivasis still lodged in jail.
;
NBA Press Release - March 22, 2001
Hundreds of Adivasis Affected by the Man Project Capture the Dam Site;
Indefinite Dharna at Dam Site Begins Today
;
NBA Press Release - March 21, 2001


Sardar Sarovar Project

NBA Press Releases

Lifting Narmada Waters Vindicates NBA's Position; Demand Official Statement
on Urban Allocation and Benefits to Kutch and Saurashtra
;
NBA Press Release - March 25, 2001
Eminent Medical Professionals and Health Works of 93 countries write ;
NBA Press Release - March 20, 2001

Press Clippings

World health experts urge Narayanan to 'save' affected tribals ; Times of India - March 22
Participants in the first-ever People's Health Assembly, which
was held in Bangladesh recently, have written to President
K.R. Narayanan to save the tribals who were likely to be
displaced because of the Sardar Sarovar Project on the Narmada river.

The letter, which has been signed by eminent doctors, health
workers and activists from 93 countries, appeals to the President
to "save the tribals from death and destitution".
....
The Valley of Tigers ; Don Gamble; Ascent Magazine - Issue 9
Don Gamble interviews Arundhati Roy Hardeep Dhaliwal meets Medha Patkar 


Maheshwar project

S Kumars offers 49% stake in Maheshwar project to FIs ; Times of India - March 23
AFTER the exit of Ogden Energy of the US and German energy giants
Bayernwerke and Vew Energie, the S Kumars Group has now offered to
the financial institutions 49 per cent stake in the Rs 2,254-crore
Maheshwar Hydel Power Project in Madhya Pradesh. 
....


Water Scarcity in Gujarat

Bhavnagar residents go without water for 3 days ; Times of India - March 25
....
BJP spokesman Bharat Pandya, who was in the city to celebrate
arrival of Narmada waters, told TOINS that despite all political,
technical and financial odds, the Keshubhai government was
determined to provide Narmada waters to drought prone Saurashtra region.

"We had thought that laying the Mahi-Pariej pipeline would solve
the problem. But, then the problem of not having water in the
Mahi river itself posed a new challenge. Not deterred by this
natural limiting factor, the state government decided to lift
the Narmada waters directly through pumps and today more than
1,100 cusecs of Narmada water is being pumped daily into Pariej talav,
from where it is distributed to many parts of Bhal and Saurashtra
regions. This remarkable achievement itself substantiates the state
government's will to serve the people in real sense."
....
Cong turn down mayor's invitation to Kevadiya ; Times of India - March 24
Narmada water in Gondal town at last ; Indian Express - March 23
Rajkotians caught in conflicting figures of water supply ; Times of India - March 22
....
A statement from the mayor's office said, "The water resources
minister has agreed to allocate 45 lakh gallons of water from the
Aji-3 project and 17 lakh gallons from the Narmada waters that
have reached Gondal. The Narmada waters would be made available
from March 31." Any shortfall in the supply from Aji-3 would be
met by way of additional supply from the Narmada waters,
the statement added.

On the other hand, water resources minister Narottam Patel has
said that Rajkot would be getting 40 lakh gallons of Narmada waters. 
....
'No water scarcity this summer' ; Times of India - March 21
Govt fails to supply water by March 15 to Junagadh ; Times of India - March 20
RAJKOT: "Junagadh will definitely get water from the Mahi-Pariej
scheme by March 15," state urban development minister and incharge
minister for Junagadh Parmanand Khattar had thundered. Even
three days after that, there is no sign of water from the scheme.
....
In a clever move, the state government has moved swiftly to
divert any public ire against it. For this they have announced
prematurely that Narmada water would be supplied to Rajkot from
the Mahi-Pariej scheme. But what the government has not announced
deliberately is the quantum of water that would be made available
to Rajkot.
....


VHP and Tehri Dam

Tehri dam runs into fresh trouble ; The Hindustan Times - March 25
Singhal threatens fast against Tehri dam ; The Hindu - March 24
NEW DELHI, MARCH 23. Mr. Ashok Singhal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader, has
threatened to go on an indefinite fast by the month- end ``in defence of
the Ganges'' and ``to protest against the Tehri dam.''

The point being made is that the Government has plans to block the waters
of the Bhagirathi to fill the reservoir behind the 270-metre high dam.
``It is the water of the Bhagirathi which gives the Ganges its purity, and
not the streams like the Alakananda. And if the Bhagirathi flow is
stopped, Ganges will no longer be what it is,'' he said.

Swami Chinmayanand, another VHP star who is also a BJP MP, said that ``Mr.
Singhal will not be alone when he fasts, many `sadhus' and `sants' (Hindu
priests) will join him.''

Mr. Singhal said he brought this ``important matter'' to the notice of the
Prime Minister, the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and others. He blamed the
bureaucracy for taking the decision to block the flow of the Bhagirathi.
He stated that work on the dam, ``which will also increase the risk of
earthquakes in the region'', has gathered speed over the last three years
(which is since the Vajpayee Government was installed at the Centre). He
did not want to blame the BJP leadership directly, instead he chose to
attack the bureaucracy.

Although the VHP has only made a few noises about the Tehri dam earlier,
Mr. Singhal claimed that the organisation has not just woken up when the
project is nearing completion but had been protesting for the last 15
years.

The `dharam sansad' organised by the VHP at the recent Kumbh Mela in
Allahabad had also passed a resolution on the subject opposing the Tehri
dam.
VHP leader plans indefinite fast over Tehri dam ; Deccan Herald - March 24
Singhal threatens indefinite fast over Tehri dam ; Times of India - March 24
VHP threatens indefinite stir over Tehri dam project ; Hindustan Times - March 24


Dams and quakes

Earthquake year for dams in drought year (translated from Gujarati) ; Kutch Mitra - March 1


River Rites - Aparna Sindoor dance

River Rites: A Story of the river - people - resistance ; - March 30th and 31st
Choreographed by Aparna Sindhoor

Venue       : Dance Complex: 536 Mass. Ave.,
              Cambridge (near Central Square "T" Stop), Massachussetts.
Time        : 8:00 pm
Tickets     : $10 in advance, $12 at the door
Reservations: Call 617-776-7939; or E-mail navarasa@yahoo.com 

River Rites explores the real life consequences of big dam projects,
such as in the Narmada Valley in India, through a unique new style of
performance that blends Indian classical dance, folk dance, yoga,
world music and narration.


Feature Article: In the wake of the quake - Himanshu Thakkar

Deccan Herald - March 25

In the wake of the devastating quake in Gujarat, it's quite natural that
questions about the safety of the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) and other
related projects would arise, as a number of dams in the state have been
damaged. The State Government has begun the process of assessing the
damage to some 569 large dams in the state, but a report is yet to be made
public. As reported, the Aji-4 dam, about 60 km east of Jamnagar, and
another one near Moti Chirai in Kutch have already been breached.
Buildings and structures like bridges just downstream of the SSP have been
critically damaged. SSP authorities were of course quick to claim that no
damage has occurred to the dam, but their credibility is so eroded that
this statement needs to be taken with a pinch of salt. Activists of the
Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) say that immediately after the quake, dam
authorities stopped the movement of people towards the dam site.

However, more significant is the fact that in the monsoon of 1994, more
than a lakh cubic metre of cement, concrete and hard rock had been washed
away from the spillway section of the SSP dam. This was despite the claim
that the dam was supposed to be capable of withstanding a flood of 'one in
a hundred years magnitude', and the 1994 flood was surely not of that
magnitude. And for months after the event, the project authorities kept
this damage a secret until the NBA made it public. Various reports of the
dam safety panel in this regard have also not been made public, even after
repeated requests by critics of the project. Ever since then, there has
been substantial leakage from downstream of the dam, which the authorities
have not been able to plug. All these raise many unanswered questions on
the safety of the dam. The first question mark that the Gujarat quake has
put on the safety of the SSP thus would not wash away until there is an
independent assessment to show that the dam is indeed unaffected and safe.

Another significant question that arises is what is the relation between
the quake of January 26 and the known geological fault called the Narmada
Sone Lineament, on which the SSP dam is being constructed. A number of
experts have raised the issue and pointed to the connections between
Narmada Sone Lineament and the Alla Bund Fault that led to the Kutch
quake. According to Dr Harsh Gupta, Director National Geo-physical
Research Institute, Hyderabad and former Scientific Advisor to the Prime
Minister, ''The extension of the Narmada-Sone Lineament was the causative
factor for the recent earthquake. It released 900 per cent more energy
than the Latur quake.'' Earlier too when Bhavnagar in Saurashtra was
experiencing repeated quakes in August 2000, scientists had said that the
Narmada Sone and Cambay faults were connected and both were connected with
the Kutch fault.

Gujarat Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel, when questioned about this,
replied, ''This has been taken care of by grouting at the foundation of
the dam''. But that does not really answer the question. The Narmada fault
is known to be deep, wide and active. The 1970 earthquake of Bharuch and
the 1997 earthquake of Jabalpur are two known major events. Grouting at
the dam site cannot really take care of the problems posed by the
geological fault. The Sardar Sarovar Dam site itself is known to have
experienced increased seismic activity since the reservoir filling started
in 1994, but the authorities have refused to make the data recorded on
micro seismic activity in the area public. To clear the seismic threat of
SSP from the public mind, the government will have to make all such data
public. The issue of reservoirs causing earthquake or hastening the
frequency of earthquakes in quake-prone zones is well known. Koyna dam is
the world's most well known example of dams that can cause seismicity.

In fact a number of scientists have been demanding that the seismic map of
India be reviewed as areas that were not known to be quake-prone are
experiencing seismic activity. The Latur earthquake of 1991 was the most
stark example as it occurred in what was earlier thought least
earthquake-prone, but there have been a number of other areas that have
been experiencing previously unknown levels of seismic activity. Dr
Srivastava, seismologist at the India Meteorological Department and Dr M M
Gupta, former deputy director of IMD, have demanded such a review
recently.

In case of SSP itself, the five-member group appointed by the Central
Government had said in their report that the seismic aspects of SSP need
to be reviewed. The implications of such a review on the SSP and its
possible impacts will need to be looked at to decide how safe the SSP
really is.

Another pertinent question that arises is, even if the SSP dam has been
constructed to make it quake proof, is the rim around the dam stable
enough to withstand the earthquake of the magnitude that the dam site is
likely to experience? For, if the rim around the dam is not strong enough
to withstand such a calamity, the cement concrete wall of the dam may
stand, but the huge quantity of water behind the dam would flow down,
causing unimaginable calamity. It may be notable here that in the recent
quake, the damage experienced by a number of dams in Kutch and Saurashtra
is precisely of this kind, where the concrete dams may not have been
affected, but the earthen links of the concrete structure have been
ruptured. The question that SSP authorities need to answer in a credible
way is what is the magnitude of the quake that the SSP dam is expected to
experience and is the dam rim strong enough to withstand such a quake?

Another question related to the issue is that of a disaster management
plan: what would happen if the Sardar Sarovar Dam collapses, either due to
an earthquake or due to any other cataclysmic reason? And it may be noted
here that over a million people are staying in the area downstream from
the dam, on the banks of the river and if the disaster of a dam collapse
occurs, they would all be affected. The question is have the authorities
put in place a disaster management plan for such a contingency? Has the
plan, if at all it exists, been made public? For, a disaster management
plan wrapped in the folds of an Official Secrets Act, as all other SSP
documents are, would only spell greater disaster. The absence of a
disaster management plan can only be seen as a major lacunae, and the
Gujarat quake should instil a sense of urgency among the SSP authorities
and the National Disaster Management Committee set up by the Prime
Minister to prepare and make public a disaster management plan. The people
on the banks of river in the downstream won't feel safe till this is done.

A related question that comes up is what would happen to the buildings in
the impact area when SSP experiences a major quake. This is significant,
as it is apparent from the latest quake experience that majority of
casualties were due to unsafe buildings. The SSP authorities will have to
make public the kind of risk the area around the dam faces and what kind
of structural and other safety measures need to be taken in the
surrounding areas and assure that such measures are implemented.

India was at the forefront during the International Environment Conference
at Rio de Janeiro in 1992, and has accepted the Rio Declaration in toto.
The report of the World Commission on Dams, recently released, also
states, ''The precautionary approach requires states and water development
proponents to exercise caution when information is uncertain, unreliable,
or inadequate and when the negative impacts of actions on the environment,
human livelihoods, or health are potentially irreversible''. A
precautionary approach therefore entails improving the information base,
performing risk analysis, establishing precautionary thresholds of
unacceptable impacts and risk, and not taking action with severe or
irreversible impacts until adequate information is available, or until the
risk or irreversibility can be reduced, making outcomes more predictable.
The implication of the principle in the case of SSP and its seismicity is
clear.

The Prime Minister has agreed in the aftermath of the January 26
earthquake that safety of another controversial mega dam under
construction, the Tehri Dam, also needs to be reviewed. The Government
should do well and order an independent, credible review of the Sardar
Sarovar Project so as to answer the questions that Gujarat quake of
January 26 raises. And till these questions are answered, it would only be
prudent not to fill the SSP reservoir any further.