Thursday, June 12, 2008

the festering narmada wound continues relentlessly. see the mail from medha patkar below on the major breach in the main narmada canal.

the biggest glaring fake development project in india stabs gujarat in the chest day in and out and the after effects still linger.


From: <>
Date: 12 Jun 2008 09:58
Subject: [narmada_andolan] Huge Breach in SSP Narmada Main Canal, Corrupt and Callous Construction Exposed

Narmada Bachao Andolan
12 June 2008

Dear friends/comrades,

There has been a major breach in the Narmada Main Canal yesterday, affecting
villages in Mehsana district of Gujarat. We have been saying all along that the
Canal system as it is envisaged and constructed will not be a life line but a
death noose on people's life and livelihood in Gujarat. Government of Gujarat
do not heed this as they are too engrossed is distorted visions of development
and prosperity through such mega systems. Not only the rampant corruption and
poor construction quality, but also the lack of scientific command area
environmental assessment (in real terms) will continue to severely disrupt
village life and farmer's livelihood in Gujarat. While industries and cities
may gain advantage to some extent, it will be at the expense of the other. Mr.
Narendra Modi, the Gujarat Chief Minister will have to answer for this huge
loss to the public exchequer and people's lives.

Some government officials have claimed that it is a natural disaster! What
nonsense!!! This development induced disaster is a criminal offence on the part
of the government and they are fully accountable. At this time we are reminded
of the recent earth quake in China and the resultant danger caused to
people's lives due to dams over there.

Along with the people of Kevadia Colony in Gujarat who are about to be
negotiated and forced out of their habitat in order to beautify and make the
Dam area a tourist spot, we pledge solidarity with the affected people of
Mehsana and demand immediate relief and Just compensation for what they

This is at least the third time that the main canal is breaking, showing the
huge corruption and callousness with which the canal is constructed, speeding
it up for political mileage. The contractor-bureaucrat-politician unholy nexusis responsible for this terrible calamity. For your recollection, our pressrelease during the 2004 breach is given far below.


Ashish Mandloi, Medha Patkar, Champalal


NBA Press Release
16 August 2004

Sardar Sarovar Dam Overflows as Main Canal Ruptures:
Earthquake also registered near reservoir

While the dam overflow has gained international headlines, it has been little
reported in the press that on the morning of August 3rd, the Narmada Main
Canal-the "lifeline of Gujarat," which is supposed to bring Narmada waters into
the state-was severely breached and broken in two places. Near Bhorda and Moti
Uni villages in Pav Jetpur Taluka, nearly 50 metres of canal caved in due to
pressure from flood waters coming from the cross-cutting Heran River. The
floodwaters are supposed to flow under the canal to the western side through a
tunnel, which became blocked with silt. As a result, the floodwaters crashed
through the Main Canal, submerging villages Bhorda, Mota Uni, Rajbodeli,
Moradongri, Chundheli, and Panej, causing crores of rupees in destruction of
houses and standing crops.

On the night of August 10th, yet another breach occurred in the Narmada Canal
near Kadi, sending water into ten villages (in Viramgam and Dholka Talukas,
Ahmedebad District), and forcing the evacuation of 2,000 people on tractors
during the night. The flooding was the result of a burst check dam on the canal
after heavy rains for the fifth consecutive day.

This past week's pouring monsoon rains has called into serious question both
the safety of the Sardar Sarovar Dam, and the integrity of its claimed
benefits. On August 6, 1 lakh cusecs of water began tumbling over the newly
raised 110.64 metre dam wall at Kevadia Colony, Gujarat. In less than four
days, the water level had risen from just below 100 metres, to the dam-topping
113 metres. This alarming and uncontrollable deluge of water prompted the
Gujarat government to put three districts-Narmada, Bharuch, and Vadadora-on
high alert and prepared for the possibility of an evacuation. In Bharuch, the
government obtained rescue boats and life-jackets and asked for a column of the
army to be sent to the potential disaster zone. Luckily, the water level has
temporarily stabilized at over 112 metres. However, the monsoon season is far
from over and rains continue to fall heavily in the catchment area.

This serious rupture in the Narmada Main Canal-which could take months to
repair-means that, contrary to the boasts of Chief Minister Modi and the Sardar
Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd. (SSNNL), no water will be reaching beyond this point
in the canal, and certainly won't provide relief to drought-prone areas or
rejuvenate North Gujarat rivers anytime soon. Furthermore, it is clear that
this breach on August 3rd, and the subsequent inability of the government to
divert floodwaters into the canal, was partly responsible for the dangerous
situation that emerged on August 6th, with the overflowing waters of the dam
threatening downstream villages.

In yet one more alarming occurrence, yesterday, August 11th, an earthquake of
3.4 on the Richter scale was felt in the town of Sondwa in Alirajpur District
of Madhya Pradesh, an area coming under serious submergence by the Sardar
Sarovar reservoir. The tremor, coinciding with the greatest-yet impoundment of
water behind the Sardar Sarovar Dam, suggests the possibility that it was
reservoir induced-a phenomenon known to happen with large dams in seismically
active areas. Geologists have pointed out that the Sardar Sarovar is located in
a seismically active zone, and questioned the project's safety. As the
reservoir gets bigger-with the governments trying to push the dam up towards
its full planned height of 138.64 metres-the danger of an earthquake causing a
catastrophic break in the dam wall will increase.

Thus, under the test of a strong monsoon, the Sardar Sarovar Dam is revealing
not only its destructiveness of upstream villages, but also its unreliability
and dangerousness for the downstream villages of Gujarat. An inquiry must be
made into the safety aspects of the dam, including the building practices that
led to the canal rupture, and the dangerous overflow. The NBA maintains that in
addition to its unacceptable social and environmental costs, the dam is
technically flawed and unsafe, and should not be built beyond its present

Yogini Khanolkar

Ashish Mandloi


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