1. Project Profile

A. The Man Project is being constructed at village Jeerabad of Manawar Tehsil of District Dhar, Madhya Pradesh.  The dam being built on the river Man, drained by the Narmada is one of the 30 major dams being built in the Narmada Valley - a part of the controversial Narmada Valley Development Project (NVDP).

B. The Project will have a full reservoir level of 297.65 m.  The maximum height of the masonry dam above river bed level is 52.4 m, of the overflow dam  44.09 m and of the earth dam will be 33.9 m - a level of 300.4 m for all 3 dams.  The length of the Right Bank Canal will be 11.64 m and of the left Bank canal will be 10.02 m.

C. The Culturable Command Area of the Project will be 15,000 hectares with proposed annual irrigation going upto 19,200 ha.  The DPR of the Project (July, 1982) mentions that the Command of the Project will be in 48 villages of Dhar district.  The Draft Appraisal of the Man River Project (CR 1108 IN/NVDA 1394) details that to 22 villages in Manawar block and 31 villages in Gandhwani block of Dhar District - a total of 53.  However, the status report of the Narmada Valley Development Department list s 56 villages by name, while mentioning that there are 57 villages in the command.  We can only presume that the Command covers between 53 and 57 villages.

D. The Command Area has a rolling topography, with some of the area having very steep slopes.  The command is bound by the Vindhyan foothills in the North and the proposal right bank flow canal of the Omkareshwar Project in the South.  On either side, it is bound by the Ghatwal river and the watershed of  the Uri river and the Wagur nala respectively.  The catchment upto dam site is 690 sq. km.

The Project has no power potential.

The 1998 status report of the NVDD mentions a reservoir submergence of 1094.886 ha for a total of 17 villages.  The 1982 DPR says that 865 ha of culturable land and over 560 families - the majority of whom are Bhilala tribals will be affected.  The status report 1998 decreases the 865 ha of culturable land figure to 709.086 ha.

Forest Area to be submerged includes 4.393 ha under reservoir and 2.5 ha under canals.

Revenue land lost under canals is not mentioned in the reports but given the canal lengths, it could well be above 200 ha.  This can mean an additional displacement of 200 to 250 families. 

The projects at the time of Planning Commission clearance was Rs.44.1 crores. Subsequently it went up to 88 crores and is now Rs.108.12 crores at 1988 prices.  Investment already made on the Project  prior  to the 1997  NABARD loan was 57.6 crores.  After receiving the loan of Rs.44 crores in 1997 another 7 crores has been spent, a total of 64.6 crores talk now.


Changing figures and violations of policy.

Sl. No.  



No. of PAFs


Project DPR

July, 1982



Proposal to NABARD

Feb, 1997



NVDP Status Report


(1) 266/344

(2) 266 PAFs which is to 548 PAFs in 1991

(3) 827 PAFs


LAO, Dhar




Sept. 1988


2A. It is clear that even in the course of the last 15 years the Project authorities have not been able to assess how many PAFs will be displaced by the Project.  The Project DPR in July 1982 said that 560 families would be affected by the reservoir of the Man Project.  Yet, in the 1997 proposal to NABARD this has been arbitrarily decreased to 266 families - probably to deflect adverse attention from funders.

To make matters worse, the status report of the Man Project submitted by the NVDD (Narmada Valley Development Department) in 1998 several contradictory positions on how many PAFs will be afected have been taken at once.

The Narmada Valley Development Department's status report 1998's first position is that there are 344 families in the Man submergence, of which 266 families will have to be rehabilitated.  On the other hand, it simultaneously contends that number of PAFs in submergence was 266 by the 1981 census which increased to 548 by the 1991 census.

Yet, if the no. of PAFs increased to 548 only by 1991, how did the July 1982 DPR mention that the no. of submerging families is 560?  The rate of growth of population in the submergence area assumed by the NVDD report is about 19%, confounding national population growth figures of 2.3 - - 2.5%!

To compound confusion, the LAO (Land Acquisition Officer) Dhar has recently said in its report that there is a total of 827 families who are to be rehabilitated.  But the NVDA in its Sept. 1998 report  once again pares down the LAO figures of 827 families needing to rehabilitated to 548 families.

This wild and adhoc fluctuations even about the basic information about the no. of PAFs is an indication of the callousness and the lack of responsibility of the Project Authorities towards the human aspect, as well as how these figures have been manipulated and selectively used in different reports.

2B. Land Acquisition:

A similar vagueness exists about the amount of land acquired as well as culturable land available.  The  July, 1982 DPR mentions 865 ha. of culturable land. The NVDD, 1998 status report mentions 709 ha.  The NVDD report says that 695 ha of private lands have already been acquired while the LAO, Dhar is quoted in an annexure to the same report, as saying that 795 ha. have been acquired.


The various reports do not mention the extent of land that has been/will be acquired by the canals or the number of families affected.  However  since canal lengths and amount of water to be delivered is known, it may be inferred that over 200 ha of lands will be required/submerged affecting 200-250 families.

By the R&R policy for Narmada Projects (Madhya Pradesh) the canal affected families will also be counted as project affected with similar entitlements as those affected by reservoir submergence viz. land for land.  Yet accounting of these PAFs has not yet begun.


Surplus land? Rehabilitated families?

In the July, 1982 DPR as well as the proposal to the World  Bank, the Man Project authorities have mentioned that the land holding in the Command area of the project has about 4000 hectares of surplus land held by 963 cultivators over and above the ceiling limit  of 7.3 hectares of irrigated land, and that a fairly large portion of this land could be made available for the resettlement of families, ousted from the submergence area.

This surplus land, according to the DPR is to take care not only of the Man Project affected  but "this surplus land could also be utilised for rehabilitation of 1500 oustee families from Sardar Sarovar Project!

Mythical Rehabilitation:

Despite this enormous amount of surplus land said to be available, the status of land, based rehabilitation   based rehabilitation does not seem to have kept pace with the dam construction.

The 1998 status report of the NVDD as well as the February 1997 proposal for loan  to NABARD (1997), and the NVDA status report of September 1998 on R&R aspects of the NVDP all mention that 105 families affected by the Man project have already been rehabilitated.  The status  report implies that rehabilitation sites for this purpose have already been developed / are in the process of development in villages Junapani, village Aamkheda and villages Kesur.  None of these villages are in the Man Project Command.

If 4000 ha. of surplus land was indeed available in the Comand, why was none of this used for rehabilitation?

During the discussions in the Task Force, the Man Oustees challenged the figure of 105 families rehabilitated.  The said that it was completely false that 105 families had been rehabilitated and asked the NVDA to give details of this rehabilitation.  However, the NVDA has not been able to give the details, only confirming that the said rehabilitation is mythical and has not happened.

Similarly, the status report of 1998 says that except for the trees in village Khedi, balwadi, all properties in the submerging  villages have already been compensated.  This is simply not true because there has been complete under estimation of the resources of the submergence area, including its development in the last 15 years.  Lands richly irrigated with the waters of the Man have been assessed as unirrigated, number of houses in submergence have been completely underestimated, etc.

The Project costs have been raised 2.5 times, but the extent and value of compensation has rennounced the same.

The reality of rehabilitation in the Man Project.

It is clear that it is not a question of the value of compensation alone.  The September, 1989 Rehabilitation Policy of the MP government for Narmada Projects clearly enunciates the land, for land principle.

By 1998, 64.6 crore rupees of the original 88 crores had been spent (73.4%) and 59.7% of the revised cost estimate (108.12crores). Yet the land, based rehabilitation of the oustees as required by the state policy and  the NWDT Award  had not progressed at all.

The reality is that in 1990-91, despite the land for land policy, a pittance was distributed to the families by way of cash compensation.  The overwhelming majority of the PAFs were Bhilala tribal yet cash compensation was distributed to all without the mandatorily required cash compensation distributed  raged from Rs. 467 to Rs.4000 per acre.  PAFs, perceive that arti-- submergence will be far more than is presently accounted for assessment and permission by the collector.

The truth about rehabilitation is that 105 PAFs were never resettled.  The truth is that 80 families of Bhiuda and 30-40 families from Mujalda, Khedi were ousted from their villages as dam work began.  The Man dam is an earthen dam.  Since earth was being dug from Bhimuda and Mujalda Khedi for dam construction 120 families were simply ousted without being rehabilitated.

20% of these 120 families received space only to build houses at Devipura, Nyapura  near Bhuada.  The land of which these houses have been put  up are on the old government encroachment lands, ----------------------------

In addition, 22 families of Badhipura, Gaarghat and Kachauda received agricultural land at Kesur, Bijor site in Tehsil Depalpur, District Indore.  14 of these agricultural lands fall in a stream bed and are therefore completely now, cultivable and the remaining 8 are disputed due to their being part of the host  community's "charnoi".

This is the extent of rehabilitation completed till now.  Land Acquisition of 95% private lands have been completed, yet only 22 of these 827 PAFs have received agricultural land (14 uncultivable, 8 disputed), 20 families have received house plots by displacing other tribal families who cultivating the lands until then.  No sign of 105 families rehabilitated.

The 1998 status report goes on further to say that another 212 families will be rehabilitated at Kesur, Aamkheda and Junapuri.  Note that Kesur is where the families have been given uncultivable and disputed lands and Junapuri is where they have given plots on already encroached lands.

The report goes on to say that the other 231 PAFs and their adult sons will be rehabilitated in 29 ha of land  in 6 villages where there is space enough for 290 families.

The rehabilitation Policy for Narmada projects provides for a minimum of 2 ha of land per family i.e,.  the 1998   status report reduces this to 0.1 ha / family.

827 families in reservoir submergence and atleast 200-250 families in canal submergence would mean over 2000 ha of land. There is no sign of this land being available, despite the mythical abundance of 4000 ha of surplus land.

It is clear the Project has violated the very norm of the Rehabilitation Policy of the government of Madhya Pradesh as well as of human rights.

It has acquired 95% of the private lands yet rehabilitated not even 5% of the affected population. The psychological trauma and the extreme cruelty to these families who have waited for a long 7 years in Limbo for a mythical rehabilitation that has not happened as yet has only be seen to be felt.. Obviously the project cannot be allowed to proceed until the rehabilitation of these 1000 odd families have not been completed. Progress on the project works without concomitant on rehabilitation would amount to major legal violation.

Environmental Safe Gaurd Measures and clearance:

Postponements Pleas and excuses:

An Environmental clearance was given to Man project vide 11016/98/82-EMV5 of second Jan of 1984.

The Clearance was conditional. The major condition of the clearance were the following:

1. Restoration of the construction site(Leveling and filling of dug areas as well as plantations on slopes).

2. Compensatory afforestation along with FRL and on both sides of the canals.

3. Wood depot for labor to stop forest felling.

4. Plans for rehabilitation of the project affected families on non forest lands.

5. erection of a green belt of 500 mts breath in the forest area and 50 mts breath in the non forest area to stop soil erosion.

Those conditions were to be implemented paripasu with the construction.

Status of environmental conditions


Government Response



Restoration of site including leveling and filling of dug areas and plantations on slopes

All lands dug for main dam, subsidiary dam and canals have been filled and leveled by the contractor (18,340cu.m). 11.5 ha. sloppy lands have been afforested

No dug lands have been filled or leveled. Only 0.5 ha. of afforestation visible. Condition Unfulfilled


Compensatory afforestation for 8.893ha forest coming under reservoir and canals.

Plantations along FRL and canals.

Money sanctioned to forest department Rs. 68,930 sanctioned. Rs.46,565/- spent.

5230 saplings planted, 4600 survived.

Plantation along FRL and canals.

No plantation seen.

Not done.

Condition Unfulfilled `


Wood depot established at dam site for Labour

No wood depot established at dam site.

Condition Unfulfilled.


Plan for rehabilitation of PAPs on non forest land.

Plans in process.

Plans have been on the verge of completion for the last 17 years. Yet 98% land acquisition completed with not even 1% R&R done.


Creation of green belt of 500 m breath in forest area and 50m in non forest area to stop soil area.

Done experimentally for 1.5 kms.  Forest department will do it later when dam has been constructed with the irrigation waters and so as not to come in the way of construction.

No green belt seen.

Not done.

Condition unfulfilled.

Other  Works:

Catchment area treatment

Since the catchment for Man and SSP project overlap, will be done through CA work for SSP.

SSP office has done only surveys till now. 37% of CA treatment done by other departments .

Responsibility shifted

Engineering and Biological treatment of Command.

Five planned silt detention tanks could not be constructed till now because relief money from the Collector, Dhar was not forth coming.

Not done

Non fulfillment or marginal fulfillment of most conditionalities of the environmental clearance and other proposed environmental works have been attempted to be explained away by the project authorities due to lack of finance, postponements are reiteration of intention to do it some time in the future.

What is missed out is that this conditions were required to be fulfilled paripasu, that 64% of the total investment on the project has already been completed , yet the conditions lie grossly unfulfilled or are only marginally fulfilled.

What this non fulfillment of conditions also negates is organic nature of leakages and sequence. You cannot rehabilitate after project work is over, than you can simply oust. And that is what has happened. People from villages where digging was done simply fled when the earth from their villages was dug up, to construct the earthen dam- implying not only a legal failure on part of the project authorities in their lack of compliance with the environmental conditionalities and rehabilitation policies, but constructional and human failure as well as in its non fulfillment of responsibilities of a State towards its people.

Similarly Command area work cannot be done after irrigation waters have began to flow. Command area development is to prepare for the lands for irrigation and mitigate problem areas. Area regarding suitability for irrigation; it has to be done paripasu along with project work.

Similarly measures like establishment of wood depot to prevent deforestation by labour loses its meaning  after project work has been completed.

In the same manner erection of the green belt around reservoir and canal is meant to address soil erosion and siltation/ sedimentation problem in the storage. If it is begun after project work is over, there is a good chance that it will be never done. Or if it is began than, the actual creation of vegetative cover and root systems that stop siltation will take  5 to 10 years, by which time enough siltation will have taken place into the storage, reducing dam life.

Project Black Listed:

As a result of non compliance of the conditions of the environmental clearance, by the project authorities, i.e: rehabilitation and environmental measures, in the 8th meeting of the experts committee of the MOEF for river valley and Hydro electric project held on the 23rd and 24th of May 1995, the Man Project was black listed for very poor R&R although the project was nearing completion.

It is clear that so serious is the nature of the non compliance that if the project is allowed to proceed, it may attract the revocal of the environmental clearance as well as public interest litigation.

Therefore, what is required is that the work on the project should be stalled and kept stalled until necessary rehabilitation and environmental related requirements are fulfilled.

Other  Losses Overlooked:

While looking at the benefit cost of the project, many significant losses, both in qualitative and quantitative terms seems to be either discounted or overlooked.

The impact of displacement has been calculated at FRL . At MWL (maximum water level) many more lands are likely to be flooded which have not been accounted for just above the river gorge where the dam is being built, landscape is flat and undulating and a small rise in water will go a long way  in submergence. The Man is a temptous mountain river , prone to floods, is highly likely that once the dam is built, high flood will submerge much additional land upstream not accounted for. Pent up releases in flood situations will also have tremendous impacts down stream as examples of the effect of recent flood all over India, compounded by large storages, uncontrolled releases of stored water and floods caused breakage of dams have shown.

There has been major qualitative underestimation of loss due to submergence as well. While most of the lands under submergence have been treated as unirrigated. The reality today is that the majority of the submergence zone is irrigated with lifts from Man river. Thus loss of  865 ha. of culturable land could mean loss of  gross cropped area of around or over 1500 ha, a significant percentage of the CCA (perhaps even going over the 10% that is set as the limit for irrigable projects.

Similarly, while benefits from pisciculture have been inducted in the project benefits there has been no estimate of loss of catch from subsistence fishing. Implicit is the simplistic and unexamined assumption that reservoir fishing will be of a much greater magnitude. Nor is there any acknowledgment of the fact that several important fish species will die out either because of their rock crevice habitat will be silted over or because upstream migration will be prevented by the dam work.

The Question of the dam: Do we need the Man Project?

1. Overlap: 3 dams with the same command.

The command of the Man dam falls in the command area of the Omkareshwar and Narmada Sagar Projects. It is unclear as to why there is replication of the projects unless the purpose of the project is to store water.

2. Development of the Command



B. How much can be Irrigated : Soil Survey in the Command.

"The command of the Man Project (According to the July, 1982 DPR)" has  30.6% deep soils, 18.77% moderately deep soils and 42.49% area is having shallow to very shallow soil with cobbles and grovels and are unsuitable for irrigation in real sense.

If we look at the analysis of command area by land irrigability classes.


Sl. No.

Land Irrigability Class

Acre (hectare)



Suitable for sustained Irrigation




Moderate limitations for sustained use under irrigation




Severe limitation for sustained use under irrigation




Shallow and eroded lands




Not suitable for irrigation




Hillocks Forest (unclassified)



and part of class 3 (not limited by soil depth) . That is, it is classes 1,2 and 3 that is suitable for sustained use under irrigation.  Class 4 lands are shallow and eroded and are not amenable to flow irrigation, unless sustainability is not a concern.

Class 1+ Class 2+ Class 3 = 217.36 + 7507.079 + 4553.458 = 12,277.88 ha.

therefore- CCA according to soil survey can only be less than 12,277.88 ha.

The Draft Appraisal Report mentions that "In the command with very slopes, land grading and leveling cannot be done. So various -- water management practices will have to be done by the farmers at their own cost"

Thus, there is no component of the Project Plan that even addresses the issue of lands with low soil depth, leaving the question of sustainable use of shallow lands  marginally suitable for irrigation to the farmers wishes and investments.  That is the lands will be included anyhow under CCA, without any project planning as to how they will be used!

Apart from this, the Draft Appraisal Report tells us that most of the soils are slightly calcareous (0-40%  for surface, and 0-5% for sub surface.  Similarly higher conductivity value of more than 1mm hos/cm indicates that the area has tendency of salinity development.  It also says that  at least 10% of the area has strong alkaline PH.

Similarly, in the sub-surface there is a hard strata which will interfere in down ward movement of water.  Due to shallow depth, the water can only move laterally, creating problems of drainage.

Thus there are many limitations of using canal water in the command, and the lands that are really suitable for canal irrigation ranges from around 8000 to 12,000 ha of the command.

C. Irrigation Development in Command: Do we need the Man Project?

Even as far back as July 1982, according to the Project DPR "present area under irrigation from all sources in command area is 16.22%"

The breakup of existing irrigation facilities in 1982 according to the Project DPR is the following-

Sl. No.

Details of Scheme

Area Under Irrigation (Ha)





Tube wells


Open dug wells



2355 ha

But the scenario has changed considerably since then requiring a fundamental re assessment of the Man Project.

1. Today Irrigated area in the command exceeds 7048 ha.excluding considerable land irrigated with purchase  from a thriving ground water market. Thus Irrigation has increased from 16% of CCA to 47% of CCA.

CCA of Project (Ha)

Area Irrigated (ha)

Irrigation % of CCA




2. Analysis of irrigation by source reveals that wells account for the maximum irrigation, followed by lifts from rivers and streams and finally by tanks.

Sl. No.

Area Under Irrigation

% of total irrigation.


Wells (3100 wells)

4440.962 ha



Lift river /streams







3. Actual total capacity of tanks is 1588 ha for (Manawar tehsil) and 303 ha for Gadhwani tehsil) i.e. a total of 1891 ha. Yet  utilised capacity today is only 704.593 ha.  Thus unutilised capacity of tanks even at present is 1186 ha.

4.  Thus, area irrigated presently along with use of available tank capacity becomes 7048 + 1186 = 8234 ha.

5. This means an additional irrigation requirement of only  4000 ha.

GOMP has to decide whether it is cost effective for the Project to be constructed at great financial, human and environmental cost  to irrigate only 4000 ha. or whether it can and should be done by other means.

Benefits and Costs of the Project:

From the discussion earlier on costs overlooked, it is clear that many costs have been either overlooked or trivialised.

Today Project Cost is 108.12 crores of rupees.  Even if total CCA of 15,000 ha. (not only advisable by analysing of soil survey) has to be covered, given present irrigation of around 7000 ha +, 8000 additional ha of land need to be irrigated!

If only 12,000 ha has to be covered, 5000 additional ha of land will have to be covered.

i.e. cost per ha of land irrigated in the first instance will work out to Rs.1.35 lakhs per hectare and in the second instance to Rs.2.16 lakhs per ha.

Therefore, alternative ways of irrigating the additional lands in the command will have to be assessed.  Cost of a ground water structure will be about Rs.45,000 per 1.4 ha is /rs. 32,100. Cost of tank irrigation per hectare is likely to be even less, and cost of lift irrigation may go upto 50,000  per ha.

Therefore all the other alternatives are likely to be far less expensive.

Even in 1982, when the DPR was written it was acknowledged that B.C ratio will be thus -

B.C ratio

With Indirect benefits

Without indirect benefits

Interest Charge







Having analysed the reasons for why benefits outweigh costs, at 10% rate of interest, a juggling of figures and a belief in the value of incremental production from water.  The B-C ratio has been worked out to 0.76.

However, in the status report 1998, the B-C ratio has been changed out to 1.14. So what changed in the interim? project costs have gone up, but not project benefits commensurably (because of negative terms of trade for agriculture).  However these figures are juggled and changed that the Man Project benefits probably do not out weigh the costs.


It is clear from the earlier discussions that the complete lack of rehabilitation despite advanced stage of construction, non fulfillment of environmental measures, conditions, legal requirements and rehabilitation Policy, the construction of the Jobat Project cannot be justified and seems unnecessary.

However, development of the command is still necessary, Dhar district faces a rainfall failure once in every 5 years and precipitation levels are about 800 mm. p.a. Thus storages, both surface and underground is essential.  Even the Man Project was conceived for protective irrigation.

Thirdly, as we have seen earlier, lift irrigation from rivers Man and Gidar and streams is an important source of irrigation in the common.  This needs to be intensified  with creation of public lift schemes to enable the resource poor who cannot afford the investment and are either deprived of water or have to rely on the vagaries of the water markets, to access irrigation.  Some large and innovative community lift irrigation schemes such have been implemented on the rivers Hathni in the Jhabua district  should be taken up.

Fourthly, and we cannot escape it if we have to recharge ground water, or to perennials rivers and streams - is the development of the water shed through a combination of measures.  This provide an independent means of rabi irrigation through in Situ conservation of moisture and improvement of soils that are not suitable for flow irrigation.

Finally, while acknowledging that wells are the most important source of present irrigation in the command (63%), we must exercise restraint in further uncontrolled and unregulated development.  Ground water in the area seems to be over utilised and so adequate measures for recharge of groundwater including some innovative means as have been advocated by the Swadhyaya Parivar recharging 10 lakhs wells in Kutch and Saurashtra should be adopted.  A regulatory regime for ground water extraction in the Command should also be created using progressively in Kharif and only the balance will be used for Rabi crops.

So what are the alternatives?  The thrust areas are clear.

Firstly, we urgently need to use the tank capacity already created but under utilized i.e. around 1100 ha. of irrigation potential.  As suggested in the critique of the Jobat Project, the first step towards this is a participatory, public audit tank-by-tank in the command, in the presence of both the people and the public officials.  This should lead to identification of deficiencies causing under utilisation and therefore tank-by-tank strategy for full utilisation.  The task then will be to make the necessary investments ( a miniscule compound to Man Project Costs) to restore the tanks and release the full potential, on a priority basis.

Secondly, full utilization of present irrigation potential of tanks needs to be substantially supplemented with fresh creation of surface storage and tanks.  For example villagers of village Dasvi in the command gave the research team an urgent application for the construction of a tank on the Mota Khodra stream of their village.  Similar identification of potential sites for tanks can be done by a combined team of villagers and technical personnel of the government.  This will ensure a site appropriate from hydrological point of view, coverage as well as minimum displacement. 

The creation of tanks is important both for irrigation through the tank structures and recharge of ground water.  Steep electricity tariffs to discourage excess water - using crops and simple waste, along with direct and active screening of fresh ground water development should take place.

As we have suggested in the Jobat critique this can be achieved only by institutional structures like watershed user's groups and creative interaction of public officials and the public.

The Challenge:

An examination of undulating nature of lands in the Command, the development of irrigation in the Command in the last 15 years, the severe environmental and social costs of the Project and the adverse benefit cost ratios,  it is clear that to made a break through in the direction of development of irrigation potential and soil and water resources in the Command, alternatives will have to be explored.

Either the state adopts unacceptable means to push the project through, disregarding all social and environmental questions, legal violations, it will have or it will be stopped sooner or later by legal intervention and public protest, a suspended, giant like the SSP, though on a smaller scale.

The time frame of delivery of benefits is extremely important, has given for NABARD has given 44 crores for the Project in 1997. 

The challenge before the government is to take a radical re examination of its portion, stall the Project and use this investment for the creation of alternative means for the development of the command.

If the people, and the development of the command are the priorities of the state, rather than storage as an end in itself, it will certainly choose the alternatives.