Can Bhakra dam please give some drinking water to nearby villages? Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister has demanded water for drinking and irrigation needs of nearby villages from various completed dams such as Bhakra, Pong and the Beas - Sutlej link. (TRIBUNE 020402)
Opposition to Pagladia dam The people of Bodoland have formed a committee to unite against construction of the Multi-purpose Pagaldia Project on the Pagladia river, Bodoland MP S K Bwiswmuthiary said. The 23-km-long and 26.20-m-high MPBP has already started bringing misery to the people of the region. Thousands of people from 33 adjoining villages will be uprooted from their ancestral homes. Ironically, the MPBP will provide benefits to only 37 villages in the southern part of the NH 31. The ‘Pagladia Bandh Prakalpar Khatigrasta Alekar Sangram Sammittee’ has submitted an alternative proposal to the Planning Commission. A memorandum has also been submitted to Prime Minister and Water Resources Minister requesting them to scrap this "inhuman and hostile" dam project. (SENTINEL 080402)
KANHAR DAM: Saga of Injustice Resumption of work on 40 m high dam on river Kanhar, a tributary of river Son, has provoked opposition from the local people for numerous social, environmental and economic reasons. After completion it will submerge an area of 3000 Ha. It is expected to irrigate 25 772 Ha of land in district Sonbhadra and 8 000 Ha in adjoining districts of Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh. The dam is evicting more than 7 500 families from 25 villages from their ancestral land and homes to make way for a reservoir with a storage capacity of 0.262 M acre-feet. The project got approval in Sept. 1976 from CWC with an initial cost of Rs 277.5 M. It was technically approved in 1979 with a revised estimate of Rs. 558 M. Inter-state dispute between M.P, Bihar and U.P on submergence land was overlooked by CWC, finally sanctioning a revised estimated cost of Rs 694.7 M. Dept. of Environment of all three states were ignored completely and also no proper survey was made which concealed and overlooked the real picture of the miserable and pathetic condition of tribals. The project is depriving basic rights of affected villagers and tribals. Preliminary figures estimate 900,000 trees, 2500 kuccha and 200 pucca houses, 500 wells and about 30 govt. schools along with some other buildings shall be doomed under water. People have demanded Resettlement policies on the lines of R&R in Sardar Sarovar Project. (From- Bhumi Haqdari Morcha Sonbhadra, UP, April 2002)
Fear of seismic impacts of Mullaiperiyar Kerala govt. has urged the Supreme Court that a detailed study should be conducted by credible team on the seismic impacts before deciding raising of Mullaiperiyar dam from 136 ft to 142 ft. (THE HINDU 090402)
Panel on Tehri rehabilitation The Uttaranchal Chief Minister has asked the Centre to release a special financial package of Rs 400 M for the rehabilitation of the people displaced by the controversial 1000 MW Tehri-I HEP. He has also constituted a high-powered Coordination Committee headed by the Irrigation Minister, to expedite the rehabilitation. He has asked the committee to ensure safety of the life and property of all those who will be affected by the increase in the reservoir waters during the coming monsoons. The problems of the PAFs, including 5 000 persons (1 100 families) still staying in Tehri town should be sorted out amicably and they be shifted to suitable places immediately. The new congress govt. has expressed dissatisfaction with the rehabilitation plans and wants to have a new package. (THE HINDU 120302, 080402 & INDIAN EXPRESS 110402)
Safety of Tehri Dam still an open question The Tehri Project has been challenged on geological, seismological, technical, economic, environment and social grounds. Critics say, "The project is being implemented for providing water and power to Delhi and other areas. The development of the local population is not in the mind of the planners and govt." (DAILY EXCELSIOR 070402)
R & R in UKP is not complete The ongoing Upper Krishna Project involves submergence of 201 villages, including part of Bagalkot town. According to the commissioner Rehabilitation and Land Acquisition all the 41 villages near Narayanapur dam and 65 in Almatti had been shifted. Another 35 villages would be shifted this year and the remaining as and when required. The R&R work of phase II of UKP first stage had come in for severe criticism by the WB in the early 90s. The WB, which approved a loan component for the programme in 1989, had stopped it midway. The WB funding concluded in 1997. (THE TIMES OF INDIA-Bangalore 250402)
Koyna dam: drinking water first priority The Maharashtra Energy Minister said that the first priority in utilising water from the Koyna dam would be to meet drinking water needs in the Satara and Sangli regions. Only then will the remaining water be used for irrigation, while ensuring that the Koyna hydro project is not adversely affected. (BUSINESS STANDARD 12/03/02)
NEWS FROM THE NARMADA VALLEY
IPT demands Halt to the Maan Dam construction A three member tribunal consisting of former judge of Bombay High Court G G Loney, Human Rights advocate Vinod Shetty and Delhi University Sociologist Dr Nandini Sundar; was appointed by the Indian People’s Tribunal on Environment and Human Rights to investigate the situation of the people affected due to the Maan irrigation project, in view of the impending submergence in June 2002. The Maan dam is located at Jeerabad, in Dhar district in MP on the river Maan (a tributary of the Narmada River). The maximum height of the dam is 52.4 M and according to official estimates, it will submerge 17 villages. According to the govt. gazette notification of 29 December 2001, submergence will be complete by June 2002. A public hearing was held at village Khedi Balwari on 17th March, which was attended by about 600 people from all the affected villages. According to the findings the situation in the villages is in urgent need of redressal. The families of 17 villages are under immediate threat of losing their livelihood unless alternative land for cultivation and housing plots are urgently provided before submergence. Submergence should be postponed till the oustees are properly resettled and rehabilitated. We find it shocking that the resettlement of oustees is not an integral part of the construction of the dam and that even after 17 years of construction; their situation has been ignored. We also find that the concerned govt. officers are not addressing the genuine grievances of the people. We call upon the Govt. of MP to take immediate cognizance of the genuine grievances of the affected families in all the 17 villages and adhere to the Rehabilitation policy of the MP govt. for the oustees of Narmada projects. Since it is not possible for the Govt. to immediately complete the R&R before the monsoon of 2002, the dam construction should be halted urgently until such time as R&R is complete. (NBA PR 18/03/02, THE HINDU 26/03/02)
Maan Affected Demand Just Resettlement The MP Govt. has declared Rs 120 M new financial package for Maan Dam oustees. The oustees marched in Dhar demanding agricultural land rather than cash compensation for rehabilitation and said that the package is inadequate. They demanded that the oustees must be rehabilitated as a community on large chunks of fertile and irrigated agricultural land and provided with all community facilities. The rehabilitation policy for the oustees of the Narmada Projects that apply to the people affected by the Maan Project stipulates that the oustee must regain if not improve on his/her standard of living in the new site. Section 3.2 of the policy states that all those losing more than 25 % of their lands will be entitled to a minimum of 2 Ha of agricultural land and that the responsibility of providing irrigation belongs to the state. This will have to be read along with section 5.4 of the Rehabilitation policy that a grant will be given to meet the difference between the compensation amount and the amount required for the purchase of equal land in a new place, and that for members of Scheduled Castes and Tribes, this grant will equal the full difference. Section 10.1 states those rehabilitation sites with minimum facilities of electricity, drinking water, school, etc. would be provided to the oustees. It may be noted that although submergence and filling of the reservoir is only two months away, even rehabilitation sites for the majority of the affected people are yet to be developed. The affected people insisted that the govt. must immediately take cognizance of these issues and include all people who are adults at the time of submergence on 30 June 2002, as was done in the Bargi dam. (NBA PR 160402)
LATEST: INDEFINITE FAST LAUNCHED BY AFFECTED PEOPLE AND ACTIVISTS
As we edit this issue, the indefinite fast by four activists have entered 27th day, demanding just R&R of the Maan affected people as per Madhya Pradesh R&R policy. It is ironic that Maan is one of the smallest of large dams being built in Narmada Valley and agitation is not against the project, but for rehabilitation of some 5000 tribal people, and yet the state govt. is unable to achieve satisfactory R&R and people have had to resort to such extreme measures. That too in a state where Digvijay Singh is Chief Minister, proving more and more to be good CM only on paper as Arundhati Roy noted in her reply to the CM.
Financial Mismanagementin Sardar Sarovar According to a report of Comptroller and Auditor General of India, the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd. had incurred expenditure of Rs 109.786 B as of March 31, 2001, out of which, Rs 24.14 B, or 22 %, was towards interest charges and servicing debt liability. The CAG report said: "the SSP was approved without outlining the sources of raising of funds and cost element towards borrowings. The company borrowed in an ad-hoc manner and cash flow was not worked out accurately... There was no rationale for forming a separate company to execute the project." Due to huge outstanding of Rs 5.0237 B as on March 31, 2001, from all the beneficiary states, SSNNL had to resort to borrowings from other sources at 12 - 18 % interest. This has resulted in an avoidable loss of interest of Rs 12.098 B as of FY01 end. There remained an aggregate amount of Rs 13.813 B as of FY01 end with Gujarat Govt. Though this money was earmarked for SSNNL, the state govt. did not permit SSNNL to use it. So, SSNNL had to borrow funds to the extent of balance in PLA and had to pay a huge interest of Rs 2.208 B from 1988-89 to 2000-01. Due to non-reservation of right to redeem the bonds through a call option, SSNNL would suffer an avoidable loss of Rs 30.335 B by way of interest on redemption of these bonds on their maturity. Against the anticipated revenue from sale of water and power of Rs 220 M per annum from 1995-96, no revenue was generated till date. (THE TIMES OF INDIA-A 070402)
SSP affected on Dharna in Bhopal The people affected by Sardar Sarovar Project sat on a dharna at the NVDA headquarter in Bhopal. NBA issued an ultimatum to the NVDA authorities saying that they should call for all records. They alleged that the MP government had produced fake records to push the SSP dam height from 90 m to 95 m before the monsoon. NBA called off dharna after meeting with Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh and receiving an assurance that the demand would be taken up for consideration by the Cabinet sub-committee. The NBA alleged massive irregularities in the rehabilitation of villagers from the areas that would get submerged by SSP at the height of 90 m. The NBA wants that a task force on the lines of Maharashtra should be formed and entrusted with the job of checking the actual status of the rehabilitation in the villages. (THE HINDU-D 230402, 290402, THE TRIBUNE 230402)
SSP Costs The cost estimate of SSP stood at Rs 260 B two years ago, of which Rs 120.98 B has been spent till Dec. 01. It has been the practice at SSNNL for some time now to utilise the market borrowings for capital cost as a good portion of the budget allocation goes towards repaying the market borrowings. Average annual budgetary allocation for SSNNL is around Rs 9 B. The latest private placement (with public sector banks, insurance companies, state coop banks and PSUs) has been underway and has so far collected Rs 3.5 B. (BUSINESS LINE 170402)
LATEST: SC ISSUES NOTICE ON DECISION TO RAISE SSP HEIGHT
The Supreme Court of India has issued notices to affected states, Narmada Control Authority and the Union Govt. to explain what steps they have taken to rehabilitate as per NWDT award and Supreme Court orders the people to be affected in SSP submergence area due to raising of height of the dam from 90 m to 95 m. This was in response to a fresh petition filed in NBA. The bench hearing the petition has referred the case to another vacation bench as the first two judge bench could not arrive at common perception of the situation.
Displaced Tribals get no benefits from Tawa Tawa dam built on Narmada river in Hoshangabad district in MP has displaced tribals from 44 villages but no benefit of the project has gone to them. Many of them stay within 1-6 km of the Tawa Canals. Tribals have now demanded benefits from the scheme and said they would agitate if this does not happen. (Sarvodaya Press Service 010302)
NSP gets Cabinet nod The cabinet on March 19 accorded clearance to the controversial Indira Sagar power project in MP after almost two years of construction having started. The project was earlier referred to CCEA, which twice refused to take a decision and wanted the matter to be taken up by the full cabinet. Even the full cabinet deferred the decision at least twice before finally giving a clearance just in time to save Rs 4.6 B allocated to the project from getting lapsed. The project is to cost Rs 43.55 B and expected to be completed by May 2005.