around the lake could have a negative effect ( TOR Nal Sarovar 1992), the greatest danger being the large-scale use of fertilisers and pesticides, which will eventually flow into the lake. Attention should be drawn here to the increasing number of studies showing severe poisoning effects of pesticides on wetland birds (e.g. in the Keoladeo Ghana or Bharatpur National Park in Rajasthan - see Vijayan 1991), and degradation of wetlands by fertiliser inflow ( GOI 1990 ; WWF 1992).
Studies by expert groups are underway to predict the impacts ot tne canal network and irrigation on the Nal Sarovar Sanctuary, the Dhrangadhra Wild Ass Sanctuary, and the Velavadar National Park ( NCA 1993). The studies initiated have completely impossible time-frames, given their rather ambitious scope. Only six months have been assigned to study the Nal Sarovar Lake. The list of topics to be covered is similar to that studied for the Bharatpur wetlands by the Bombay Natural History Society, which that highly competent organisation took ten years to complete! The incongruity between the TOR and the time frame is equally striking in the proposed study of the impact on the Dhrangadhra Wild Ass Sanctuary. Furthermore, some impacts are not part of the Terms of Reference of these expert groups, such as the impact of freshwater on the salt desert and seasonal wetland ecosystem of the Rann of Kutch, or the impact of the spread of agriculture around (or inside) the Rann.
We very much fear that the studies will tend to be superficial. Given the political climate in which the SSP is being built, it is extremely unlikely that the studies will recommend any drastic redesigning even if it is found that there is a likelihood of one or more wildlife species being seriously endangered by the project. They will be reduced to suggesting measures to minimise impacts instead of studying the desirability of interfering with the ecosystem at all. We feel that it is unlikely that mitigative measures will avoid or signficantly reduce the degradation of these unique ecosystems - such problems are largely inherent and unavoidable when converting naturally and zones into artificially humid tracts.
We would stress here that this problem is entirely created by the project authorities themselves, since they did not think of doing these studies in the first few years of project planning, and are now trying to rush through them to make it appear that the environmental aspects of SSP are well looked after.
The SSP canal network could cause other possible impacts in the command area, including the spread of water-related diseases and disruption of natural drainage patterns.
A rise in the incidence of malaria is definitely anticipated by the project authorities; we feel that the rise may be even more serious than they are expecting, because they have considerably under-estimated the possible extent of waterlogging. Canals and waterlogged areas can become major breeding centres for malaria vectors. As in the case of diseases