Indore: The Narmada Control Authority (NCA) has cleared the final raising of Sardar Sarovar Dam (SSD) in Gujarat by lowering of gates and impounding of water in the reservoir up to its Full Reservoir Level (FRL) of EL 138.68 m.
The NCA, which met here yesterday under the chairmanship of Amarjit Singh, Secretary (WR, RD & GR), considered all aspects of environmental and resettlement and rehabilitation (R&R) issues. It may be recalled that the raising of SSD was cleared the last time on 12 June 2014, where the permission for the first phase construction of piers, overhead bridge and installation of gates in open or raised position was granted. At that time, the effective height of SSD remained at EL 121.92 m with backwater levels of EL 134.32 m at the dam site.
With the lowering of the gates of SSD, the live storage capacity would increase from 1565 to 5740 MCM i.e. by 4175 MCM (267%). The clean (hydro-power generation) would increase by present 1300 MW to 1450 MW with an increase in annual generation by about 1100 million units (i.e. about Rs.400/- crore per annum). In addition, this additional storage would irrigate about 8 lakh hectares. Additionally, about 1 crore population would get assured drinking water. As it is well known, the Sardar Sarovar Project would primarily meet the water requirement of drought prone and desert areas of Gujarat and Rajasthan.
Prior to the clearance by NCA, the environment sub-group of NCA chaired by Ajay Narayan Jha, Secretary (MoEF&CC), reviewed the implementation of Environment Safeguard Measures on 1 May and, after observing substantial progress, recommended the second phase proposal of lowering down of the gates and impounding of water in the reservoir to FRL of EL 138.68 m. The environment sub-group has also asked the State governments to complete leftover works by 30 June.
The R&R sub-group chaired by G Latha Krishna Rao, Secretary (MoSJ&E), reviewed the progress of R&R and the opinions received from the grievance redress authorities of the States of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra on 16 June. The State governments have assured to address all issues of project affected families (PAFs) on a priority basis in accordance with Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal (NWDT) Award, liberalized policies of the State Governments and Supreme Court Order dated 8 February.
The NCA has permitted the final raising of SSD after following the procedure laid down by the Supreme Court order dated 18 October 2000 in WP(C) 328 of 2002 in Narmada Bachao Andolan versus Union of India & Others.
One may recall that it was found on investigation that the complaints by the ilk of activist Medha Patkar that the people ousted by the project were not adequately compensated and rehabilitated did not hold any water. In fact, the project stands to benefit lakhs of people.