NBA Press Release
  24 April 2009
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

Sardar Sarovar: Environmental Experts' Committee Concludes Non-Compliance

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The officially appointed Environmental Expert Committee under the Chairmanship of Dr. Devendra Pandey, Director, Forest Survey of India to review the studies, planning and implementation of environmental safeguards for Sardar Sarovar and Indira Sagar Projects has submitted its Interim Report (given far below) to the MoEF and the same has been under the Right to Information Act.

The Report dated 13th February 2009 has exposed the false claims of the Governments of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh as also Maharashtra related to the full or substantial compliance in various aspects including catchment area treatment, compensatory afforestation and down stream impacts, command area development, archaeology, health impacts, and seismicity.

In its Interim Report, the Committee has concluded in no uncertain terms that it “a study of the available documents, coupled with the Committee’s interaction with the Project Authorities/ affected people / representatives strongly suggested that there were major shortfalls in compliance with the prescribed environmental conditionality and requirements”.

It also has arrived at a decision to reject the NCA appointed Committee on Back Water Levels and its Report on the ground that 1. It violates the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal Award, which requires the Central Water Commission to finalize the levels and not NCA or its Committee. 2. The NCA Report has technical flaws including the presumption of lower magnitude of flood at Sardar Sarovar dam than the one used for designing and constructing the dam 3. The NCA Report also presumes lower level of moderated ISP flood for determining BWL, which is unsafe for planning rehabilitation. 4. The change of Model used by the CWC in 1984 (HEC 11 B) for BWL calculations to Mike - 11 Model is unjustifiable for technical reasons 5. Mike - 11 Model is also rejected by the High Court of Jabalpur in the case of Indira Sagar Project

It may be noted that the Narmada Valley Development Authority (M.P.) and NCA had claimed that their Report would pave a way to raising the dam height, since it concluded a lowering of BWLs and resultant exclusion of 40+ villages from the submergence area even after their lands and properties were acquired and rehabilitation started but not completed.

The Expert Committee rejecting the Report has advised the MoEF not to permit further raising of the dam height even through construction of piers and bridges, which are to precede erection of 17 mts high gates on the present dam wall (122 mts).

The Committee also has noted that "the recommendation for raising the Sardar Sarovar dam height upto 121.92 mts by the Environment Sub Group on 6th January, 2006 was despite the fact that full compliance with the stipulated environmental conditions and requirements was admittedly not there. It is evident from the Minutes of the said meeting that the ESG recommended raising of height with the assurance that the pending work would be completed. However, there is no evidence or verification reports to indicate compliance". .

The Committee further states that studying the various reports and papers, visiting sample areas in the command and catchment and interacting with officials as well as PAPs and NBA that it could not even receive the detailed compliance Reports and its own assessment concluded lack of compliance.


The above mentioned Report has come at a time when Mr. Narendra Modi has been touring the country with a claim that he and his party have achieved development through Narmada Project such as supply of drinking water to 1400 villages and large scale irrigation. He publicizes this to the unknown and ignorant electorate, right upto the Brahmaputra Valley. The fact that not more than 10% of the villages he refers to have actually received regular water supply and not more than 20% of the irrigation at the present height has come true is concealed in the game of politics that is more slogan mongering than a Satyagraha.

The people of Gujarat, including those from Kutch and Saurashtra and the lakhs of people from all the three states in the Narmada valley, however, have realized the truth and one Report after another has been vindicating the factual data and analysis as well position taken by the people and the movement.

13 February 2009


The Ministry of Environment & Forests, Government of India vide O.M. No. 3-87/80-IA-I, dated 09.7.2008 superseded by O.M. of even number dated 02-09-2008 has constituted a Committee for assessment of survey/ studies/planning and implementation the plans on environmental safeguard measures for Sardar Sarovar & Indira Sagar Project. One of the time bound tasks is to assess the work relating to mitigation of impacts generated by raising of the piers and overhead bridge of Sardar Sarovar Project.

As a follow up, the Committee has held three meetings and one field visit until now. In the 1st meeting held on 25th September 2008 at NCA HQ Indore, the participating States of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan made presentations. The Committee sought information from the States on updated progress report on the environmental safeguard measures and report on Back Water Level calculations of Central Water Commission (CWC) available in the Environment Wing of the NCA. In the 2nd meeting held on 8th Dec. 2008 at the Ministry of Environment & Forest, New Delhi, the report submitted by the States, the Back Water Level studies by CWC and a recent study report of NCA was reviewed and future course of action was decided. The committee undertook field visits to the sample area in the command in Gujarat and catchment in Madhya Pradesh, during 8th to 11 January 2009. In the third meeting held on 12th Jan 2009 at Ministry of Environment & Forests, New Delhi the committee summarized the observations of the field as well as discussions held with officials of the SSNNL in Gujarat and NVDA in Madhya Pradesh and decided to submit an interim report providing the committee’s final view on the issue of raising piers and overhead bridge of Sardar Sarovar Project.

The committee also reviewed relevant sections of the Narmada Water Dispute Tribunal Awards, records of various meetings of the Environmental Sub-Groups, reports of the Back Water calculations done by CWC in 1984 as well as by NCA in 2008 and various communications received from SSNNL.


(A) The Report on the revised Back Water Levels calculations as submitted by NCA is not acceptable as it violates the NWDTA on following accounts:

(i) Firstly, because the award directed that calculations of Back Water Levels be done resulting from the Maximum Water Level of 140.21 meter (460 feet) at Sardar Sarovar dam. However, the computation for Back Water Levels by the NCA (June 2008) has been done with the maximum level of 137.17 meter at the dam site.

(ii) Secondly, the Back Water Levels calculations are to be carried out by the Central Water Commission (CWC) as per the award and not by a sub-committee of the NCA even if one member in the sub-committee is from CWC as has been done in the instant case.

(iii) Thirdly, since the dam is already designed and constructed for discharging the highest flood (30.7 Lakh cusecs), calculations of Back Water Levels corresponding to the observed flood of 24.5 Lakh cusecs (reduced to 16.9 Lakh cusecs upon routing) are not applicable.

(iv) As per the award of NWDT and stipulations of clearances (environment, forests and investment) accorded to the project by the Central Government, the E & R planning needed a higher level of flood protection. Thus the use of outflow of moderated flood from ISP of 10 Lakh cusecs for determining of BWL by the NCA sub committee is unsafe for planning of R&R and environmental issues as the rehabilitation and environmental safeguard measures have to be complied with respect to submergence caused by Back Water of highest flood.

(B) The revised Back Water Levels calculations of NCA has many technical infirmities as indicated below:

(i) The report has used the highest flood at SSP to be 24 Lakh cusecs which is lower than 24.5 Lakh cusecs worked out for a return period of 100 Years. The highest flood for spillway design has to be the probable maximum flood for a dam of this size for a return of 10,000 years as specified under CWC guideline.

(ii) Against HEC IIB model used by CWC in its report of 1984 Back Water Level calculation, present study by NCA has used Mike-11 model (one dimensional analysis) on the ground of this being more advanced and robust. Such a model is applicable where the river valley is long and narrow and the flood wave characteristics over a large distance from the dam are required to be calculated. Whereas in the present case, the submergence in Sardar Sarovar Projects is wide spread to 1.77 km average width away from the main stream involving 245 villages. (iii) Further, the strength of the MIKE 11 model lies in the application of its several modules, which require elaborate data collection and are compatible with Geographic Information System (GIS) through which the map of the areas to be submerged can be generated and used for planning purposes. Normally calibration of the model has to be done by simulating observed flows and matching simulated levels with observed levels at a number of locations. However, the NCA report has used only one location (at 224 kms upstream) which is highly inadequate. If the anticipated flood arrives following the construction of piers it may lead to disaster in the affected areas upstream.

(iv) The NCA report has used single module Mike-11 model with input values of routed observed flood (less than 100 years) instead of routed design flood (1000 years). The model thus estimates lower submergence compared to the Back Water Levels determined by the CWC in their report of 1984 (corresponding to 100 years) and much lower submergence to the levels stipulated by the NWDT award (1000 years). It is to be mentioned here that in the year 2005 CWC carried out similar study using Mike 11 model for Indira Sagar Project with routed design flood (1000 years) which has not been accepted by Hon’ble High Court of Madhya Pradesh, Jabalpur Bench in a PIL filed against this report (in case No WP 322 of 2005 dated.08.09.2006 2006(3) MPJR 218) and CWC has been asked to carry out the study again. The flood actually submerged more villages than could be explained by the study through Mike-11 model.

(v) Further, the values of various coefficients and parameters deduced in this study are at variance with the parameters adopted by the CWC in their report of 1984. The study also mentions that these values are yet to be firmed up/ notified by the CWC. The CWC in their study of 1984 on Back Water levels calculation has adopted Coefficient of rugosisty 'n' to be 0.028 for river channel, 0.06 for over bank and Eddy loss coefficient 'K' as 0.3 for gradually diverging reaches and 0.1 for gradually converging reaches, whereas the NCA report of June 2008 has used 0.024 for rugosity ‘n’ for river channel and 1.5 times of it (0.036) for over bank. This results in a lower computed value of the submergence level.

(vi) The committee is unable to accept the NCA report on Back Water Levels calculations considering the stipulations of NWDT award mentioned earlier, the choice of the model, the application of modules with limited data and limited calibration, and the use of coefficients and parameters without verification and firming up by CWC. There is also no submergence map prepared depicting the area, thus it cannot be used for the purpose of planning for the environment and for rehabilitation.

(C) Issues Relating to Status of Compliances with the Requirements of environmental control corresponding to BWL of higest observed flood, as per NWDT award:

(i) The Committee noted that the recommendation for raising the dam height at Sardar Sarovar up to 121.92 meters by the Environment Sub-Group (ESG) in its 41st meeting held on 6 Jan 2005 was despite the fact that full compliance with the stipulated environmental conditions and requirements was admittedly not there. It is evident from the minutes of the said meeting that the ESG recommended raising of height on the basis of the assurance given by the project authorities that all the pending work would be completed by the end of March 2005. However, there is no evidence or verification reports to indicate whether the assurances were complied with corresponding to the backwater levels.

(ii) The committee had requested the party states in October 2008 to provide the latest compliance status relating to the environmental safeguards, but only NVDA from Madhya Pradesh submitted the same, and that too rather vaguely. For example, against various items of works it has been mentioned that substantial progress has been made, but without detailed evidence. All the states are again being requested to provide the status report.

(iii) The committee reviewed the various prescribed safeguards and conditions of clearance and determined that the status of some could best be determined by examining the concerned papers, others required field visits, and the remaining required independent assessments, including remote sensing assessments. The committee is pursuing each of these.

(iii) Accordingly, the Committee decided to interact with the major stake holders during the 2nd week of January, 2009 and undertook field visits, inspected works carried out on the dam site, and visited indicative limited sample areas where development of conveyance of irrigation system was in progress in the Command area of SSP. The Committee, though wanting to, but could not inspect the downstream areas of the SSP in Gujarat. The sample health facilities were also inspected by the expert member of the Committee, besides sample sub-watershed treated in catchment areas in Madhya Pradesh. The Committee held preliminary discussions with project authorities of the SSNNL and NVDA besides interaction with limited project affected families in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, and the leaders of Narmada Bachao Andolan. (iv) The assessment work relating to mitigation of impacts generated by raising of the piers and overhead bridge of Sardar Sarovar Project is progressing. A study of the available documents, coupled with the Committee’s interaction with the Project Authorities/ affected people / representatives strongly suggested that there were major shortfalls in compliance with the prescribed environmental conditionality and requirements. Further observations of the Committee in this regard would be presented, after due assessment, in its subsequent report.

Dr A. K. Bhattacharya (Member) Dr. B.P. Das (Member) Dr. Sekhar Singh (Member) Dr C.K. Varshney (Member)

Dr R.C, Sharma (Member) Dr Pavan Kumar (Member) Shri A.K.Rana (Member Secretary)

Dr. D. Pandey (Chairman)

Copy to: 1. Secretary, Ministry of Environment & Forests,& Chairperson, Environment Sub-group of NCA, Paryavaran Bhawan, CGO Complex, Lodhi Road, New Delhi - 110 003 for favour of information, please.
2. Secretary , Ministry of Water Resources,& The Chairperson, NCA, Shram ShaKti Bhavan, Rafi Marg, New Delhi - 110 001 for favour of information, please.
3. Secretary, Ministry of Social justice and Empowerment and the Chairman Relief and Rehabilitation Sub-Group of NCA, Shastri Bhavan, New Delhi
4. The Chairman & Managing Director, Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited, Block No-12, 1st Floor, New Sachivalaya Complex,Gandhinagar – 382010..
5. The Vice Chairman, Narmada Valley Development Authority, Narmada Bhawan, Tulsi Nagar, Bhopal- 462003.
6. The Principal Secretary (Environment), Govt of Maharashtra, Mantralaya, Mumbai.- 38
7. The Secretary (Env), Sachivalaya, Jaipur- 302005, Rajasthan.
8. Executive Member, NCA Narmada Sadan , 74, Vijay Nagar, Indore-452010.
9. All members of the Committee.

Kailash Awasya Medha Patkar Clifton Rozario
Kamla Yadav