Focus: GS-III Industry and Infrastructure

Why in news?

The Gujarat government recently awarded the contract for a barrage project – The Rs-4,167-crore Bhadbhut project in Bharuch.

Details

  • The Bhadbhut project in Bharuch is meant to solve freshwater problems in this region of Gujarat.
  • It has also faced protests from local fishermen for its likely impact on fishing patterns, notably those of hilsa.

What is the Bhadbhut project?

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  • It is planned to be a causeway-cum-weir barrage with 90 gates, across the river Narmada, near Bhadbhut village about 25km away from the mouth of the river, where it flows into the Gulf of Khambhat.
  • The barrage will stop most of the excess water flowing out of the Sardar Sarovar Dam from reaching the sea and thus create a “sweet water lake” on the river.
  • The barrage will also have a six-lane road that will connect the left and right banks of the river and provide shorten the land distance between two large industrial estates in Surat and Bharuch.
  • The project also aims to prevent flooding in years when rainfall is higher than normal.
  • The barrage design also has a navigation lock to enable any future plans to run a ferry service or boats under the inland waterway scheme.

Why was the need felt?

  • The main purpose of the project is to prevent salinity ingress.
  • When the height of the dam rose, flow into the river reduced, and due to the reduced flow of fresh water, saline seawater gushes into the Narmada estuary during high tide, thus increasing salinity along the banks.
  • The sweet water from the reservoir will aim to meet the residential and industrial water requirements of Bharuch, Ankleshwar and Dahej.
  • The project is part of the larger Kalpasar Project, which entails construction of a 30-km dam across the Gulf of Khambhat between Bharuch and Bhavnagar districts.
  • The reservoir is meant to tap the waters of the Narmada, Mahisagar and Sabarmati.

Concerns raised by fishermen

  • The barrage is expected to interfere with the migration and breeding cycle of hilsa.
  • A marine fish, hilsa migrate upstream and arrives in the brackish water of the Narmada estuary near Bharuch for spawning usually during the monsoon months of July and August, and continue doing so till November.
  • Once the barrage is built, it is expected to block their natural entry.

What is the government’s stand on this?

  • Government officials say the entry of hilsa will not be restricted on account of the barrage.
  • The Government has planned fish passes for hilsa fish.
  • Designs will be made by the EPC (Engineering, Procurement and Construction) contractor based on the report based on study of migration patterns of hilsa.

What other areas will the project impact?

  • Part of Aliya Bet, and island in the delta of the Narmada and known for shrimp farming, is likely to get submerged.
  • A portion of the forest in Aliya Bet too will get affected by the project.

-Source: Indian Express

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