The Madhya Pradesh Government has been non-compliant with the environmental conditionalities laid down by the Ministry of Environment and Forests regarding the Sardar Sarovar Project (ISP) and Indira Sagar Project (ISP) in the State.
The second interim report of the Expert Committee constituted by the MoEF (on July 9,2008) shows that the State Government has failed to comply with several conditionalities including catchment area treatment, command area development and health concerns.
The committee has recommended to the ministry “that no further reservoir filling be permitted till the catchment areas of both SSP and ISP are fully treated and all outstanding requirements to protect flora and fauna including preparation of master plan and creation of wildlife sanctuaries are put in place.”
The committee has further said that no further construction work on the canal network and no irrigation from even the existing network should be permitted till the various environmental parameters in the command area, barring water management, are taken care of.
Catchment Area Treatment
Regarding the catchment area treatment (CAT), the report states that the critical catchment area in all three states concerned (Maharashtra, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh) was to be treated ahead of filling the reservoirs.
However, while Gujarat had treated the full catchment area falling under its territory (29000 hectares) during 1990-95 and Maharashtra had treated 68 per cent of the area (67,000 hectares), Madhya Pradesh (14,04,360 hectares) has treated only 38 per cent (SSP) and 9 per cent (ISP) of the catchment area. Simultaneously, it had completed impoundment of the reservoir for ISP to 100 per cent by 2006 and to 80 per cent for SSP.
The report categorically states that “the compliance by the Narmada Valley Development Authority (NVDA) in Madhya Pradesh has been highly unsatisfactory…The project authorities, specially the NVDA have grossly violated the conditions of clearance on CAT…monitoring mechanism of CAT works has been partially fulfilled by Gujarat and Maharashtra, but grossly violated by MP”.
The report also expresses concern over the State Government’s failure to identify and protect biodiversity in the Narmada river basin calling it a “very serious lapse by the NVDA”. According to the report, the loss of habitats and biodiversity due to submergence of “128,500 hectares land including 54,498 hectares of forests” was a key concern in the implementation of the SSP and the ISP.
Besides failing to notify the three protected areas for rehabilitation of wildlife identified by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), the State Government has not yet prepared a project-wise master plan providing information on all relevant aspects of biodiversity conservation.
Regarding Command Area Development (CAD), the report states that the draft Environmental Action Plan by the State Government was submitted only in October last year and while Gujarat and Rajasthan are stated to have partially complied with environmental safeguards, Madhya Pradesh has engaged in “total non-compliance” by taking no verifiable action.
Since forest land was allotted to both the projects by the MoEF in 1987, the ministry had stipulated that the clearances to these projects were subject to “afforestation on equal area in non forest land and on double the area in degraded forest land…declare non forest compensatory afforested land as reserve or protected forests and transfer them to State forest department.”
However, although all the three States have prepared plans for afforestation, they have not yet notified all the non-forest CA lands as reserve or protected forests thus complying only partially.
Regarding health concerns the committee has found that in all three States “compliance of the various stipulations has been only partial and in many cases delayed and negligible.”