“Traffic approaching the Prabhat Road junction from Athavale Chowk will have the entire road width at its disposal. 2012 11:15 pm Related News A report by Milind Ghatwai,The means to block or release a dam (IESeptember 19)commenting on not just the latest Jal Satyagraha in the Narmada Valleybut the overall costs and benefits of large dams on the Narmada River and the Narmada Bachao Andolanhas compelled me to respond The lack of updated information and accurate data on the Narmada projects as well as the impact of the peoples movement has led the author to concludewithout figures or detailed analysisthat while the struggle has achieved a good deal for the dam-affectedit has also cost much in terms of deferred benefits The authornot so new to the NBA and Narmadashould look into the chronology of big dam projects like Sardar SarovarIndira Sagar and Omkareshwar to learn how decades were lost in interstate conflicts over Narmada Valley development projects The Sardar Sarovar project (SSP) was stalled during the decade-long tribunal proceedings from 1969-79 and so were other projects not permitted by the ministry of environment and foreststhe official sanctioning agency Rightly sodue to the enormous and irreversible social and environmental costs Massive displacementalong with the permanent loss of natural resources and damage to the ecosystemwould require compensatory and mitigatory measures Does the author suggest that projects can go on without full compliance on thesedamaging the catchmentshrinking the river itself and thereby reducing benefits Should the projects not protect the command area to be irrigated from waterlogging and salinisation If sothen taking a position thatwithout legal and fair compensationno project work should continue so as to avoid irreparable loss to either people or nature has only helped gain development benefitsbut with justice and sustainability Let the author also review his far-from-perfect statistics The Indira Sagar dam is to destroythrough submergencemore than 93000 hectares (ha)including prime agricultural land and forestsand a few more thousand hectares through canal excavationonly to achieve irrigation for 123 lakh ha of cultivable land Is this justifiable The Supreme Courts ruling against raising the dam height for the SSP in 2000or not filling of water beyond a court-approved level in Omkareshwar or Indira Sagaris not the Andolans whimsical or irrational diktatbut the outcome of serious violations of the law The author seems not to have studied either the Narmada Water Dispute Tribunal Award (the law stipulating no submergence without prior and full rehabilitation)or the Madhya Pradesh governments rehabilitation policy (shared by three other states in Sardar Sarovar)the conditional clearances granted by the ministry of environment and the Planning Commissionor even the SCs judgments in the case of each of these dams The authors statement that the NBA has lost several court battlesincluding one in 2000 against the SSPis without full knowledge of the conditions in that judgment The revision of the SCs remarks against the NBA in its judgment of May 2011 also appears to not be known to the authorsince certain remarks (in the case of Omkareshwar) have already been expunged If we were to charge the Narmada authorities for perjurywe could have done so several times when they submitted false figures and made baseless claimsfor instanceclaiming the number of families to be rehabilitated in MPMaharashtra and Gujarat as zero.
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