In recent years Madhya Pradesh has been on a Major Irrigation project spree. Some such projects at various stages of Environmental and forest clearance from MP recently include the Kundaliya Major Irrigation Project which will submerge nearly 8000 hectares of land and displace more than 8000 people, Kalisindh Major Irrigation project which will submerge nearly 5000 hectares of land and displace more than 2000 people, Mohanpura Major Irrigation project which will submerge more than 7000 hectares of land and displace more than 10,000 people and Bansujara Multipurpose project on Dhasan river (Betwa/Yamuna basin) which will submerge more than 5200 hectares (though the EMP of the project also done by WAPCOS (Water and Power Consultancy Services) then says that submergence will be 7476 hectares!) and displace at least 25,000 people .[i],[ii]
It is significant to note that Madhya Pradesh has one of the worst records of dealing with rehabilitation and resettlement of affected population. The state is struggling with several serious issues including mining (including illegal mining), sand mining, deforestation, alienation of tribals from their lands and rights, etc.
It is also significant that it was at the behest of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Chouhan that the clause of Social impact Assessment for Irrigation Projects and land for land compensation for affected population was deliberately removed from the new Land Acquisition Act 2013 (The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013).[iii] How the Union government agreed to this blackmail is another question.
Chinki Project Latest addition to the long list of irrigation projects in MP is the Chinki Major irrigation Project in Narsinghpur District, proposed by the Narmada Valley Development Authority (NVDA). The project envisages irrigation for 89,029 ha of gross command area in Narsinghpur and Raisen Districts and 15 MW of hydro power generation. This project will affect more than 8000 hectares of land and affect a whopping 49 villages in Narsinghpur and Jabalpur according to its preliminary estimate. The project was awarded Terms of Reference Clearance by the EAC of the MoEF in its 58th meeting in June 2012. Recommending TORs (Terms of Reference, which is the first stage clearance) implies that the pre-feasibility study has been done thoroughly and the same is appraised in detail by the MoEF’s (Ministry of Environment and Forests) EAC (Expert Appraisal Committee) for River Valley Projects.
Shattering all these assumptions, we see that Chinki Multipurpose project has applied for TORs again and is on agenda for the 72nd EAC meeting being held on Feb 20-21, 2014 for strange reasons. A perusal of the new PFR (Pre Feasibility Report) exposes that the initial PFR and assumptions were flawed beyond imagination! The initial PFR was done by WAPCOS, which is under the Ministry of Water Resources of India. WAPCOS has been routinely churning out studies of substandard quality and seems to have a strong bias AGAINST environment and people. At the same time, this incidence raises a question mark over the so called “detailed scrutiny” that is done by the EAC of the MoEF while appraising a project. SANDRP studied the new proposal in detail and sent comments to the EAC, MoEF. Excerpts from the submission are given here.
Vast difference between two PFRs! The EAC had issued TORs to Chinki Project in its 58th meeting in June 2012 9PFR by WAPCOS). It is shocking to see the drastic changes between the two PFRs, considering that the dam site and command is staying exactly the same. Comparison of original project features with revised features reveals that the changes in project features include-
- Catchment area decreased by more than half the original from 8,802 sq. km to 4,377 Sq. km
- Dam height decreased from 35.5 m to 30 m.
- Submergence increased more than twice from 3,250 Ha to 6,995 Ha
- Land to be acquired nearly doubled from 4,150 Ha to 7,895 Ha
- FRL decreased from 348 m to 340 m.
So with lesser catchment area, same dam location, lower dam height, the submergence area has more than doubled!!
These facts highlights how shoddy and unreliable the initial PFR done by WAPCOS and put forward to the EAC was, which was cleared by the EAC. This is a clear case of providing factually wrong reports to the EAC and MOEF and EAC and MoEF should take a clear stand on this instance and suggest necessary punitive steps against the Project Proponent and WAPCOS. This is yet another instance of shoddy work of WAPCOS.
It is high time that the EAC and MoEF blacklist WAPCOS for its conflict of interest and poor quality work. The EAC should not award a new TOR for this scheme, but should ask the MP government to change its EIA consultant, enquire into the reasons and persons responsible for this fraud and undertake necessary steps, including points raised below.
Cumulative Impact Assessment of Projects on Narmada should be mandatory before considering any more projects: The 58th Meeting itself noted the severe over-development of NarmadaBasin in Madhya Pradesh and beyond. The Chinki Multipurpose Project on the Narmada is sixth project after the Upper Narmada, Raghavpur, Rosara, Basania and Bargi Projects, amongst the schemes proposed in the upstream of this site on river Narmada. There are 7 existing projects in the Narmada Basin namely, Karjan (Karjan River), Sukta (Sukta River), Tawa (Tawa River), Barna (Barna River), Bargi (Narmada River) and Matiyari Major (Matiyari River). There are 7 on- going projects namely; Sardar Sarover on Narmada River, Jobat (Hathni River), Man (Man River), Upper Beda (Beda River), Maheshwar, Omkareshwar and Narmada Sagar on Narmada River. Besides these projects, there are 17 projects proposed in the basin!
Most of these projects are fraught with serious issues related to massive displacement, forest submergence, poor rehabilitation and resettlement, tribal issues and forest rights, reservoir fishing leases, legal and procedural issues, questionable benefits, lack of assessments or appraisals, etc. Considering these issues and also MoEF’s Office Memorandum of May 28, 2013, a cumulative impact assessment of all projects in Narmada, including the carrying capacity study should be carried out. This was recommended by the EAC also in its 58th meeting. However, this study should not be conducted by MP Govt or NVDA or WAPCOS, as this is a clear conflict of interest. The study should be carried out involving a multidisciplinary team of experts & local participation after TORs of the study are discussed in public domain. Only after such a study has been approved through a participatory process should other projects be considered. Looking at the severe impact of ongoing projects on Narmada and its people, this is needed to uphold the principle of sustainable development.
Madhya Pradesh’s extremely poor track record of rehabilitation & resettlement For almost three decades now agitations have been going on against MP Govt’s poor R&R. In one of the latest episodes, in Aug 2012, several affected people from Omakareshwar and Indira Sagar Dam undertook a Jal Satyagrah for 17 days together against absence of rehabilitation by MP Govt. The Supreme Court issued a show cause notice to MP Govt and again in 2013, the SC passed strictures against MP Govt when the latter tried to demand an undertaking from farmers affected by the Omkareshwar dam to the effect that they will not demand compensatory land under the rehabilitation policy[iv]. The MP Government has indulged in a number of unfair and unjust practices about rehabilitation and resettlement. It is to be noted here that at least 5 villages submerged by the Omkareshwar dam were not even envisaged to be submerged, indicating the blunders in planning, as well as insensitivity to the displaced population. Affected population of Omkareshwar had to risk their lives while protesting against the unjust ways of MP Government. MP govt’s injustice to SSP affected people is well known, the govt just refused to provide land to the displaced people. MP govt has also shown least concern of the impacts of such projects on the downstream states[v].
Again last year, oustees from Omkareshwar, Indira Sagar, Maheshwar, Maan and Upper Beda all protested together[vi] in Bhopal. The EAC should be aware of the past performance of MP govt in this regard, it should not give TOR clearance for Chinki project which will submerge nearly 8000 ha of land.
WAPCOS’s poor track record: Time and again WAPCOS reports have proved to be of poor quality, aimed only at pushing projects and not concerned at all with any objective or rigorous analysis of the impacts. We have pointed this out to the EAC several times, latest related to Kundaliya, Bansujara[vii] and Mohanpura[viii] Irrigation Projects in MP, and Kangtangshiri HEP in Arunachal Pradesh, but the EAC and MoEF do not seem to be bothered by these serious problems. NGT has indicated that problematic EIA agents need to be blacklisted, but MoEF is not ready to blacklist WAPCOS. Even the Forest Advisory Committee, a statutory body, has passed strictures against WAPCOS.
Plagiarisation: In Chinki Project too, section on wildlife and forests is in fact a description of Kanha National Park, which is far away from the project site. The section says: “At times one is surprised that wild life has survived so well despite the decades of senseless slaughter indulged in by the so called big-game hunters.” This seems unrelated to the project site and is plagiarized from a MP tourist website![ix]
No mention of cumulative impacts: The PFR makes no mention of evident cumulative impacts. The entire section on environmental impacts is superficial.
Discrepancies: The EAC had specifically noted the impact of 2 kms tunnel on forest land. At page 6 and 24, PFR mentions length of tunnel to be 66 meters. At page VII-4, the length of the same tunnel becomes 2.025 kms and at VII- 49, it becomes 2.5 kms!
Form I: In the section 9 on Cumulative impacts, the Form I says there are no cumulative impacts! This is absolutely incorrect when the hydrology, sociology and ecology of the Narmada basin is being changed by several existing, planned and u/construction dams in the basin.
Rainfall in command is nearly 1200 mm! Options Assessment needed: The PFR states: “The purpose is to develop irrigation to about 74273 ha culturable command area spread over the Narsinghpur and Raisen Districts to improve the irrigation system by supplementing limited and erratic rainfall.” (Emphasis added.) Now the average rainfall of Raisen and Narsinghpur Districts is 1200 and 1192 mm each! This is by no means limited. The taluks to be services by the project: Kareli, Tendukheda, Barely and Udaipura have good groundwater irrigation. Barely is the biggest Gud Mandi in India and also has a good network of canal irrigation. In such a situation, rainwater harvesting, groundwater recharge & watershed management should be the first options rather than large dams.
In fact, looking at the dependence on groundwater and the groundwater potential of the region, the Central Groundwater Board recommends creation of several percolation tanks.[xi]
Considering all these issues, we have requested the EAC not to award TORs to Chinki Irrigation Project unless Cumulative Impact Assessment is completed, thorough options assessment is done and a holistic view of human and ecological development in NarmadaBasin in Madhya Pradesh is adopted. We also expect the EAC to recommend action against the Project Proponent and WAPCOS for submitted factually wrong reports to EAC and MoEF.
Amruta Pradhan, Parineeta Dandekar
[ii] Other recent projects include Pancham Nagar Multipurpose project in Ken River Basin requiring 2260 ha of land, Pawai irrigation project on Ken River in Panna district, Runjh irrigation project in Panna district, Datuni irrigation project in Dewas district, Sip Kolar River link project, Upper Ghogra irrigation project in Sehore district in Narmada basin and Tori Tank project in Badwani district.
[x] Image Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Madhya_Pradesh_district_location_map_Narsinghpur.svg, http://apnanarsinghpur.wordpress.com/agriculture/, http://www.onefivenine.com/india/villag/Narsinghpur, http://www.indianetzone.com/33/bargi_dam_madhya_pradesh.htm, http://india-wris.nrsc.gov.in/wrpinfo/index.php?title=Barna_JI00745