Narmada River Current Affairs

Madhya Pradesh bans Sand Excavation in Narmada River

The State Government of Madhya Pradesh has put an indefinite ban on the sand excavation in the Narmada River. This announcement has been made by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan in Bhopal. The government has also set up a committee to suggest the scientific ways of mining the rivers. This committee will submit the report to state government after exploring ways for sand excavation without harming rivers. The government will also promote manufactured sand (made by mixing stones).

Background

Illegal sand mining is one of the serious law & order and environmental issues in several states of India including Madhya Pradesh. The business has flourished mainly because of nexus between sand mafia, officers and politicians. Many people including police officers and activists have lost their lives while making attempts to check this illegal activity. The Chief Minister was has been travelling along side Narmada River to make “Save Narmada” a people’s movement through his “Namami Narmada Yatra”. However, in February 2017, his government had faced embarrassment when a company belonging to nephew of chief minister was alleged to be engaged in illegal mining.

The issue of illegal mining in Narmada was sub-judice in state High Court but in July 2015, it was transferred to National Green Tribunal. On the basis of a complaint by Medha Patkar (of Narmada Bachao Aandolan), the NGT had sent a team to investigate the matter. After investigation, NGT had directed state government to take strong measures and report the progress.

About Narmada River

Narmada (giver of pleasure), is one of the largest rivers of India, originating in Amarkantak Hills and flowing through Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra. It is third largest river after Ganga and Godavari to flow within political boundaries of India. It flows in a rift valley between the Satpura and Vindhya Ranges; and serves as lifeline of Madhya Pradesh.  Its basin covers large areas in the states of Madhya Pradesh (86%), Gujarat (14%) and a smaller area (2%) in Maharashtra. In the river course of 1,312 km, there are 41 tributaries, out of which 22 are from the Satpuda range and the rest on the right bank are from the Vindhya Range. Geologically, Narmada River is older than the river Ganges. In Puranas, it has been mentioned as Rewa. In Indian history, the river has played role to divide North India (Uttarpatha) from South India (Dakshinpatha). The Chalukya emperor Pulakeshin-II had defeated emperor Harshavardhana on the banks of Narmada River, thus forcing him to agree this river as his southern border after this war.

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PM Launches Narmada Seva Mission for Conservation of Narmada

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has launched the Narmada Seva Mission for the conservation of river Narmada, which is a lifeline of Madhya Pradesh. Prime Minister released a road map for the series of steps to be taken for the conservation of Narmada river. The roadmap envisaging the conservation efforts has been taken after wide-ranging consultations with various stakeholders, including environmentalists, river conservation experts among others. The event was held at Amarkantak in Anooppur district of Madhya Pradesh. The event also marked the conclusion of ‘Namami Devi Narmade Sewa Yatra’. 

Namami Devi Narmade Sewa Yatra

Namami Devi Narmade Sewa Yatra was launched on December 11, 2016 from Amarkantak, the origin place of the River Narmada. The yatra covered a distance of 3,344 km and passing through over 1,100 villages and towns and concluded on May 15, 2017. The yatra is hailed as as the world’s “biggest river conservation campaign with public participation.”

Background

The river Narmada originates from the Maikal hills and flows 1,312 km before draining through the Gulf of Khambhat into the Arabian Sea. Narmada, Tapti and Mahi are the only three major rivers in the country that flows from east to west. The river acts as a source of  irrigation to about 17 lakh hectares of land and provides drinking water to more than four crore people. It also acts as a source for generating over 2400 megawatts of power from hydropower plants situated on the river.

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) recently has found out in the Narmada river at least in three stretches water quality is not even fit for bathing. The Madhya Pradesh state government in its budget estimate for 2016-17 has allocated Rs 2095.31 for the Narmada valley development. In the state more than 700 Narmada seva committees and over 74000 Narmada sevaks have registered to protect the river.

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