Tribal protests escalate against Par-Tapi-Narmada project following displacement

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New Delhi: The Union Government’s Par-Tapi-Narmada River Link Project has triggered tribal manifestations in southern Gujarat, with communities demanding that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government overturn it.

The project aims to distribute the supposedly excessive river water from Gujarat to Maharashtra. For this, seven dams – Jheri, Mohankavchali, Paikhed, Chasmandva, Chikkar, Dabdar and Kelwan – three spillways (Paikhed, Chasmandva and Chikar dams) and two tunnels spread over 5 km will be built. In addition, a canal that will stretch 300 km along six power stations will also be built.

Out of the seven dams, only Jheri falls in Nashik district of Maharashtra. The rest of the dams fall into the Dharampur, Valsad, Navsari and Dang districts South Gujarat.

The idea of ​​“excess” water in a river is dubious. After the Union cabinet cleared the Ken-Betwa River interconnection project in December 2021, Aathira Perinchery wrote for The science of yarn:

…this notion of “surplus” is often based on limited data and “a poor understanding of the role of natural flows, including periodic floods and droughts, in maintaining ecosystems and ecological processes,” many scientists had written , including the famous hydrologist Jagdish Krishnaswamy. in a 2017 research release.

According to a National Water Development Agency (NWDA) report, approximately 6,065 ha of land will be submerged due to the proposed reservoirs, affecting a total of 61 villages in Gujarat and Maharashtra, one of which will be fully submerged and the remaining 60 partially.

The report adds that a total of 2,509 families would be affected, of which 98 families are likely to be affected due to the creation of the Jheri Reservoir, which spans six villages.

In Gujarat, 793 families from 17 villages will be affected by Kelwan reservoir, 563 families by Dabdar reservoir in 11 villages, 379 families by Chasmandva reservoir spread over seven villages, 345 families would be affected by Chikkar reservoir in nine villages and 331 families would be affected due to the Paikhed reservoir spread over 11 villages.

However, environmental activists have said Thread that these are conservative figures and that the realities on the ground could mean that more families will bear the brunt of the project.

Akhil Chaudhary of the Adivasi Mukti Morcha, an organization on the front lines of the protests, said Thread:

“The project aims to connect large dams and seven reservoirs. This will involve creating channel conduits and increasing the resistance of dams. The government itself has admitted that 288 villages in Gujarat and 17 villages in Maharashtra will be affected, moreover, we do not believe that the process adopted by the government is scientific, the project will disrupt the natural ecosystem. Even nations like the USSR and Australia had tried to implement similar systems but had failed.

So far, there have been four protest meetings on the issue, the latest being held on March 21 in Kaprada, Valsad district. The first such protest meeting was held in Dharampur, Valsad district, on February 28, the second on March 5 in Vyara, Tapi district, and the third on March 11, in Dang district. . Another protest rally is scheduled for March 25, Friday in Gandhinagar.

congressman from Vansda Anant Patel recounted The Indian Express this more than 5,000 people were expected to gather in Gandhinagar on March 25.

Adivasi kisan Sangharsh Morcha activist Romel Sutariya said Thread:

“We fought for our land rights. The first concern is that there is a political concern. For 27 years the BJP has ruled the state, Congress has failed to raise our voices, protests and the acquisition of the Statue of Unity means too many of our tribes have lost their lands. More importantly, the model of natural systems recharging water has failed in other countries. So basically people are going to lose their land. The protest is against the dams as well as the networks of canals and pipelines, because of which people risk losing about 10,000 hectares of land.

Meanwhile, tribals across the belt continue their ongoing struggle for compensation and rehabilitation after the construction of Sardar Patel’s ‘Statue of Unity’ in the area.

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