SOME CONCLUDING COMMENTSEnvironmental Studies Conducted for the SSP
Summary: While the SSP project authorities have commissioned and conducted more studies on environmental aspects than has ever been done for any dam project in India, almost all of these were started subsequent to having started work on the project, and most of them subsequent to having obtained clearance in 1987. Moreover, a number of the studies conducted have serious shortcomings. Finally, and most importantly, several aspects remain unstudied, or only cursorily assessed.
The number of environmental studies conducted on SSP is unprecedented in the history of Indian dam-building. Subsequent to the 1983 report by the M.S. University, a series of very brief reports on some environmental aspects of the SSP (misleadingly labeled "Workplan for Environmental Effects") were produced by the Narmada Planning Group in 1986. Detailed assessments of these aspects were started only after 1987, when the Government of India accorded conditional clearance. Since then, an impressive number of reports have been produced on the environmental aspects of the project, a number which certainly surpasses anything that has been done for any other project in India. (Detailed listings of available studies, and their findings, are available in official documents).
Considering the almost complete lack of any environmental studies in previous projects, such an effort is very laudable. What is important though is not the number of such studies in SSP compared to other projects, but the fact that these studies are still not adequate for collective consideration as a comprehensive EIA. Furthermore, these studies cannot be called impartial 'scientific' assessments, as discussed below.
How Independent are the Comissioned Studies?
Many of the environmental studies conducted for SSP fall far below the that should be required in term of quality, impartiality, and comprehensiveness. Their credibility is also sometimes doubtful. Several studies appear to have been conducted with the sole purpose of justifying the project.