Misleading Propaganda on Sardar Sarovar Dam Height Increase by the Government
Rehabilitation first, Dam next is the law: NCA must review illegal decision
July 5, 2014, New Delhi : Almost three weeks after the decision in the ‘Emergency Meeting’, by the Narmada Control Authority, under the Ministry of Water Resources permitting further work on the controversial Sardar Sarovar Dam, in utter violation of the Narmada Tribunal Award and Judgements of the Supreme Court, the Press Information Bureau has issued, what we find not just a belated, but a very dubious press release.
The three para release issued on 3rd July, 2014 claims that permission to carry out Phase-I proposal of SSNL, comprising construction of piers, over head bridge and installation of gates in open or raised position at Sardar Sarovar project as per the approved design has been granted by the NCA at the ‘behest of the MoWR’.
However, the release goes on to make a completely misleading statement that “In the absence of gates the dam was overflowing for the last two months”! We would like to emphasize and reiterate that that even with gates in raised position – and thereby allowing, instead of preventing, the overflow of water – the submergence behind the dam wall will increase by 1.62 mts. Has the NCA looked into the question of rehabilitating affected families whose land will go under water when the 1.62 mts higher backwater level effect would occur?
A vertical increase of 1.62 mts can cause havoc in the plain areas of Madhya Pradesh where thousands of families continue to reside in the thickly populated village communities; engaged in farming, fishing, labour work etc. and awaiting rehabilitation, as per law, to this day. The misleading prediction in the press release that Construction of gates will prevent overflow of water” is absolutely unscientific, non-factual and unwarranted propaganda.
The Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal Award’s clauses on submergence and rehabilitation unambiguously state that that all the affected families must be rehabilitated six months prior to the decision to start construction work. Shockingly, there is not a word on submergence and rehabilitation in the press release!
One may also recall that very recently, on 21st June, newspapers carried the story that low water flow had forced SSNNL authorities to shut down River Bed Power House since 7th June. That news report quoted dam officials as saying, “the status quo will be maintained until the water level improves from the current 114.46 mtrs”. Sardar Sarovar dam currently stands at 121.92 mtrs and the implication of a dam official reporting the water storage level at 114.46 mts would mean that the dam is eight mts empty and NOT OVERFLOWING FOR LAST TWO MONTHS!
In the last line, the PIB press release claims that the proposal that was approved thereby paving way to increase the height of the dam to 138.69 mts was “an eight year old proposal”. This again is spin doctoring, and the nation distinctly remembers that the decision of raise the dam height from 110 mts to 121.92 metre was taken in March 2006 – precisely eight years ago.
When that decision was questioned by project affected families and Supreme Court took cognizance of the matter, the construction got stopped due to the onset of monsoon June 2006, the height was at 119 mts. Construction had begun to raise the height in October 2006 and by December of 2006 only the dam height had reached 121.92 mts. So how can PIB term this proposal and eight year old one?
Following the mass agitation by hundreds of oustees in the last week of June and our meeting with the Union Water Resources Minister on 24th June, who promised of directing NCA officials to verify the rehabilitation, PIB press release should have told us a bit about what was going on with respect to unfinished agenda of Resettlement and Rehabilitation as per NWDTA conditions and Supreme Court directives. Alas, the latest PIB release disappoints and makes us ask the minister, Who will inform, when PIB misinforms?
The promises made in 2006 have not been kept. The assurances of the state governments, the conditions of the Rehabilitation and Environment Sub Group and the written committeeman by the Former Prime Minister to the Supreme Court have all been flouted. There is no reason to doubt that history will not repeat itself. We, therefore, continue to challenge the illegal decision making process and demand that the rehabilitation of all the oustee families must be fully ensured and NCA’s decision of 12th June, be reviewed.
Medha Patkar, Devram Kanera, Hiradaram, Meera
Contact : 9179148973
THE PIB PRESS RELEASE BELOW
Permission for Phase-I Proposal of SSNL Granted
Construction of Gates will prevent overflow of water
Ministry of Water Resources 03-July, 2014 15:35 hrs
Narmada Control Authority (NCA) at the behest of Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation has given permission to Sardar Sarovar Nigam Limited (SSNL) to carry out Phase-I proposal comprising construction of piers, over head bridge and installation of gates in open or raised position at Sardar Sarovar project as per the approved design. The projects authorities have been asked to comply with the condition as laid down by the two sub groups of NCA.
In the absence of NCA’s permission the construction work at dam site in Kevadia colony had come to stand still. In the absence of gates the dam was overflowing for the last two months. The installation of spillways piers will take the dam to its full height of 138 mts.
It may be recalled that on June 12, 2014, Narmada Control Authority (NCA) cleared an eight-year-old proposal to raise the height of the Sardar Sarovar Dam by 17 mts.
Release Id :106051