Hydropower Performance · Narmada

Narmada dams’ levels depleted to generate more electricity: Threatening water security for Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh

An analysis of the available information on water levels and live storage % during February and March 2014 raises questions marks about the reasons for depletion of water levels in these dams when there was no apparent need. It prime facie seems to indicate that this has been done to generate more electricity in view of impending elections. However, this is likely to threaten water security of the people of Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat during coming summer months. It could also raise difficulties in post summer period if monsoon is deficit as seems to be indicated by the rapidly developing El Nino conditions. In table below we have given these figures for the Sardar Sarovar and Indira Sagar Dams, the biggest dams on Narmada in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.

Intake well at Kasrawad. Last intake hole is above the water level Photo: Pancham Choyal, Badwani Bureau chief of Patrika
Intake well at Kasrawad. Last intake hole is above the water level Photo: Pancham Choyal, Badwani Bureau chief of Patrika

 Level change in SSP and NSP between Feb 6 and April 9, 2014

Project Particulars Feb 6 Feb 13 Feb 20 Feb 27 Mar 6 Mar 13 Mar 20 Mar 27 Apr 9
SSP level m 121.47 120.88 119.8 117.79 117.31 115.62 115.12 113.88 114.82
% live storage 95 (58) 88 (55) 76 (51) 59 (48) 53 (58) 38 (60) 33 (57) 22 (53) 31 (58)
ISP level m 255.27 254.7 254.38 254.11 253.76 253.49 253 252.5 251.39
% live storage 47 (48) 43 (47) 41 (47) 40 (46) 37 (41) 35 (39) 34 (35) 31 (34) 26 (28)

Note: figures in bracket with those % live storage levels are the figures for % live storage same date last year.

Source: CWC weekly reservoir level updates. Strangely, the Apr 3, 2014 bulletin does not provide the reservoir details, see: https://docs.google.com/folderview?usp=sharing&id=0B2IHafYlWNipTm1wVXhXelV4RDg

It is clear from the above figures that level and % live storage of water in Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP, on Narmada River in Gujarat, considered Gujarat’s lifeline by Gujarat politicians and government) has drastically reduced from 95% on Feb 6, 2014 to just 22% on March 27, to rise slightly to 31% on April 9. The level last year remained almost constant between 58% and 53% during the same period.

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In case of upstream Indira Sagar Project (ISP) in upstream on Narmada River in Madhya Pradesh too the level has been drastically reduced from 47% on Feb 6, 2014 to 26% on April 9, 2014. There was no need for this depletion and water stored could have been of use during summer. Here too it seems level has been reduced to generate more power, again at the cost of water security for people of Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat.

bank of Narmada at Rajghat. Gandhi Samadhi is also being seen in the background Photo: Pancham Choyal, Badwani Bureau chief of Patrika
bank of Narmada at Rajghat. Gandhi Samadhi is also being seen in the background Photo: Pancham Choyal, Badwani Bureau chief of Patrika

It should be noted here that the storage gets depleted to the extent water is released from dams for hydropower generation and when water is released from 1200 MW River Bed Power House (RBPH) of SSP, it is not even useful for irrigation. Only water released through the 250 MW Canal Head Power House (CHPH) of SSP goes into canals and can be used for irrigation or water supply.

Overflowing Sardar Sarvor Dam in Monsoon 2013: Source: PTI
Overflowing Sardar Sarvor Dam in Monsoon 2013: Source: PTI

There was no need for this depletion and considering the impending summer and likelihood of deficit monsoon in view of developing El Nino conditions[1]. It seems the level has been depleted for generating extra electricity in view of ongoing elections, risking the water security for the Gujarat’s drought prone areas in coming summer. It should be disturbing that water level in SSP should reach such low level of 22% by March 27 this year when the monsoon was above average and water level at SSP reached its highest level till date in the monsoon. This mismanagement also punctures the hole in the oft repeated claim of the Gujarat government that Gujarat is suffering as it is not allowed to increase the dam height. If Gujarat cannot use water available at current dam height in optimal way, where is the case for increasing dam height?

Narmada river be between Kasrawad and Rajghat Photo: Pancham Choyal, Badwani Bureau chief of Patrika
Narmada river be between Kasrawad and Rajghat Photo: Pancham Choyal, Badwani Bureau chief of Patrika

Hydropower Generation The figures of electricity generation from these projects (and also Omkareshwar also on Narmada in Madhya Pradesh between ISP and SSP) from the official website of Central Electricity Authority (http://cea.nic.in/monthly_gen.html) for Feb and March 2014 and 2013 are given below.

Project Power stations February March
2014 2013 2014 2013
SSP RBPH 340.96 51.74 301.61 154.89
CHPH 48.48 17.09 44.3 47.92
Total 389.44 68.83 345.91 202.81
NHDC ISP 230.76 120.67 242.94 223.21
OHP 106.23 68.08 109.18 116.75
Total 336.99 188.75 352.12 339.96

Note: All figures in Million Units (One Unit is one Kilowatt hour). All figures from Central Electricity Authority Website. The figures for March 2014 are tentative, but the final figures do not change much as past experience shows. RBPH: River Bed Power House; CHPH: Canal Head Power House; OSP: Omareshwar Hydropower Project; NHDC: Earlier known as Narmada Hydroelectric Development Corporation (http://www.nhdcindia.com/ a joint venture of Govt of Madhya Pradesh and NHPC Ltd)

It is clear from these figures that electricity figures at SSP and NHDC hydropower stations have certainly been much higher during Feb-March 2014 compared to the same months the previous year. For SSP, the total power generation during Feb March 2014 was 735.35 Million Units, compared to 271.64 MU during the same period last year, the increasing being huge 171% in 2014 compared to the same in 2013. In case of NHDC stations, the generation during Feb Mar 2014 was 689.11 MU, compared to 528.71 in Feb Mar 2013, increase in 2014 period being 30.33% higher in 2014. Thus it is clear that much higher amount of power has been generated during Feb Mar 2014 at SSP and NHDC stations compared to same period previous month, at the cost of depletion of water level in the SSP and ISP. The power benefits from SSP are shared in the ratio of 57: 27: 16 % for MP: Maharashtra: Gujarat.

While people in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh are likely to suffer in coming summer and monsoon due to this unjustifiable depletion of these reservoirs, some people are already suffering. For example, as reported by newspapers[2], Badwani city water supply in Madhya Pradesh has already suffered as the water level in the river has gone the lowest intake level. The report says that Badwani does not even get regular electricity to lift water from the river for city water supply. So even as SSP and NHDC power stations are generating extra power, it is not being made available to such small towns. Worse days are in store, it seems. With electricity demand and rates in Feb and March being lower than in summer, it also raises the question as to how prudent it was to generate this power in winter and not in summer when demands and rates of electricity are higher.

As  Energylineindia.com reported on April 14, 2014, “in February 2014, the PLF of thermal power plants was at 68.44% against the target of 71.3% on account of weak off-take of power… reason for lower thermal PLF is higher hydro generation. Hydel plants in February 2014 reported a 7.70% higher generation than what was programmed for the month. Hydel power generation is up by a whopping 25.98% in February 2014 as compared to the corresponding period in the previous year.” This also seems to be the case for March 2014. Thus, higher hydro generation during Feb-March 2014 actually led to backing down of thermal power plants, thus the Plant Load Factor of thermal power plans was lower in these winter months when electricity demands are not at peak. However, when electricity demand will be at peak in coming summer, these projects wont have water to generate power! Who will hold the operators of these projects accountable for this questionable decisions?

Reservoir storage at all India level At all India level, Central Water Commission provides storage situation for 85 reservoirs (37 of these reservoirs have hydropower component with installed capacity over 60 MW and total live storage capacity of 111.73 BCM) in its weekly bulletins, these reservoirs have total live storage capacity of 155.05 BCM (Billion Cubic Meters). On Feb 6, 2014, these reservoirs had a healthy 88.934 BCM in live storage, amounting to 57% of live storage capacity. By April 9, 2014 (the latest CWC bulletin), the storage in these reservoirs had dwindled to 59.581 BCM, just about 38% of live storage capacity. We hope these reservoirs are not further depleted in view of ongoing elections.

Not for the first time This is not happening for the first time in India[3]. During 2004 and 2009 elections too reservoir levels were unjustifiably depleted for additional electricity generation and people suffered in following monsoon when there were deficit monsoons. While in case of Narmada dams, the responsible agencies for reservoir operation decisions are state governments, Narmada Control Authority and Union Ministry of Water Resources in case of other dams, Central Water Commission is also responsible.

This again raises the recurring issue of more transparent, accountable and participatory reservoir management, which is completely absent in India. Without such a regime, politicians are likely to use the reservoir water as per their own agendas, to the detriment of the people and economy.

Rehmat M (Manthan Adhyayan Kendra, Badwani, r9300833001@gmail.com, 09300833001)

Himanshu Thakkar (SANDRP, Delhi, ht.sandrp@gmail.com, 09968242798)

Small temple on the Rajghat Ghat submerged Sardar Sarovar Dam, In the background are Rajghat bridge and Chikhalda village Photo: Pancham Choyal, Badwani Bureau chief of Patrika
Small temple on the Rajghat Ghat submerged Sardar Sarovar Dam, In the background are Rajghat bridge and Chikhalda village Photo: Pancham Choyal, Badwani Bureau chief of Patrika

 

END NOTES:

[1]http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2014-04-09/news/49000001_1_excess-rainfall-monsoon-forecast-normal-rainfall

[2] Dainik Bhaskar, April 9, 2014: http://epaper.bhaskar.com/detail/?id=546908&boxid=4902654906&ch=mpcg&map=map&currentTab=tabs-1&pagedate=04/09/2014&editioncode=363&pageno=1&view=image

[3] For exmaple, in case of Bhakra, the way the reservoir level was allowed to deplet in summer of 2012 had consequences in subsequent monsoon: https://sandrp.in/dams/PR_Why_precarious_water_situation_at_Bhakra_dams_was_avoidable_July_2012.pdf

[4] http://www.business-standard.com/article/economy-policy/indias-power-conundrumspot-power-prices-crash-to-lowest-ever-dipping-below-ntpcs-average-tariff-for-the-first-time-114041000455_1.html

ARTICLE IN HINDI TRANSLATED BY REHMAT OF MANTHAN ADHYAYAN KENDRA:

ज्यादा बिजली बनाकर नर्मदा का जलस्तर घटाया

मध्यप्रदेश और गुजरात में पेयजल सुरक्षा खतरे में

सरदार सरोवर और नर्मदा सागर बाँधों के जलस्तर और उनके उपयोगी भण्डारण (प्रतिशत में) के फरवरी और मार्च 2014 के आँकड़ों के विश्लेषण से इन बाँधों का जलस्तर घटाने पर गंभीर सवाल खड़े हुए हैं क्योकि जाहिर तौर पर ऐसी कोई जरूरत नहीं है। प्रथमदृष्टया यह आम चुनाव के मद्देनज़र ज्यादा बिजली उत्पादन के लिए किया जाना प्रतीत होता है। जलस्तर कम किए जाने से आगामी गर्मी में नर्मदा किनारे स्थित मध्यप्रदेश और गुजरात की शहरी आबादियों की जल सुरक्षा खतरे में पड़ने की संभावना है। यदि अल नीनो प्रभाव के कारण बारिश में कमी हुई तो गर्मी के बाद भी जलसंकट बना रह सकता है। इस स्थिति को स्पष्ट करने के लिए नीचे की तालिका में नर्मदा पर गुजरात और मध्यप्रदेश में बने सबसे बड़े बाँधों क्रमशः सरदार सरोवर और इंदिरा सागर के आँकड़े दिए गए हैं।

6 फरवरी से 9 अप्रैल 2014 के मध्य जलाशयों के जलस्तर में बदलाव
परियोजना का नाम विवरण 6फरवरी 13फरवरी 20फरवरी 27फरवरी 6 मार्च 13मार्च 20मार्च 27मार्च 9 अप्रैल
सरदार सरोवर जलस्तर, मीटर में 121.47 120.88 119.8 117.79 117.31 115.62 115.12 113.88 114.82
उपयोगी जल भण्डार, प्रतिशत में 95 (58) 88 (55) 76 (51) 59 (48) 53 (58) 38 (60) 33 (57) 22 (53) 31 (58)
इंदिरा सागर जलस्तर, मीटर में 255.27 254.7 254.38 254.11 253.76 253.49 253 252.5 251.39
उपयोगी जल भण्डार, प्रतिशत में 47 (48) 43 (47) 41 (47) 40 (46) 37 (41) 35 (39) 34 (35) 31 (34) 26 (28)
नोट – उपयोगी जल भण्डार के प्रतिशत वाली पक्ति में कोष्ठक में दिए गए आँकड़े पिछले वर्ष के इन्हीं तारीखों के हैं। इन आँकड़ों का स्रोत केन्द्रीय जल आयोग द्वारा साप्ताहिक जारी किए जाने वाले जलाशयों के स्तर संबंधी अपडेट है। आश्चर्यजनक रूप से 3 अप्रैल 2014 को जारी बुलेटिन में जलाशयों के कोई आँकड़े नहीं दिए गए हैं। इन बुलेटिनों को यहाँ देखा जा सकता है –https://docs.google.com/folderview?usp=sharing&id=0B2IHafYlWNipTm1wVXhXelV4RDg

उपरोक्त आँकड़ों से स्पष्ट है कि सरदार सरोवर जलाशय (नर्मदा पर बने इस बाँध को गुजरात के राजनेता और सरकार गुजरात की जीवनरेखा बताते हैं) का उपयोगी जलभण्डारण 6 फरवरी से 27 मार्च 2014के मध्य 95% से घटकर मात्र 22% रह गया था जो 9 अप्रैल को हल्का सा बढ़कर 31% हुआ है। पिछले वर्ष इसी अवधि में ये आँकड़े 58 से 53% के मध्य स्थिर थे।

नर्मदा के ऊपरी क्षेत्र मध्यप्रदेश में बने इंदिरा सागर जलाशय में भी 6 फरवरी से 27 मार्च 2014 के मध्य जलभण्डारण 47% से घटाकर मात्र 27% कर दिया गया है। इस उपलब्ध जलभण्डारण को गर्मी के दिनों के लिए सुरक्षित रखने के बजाय अनावश्यक रूप से कम किया जा रहा है। ऐसा लगता है कि चुनावी फायदे के लिए अधिक बिजली उत्पादन कर जल भण्डारण में कमी कर मध्यप्रदेश और गुजरात के लोगों की जल सुरक्षा को दाँव पर लगा दिया गया है।

आसन्न ग्रीष्म ऋतु और अलनीनो प्रभाव के कारण अगले मानसून में कमी[i] की आशंका के मद्देनज़र भण्डारित जल में कमी करना उचित नहीं है। ऐसा लगता है कि वर्तमान में जारी लोकसभा चुनाव के कारण अतिरिक्त बिजली पैदा करने हेतु जलाशयों को खाली किया जा रहा है जिससे गुजरात के सूखा प्रभावित क्षेत्रों की जल सुरक्षा खतरे में पड़ गई है। आगामी मानसून में बारिश में कमी या देरी से नर्मदा जल पर आश्रित भोपाल और इंदौर जैसे शहरों में भी जल उपलब्धता प्रभावित हो सकती हैं। हाल ही में जोरशोर से प्रारंभ की गई नर्मदा-क्षिप्रा पाईप लाईन योजना भी नर्मदा में पानी की कमी के कारण अनुपयोगी हो सकती है। यह दुःखद है कि गर्मी का मौसम शुरू होने के पहले 27 मार्च को ही सरदार सरोवर में जलभण्डारण घटाकर मात्र 22% कर दिया गया था जबकि पिछले वर्ष पूरे देश में औसत से अधिक बारिश हुई है और मानसून में सरदार सरोवर जलाशय अपने उच्चतम स्तर तक भर गया था।

गुजरात सरकार दावा करती है कि सरदार सरोवर की ऊँचाई नहीं बढ़ाए जाने के कारण उनका राज्य पीड़ित है। लेकिन सरदार सरोवर के पानी के इस कुप्रबंधन से इस दावे की हवा निकल गई है। यदि गुजरात सरकार बाँध की वर्तमान ऊँचाई पर उपलब्ध जलभण्डार का ही महत्तम उपयोग करने में ही सक्षम नहीं है तो फिर बाँध की ऊँचाई बढ़ाने का सवाल ही कहाँ उठता है?

पनबिजली उत्पादन – केन्द्रीय विद्युत प्राधिकरण (http://cea.nic.in/monthly_gen.html) द्वारा जारी इन परियोजनाओं (औंकारेश्वर परियोजना सहित) से फरवरी-मार्च 2014 और 2013 के बिजली उत्पादन के आँकड़े निम्नानुसार है –

परियोजना/कंपनी बिजलीघर फरवरी मार्च
2014 2013 2014 2013
सरदार सरोवर परियोजना नदी तल बिजलीघर 340.96 51.74 301.61 154.89
नहर मुख बिजलीघर 48.48 17.09 44.3 47.92
योग 389.44 68.83 345.91 202.81
नर्मदा हाईड्रोइलेक्ट्रिक डेवलपमेंट कार्पोरेशन(एनएचडीसी) इंदिरा सागर परियोजना 230.76 120.67 242.94 223.21
औंकारेश्वर जलविद्युत परियोजना 106.23 68.08 109.18 116.75
योग 336.99 188.75 352.12 339.96
नोट-आँकड़े मिलियन यूनिट में है (एक यूनिट एक किलोवाट घण्टा के बराबर होता है)। सारे आँकड़े केन्द्रीय विद्युत प्राधिकरण की वेबसाईट से लिए गए हैं। मार्च 2014 के आँकड़े अनंतिम है लेकिन पिछले अनुभवों से स्पष्ट है कि अंतिम आँकड़ों में भी कोई खास बदलाव नहीं होता है। नर्मदा हाईड्रोइलेक्ट्रिक डेवलपमेंट कार्पोरेशन (http://www.nhdcindia.com/ )मध्यप्रदेश सरकार और राष्ट्रीय पनबिजली निगम का संयुक्त उपक्रम है। 

उपरोक्त आँकड़ों से स्पष्ट है कि सरदार सरोवर और एनएचडीसी (नर्मदा हाईड्रोइलेक्ट्रिक डेवलपमेंट कार्पोरेशन) के पन बिजलीघरों से पिछले वर्ष के फरवरी-मार्च महीनों की अपेक्षा इस वर्ष के फरवरी-मार्च महीनों में विद्युत उत्पादन काफी अधिक था। सरदार सरोवर परियोजना से फरवरी-मार्च 2014 में 735.35 मिलियन यूनिट बिजली का उत्पादन किया गया जबकि पिछले वर्ष इसी अवधि में 271.64 मिलियन यूनिट था। इस वर्ष बिजली उत्पादन में 171% की भारी वृद्धि की गई है। एनएचडीसी के बिजलीघरों से फरवरी-मार्च 2014 में 689.11 मिलियन यूनिट बिजली उत्पादित की गई जबकि पिछले वर्ष इसी अवधि में 528.71 मिलियन यूनिट बिजली का उत्पादन किया गया था। इस प्रकार पिछले वर्ष की अपेक्षा यहाँ भी 30.33% बिजली उत्पादन बढ़ाया गया है। इस प्रकार स्पष्ट है कि सरदार सरोवर और एनएचडीसी के बिजलीघरों से इस वर्ष फरवरी-मार्च में पानी के भण्डारण की कीमत पर बहुत ज्यादा बिजली उत्पादन बढाया गया है। सरदार सरोवर से उत्पादित बिजली का लाभ मध्यप्रदेश, महाराष्ट्र और गुजरात को क्रमशः 57,  27 और 16% के अनुपात में मिलता है।

हालांकि जलभण्डारण में इस अनुचित कमी के कारण मध्यप्रदेश और गुजरात के लोग तो आगामी गर्मी और मानसून में प्रभावित होने वाले हैं ही लेकिन कुछ तो अभी से प्रभावित हो चुके हैं।[ii] सरदार सरोवर जलाशय के स्तर में अचानक कमी कर दिए जाने से बड़वानी की जलप्रदाय व्यवस्था बुरी तरह प्रभावित हुई है। बिजली की कटौती के कारण वैकल्पिक व्यवस्था में भी परेशानी आ रही है। सरदार सरोवर परियोजना और एनएचडीसी द्वारा भारी मात्रा में उत्पादित बिजली का लाभ भी बड़वानी जैसे छोटे कस्बों को नहीं मिल रहा है। लगता है आगे आने वाले दिन और अधिक मुश्किलों भरे होंगें। फरवरी-मार्च महीने में बिजली की माँग और राष्ट्रीय स्तर पर इसकी दरें गर्मी के दिनों के मुकाबले काफी कम होती है। यहाँ यह उल्लेखनीय है कि खेती में बिजली की माँग अभी तक शुरू नहीं हुई है। कपास की अगेती फसल (early crop)की बुआई मई के पहले सप्ताह से शुरू होती है और पानी की उपलब्धता के आधार पर जून के पहले सप्ताह तक चलती है। ऐसे में सवाल उठता है कि माँग और दरों में कमी के दौर में बिजली का भारी उत्पादन कौनसी बुद्धिमानी है?

राष्ट्रीय स्तर पर जलाशयों में भण्डारण – केन्द्रीय जल आयोग अपने साप्ताहिक बुलेटिन के माध्यम से राष्ट्रीय स्तर पर 85 जलाशयों (इनमें से 37 जलाशयों, जिनकी भण्डारण क्षमता 111.73 करोड़ घनमीटर है, में 60 मेगावाट से अधिक का पनबिजली घटक भी शामिल है।) के भण्डारण की स्थिति के बारे में जानकारी उपलब्ध करवाता है जिनकी कुल भण्डरण क्षमता 155.05 करोड़ घनमीटर है। 6 मार्च 2014 को इन जलाशयों में 88.934 करोड़ घनमीटर यानी कुल भण्डारण का 57% उपलब्ध था। लेकिन 9 अप्रैल आते तक भण्डरण मात्र 59.581 करोड़ घनमीटर यानी कुल भण्डारण का 38% ही बचा था। उम्मीद है कि ये इन जलाशयों का भण्डारण अब और चुनावी फायदों के लिए घटाया नहीं जाएगा।

ऐसा पहली बार नहीं हुआ – चुनावी लाभ के लिए ऐसा पहली बार नहीं हुआ है।[iii] वर्ष 2004 और 2009 के आम चुनावों के दौरान भी अतिरिक्त बिजली उत्पादन के लिए अनुचित तरीके से जलाशयों को खाली किया गया था और अगले मानसून में कमी के कारण लोगों को इसका खामियाजा भुगतना पड़ा था। नर्मदा पर बने बाँधों के मामले में जलस्तर का नियमन राज्य सरकारें, नर्मदा नियंत्रण प्राधिकरण और केन्द्रीय जल संसाधन मंत्रालय द्वारा किया जाता है। अन्य बाँधों के मामले में केन्द्रीय जल आयोग भी जिम्मेदार होता है।

अधिक पारदर्शी, जवाबदेह और सहभागी जलाशय प्रबंधन, जो भारत में नदारद है, का बारंबार उठने वाला सवाल यहाँ फिर उठता है। जब तक व्‍यवस्‍था में सुधार नहीं होता राजनेता जलाशयों के पानी का अपने एजेण्डे के अनुसार उपयोग करते रहेंगें और आम देशवासी और देश की अर्थव्यवस्था इसकी कीमत चुकाने को मजबूर रहेंगें।

–    रेहमत (मंथन अध्ययन केन्द्र, बड़वानी, R9300833001@gmail.com, 09300833001)

–    हिमांशु ठक्कर (दक्षिण एशियाई बाँधों, नदियों और लोगों का नेटवर्क, दिल्ली ht.sandrp@gmail.com, 09968242798)

 टिप्पणियाँ

[i]   इकॉनॉमिक टाईम्स, 9 अप्रैल 2014:  http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2014-04-09/news/49000001_1_excess-rainfall-monsoon-forecast-normal-rainfall

[ii]   दैनिक भास्कर, 9अप्रैल 2014: http://epaper.bhaskar.com/detail/?id=546908&boxid=4902654906&ch=mpcg&map=map&currentTab=tabs-1&pagedate=04/09/2014&editioncode=363&pageno=1&view=image

[iii] उदाहरण के लिए भाखड़ा बाँध के जलाशय का भण्डारण वर्ष 2012 की गर्मी में जिस तरह से घटाया गया उसके असर आगामी मानसून में दिखाई दिए : https://sandrp.in/dams/PR_Why_precarious_water_situation_at_Bhakra_dams_was_avoidable_July_2012.pdf

Gujarat · Narmada

Why is media missing the real Gujarat story: Gujarat Satya Samachar!  

It seems large parts of mainstream national media have gone underground these days. If you view most of the English and some Hindi news channels or most of the English and Hindi newspapers, you suddenly find proliferation of reports favouring Mr Narendra Modi and BJP. The repeated highlighting of the doctored pre poll analysis, without attempt at in-depth analysis or investigation into the credentials of the agencies doing such predictions is only one troublesome part. But even in reporting of the news, there is a clearly discernable pro-BJP tendency and an attempt to black out or under report or mis-report the news surrounding BJP’s rivals, particularly the news around Aam Admi Party (AAP). This was most evident in reporting of AAP’s trip to Gujarat in first week of March 2014.

There will be no doubt to any objective viewer that AAP’s trip punctured the well-crafted balloon of Gujarat’s development image. To many Gujaratis like me, this was not such a big breaking news. But strangely, the media that is supposed to report realities in an objective manner, should have been happy reporting this significant development. Arvind Kejriwal’s hour long speech in Ahmedabad at a hugely attended meeting should have been reported extensively in the media. Strangely, large parts of the mainstream media (both print and electronic) almost blacked this out.

This no doubt reflected poorly on the media that has been accepting the claims of Modi and BJP as gospel truths, since an independent media should have exposed the reality of these claims on its own through trips like the one AAP members did. The speech in Ahmedabad on March 8, 2014 was a good opportunity for the media to correct their own failure. In stead of using that opportunity, by not reporting or under reporting or mis-reporting, the media has further discredited itself.

It reminds one of an episode in Gujarat not long ago. “One morning some years ago, Gujarat’s residents found a newspaper on their doorsteps. They hadn’t subscribed to it, and it carried a vaguely familiar masthead. It was called Gujarat Satya Samachar, to make it resemble the state’s largest circulated newspaper, Gujarat Samachar. It was produced by Gujarat’s information department (a portfolio held by chief minister Narendra Modi) and contained reports of the state government’s achievements”, wrote former Divya Bhaskar (Gujarati edition of paper from Bhaskar group) editor Aakar Patel in his column in Mint on March 1, 2014.

The reason Gujarat government resorted to Gujarat Satya Samachar was “belief was that the local media was either suppressing stories about government successes or was critical of Modi to the point of antagonism”. The Gujarat Satya Samachar did not run much beyond a couple of issues, since Gujarati media quickly fell in line, the way government wanted. In fact, this episode should not give a misleading picture that Gujarati media was depicting the reality of Gujarat’s development before the government resorted to Gujarat Satya Samachar. Far from it.

While traveling through various parts of Gujarat, I have seen frustration of the aam Gujarati about the way the state is ruled over the last decade and more. Repeatedly, common people on the street have told me, during my numerous trip in the state, about corruption, break down of the regular basic facilities like schooling (everyone seems to have to go for tuitions and tuition classes, “then what are the schools for?” as one frustrated autorikshaw wala told me) or electricity or water and pro-big-industries bias of the state establishment. Intellectuals and independent observers have talked about the huge gap between claims of the Gujarat government and reality for long.

Ahmedabad is supposed to be shining with Sabaramati river front development, but if you go a dozen kilometers upstream or downstream you realize that this is just for the benefit of the real estate developers of the city. The state of the river elsewhere is as bad as Yamuna in Delhi. Even the water you see in Sabarmati flows in it through a fraud.  This water is from Narmada project and not a drop from it was planned or allocated for Ahmedabad city or Sabarmati River.  The project was proposed and justified for drought prone areas of Kutch, Saurashtra and North Gujarat. They are not getting this water, in stead farmers of Saurashtra are fighting FIRs and cases for using Narmada water! Farmers everywhere are feeling discriminated when the state government favours big industries at their expense and without transparency or due justice or their participation. The tribal belt is not only neglected, it is facing prospects of more and more displacement and deforestation in the name of dams, river linking projects and industrial zones and corridors.

Narmada Waters flowing unused in the Rann of Kutch, harming the eocsystem and saltpan workers livelihoods Photo: Counterview.net
Narmada Waters flowing unused in the Rann of Kutch, harming the ecosystem and saltpan workers livelihoods Photo: Counterview.net

While traveling through the tribal areas near Sardar Sarovar dam, Savitaben Tadvi of Indravarna village told us about the repression they are facing while peacefully opposing the Garudeshwar dam on Narmada river, which has neither any valid approval nor any impact assessment or consent from the affected villages in the upstream or downstream. Lakhan Musafir of Umarva village took us to the washed out portion below the Sardar Sarovar dam, including the viewers park, about which there is so little information in public domain. Rohit Prajapati of Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti, showing the proposed site of the statue of Unity, publicized as world’s highest statue, just downstream of the Sardar Sarovar Dam, said how the foundation stone was laid on Oct 31, 2013 by arresting the peacefully opposing tribals, but that project neither has any impact assessment, nor any of the statutorily required approvals. As Nandini Oza, after traveling for over a thousand kilometers in Gujarat recently said, “You can actually smell development at Vapi, Ankaleshwar!”

Pollution of Damanganga at Vapi Photo: Tehelka
Pollution of Damanganga at Vapi Photo: Tehelka
Protest against the Bhadbhut Barrage also on Narmada Photo: Counterview.net
Protest against the Bhadbhut Barrage also on Narmada Photo: Counterview.net

BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, who as a chief minister, resorted to Gujarat Satya Samachar to show slightly critical Gujarati media its place and succeeded in arm-twisting them, has been resorting to less than Satya in his electioneering. Just to illustrate, during his trip to North East, he did not mention his support for either large hydro projects or inter linking of rivers, which are facing huge opposition in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and other states. But during his speech in following week on February 26, 2014 in Madhya Pradesh, he talked about the North East region being “heaven for hydro power generation”. In that same state of Madhya Pradesh, his party chief Minister flashed full page advertisements (at public expense) for three straight days about Narmada Kshipra link as harbinger of the ILR dream of former prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. In reality it is just a pipeline water supply project with questionable viability and justifiability, without even impact assessment or participation of the people of the Narmada or Malwa region. There is already opposition to the project from among the farmers of the Narmada Valley.

There are others who have taken an objective view of Gujarat story. Revealing research by two professors of British Columbia, Canada about GUJARAT GROWTH VS DEVELOPMENT recently[1] showed: “This is a perplexing picture of development. Gujarat has done so much better in terms of growth and so much worse in terms of development than other states. Why has the fast growth not translated into meaningful development? Finally, it is the grassroot-level institutions that run schools, health clinics, bring water and sanitation to households, and bring the fruits of growth to the multitudes. Could it be that the centralised model of governance that works well for big investment projects does not work as well for grassroot institutions? Or, is this high growth with low development model indicative of the priorities of the government of Gujarat? Or is it something else altogether? It would be good to know the answer.”

Protest against the illegal Garudeshwar Weir Photo: Counterview.net
Protest against the illegal Garudeshwar Weir Photo: Counterview.net

The trouble is, large part of mainstream media has mostly blacked out all this critical news.  This situation is no doubt very bad for Indian democracy. As a senior journalist from financial paper told me, whenever there is extraordinarily positive report about any company or party, first question that arises is, how much has the reporter been paid to write such a story! Media should be wary of at least such a perception.

Himanshu Thakkar, SANDRP

 

END NOTES:

 

[1] http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/gujarats-growth-for-growths-sake/99/

 

[2] An edited version of this article was published in April 2014 at: http://www.civilsocietyonline.com/pages/Details.aspx?509

[3] Also published at: http://www.hotnhitnews.com/Real-Gujarat-An-Underreported-Story-By-Himanshu-Thakkar-HotnHitNews-13702042014.htm

Some other relevant links:

[4] http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/in-gujarat-tribal-people-get-a-raw-deal/article5873973.ece

[5] VERY INTERESTING Column by AAKAR PATEL, calling Modi a TYRANT, who hates democracy and revers only the dead: http://www.livemint.com/Leisure/NP7LlgqacegDU1PoTm3HKI/The-oneman-armys-forward-march.html

[6] How Modi’s government has treated RTI acitivists: http://www.firstpost.com/politics/narendra-modis-gujarat-model-has-no-space-for-rti-activists-1214009.html

[7] Why the growth fundamentalist THE ECONOMIST refused to back Modi: “But for now he should be judged on his record—which is that of a man who is still associated with sectarian hatred. There is nothing modern, honest or fair about that. India deserves better.” See: http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21600106-he-will-probably-become-indias-next-prime-minister-does-not-mean-he-should-be-can-anyone?fb_action_ids=10202394265351839&fb_action_types=og.likes&fb_ref=scn%2Ffb_ec%2Fcan_anyone_stop_narendra_modi_

[8] http://indiatogether.org/could-modi-be-a-development-disaster-government by Ashish Kothri

[9] http://www.ndtv.com/elections/article/election-news/blog-gujarat-s-development-pre-dates-modi-considerably-505647?pfrom=home-topstories by Reetika Khera, Development Economist at IIT Delhi

[10] http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/gujarat-one-of-the-most-water-starved-states-in-india-un-report/article1-1205787.aspx

[11] BJP’s PM candidate Modi showing his true colours: Opposes even RTI: http://indianexpress.com/article/india/politics/in-karnataka-modi-targets-upas-aadhaar-rti/

[12] http://www.hindustantimes.com/elections2014/state-of-the-states/gujarat-s-pride-wilting-it-s-also-land-of-failing-crops-and-dying-men/article1-1206339.aspx

[13] “Hemantkumar Shah, an economics professor at Gujarat University, has challenged Modi’s claim of dramatic economic growth. He said data reveals the state’s economic and human development parameters worsened under Modi.” http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/City/Mumbai/Growth-declined-poverty-increased-in-Gujarat-under-Modi-Guj-varsity-prof-claims-in-book/articleshow/33463710.cms

[14] “CAG reports and data on economic and social development from various sources make it evident that the much-touted “Gujarat model” of development is non-inclusive, socially divisive and highly ineffective in key areas.”

By ATUL SOOD and KALAIYARASAN A.” Gujarat Model: Fiction and Facts: Frontline Cover Story, April 4, 2014: http://www.frontline.in/cover-story/fiction-and-facts/article5795324.ece?ref=sliderNews (needs registration to get full story)

[15] http://themadeconomy.blogspot.in/2013/08/Facts-behind-Modi-and-Gujarat-Model.html

[16] “To sum up, the “Gujarat model” story, recently embellished for the elections, is misleading in at least three ways. First, it exaggerates Gujarat’s development achievements. Second, it fails to recognise that many of these achievements have little to do with Narendra Modi. Third, it casually attributes these achievements to private enterprise and economic growth. All this is without going into murkier aspects of Gujarat’s experience, such as environmental destruction or state repression.” From Hindu article by Jean Dreze, See: http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/the-gujarat-muddle/article5896998.ece

[17] Another warning from eminent people against voting for Narendra Modi for Prime Minister: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/apr/10/if-modi-elected-india-future-gujarat

[18] Is Modi’s fabled Gujarat model lawful and accountable? http://www.firstpost.com/politics/is-modis-fabled-gujarat-model-lawful-and-accountable-1491885.html

Mumbai · Narmada · Western Ghats

Crisis in India’s Urban Water Sector

More than 50 people including tribal groups, social activists, water experts, ecologists and wildlife experts, academics came together for a brainstorming workshop about Dams coming up for Mumbai Region. The meeting was organized by South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People, Shramik Mukti Sangathana, and Jalbiradari.

Meeting on Dams round Mumbai Photo: SANDRP
Seetaram Shelar of YUVA at Meeting on Dams round Mumbai Photo: SANDRP

About 12 dams are planned or are under construction to satisfy the increasing thirst of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR). All of these dams fall in eco-sensitive region of the Western Ghats. They will together submerge more than 22,000 hectares of land, including nearly 7000 hectares of forests, lakhs of trees and more than 750 hectares of Tansa Sanctuary. They will affect a minimum of 100,000 tribals who depend on the forests and their ancestral lands for livelihoods. These dams include Kalu, Shai, Balganga, Susari, Khargihill, Bhugad, Pinjal, Gargai, Middle Vaitarna, Barvi and Poshir, among others. These are in addition to the dams already constructed for MMR water supply.

Tribals and other affected groups of Thane and Raigad region have been strongly opposing these projects. Most people in Mumbai seem unaware of their struggles or impacts of these projects.

Most of these dams are escaping the social and environmental impact assessments and management plans, environment clearance requirements, environmental monitoring or public consultations due to blunders in environmental impact assessment notification of Sept 2006, which excludes domestic and industrial water supply projects from environmental clearance process. It signifies the environmental illiteracy of the officials and ministers at the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests. In spite of repeated letters, and acknowledging that this makes no sense, they have refused to change it.

Local protest against Pinjal Dam near Jawhar which can submereg 11 villages and 2000 hectares fo forests Photo: SANDRP
Local protest against Pinjal Dam near Jawhar which can submereg 11 villages and 2000 hectares of forests Photo: SANDRP

MMR has not done any sort of options assessment before pushing these projects and cursory review show that many options exist. At the city or Region level, there is no shortfall in water supply currently and the existing problems are due to inequitable, non-transparent, non-participatory and wasteful water governance in MMR. Municipal corporations under the MMR which are pushing new dams do not treat even 15% of their sewage. Bhiwandi Nizampur & Vasai Virar Corp do not treat ANY of their sewage. The Mumbai Region has no estimate of its rainwater harvesting potential, and there is little effective action in this direction despite high rainfall. Water supply and distribution losses are over 30%. Local water sources like rivers, lakes and wells are being destroyed by pollution and encroachments. There is no interest in democratizing governance of MMR water sector.

The meeting resolution urged the MMR region to address these issues first, which would lead to sustainable water supply to the city and suburbs. Konkan Irrigation Department which is constructing most of these projects has violated several laws related to tribal and forest rights, environment, forests and resettlement and has been mostly favoring a single contractor, illegally.

The meeting also strongly urged the MMRDA, MCGM, Municipal Corporations of MMR, Maharashtra government, Union Ministry of environment and forests, Maharashtra Forest Department, National Board of Wildlife and all others concerned to ensure that following steps are taken up urgently and in a credible way:

Þ     Undertake thorough options assessment for Mumbai’s (and also for other cities of MMR) water needs which includes groundwater recharge and sustainable use, protect and use local water sources, rainwater harvesting, sewage treatment and reuse, plug leakages, improve water supply efficiency, take up systematic demand side management measures etc.;

Þ     Undertake Environmental and Social impact assessments for all the dams coming up for Mumbai Region;

Þ     Take immediate action against KIDC for violating multiple laws while bulldozing ahead with projects and MMRDA for funding projects in the absence of clearances;

Þ     Respect people’s protests and Gram Sabha resolutions against displacement, deforestation and their refusal to give permission for these projects;

Þ     Take strong penal action against the officers and the contractors who have displaced Adivasis illegally;

Þ     Not resume any work or planning for any project before the above is done, stop work on projects in the meantime;

Þ     Change the EIA notification to ensure that all large dams are included for environment clearance, public hearings and EIA requirements;

Þ     Immediately institute a credible Cumulative Impact Assessment of the projects already constructed and advanced in implementation;

Þ     Institutionalize decentralized, democratic governance of water sector in MMR from bottom to top.

Forests in the Western Ghats are Mumbai’s and MMR’s lungs. They are the watersheds of rivers and water sources like Tansa and Bhatsa and naturally purify Mumbai’s & MMR’s drinking water. Rich tribal culture of Thane and Raigad is a shared heritage of Mumbai and we have no right to displace the tribals or destroy their livelihoods. This destruction in Mumbai’s backyard must be stopped.

Submergence of Gargai Dam Photo: SANDRP
Submergence of Gargai Dam Photo: SANDRP

However, Mumbai and MMR are not the only urban areas guilty of destroying the environment, forests, biodiversity and livelihoods of lakhs of poor people. Delhi, already having more per capita water than European cities like Paris, Amsterdam or Bonn, is asking for Renuka, Lakhwar and Kishau dams in upstream Yamuna basin, while destroying the YamunaRiver for all downstream areas. Ahmedabad is using water from the Sardar Sarovar Narmada dam that was meant for the people of Kutch and Saurashtra and which has led to displacement of over two lakh people. Jaipur is taking water from Bisalpur dam. Farmers for whom it was made are not getting the water and some lost their lives in police firing, while demanding that water. Massive diversion of Nethrawathi water is proposed for Bangalore and other areas, destroying the pristine Western Ghats forests. 3 farmers died in police firing near Pune when a huge farmers rally was protesting against diversion of water from Pawna Dam to the Corporation of Pimpri-Chinchwad.

Headwaters of Netravathi and Gundia threatened by Yettinahole Diversion Photo: Parineeta Dandekar, SANDRP
Headwaters of Netravathi and Gundia threatened by Yettinahole Diversion Photo: Parineeta Dandekar, SANDRP

As Planning Commission member Dr Mihir Shah recently wrote, the 12th Five Year Plan proposes paradigm shift in Urban sector sector: “Each city must consider, as the first source of supply, its local waterbodies. Therefore, cities must only get funds for water projects, when they have accounted for the water supply from local waterbodies and have protected these waterbodies and their catchments. This precondition will force protection and build the infrastructure, which will supply locally and then take back sewage also locally.”

The trouble with this urban water sector reform agenda is that close to two years into the 12th Plan, we still do not see it being implemented anywhere. We do not see any roadmap for its implementation. And yet the UPA government continues to fund solutions catering to only long distance supply-side measures like big dam projects for urban areas under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission. In fact, of the first Rs 60 000 crores sanctioned for JNNURM, about 70% was for urban water sector, but do we see any progress in democratisation or even improvement of Urban Water Governance?

The hope lies with clean, transparent and participatory governance. Let us hope we see some change in this direction.

Himanshu Thakkar (ht.sandrp@gmail.com), Parineeta Dandekar (parineeta.dandekar@gmail.com), SANDRP

A slightly edited version of this has appeared in Civil Society http://www.civilsocietyonline.com/pages/Details.aspx?480

Madhya Pradesh · Narmada

Chinki Major Irrigation Project on Narmada: Yet another evidence of MP’s obsession with Large Irrigation Dams & WAPCOS’s shoddy reports

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]

Projects in Narmada Basin Photo: NVDA
Projects in Narmada Basin Photo: NVDA

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.

Affected tribal population of the Kharak Dam in Khargone District who were brutalised by police force for peacefully protesting against the dam Photo: The Hindu
Affected tribal population of the Kharak Dam in Khargone District who were brutalised by police force for peacefully protesting against the dam Photo: The Hindu

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.

Narsinghpur in Madhya Pradesh
Narsinghpur in Madhya Pradesh
Chinki Irrigation Project Plan
Chinki Irrigation Project Plan

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!

Jal Satyagraha at Omkareshwar Dam Photo: The Hindu
Jal Satyagraha at Omkareshwar Dam Photo: The Hindu

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].

bargi

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.

Narmada

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

END NOTES:


[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.