Dam's height restricted

By Arnab Pratim Dutta
Published: Sunday 31 May 2009

Narmada authorities flouted environmental safeguards

further increase in Sardar Sarovar Dam's height is not advisable, an expert committee of the Union environment ministry has said.

The dam authorities want to raise the height of the dam from 122 metres now to 140 metres to increase the capacity of its reservoir. The expert committee advised the ministry against it saying the authorities did not comply with the prescribed environmental safeguards. The committee submitted its interim report on February 13, 2009.

According to the Central Water Commission (cwc) guidelines, the Narmada Control Authority (nca) was to determine the highest flood levels in the last 1,000 years. But nca used the data of only 100 years. What's more, the calculations they made were erroneous.The expert committee found discrepancy of about 50,000 cusecs, which it said would affect the flood calculations. The committee also found that of the 245 villages that would be submerged by the reservoir if the dam height is increased, only one location had been studied.

The dam authorities also excluded more than 40 villages from the submergence area. The land and property of these villagers have been acquired and rehabilitation started but not completed, the committee observed.

Calculations of the backwater created by the dam also did not conform to the cwc guidelines. It underestimated the submergence area, a committee member said. V K Jyothi, executive member of the nca, said he had not gone through the expert committee report and refused to comment on it. He said nca is going ahead with the plan to raise the height of the dam.

The interim report of the expert committee was accessed through an RTI application filed by activists of the Narmada Bachao Andolan, a movement opposing the dam.

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