Harish Jharia

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14 September 2012

The Temples of Modern India: Huge Dams on Narmada River turn into burial grounds

Sardar Sarovar Dam: The overflow of deadly waters...
Arbitrary abuse of nature...

© Harish Jharia

The first Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru set targets for fast-track overall progress in India. The ‘5 year plan’ program, picked up from the erstwhile Soviet Union USSR, was the core policy, which the Indian government followed, planned and implemented all the long term huge projects. 

These projects included the public sector undertakings like Hindustan Machine Tools HMT, Bhilai Steel Plant and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd HAL etc and the huge dams like Hira Kud Dam, Sardar Sarovar Dam and Bhakra Nangal Dam etc, across the respective Indian rivers. Jawaharlal Nehru said that all these huge projects are the temples of modern India. They looked so because they were built for making the country self-sufficient, surging up employment opportunities, proving irrigation to the dry-land agricultural fields and reducing the occurrence of floods in the low-lying areas along the big rivers. 

Nehru’s dreams proved to be quite effective in the initial decades when the projects were under construction and under employment stages. The temples of modern India slowly turned into white elephants and the dams became burial grounds. India went into enormous amount of international debts; she borrowed from Russia and other countries. Moreover, the public sector undertakings could not achieve the target-efficiency and production output and eventually became sick Industries. Today, approximately 80% - 90% PSUs have become white elephants, and are surviving with unilateral financial aid from the Indian government treasury for salaries and maintenance of the PSUs. 

        The unheard cry of the people of India

The huge dams were basically constructed for hydropower generation, irrigation and controlling devastating floods in the catchment areas of the respective rivers. But as on today the 4000 plus huge dams of enormous size are no more the temples of modern India they, in fact, have turned into burial grounds for the people and properties of the people of  India.
  1.  We may list out the devastating effects of the 4000 odd huge dams constructed allover India:
  2. Hundreds of villages and dozens of towns have been submerged under the waters in the catchment areas of the dams.
  3. Huge areas of agricultural fields, natural forests and valleys have vanished under the waters of the large dams.    
  4. Thousands of people have been displaced from their ancestral homes leaving behind all their inherited properties.
  5. The waters have swallowed the footprints of ancient civilizations submerged along with the old settlements.
  6. The displaced people have been forcibly driven away in exchange of meager compensations inadequate for their resettlement. 
  7. Adequately developed lands suitable for human settlement have not been provided to the displaced people.
  8. The dams have not generated adequate hydropower as compared to the investment, submerging natural resources and properties for constructing them.
  9. India is still depending on the Thermal power as hydropower generation could not reach the demand. 
  10. The irrigation provided from the waters of dams could be considered quite adequate. 
  11. Nevertheless, rampant corruption is reported in providing canals to the agricultural fields. 
  12. Major portion of available irrigation water is captured by the wealthy farmers in exchange of bribes.
  13. The poor farmers are kept aside at the time of distribution of water and widespread protests by poor farmers are reported from the affected areas. 
  14. These huge dams become disastrous during rainy seasons because the dam management release huge amount of water that result into deadly floods in the low-lying areas at the banks of the rivers. 
  15. All the deadly floods reported in 2012 are the results of arbitrary release of huge amount of water from dams and not due to rains in the affected areas. 
  16. The height of the dams and the water levels in dams are highly controversial.
  17. Many dams on Narmada have stored excessive water due to the heights of the dams; resulting in higher water levels that eventually result is submerging excessive area beyond the specified catchment area. 
Following are the huge dams on Narmada River in central India: 
  1. Sardar Sarovar Dam
  2. Maheshwar Dam
  3. Maan Dam
  4. Indira Sagar Dam
  5. Bargi Dam
  6. Goi Dam
  7. Jobat Dam
Following are some of the huge dams out 400 plus dams in India:
  1. Bhakra Nangal Dam: across the Sutlej river Himachal Pradesh.
  2. Bhavanisagar Dam: across Bhavani river, Tamil Nadu.
  3. Bisalpur Dam: Bisalpur, located in Tonk District of Rajasthan.
  4. Cheruthoni Dam: in Kerala.
  5. Hirakud Dam: across the Mahanadi River Orissa.
  6. Indira Sagar Dam: built on the Narmada river in Khandwa district of Madhya Pradesh.
  7. Koyna Dam: across river koyana in Koyna Naga Maharashtra.
  8. Krishnarajasagar Dam: built across Kaveri River near Mysore in Karnataka.
  9. Maithon Dam: built on the river of Barakar, Jharkhand.
  10. Mettur Dam: across Kaveri River at Salem district in Tamil Nadu.
  11. Nagarjunasagar Dam: built across Krishna River in Andhra Pradesh.
  12. Rihand Dam: across Rihand River a tributary of Sone river, Uttar Pradesh
  13. Sardar Sarovar Dam: also known as “Narmada Dam” across Narmada River in Gujarat.
  14. Tehri Dam: on the Bhagirathi River, Uttarakhand.
  15. TungaBhadra Dam: across river Tungabhadra, Hospet town in Karnataka.

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