Pinjal and Gargai Dams: Affecting Tribal Areas, Tansa Sanctuary, Western Ghats: Shall we still go ahead?

 SANDRP made the following submissions on Pinjal and Gargai Dam proposals which will be considered for First Satge Environmental Clearance ( Terms of References or TORs) by the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) of the 20th and 21st of January.

As is clear from the submissions below, there are major issues with these projects: Pinjal Dam will submerge 2100 hectares of forest land in 11 villages in Western Ghats, it falls under the Schdeule 5 of Indian Constituion: a special schedule for tribal areas. Local tribal communities are opposing the dam, but need support.

Gargai Dam will submerge 6 villages and 750 hectares of Tansa Sanctuary. Tansa Sanctuary is already scarred by many developments, including the Middle Vaitarna Dam. Putting more pressure on a protected area which also provides ecological services to Mumbai region is not justified.

Finally, these dams are for supply drinking and industrial water to Mumbai. But is the Mumbai Metropolitan region using its available water wisely? Has it explored any options like recycling and reuse of sewage water, the way Singapore or Chennai has? Is it serious about Rainwater harvesting? Has it taken accountable steps against the 1000+ MLD water that is wasted every day through leakages?

If answeres to the above are negative, is the region justified in asking for more dams, affecting people and nature? (SANDRP’s detailed (draft) report on the many dams coming up around Mumbai can be found here:https://sandrp.in/Mumbai_Dams_Draft_Report_Dec_2013.pdf)

If you agree with the points in the submission below, please consider making a similar submission to the MoEF.



Chairperson and Members,

Expert Appraisal Committee, River Valley and Hydroelectric Projects

Ministry of Environment and Forests,

New Delhi

Subject: Urgent, multiple concerns about considering Pinjal Multipurpose Project for TORs

Respected Chairperson and members,

We are writing to you as Pinjal Multipurpose Project is on agenda of EAC for TORs for the 71st meeting to be held in January 2014.

This is a second submission we are making about Pinjal Multipurpose Project. The project was on Agenda for the 70th EAC meeting, but was dropped without stating any reasons.

We had organized a meeting on dams coming up around Mumbai on the 18th December 2013 and were also a part of farmers meeting at Pinjal Dam site. This submission draws on both these events. (Please see a Background Report on Dams around Mumbai here:https://sandrp.in/Mumbai_Dams_Draft_Report_Dec_2013.pdf)

At these meetings, there was unanimous conclusion that:

1.      No dams should be considered for Mumbai Metro Region (which includes MCGM) before cumulative impact assessment of the dams and developments in the region:

More than 12 dams in close proximity are in various stages of completion, construction and planning for supplying drinking and industrial water to Mumbai Metropolitan region (MMR). The affected region is home to various tribes and majority area id under the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution of India.

As per cursory account of the current (unassessed) cumulative impacts, these dams will result in submergence of more than 22000 hectares of this region, including 7000 hectares of forest land and will affect more than 100,000 tribals.

Looking at these massive impacts, Forest Advisory Committee, MoEF, while giving stage I clearance to Kalu Dam (also in Thane district), has recommended “A cumulative Impact Assessment of all drinking water projects in the region on the flora and fauna of the area will be undertaken by the state government at the cost of the User Agency and mitigative measures and other conditions suggested in the study will be binding on the User Agency.” This has been reiterated in the Stage I clearance letter of the MoEF dated 31st May 2013 (attached).

Even according to MoEF’s May 28, 2013 notification, cumulative impacts of multiple projects should be done before considering clearances for the next project. Hence, per MoEFs instructions itself, TORs should be issued only in light of the Cumulative Impact Assessment Study.

Hence, TORs should not be recommended to Pinjal Project without such an assessment is completed and public consultations on the same conducted.

Planned, under construction and existing dams around Mumbai. Map: SANDRP
Planned, under construction and existing dams around Mumbai. Map: SANDRP

2.       Strong opposition to the project:

Pinjal Project will be submerging 11 villages in Jawhar and Mokhada talukas in Thane district. This is predominantly a tribal region, with many areas falling under Schedule 5 of the Constitution and tribal sub plan. All the tribals from affected villages are strongly against the project. They have convened many meetings and have also passed Gram Sabha resolutions against the project. Considering the strong local opposition, Pinjal Dam should not be recommended TORs because:

a.     Violation of Panchayat (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act 1996:

As the entire affected region falls under the fifth schedule of the constitution, it comes under the PESA Act. PESA mandates that Gram Sabha consent is a mandatory pre requisite for any project being considered in scheduled region. In addition, PESA lays stress on local self-governance of tribal regions by tribals. Considering this and unanimous opposition to Pinjal Dam project, it should not be considered for TORs by the MoEF.

People meeting protesting Pinjal Dam. Date: 04.01.14, Photo: Amit Tillu for SANDRP
People’s meeting protesting Pinjal Dam. Date: 04.01.14, Photo: Amit Tillu for SANDRP

b.    Forest Rights as per the Forest Rights Act 2006 are not settled: 

Lives of the tribals in this region an inextricably linked with their forests. However, their community and individual Forest Rights on their forests have not yet been recorded or settled. In the absence of this, no project should be considered from this region that will affect their forests, as per the Forest Rights Act 2006.

Seeta Bai from Tansa Forests, Western Ghats
Seeta bai, from Tansa Forests, Ogade village which will be submerged for Gargai Dam. Photo: Parineeta Dandekar, SANDRP

c.     Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act (2013), section 42 (i)says: “As far as possible no land acquisition shall be made in scheduled areas”.

It also says: Section 42 (3) prior informed consent of gram sabhas is mandatory in Schedule 5 regions.

Considering the above legal issues and current local opposition, Pinjal Dam should not be considered by the MoEF.

3.     Ecosensitive Zone of the Western Ghats world Heritage Site:

Almost all of the affected villages by Pinjal Dam fall under Ecosensitive Area as per HLWG (High Level Working Group) on Western Ghats report and Eco-sensitive Zone I By WGEEP (Western Ghats Expert Ecology Panel) Report. While The HLWG mandates Gram Sabha consent prior to any developmental activity in Eco-sensitive Region, WGEEP bans large dams in ESZ I. Hence, looking at both these reports as well as extremely rich local biodiversity, TORs should not be recommended for Pinjal Dam Project.

Forests to be submergec by Gargai Dam Photo: Parineeta Dandekar, SANDRP
Forests to be submergec by Gargai Dam Photo: Parineeta Dandekar, SANDRP

4.       Serious misrepresentation of Clearance from NBWL:

Form I ( Table 3, Page 10) submitted by the project developer to MoEF says: “Permission from National Wild Life Board, New Delhi, Government of India for geo-technical investigations.”

To the best of our knowledge and from the minutes of the NBWL meetings, Pinjal project has never been considered by the NBWL for any clearance. If this is indeed the case, we ask the EAC to take strong action against the user agency for providing false and misleading information.

5.       Contradictions in PFR, Form I and additional information:

There are several serious errors in the Form I and the PFR uploaded on MoEF website. For example:

Form I states that the Gross Storage Capacity of the dam will be 421.6 MCM (Table 1, Section 5). But, PFR states that gross Storage Capacity of the dam will be 483 MCM (Page 8, PFR)

Additional information sheet says that annual yield at Pinjal dam site at 95% dependability is 421.6 MCM, while PFR states the same as 524 MCM.

PFR states 865 MLD water from Pinjal is earmarked for Mumbai, while the Additional information letter puts the same value at 1073 MLD!

Looking at these serious contradictions, the PFR, Form I and the letter about additional information needs to be reworked and the project should not be considered for TORs on the basis of such fundamentally misleading information.

Tribal settlement at Ogade village which will be submerged. Photo: Parineeta Dandekar, SANDRP
Tribal settlement at Ogade village which will be submerged for Gargai Dam. Photo: Parineeta Dandekar, SANDRP

6.       Form I says ‘No cumulative impacts”:

Form I says that there are no cumulative impacts envisaged (Section 9.4). However, there are very serious cumulative impacts of dams planned and under construction in the region, in addition to the existing projects. As states above, even the FAC and the MoEF has asked for a Cumulative Impact Assessment study of all dams in the region. Hence, the information provided in the Form I is wrong and the project should not be recommended TORs based on such misleading information.

7.       Serious errors in the Prefeasibility Report

The prefeasibility Report prepared by Mott Macdonald who is also the contractor for MCGM) has many errors. Some examples:

·         2011 Report gives MCGMs population as 14.5 million. (Page 1). According to Census of India Reports, population of Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) in 2011 was in fact 12.4 million.

·         Pre-feasibility report has not relied on census, but on projections, which have proved wrong. Its water demand calculation based on these incorrect predictions are also wrong,

·         It assumes that in 2011, the slum population is 40% and planned is 60%, in fact according to census as well as Deputy Commissioner of Mumbai[1], it is exactly opposite ( slum population is 60% and planned is 40%) Thus, again changing the water demand projections.

·         Further water demand projects are based on exuberant figures like 240 lpcd. This is unjustified and no dam development should happen at a huge social and ecological cost for lavish water usage.

8.       Current water demand of Mumbai is misrepresented

·         The PFR as well as Municipal Commissioner’s note state that current water demand in Mumbai is 4240 MLD and there is a shortfall in supply currently.

·         This is completely wrong. According to Census 2011, population of Mumbai is 12.4 million, with a majority population living in the slums. According to Deputy Municipal Commissioner of Mumbai[2], slum population gets 100 lpcd (liters per capita per day) and non-slum population gets 200 lpcd water. Consumption is 686 MLD (Million Liters per Day) for slum and 1297 MLD for non-slum population, which comes to a total of 1983 MLD. It should be added here that slums constructed post 1995 are currently not entitled to any water from BMC.

·         Total water supply to MCGM at source is 3520 MLD.[3] According to the Deputy Commissioner, per capita water availability currently is greater than 180 lpcd, which is still higher than water supplied to London (150 lpcd), Singapore (160 lpcd) and Paris (150 lpcd). It is clear that there is NO current shortfall of water in Mumbai.

·         At the same time, if supply at source is 3520 MLD and the use is 1983 MLD for drinking water, 260 MLD for commercial and industrial uses[4] and 120 MLD en route supply, there is an additional 1157 MLD water that is available. That is 32.86% of the current water supplied at source is unaccounted for. It is assumed that leakages are to the tune of 25% supply at the source (which is very high), we still have 7.86% water supplied that is unaccounted for. This means 880 MLD of water! Nearly equal to two large dams Mumbai is planning to build!

·         But MCGM and PFR is stating that current demand is 4240 MLD[5] and that there is a current shortfall of at least 720 MLD. Where does this 4240 MLD figure come from? This is assuming 240 lpcd water supply which is extremely high and unjustified even by international standards!

This indicates that the PFR and Additional Information letter are misrepresenting and exaggerating the water demand of Mumbai, to justify an ecologically and socially destructive dam projects in the Western Ghats. MoEF should not recommend TORs for Pinjal Dam in this case.

9.       No options Assessment about Mumbai’s Water supply options

Before exploring options like new dams, Mumbai needs to explore and exploit its existing options. Some of these include:

Inequitable water supply: parts of MCGM get less than 40 lpcd water, some slum areas receive no water, while affluent addresses get over 300 lpcd water. Equitable, metered water supply will reduce the misleading water demand.

Fixing leakages and wastage: As per the PFR itself, MCGM wastes an unbelievable 1208 MLD water every day in leakages, which is more than the capacity of Pinjal and more than twice the capacity of Middle Vaitarna Dam which is completed this year for water supply to MCGM. There is no transparent program for fixing leakages and wastages in the system.

Rainwater harvesting: MMR receives average rainfall upto 2500 mm annually and thus has a huge potential of rainwater harvesting. MCGM has made rainwater harvesting compulsory for buildings above 300 sq. meters since 2007. However, MCGM needs to make RWH compulsory for all government buildings, all institutional buildings, all commercial buildings, all colleges, schools, parks, stations, flyovers, malls, multiplexes and give them one year time limit after which consequences should follow. This should be accompanied by credible monitoring and compliance systems. MCGM has not done this.

There are several examples where residents themselves have set up RWH plants either to recharge bore wells or to store water. Examples of Sea Line Apartments in KharJago Mumbai Movement, or Shivaji Park in the heart of the city indicate the potential and benefits of Rain water harvesting. In Khotwadi slum, a public toilet with washrooms is managed by Triratna Prerna Mandal and does not use a drop of water from MCGM. The facility is used by nearly 1400 people daily and needs approx. 8000 liters of water per day. An ingenuous rainwater harvesting and ring well facility with a storage tank supplies all water needed. (Dhaval Desai, Time is Running out: Does Mumbai have enough water? Observer Research Foundation, 2012). Observer Research Foundation’s report “Why is there a drought of Rainwater harvesting in Mumbai indicated MCGM’s Rainwater harvesting Cell is functioning dismally and does not even have data on number of building that have functioning rainwater harvesting systems or the status of RWH in government buildings. “The condition of the cell is pathetic and it functions in a small room, with leakages, no place for paperwork and severely limited manpower”. This indicates how non-serious Mumbai administration.

Navin Chandra, Sea Line Apratment with harvested rainwater. Photo: Times of India
Navin Chandra, Sea Line Apratment with harvested rainwater. Photo: Times of India

Reuse and recycle sewage MCGM also needs to ensure that as much reuse and recycle of the sewage is affected in the city as possible. MCGM needs to make such systems compulsory for all government buildings, all institutional buildings, all commercial buildings, all colleges, schools, parks, stations, flyovers, malls, multiplexes and give them one year time limit after which consequences should follow. This should be accompanied by credible monitoring and compliance systems. MCGM has not done this.

Protection of local water systems Mumbai Metro Region also needs to protect all local water bodies including tanks, rivers, forests and wetlands that help harvest and recharge water. There is again no effective step in this direction.

Several lakes exist in Vasai Virar, Kalyan Dombivali, navi Mumbai, etc which can be protected and used as conjunctive sources. Bhiwandi still uses a lake in the city.  Photo: Vasai Today
Several lakes exist in Vasai Virar, Kalyan Dombivali, navi Mumbai, etc which can be protected and used as conjunctive sources. Bhiwandi still uses a lake in the city. Photo: Vasai Today

Demand Side Management In addition to above there are many other demand side management measures can be adopting, including use and incentives for water conserving flushes and such other appliances, among others.

No new projects for exogenous water supply sources should be considered until all these options have not been explored by the Mumbai Municipal Corporation and MMR bodies through credible policies and programmes.

10.   Contradicts the 12th Five Year Plan:

The 12th Five Year Plan Working Group Report on Urban Water states: “cities must only get funds for water projects, when they have accounted for the water supply from local water bodies and have protected these water bodies and their catchments. This precondition will force protection and build the infrastructure, which will supply locally and then take back sewage also locally”[6]. And that rather than focussing only on supply management, Investments in water supply must focus on demand management, reducing intra-city inequity and on quality of water supplied.

We hope that the EAC considers this roadmap laid out by the 12th Five Year Plan, Working Group on Urban and Industrial Water Supply and Sanitation.

Conclusion Looking at all the serious issues above, we are sure that the EAC will not recommend TORs for Pinjal Dam and will respect the ecological integrity of the region as well as the protests from tribals who are entirely dependent on their forests for survival. These forests are also the lungs of Mumbai Metro Region and Western Ghats.

We and the affected tribals of Pinjal are looking forward to a wise decision by the EAC considering all the issues mentioned above and reject the Pinjal Dam proposal.

Thanking You,




Submission on Gargai Dam:

It is based on the same lines as above. Additional points:

Serious misrepresentation of Clearance from NBWL in case of Gargai Dam:

Form I (Table 3, Page 10) submitted by the project developer to MoEF says: “Permission from National Wild Life Board, New Delhi, Government of India for geo-technical investigations.” This is completely false information.

The project was considered by the Standing Committee of the National Board for Wildlife in its 28th meeting (minutes attached) which states:

  • “At the time of approval for the Shahi project, the project authority had given a written undertaking that “It is not necessary to construct any new source for water supply up to year 2031”. He (Kishor Rithe, NBWL) also mentioned that the former Chief Wildlife Warden himself had rejected this proposal as this dam will destroy 750 ha of good forest area of Tansa sanctuary and hence he would not support this proposal.”
  • “The committee, after discussions, decided to have a site inspection by Dr Asad Rahmani and take a view based on the site inspection report.”

However, in the 29th meeting, (See here: http://www.moef.nic.in/sites/default/files/NBWL-29th-MOM-06-06-13.pdf)non-official member Kishore Rithe writes: “The Proposal for survey and investigation for Gargai project in Tansa Sanctuary for Gargai River Project, Maharashtra   which requires 750 ha forest from Tansa Sanctuary, was rejected by all the non-official members and not suggested any site inspection. However the final minutes has recorded that the “The committee, after discussions, decided to have a site inspection by Dr Asad Rahmani and take a view based on the site inspection report.”

Considering the above, it is clear that not only does the project not have ANY clearance from NBWL, but ALL non-official members have rejected the project. When this is clearly stated in NBWL minutes, it is shocking to read the false information being provided by the user agency. We urge the EAC to take strong action against such misleading information being provided to the MoEF.


Selected media reports about dams around Mumbai:

1. Front page report in Hindustan Times on 18th Dec


2. Report in Times of India


3. News report about the meeting on ABPhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WpGPcEpL9eI

Dams · Maharashtra

Multiple Dams for Mumbai Region have Severe Impacts and are Unjustifiable

Press Release                                                                                                                                                  18.12.13                           

Multiple Dams for Mumbai Region have severe impacts and are unjustifiable

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, Jalbiradari and Keystone Foundation.

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 seems 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.

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.

We urge 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.

We strongly urge 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:

  1. Undertake thorough options assessment for Mumbai’s (and also same for other cities of MMR) water needs which includes groundwater use, local water sources, rainwater harvesting, sewage treatment and reuse, water supply efficiency, etc.,
  2. Undertake Environmental and Social impact assessments for all the dams coming up for Mumbai Region
  3. Take immediate action against KIDC for violating multiple laws while bulldozing ahead with projects and MMRDA for funding projects in the absence of clearances
  4. Respect peoples protests and Gram Sabha resolutions against displacement, deforestation and their refusal to give permission for these projects
  5. Take strong penal action against the officers and the contractors who have displaced Adivasis illegally
  6. Not to resume any work or planning for any project before the above is done, stop work on projects in the meantime.
  7. Change the EIA notification to ensure that all large dams are included for environment clearance, public hearings and EIA requirements.
  8. Immediately institute a credible Cumulative Impact Assessment of the projects already constructed and advanced in implementation.
  9. 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.

Stop this destruction in Mumbai’s backyard.

Indavi Tulpule (indavi62@gmail.com), Shramik Mukti Sangathana, Thane;

Surekha Dalvi, (surekhadalavi@yahoo.com) Shramik Kranti Sangathana: Raigad;

Brian Lobo, (brianlobo6@gmail.com) Shramik Kashtakari Sanagthana: Dahanu;

Prashant Sarkhot, (loksangramsamiti@gmail.com)Shai Dharan Viroddhi Samiti,

Sitaram Shelar (sitaram.shelar@yuvaindia.org) YUVA, Mumbai;

Janak Daftari (daffy@jalsangrah.org), Jal Biradari, Mumbai

Shripad Dharmadhikary (manthan.shripad@gmail.com), Manthan Adhyayan Kendra, Pune

Parineeta Dandekar (parineeta.dandekar@gmail.com, 09860030472), SANDRP, Pune