Answers to some very commonly and frequently asked questions related to the Sardar Sarovar Project are briefly presented here.   

Q. When it is expected that shifting of the tribals from their original habitat, would make them lose their identity in the milieu of new environment and there would be a considerable shift in their culture, style of living and  various customs and practices being observed by them, then why they are being relocated ?

A few persons romanticize that tribals living in forest and hills will lose their culture and tradition if they are resettled in the areas surrounded by other villages, semi urban areas etc. Such persons do forget that socio-cultural change is a dynamic process and all of us are affected in this relationship in many ways.

The Sardar Sarovar storage reservoir would affect 244 villages in Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat & Maharashtra. The Project Affected Families (PAFs) to be rehabilitated including major sons under this project includes 33014 PAFs in M.P. 3213 PAFs in Maharashtra and 4600 PAFs in Gujarat comprising 40827 PAFs in total. As per policy, PAFs have a choice to resettle in main beneficiary State of Gujarat or in their home State.

In Maharashtra, all the PAFs are tribals representing mainly Tadvi, Vasava, Pawra, Bhil and Naiks. In Madhya Pradesh, 29% population belong to tribals mainly Bhils and Bhilalas, while  in Gujarat, 97.4% population belong to tribals mainly Tadvi, Rathwa, Vasawa, Nayaka and Dungri Bhils. The Tribals represent 49.6% in the total PAFs.
Efforts are being made to preserve the culture of their original habitat for the tribals without impeding the parallel process of bringing them into the mainstream. The tribal oustee families from a particular submergence village are by and large relocated and resettled as a group at a site chosen by them. Besides efforts are being made to resettle them at the site where the tribal groups in the host community are akin to them.

Yet it is a recognized fact that the involuntary displacement of oustees (i.e. PAPs / PAFs) from their original habitat does have an element of emotional trauma. The effort of GRA has been focused on ensuring the effective implementation of the provisions of the NWDT Award and the liberalized Government of Gujarat Resolutions of R&R so as to ensure proper resettlement and rehabilitation of the Project Affected Persons / Families in Gujarat. Several multidimensional initiatives and innovative interventions, have been taken by / or at the instance of GRA top further augment the socio – economic and cultural status of the PAPs / PAFs. Ultimate objective to ensure their harmonious integration with the host community and to bring them center-stage in the mainstream of the development effort.

The Centre for Social Studies (CCS), Surat is the monitoring agency for the Government of Gujarat. This institute had prepared monographs on each of the submerging villages located in Gujarat State highlighting their socio-economic & cultural status before resettlement. The Study of CSS revealed that the socio-economic status of PAFs have improved compared to submerging villages and the PAFs are now joining the main stream of the country’s development. The findings indicate that land ownership has increased from 68% to 100%, engagement in cultivation from 42% to 55-60%, casual labour percentage decreased from 11-17 to 1-3, agricultural labour percentage decreased from 4 to 1-2, calorie intake (calorie / adult / day) increased from 2418 to 2446, the percentage of education increased from 25 to 41 in case of male and from 6 to 18 in female. The average death rate (person / thousand) declined from 12 ( national rural average) to 7 and infant mortality rate (person / thousand) from 104 to 29.

It takes many years for the success of any R&R programme to be finally judged. A programme of this magnitude and complexity cannot be without problems. But they are not so daunting as to defeat or delay the fruits of resettlement and rehabilitation measures. Major segment of PAFs seem to have overcome the trauma of displacement and appear to be well integrated with the host community. This is significant.
We are living in the age where people are talking of global village. India believes in a pluralistic society where every one is encouraged to practice their own way of life. Our R&R policies and programmes on SSP are aimed to achieve them. The tribals in the Narmada Valley are not differentiated section of Indian Society and have not any distant relations with indigenous People as present in Australia, America and Canada. The tribal PAFs after their R&R have integrated with host communities and are performing all their cultural activities, rituals, social festivals and traditions and now joining the mainstream of country’s development.

Why the project is being pushed even though the large parts of the area slated to be irrigated have soil which are highly prone to water logging and salinity and are not suited for canal irrigation ?

Waterlogging due to excessive ground water accumulation can be a side effect of canal irrigation over a long period. It can be prevented by appropriate water management practices. In the SSP, following specific measures have been built in the system, and would ensure that there would not be any problem of waterlogging or salinity surfacing :
  1. Lining main canal, branch and entire canal net work upto 8 ha. block to minimize seepage.
  2. Limited water delta of 53 cm (21") against normal 75 cm in existing projects.
  3. Simultaneous command area development.
  4. Conjunctive use of surface and ground water.
  5. Remote Controlled Automatic Canal Operation.
  6. Volumetric and rotational water supply by Warabandhi.
  7. Minimum borrow areas by the side of canal due to borrowing earth from village tanks and drains, thus reducing seepage.
  8. Water application allowance based on agro-climatic zoning.
  9. Better water management practices and active participation of farmers.
  10. Encouragement of drip, sprinkle and other water conservation high tech agro practices.
  11. Water balance and salt balance studies and monitoring.

Water logging and soil salinity to some extent are associated with water resources projects if remedial measures are not built in during the planning stage. Care has therefore been taken to prevent water logging & increase of salinity in the parts of the areas to be irrigated from SSP which are prone to water logging and salinity.