The Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) of the MoEF in its meeting on the 11th and 12th of July did not recommend Forest Clearance to Kikvi Drinking water project coming up in Nashik. The proposal entailed diverting 172 hectares of forest land and a massive 761.52 hectares of agricultural land, totalling 933.98 hectares, without even a rehabilitation or resettlement plan. The project proponents pushed the project claiming that Gangapur dam is being silted up, but shockingly, did not present any alternative of desilting Gangapur Dam or even mentioning that Nashik already has three more drinking water supply sources in the upstream and downstream of Gangapur Dam.
In its decision, the FAC noted that
· “The project proponent has not given due diligence in assessing water requirement of the area and available resources already in existence to meet this requirement.
· No evidence is made available to prove that an authenticated study has been conducted to assess water requirement
· There are three more drinking water/irrigation projects in Nashik but user agency could not establish any link between capacity of these and future water requirement.
· Possibility of enhancing storage capacity of Gangapur dam to its installed capacity of 7.2 TMC by way of desiltation has not been explored.
· It is also not understood how rehabilitation plan is not required if submergence of agricultural and is involved.”
FAC has asked for further clarification and reports before the project can be considered again. This includes a detailed study to assess present and future requirement of water for drinking irrigation and vis a vis available sources, an integrated plan which may include desilting study for Gangapur dam as well as a Rehabilitation and Resettlement Plan for the population whose agricultural land will be submerged. It has also asked for compliance of Forest Rights Act.
This is indeed a welcome decision by the FAC. The proposal highlighted callous and casual approach of the Nashik Municipal Corporation while diverting an entire river and affecting agricultural lands in over 10 villages in Nashik, without even mentioning agricultural submergence clearly in its application.
SANDRP, along with local groups from Nashik had sent a submission to the FAC highlighting these pertinent points. It can be viewed at:https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2013/07/09/can-a-dam-submerging-1000-ha-be-encouraged-only-because-its-drinking-water-project/