The Sardar Sarovar Dam: Engineering Miracle or Failure?

Narendra Modi inaugurated the Sardar Sarovar Dam, which is the world’s second largest dam on his 67th birthday, on September 17, 2017. He claimed that no other project in the world had faced so many obstacles and that the initiative had overcome numerous hurdles to finally be made. Present at Dabhoi, Gujarat, he dedicated the dam – which he called an “engineering miracle” – to the nation. The dam is supposed to provide power and water to 9,000 villages to the states of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.

At the same time, miles away in a village in Madhya Pradesh, thousands carried out a ‘Jal Satyagraha’ – a protest sitting barefoot in water. The reason for this protest? They believed that the water from the dam will displace 40,000 families because their homes will be submerged. The protesters are led by activist and Narmada Bachao Andolan founder Medha Patkar. The protest had begun on Friday on the banks of Narmada at Chota Barda village in Dhar, about 300 km from Bhopal. The water level has been rising there constantly and has already submerged Nisarpur and Rajghat.

The highest embankment on a river in the country is built on the Narmada river and is expected to change the fortunes of Gujarat. However, since the foundation stone of this project was laid in 1961 by Jawaharlal Nehru, it has wrapped up in myriad controversies.

In September 1988, many environmentalists, social workers and scientists sent a memorandum to then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi asking him to reconsider environmental clearance granted to the project. Activists have since been demanding that the filling of water in the dam be stopped and the games opened so that the water level reduces.

Patkar, who had visited the areas expected to be submerged by the river project in 1985, submitted her critique of the project, saying that the people who were to be displaced had not been rehabilitated or informed properly about the issues. She also demanded that the water filling be stopped till rehabilitation is undertaken and compensation paid to the families, which however has not happened despite a Supreme Court order. She also took her case to the World Bank, which stoped funding the project in 1994. Modi himself has talked about the opposition to the construction of the dam from the World Bank. When the financial institution stopped giving money to the project, the temples of Gujarat donated money to it.

Narmada Bachao Andolan had approached the apex court over the environmental issues posed by the dam and received a stay in 1996, although eventually in 2000, work was allowed to resume with some restrictions in October 2000. When her efforts failed, she led the NBA and undertook several fasts for weeks along with Baba Amte, another veteran activist.

Modi is right when he says that the project has progressed despite problems. In 2000, the SC allowed the government to increase the height of the dam to 90-metres, which kept increasing till it reached its current and final height of 138.68 metres.

The dam thus holds in its stead both expectations of development as well as the fear of displacement and the lack of compensation for the people of India. It also sits high as a symbol of the failure of the Narmada Bachao Andolan. While Patkar’s Jal Satyagraha movement carries on, so does some iota of rehabilitation and compensation, albeit slowly.

Sources: NDTV, India Today

Shankarsinh Vaghela Quits Congress; Claims that he was thrown out of the Party

Shankarsinh Vaghela, former chief ministers of Gujarat, said that he quit the Congress on July 21, 2017. This statement was made just a day after he claimed that he had been thrown out of the party and was spotted sporting a saffron scarf.

According to The Hindu, Vaghela said that he was a ‘victim of internal conspiracy in BJP and now in Congress’.

Vaghela went on to say that he was expelled from the Congress because they were worried regarding what he might say during his birthday celebrations.

In a report by the Economic Times, Vaghela was unhappy that the Congress had not declared him as the front runner of the party’s campaign in Gujarat as well as the chief ministerial candidate in the upcoming party elections.

There has been reported internal strife in the Congress party after Vaghela criticized Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi.

Regarding the matter, a Congress spokesperson, Randeep Surjewala told NDTV, “Congress regrets a veteran leader of his stature resigning.” He went on to say, “He wanted to be made the party’s state president. But no party can comply with this request. It’s something that the party must decide and cannot be left to individuals”

 

Sources-

  1. The Hindu-http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/shankarsinh-vaghela-quits-congress-wont-join-bjp/article19324073.ece
  2. The Economic Times-http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/congress-expelled-me-24-hours-ago-says-rebel-shankarsinh-vaghela/articleshow/59698011.cms

3000 cheated in Mount Abu Ponzi scam

Arbuda Credit Co-operative Society Ltd. in Mount Abu has come under the eye of Rajasthan and Gujarat police for allegedly cheating 3000 members in both the states. In the last few days, four FIRs have been filed in Rajasthan and 12 in Gujarat against this company. A few days ago, a similar incident took place in Noida wherein a scam worth 3,700 was busted.

According to earlier reports, the Ponzi scam is worth 100 crores. The co-operative society is said to have collected 50 crores each as deposits from 47 branches in Gujarat and Mount Abu head office respectively.

The two main suspects, in this case, are Rakesh Agarwal and his wife Asha Agarwal, who are absconding sinceJanuary 20, this year. A day before, the couple had made an announcement in the newspapers that they will be returning all the maturity amounts to all the stakeholders. With many lucrative offers of soft loans and investment plans, the co-operative society, which was founded in 2012, trapped many innocent people.

On Sunday, Hard disks, laptops and files were recovered from the head office in Mount Abu. Simultaneously, Gujarat police has also set up a special team, that is investigating the case in the state. The scam was unearthed in the wake of demonetization, as many people started demanding their money back.

Sources: TOI, Inuth

Gujarat Wins Maiden Ranji Trophy Title

Parthiv Patel played a captain’s knock and scored a stupendous 143, leading the Gujarat team to their first-ever win in the Ranji Trophy tournament. They beat defending champions Mumbai by five wickets at the final in Indore on Saturday, January 14.

Gujarat resumed the day at 47 for no loss and managed to have down the target within half an hour of the final session of play. Parthiv Patel’s attacking game on Day 5 of the final helped his team chase down the formidable target that Mumbai had set them. The unbeaten centurion had also scored a 90 in the first innings, Gujarat’s top-score. This gave Gujarat a crucial 100-run lead, having earlier restricted Mumbai to 228.

Parthiv Patel was awarded the Man of the Match award for his game. Incidentally, this match also saw him score his 25th first-class century. ”It was fantastic. Winning Ranji Trophy for Gujarat was a dream for all of us. Glad that I could score a century”, said Patel.

This is the highest final run chase in the history of the game, with the previous best being 310 by Hyderabad vs Nawanagar in 1937 – 38. With this win, Gujarat has joined an elite list of teams like Holkar, Delhi, Karnataka and Haryana as the only teams to defeat Mumbai in a Ranji Trophy final. Mumbai was looking to win the title for the 42nd time.

 

Sources: News 18, India Today, NDTV Sports

Farmers call off 20-day march , demand waive off all loans

A 20-day long foot march organised by farmers in Gujarat came to an end on Monday near Tarapur village located on the outskirts of Gandhinagar, the state capital. The march named ‘Khedut Vedna Yatra’ covered a distance of 450 km, passing through the six districts of Gir-Somnath, Rajkot, Botad, Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar and Junagadh.

The march was held under the banner of Khedut Samaj Gujarat (KSG) headed by Sagar Rabari, the general secretary of KSG. In view of the ongoing preparations regarding the upcoming Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit, the police didn’t allow the members to enter the city.

The organisation has submitted 25 demands in a memorandum given to the Chief Minister Vijay Rupani. One of the major demands made was to get all the farmer loans waived off and receive Rs 50000 as financial aid per acre for each farmer.

The farmers also urged the state government to formulate a new Agriculture policy, provide 24 hour power for them and waive off the taxes on the sale of sugarcane in the state. They also demanded the state to cancel all changes made to the Gujarat Agriculture Land Ceiling Act and laws related to land acquisition.

Stressing on the losses incurred by the vegetable farmers and horticulturists due to demonetisation, they also asked the state government to appoint a neutral team to assess the conditions and provide a reasonable compensation to them accordingly.

For now, the farmers have been assured of a meeting with the CM in the next coming days.

 

SOURCES-

 

PUNJAB TIMES- http://punjabtimes.com.au/gujarat-20-day-march-concludes-farmers-demand-financial-assistance-waiving-off-loans/

INDIAN EXPRESS- http://indianexpress.com/article/india/gujarat-20-day-march-concludes-farmers-demand-financial-assistance-waiving-off-loans-4456514/

Gandhi Slams PM, accuses him of taking bribe from Sahara and Birla Group

Rahul Gandhi accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday at a rally in Mahesana, Gujrat. He charged PM to have received money from Sahara and Birla groups before the 2014 general elections.

Addressing this allegation in Prime Minister’s home state, Gandhi further clarified that the Income Tax department has official documents to prove that Modi received 40 crores which were paid to him in nine components during Gujarat Chief Ministership.

All this came after Gandhi stated to possess evidence against Modi in the light of ‘corruption’. He claimed to raise this issue soon.

“During that raid, I-T department found some documents, which are on record. I want to share with you the contents of those documents. There were several entries in those documents, which I am reading out before you,” he said.  He then alleged that another record suggests that Birla Group gave Rs 12 crore to ‘Gujarat Chief Minister’.

Shortly after Gandhi’s accusation, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad slammed these allegations by calling it ‘baseless, shameful and mala fide’.

Party spokesperson G V L Narsimha Rao further slammed the allegations saying, “People of India have stopped taking him seriously. Rahul Gandhi is just bluff and bluster. There is no substance in what he says. He is just showing his and his party’s incompetence”.

 

Sources: Economic TimesIndian Express

Image source: AP

 

Indian Coast Guard intercepts 5 Pakistani boats with 26 onboard

On Monday late evening, the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) took into custody 26 Pakistani fishermen, seizing five of their boats very close from Jakhau port in Gujarat.

The Defence PRO issued a release in Ahmedabad stating that the boats were accused of being inside the Indian territorial waters in the Arabian Sea.

It was ICG vessel C-419 that seized the Pakistani boats with 26 crew members. The boats are currently being taken to Jakhau port for further investigation. However, authorities have assured that the Pakistani nationals aren’t bearing any arms.

This is not very uncommon in Pakistan and India, as both arrest fishermen for violating their respective water territories.

Incidentally last month 43 Indian fishermen were arrested by Pakistan for allegedly entering their territory in the Arabian Sea.

Prior to this, in the month of July and October, BSF and the Indian Coast Guard have seized boats from the coasts. On July 2, BSF intercepted two boats in Haraminala but fishermen aboard managed to escape; and on October 4, coast guard ship ‘Samudra Pavak’ apprehended a Pakistani board with nine on board.

This capture is by far the largest intervention of Pakistani boats along coastal waters, post surgical strikes.

 

Sources: DNA, The Indian Express

Image source: Google maps

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