some very commonly and frequently asked questions related to the
Sardar Sarovar Project are briefly presented here.
Q. When environmental consequences of the Sardar Sarovar Project
are not known why it is being persued ?
The Sardar Sarovar
Project is a most thoroughly studied project and studies have been
carried out to assess the impacts and suggest the environmental
India is a country having lots of diversity with a number of National Parks /
Sanctuaries / biospheres reserves. Sardar Sarovar Project is outside
such identified zones known to contain species of diversity
significant concern. The history of the assessment of environmental impacts of SSP dates back to
198. That was the time
when the project was conceived and was viewed in accordance with the
relevant guidelines in force at that time.
Immediately after the
announcement of the Tribunal award, the Indian Forest Conservation
Act, 1980 restricting the use of forestland for non-forest purpose was
enacted. Simultaneously, the Department of Environment was set up
which became, in the year 1985, a part of the Ministry of
Environment & Forests. The MOEF was thus entrusted with the
scrutiny of development projects from environmental angle
and issuance of necessary clearance selected development projects on the basis of the detailed
information to be provided by the project authorities in accordance
with the prescribed procedures. Impact Assessment Division of the
Ministry of Environment & Forests has an advisory committee of
the experts drawn from across the country to suggest it on
acceptance/rejection/modification of the proposal brought before it.
For the SSP,
preliminary studies and surveys suggested that there was no endemic,
rare, endangered or threatened species of plants or animal in the submergence areas and as such there was no likely hood of a
loss of any gene pool. It was observed that no environmental issue
is significant enough to threaten the viability of the project and
that what remained to be done was collection of the data for
preparation of the mitigation plan for identified parameters.
During January, 1987
Ministry of Environment & Forests had recommended clearance to
the Sardar Sarovar and Narmada Sagar Project from environmental
angle with certain riders and finally the Sardar Sarovar and Narmada
Sagar Projects were approved by the Govt. of India during April,
In compliance of the suggested riders on 3rd June, 1987, the NCA was
reconstituted with amplification of its scope and acceptance of
responsibility for planning implementation and monitoring of
Environmental Safeguards. Upon reconstitution of the Authority, the
projects (NSP & SSP) were accorded environmental clearance. This
clearance was subject to four conditions which were to be complied
with by the project authorities.
It is fact that about
13386 ha of the forest land will be submerged under Sardar Sarovar
Reservoir, but to compensate that, an area of about 42000 ha has been
brought under plantation at the cost of the project. By this time
almost the entire area has been covered. In addition to these, massive plantations have been carried out within the
degraded catchment of the Narmada under programmes of
the catchment area treatment.
There is a
substantial progress on all the suggested parameters and the
progress is subjected to periodic review by experts at various levels. As of now, the environment mitigation works are
the tribals are being forced to abandon their places and migrate
uncertain future when the are comfortably living in pristine forest
area and cultivating fertile land ?
This is myth easily believed by people who are not aware of the
ground realities. A widespread myth is that the tribal people
to be resettled from the submergence area are living in pristine
forests in a traditional manner as hunter gathers in harmony with
the environment. Many of them welcome the opportunity to improve
their lot in the more fertile and more sustainable command area.
The symbiotic relation between
tribals and forests was lost long back. At present they are
cultivating barren, less-productive, steep hills, depending
completely on rain fed agriculture for their own sustainence and are
troubled by the uncertainties of monsoon. Normally single crop is
There is a partial employment in forestry sector. Due to depletion of
forest wealth their conditions have become harsh. Most of them
migrate to near by towns / semi urban areas and work as construction
labourers for their livelihood.
The affected tribals in the submergence village are deprived of
modern fruits of development such as tap water, education, road,
electricity, medical facilities, septic tank etc. The Resettlement
and Rehabilitation (R&R) of these PAFs have provided an
opportunity for them to resettle in command area or other places
with irrigated agricultural land with facilities of modern day civic
amenities of roads, education, health etc. and they are willing to
settle at new sites.
The government of Gujarat as an environment ameliorative measures
enlarged the Shoolpaneshwar Wildlife Sanctuary near the dam site. It
is estimated by some quarters that this would mean 40,000 adivasi
people being displaced from about 101 forest villages within the
boundaries of the park. Why these adivasis are not considered as
project affected persons ?
It is ascertained
that there is no plan for the involuntary displacement of the
Adivasi (Tribal) people from the sanctuary area.
The Sardar Sarovar
Project seeks to integrate environmental parameters in the overall
framework of sustainable development of Narmada Basin. A detailed
Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) of Shoolpaneshwar sanctuary
which comprises a major watershed feeding the Sardar Sarovar and
Karjan reservoir was undertaken as part of such ambitious project.
Shoolpaneshwar Wildlife Sanctuary encompasses an area of 607.708
sq.km. in Bharuch district, Gujarat state. It is in the Rajpipla
(East) Forest Division, dominated by the Rajpipla hills.
In order to
compensate the forest land submerged by the proposed
reservoir, an area of 42,155 ha. is brought under plantation.
However, Govt. of Gujarat have prepared an Action Plan for
development of Dumkal Sloth Bear Sanctuary now renamed as
Shoolpaneshwar Wildlife Sanctuary. The area of the old sanctuary was
enlarged four times and Action Plan was prepared for its development
based on recommendations of a series of studies. Plan is already
under implementation. There is no plan for the involuntary
displacement of the Adivasi (Tribal) people from the sanctuary area.
As such, the question of declaring these tribals as project affected
does not arise. On the contrary, the development of sanctuary will
enhance the life support system for the tribals.
The primary objective
of the management plan is to halt the degradation of Shoolpaneshwar
Wild Life Sanctuary, re-establish viable stock of endangered
wildlife species, conserve them as gene pools and channelise its
benefits for the socio economic upliftment of forest tribals.
About all, the objective is also to safeguard the catchment area of
Sardar Sarovar and Karjan reservoirs.
programme includes development of water facilities, SMC in human
habitations, construction of school buildings, provision of mobile
store, mobile medical units, upgrading livestock and veterinary
facilities etc. and nature education and awareness programme for
The plantation of
firewood, timber, minor forest produce, bamboos and fruit species is
undertaken in degraded forest areas and in cultivated fields. Soil
and Moisture Conservation works like check dams, gully plugging and
development of vantalavadi is also undertaken in these areas.
To ensure the above
objectives and long term sustenance of ecosystem of the
Shoolpaneshwar sanctuary, people's participation in wildlife
conservation forms the core philosophy which will help in their