hundred plant species have been collected there (MSU 1992). Botanists of the M.S. University are also reported to have found in the submergence zone, "important flora, i.e. plants which although not endangered or rare in the sub-continent as a whole, occur infrequently in Gujarat." In their 1983 report, these botanists observed rare species like Radermachem, Spermadictyon, and Cochlospermum (MSU 1983).
Available studies seem to suggest that very few large animals remain in the submergence area, though "traces of large cats" in Maharashtra are significant (NCA 1993), and one of us has heard smaller cats calling at night in the Jhabua part of the submergence zone. Studies on the loss of forests under submergence, and the consequent loss of wildlife, are stated to have been completed for Gujarat, but those for Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra are still (mid-1994) underway. However, studies have focused primarily on large animals and flowering plants, paying less attention to or ignoring the much greater diversity of smaller animals, non-flowering plants, and fungi, and completely (perhaps understandably) leaving out micro-organisms. The ongoing study in the Maharashtra part of the submergence zone, for instance, indicates that there is "still a wide diversity of invertebrates, reptiles, and birds" (NCA 1993). In the absence of more definite information, it is therefore not possible to discuss the full impacts of the dam on wildlife in the submergence area.
Compensatory afforestation has been put forward as a means of "compensating" for the loss of forests. In the SSP, compensatory afforestation is to occur over an equivalent acreage of non-forest land plus double the acreage of degraded forest land. This is a welcome change from previous projects when forest was diverted without any compensatory measure. However, no human agency can recreate a natural forest which has evolved over millenia. The diversity of organisms and the incredible complexity of relationships between them and their abiotic environment in natural forests are still not well understood by biologists, let alone artificially replicated. In other words, there is inevitably a loss of essential features and components of a forest in any clearance of natural forest and its replacement by a human-made plantation.
This inherent defect is greatly heightened in the case of SSP, where compensatory afforestation is being carried out in Kutch - an ecological region which is completely different from the submergence area. If the intention of compensatory afforestation is to replace the forest that is being lost, the SSP effort is a mockery. Senior forest officials appointed by the NCA to assess the plantation have said that "It is impossible to replace the tropical deciduous forests submerged due to Sardar Sarovar Project, in the arid district of Kutch..." and "... any plantation in Kutch will be only "mitigatory" and not "compensatory"" ( Ojha 1989; Kushalapa 1992).
In the case of the terrestrial wildlife which will be affected by the submergence, it is not yet fully clear how the authorities plan to ameliorate or minimise the loss, since studies and workplans are not yet complete. One step which has already been taken is to add an area adjoining the reservoir to an existing sanctuary (Dumkhal, now renamed Shoolpaneshwar), thereby giving additional protection to its forests and wildlife. However, this has created its