Narmada Samachar: 8 June 2001
- Maheshwar Dam related
- SSP related news
- Other News
- Feature Article: Big dams are no good - Darryl D'Monte
All this (and more) news can be accessed via the Press Clippings page at:
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Archives of Narmada Samachar are accessible at:
Maheshwar Dam related
NBA Press ReleasesFinancial Institutions must stop funding Maheshwar Hydro-Electric Project;
Lesson from Dabhol: Moratorium on all further FI lending to
Independent Power Projects ;
NBA Press Release - May 31, 2001
Maheshwar dam affected people storm Financial institutions
; FIs taken to task for irregularities;
Collusion between FIs and private promoters, RBI must act to stop
large scale loot of public finance ;
NBA Press Release - June 1, 2001
Press ClippingsNBA serves legal notices to IFCI for Maheshwar ; Times of India - June 2, 2001
..... "We have questioned the FIs' role in the entire project, the high tariff, non-escrowable capacity of state electricity Board (MPSEB) and techno-economic clearance to the project," NBA activists Chitaroopa Palit and Alok Agarwal told reporters here on Friday. ..... "IDBI officials informed that they had already disbursed Rs 30 crore out of a total Rs 100 crore and Rs 50 crore equity pledged to the project. This is direct contravention of the IFCI appraisal report of March 2000," Agarwal alleged. The FI had done so despite the fact that the statutory techno-economic clearance of the Central Electricity Authority for an increased outlay of Rs 2,254 crore has not been cleared, he said. .....
SSP related news
NBA Press ReleaseNew Water Policy for India needed on basis of WCD;
Tribals in Narmada Valley to face submergence again;
Maharashtra Govt. must stop work on dam and review SSP in state's interest ;
NBA Press Release - June 4, 2001
Press ClippingsGujarat unable to pay contractors for canal project ; Indian Express - June 3, 2001
Former cop files PIL against construction of big dams ; Deccan Herald - June 8, 2001
A retired deputy superintendent of police, B R Nana Rao has filed a public interest writ petition (PIL) in the Karnataka High Court against the construction of big dams across the country. The petitioner, stating that he was inspired by Medha Patkar?s Narmada Bachao Andolan and Booker Prize Winner Arundathi Roy, claimed that forcing countries like India to construct huge dams is a 'first world conspiracy'. A division bench comprising Chief Justice P V Reddi and Justice N K Patil which heard the petitioner today has reserved its verdict on the writ petition. According to the petition, the country already has about 3,000 dams and these dams do not help the small and marginal farmers in any way. These mega-dams, apart from causing severe ecological damage also render millions of people homeless, the petition argued. According to the petitioner, the World Bank and other institutions which earlier promoted the construction of dams in the developed countries, are now promoting the dam construction 'industry' in countries like India as the 'industry' is dead in the rest of the world. .....
THERE is one thing the Rajasthan government excels in - the fine art of public relations, in window dressing reality so exquisitely that the dirt remains camouflaged. Whatever his detractors might say, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot is an inspired salesman. Government expenditure on publicity and advertising has been more than doubled this year. With allegations about inadequate relief measures for drought flying thick and fast in the scorching heat, attention was gloriously diverted. At a recent PHDCCI summit of chief secretaries of the northern region in Jaipur, a succession of lavish presentations and hard-sell convinced outsiders beyond doubt that Rajasthan was the most innovative state in the country. A slick 34 page magazine printed in Bombay elaborated on all the unique projects initiated by the government - from education to greening of the desert. Ironically, at a time when most of the state?s famous lakes are reduced to shallow ponds, a scheme to introduce ??houseboats?? and water sports was unveiled by the tourism department. Ignorant first-timers to the state were enthralled. ...
Probe International Press Release: Safety concerns about Himachal Dam projectGovernment secrecy threatens Canadian democracy, puts Third World lives at risk;
Power to cover-up dooms Canadian agencies to repeat mistakes,
says watchdog group to Federal Task Force ;
NBA Press Release - June 6, 2001
Probe [International] obtained some 1,600 pages of project-related documents from CIDA using the Access to Information Act, but approximately one-fifth of those pages were severed, often on the grounds that the information contained in them was submitted confidentially by a third party. What was released, however, shows that the $1.3 billion Chamera I dam project [in Himachal Pradesh, India] has been plagued with problems so severe that consultants hired by CIDA [Canadian International Development Agency] warned about geological instability around the dam site that "could lead to a catastrophic event involving not only a major shortage of power production but, more important than all, potential losses of lives in the communities installed downstream of the dam."
Feature Article: Big dams are no good - Darryl D'Monte
Tehelka.com - June 7, 2001
Instead of huge investments in mega dams with poor returns, the state should give up its outdated ideas and opt for a better model, says Darryl D'Monte With the publication of its report, the World Commission on Dams (WCD) has been disbanded and a small Dams and Development unit has been created within the UN system to take this mandate further. In that sense, this is somewhat of a parallel with the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) set up after the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992. The CSD's task is to see to it that Agenda 21, the voluminous set of recommendations on environment and development that emanated after this "mother of all UN meetings", is honoured in spirit and practice. Incidentally, an Indian - Nitin Desai, a former Member of the Planning Commission, heads the CSD. The WCD was in many ways more innovative than the Earth Summit, at least in the manner it was created and functioned. It grew out of a small workshop organised by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the World Bank at the former's headquarters in Gland, Switzerland in 1997. Diverse interests were represented at the meeting but it surprisingly arrived at a consensus that a World Commission was required to pronounce on the pros and cons of these mega projects, with a view to settling some of the misgivings surrounding them. The members included the head of the International Commission on Large Dams - an unashamed proponent of this technology - as well as the redoubtable Medha Patkar and a representative of Asea Brown Boveri, a leading Swiss multinational, which specialises in executing large engineering projects. At recent briefings on the WCD report in Mumbai and New Delhi by the three Indians associated with the Commission - Patkar, L.C. Jain and Prof S. Parasuraman - the spokespersons reiterated that as many as 79 countries participated in the deliberations. There were seven detailed case studies of dams, three country studies (including India), 17 thematic reviews, 130 contributing papers, four regional consultations, and scores of public hearings and 950 submissions. It was highly unfortunate that the Indian government chose not to associate itself with the Commission. The first Asian consultation was to take place in Bhopal, but was cancelled at the last minute after the government indicated its displeasure - obviously under pressure from its fellow-BJP regime in Gujarat, which is pushing through the Sardar Sarovar project. China, the other big dam-building country, also decided not to co-operate, after initially appointing a Chief Engineer to participate. By contrast, Sri Lanka - where the Asian consultation was finally held - and Pakistan took part. As Prof Parasuraman, originally from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai, who served on the WCD secretariat, observed, the consensus was that these dams do bring benefits, but at unacceptable costs. However, even the benefits are often illusory. They provide less than 19 per cent of the total hydropower and account for between 30 and 40 per cent of the irrigated area. The most surprising finding is that they only contribute 12 to 16 per cent of global food production, which puts a question mark over the argument constantly put forward by the protagonists of big dams. In India, according to the WCD country study (disowned by the government), big dams have contributed less than 30 per cent of food production. For that matter, 80 per cent of agricultural land in the world is rain-fed and this accounts for 60 per cent of grain production. Instead of spending vast resources on a dubious technology, therefore, it is time that dryland farming was given top priority. On the flip side, there is the displacement of people, which is put at a massive 40 to 80 millions, mainly in India and China. Although there are no official figures on this social catastrophe for obvious reasons, it is guesstimated that the number could be as high as 50 million in India and 12 million in China. It ought to be clarified that these constitute those who have been physically displaced by submergence, those rendered landless and homeless downstream and also due to the building of infrastructure like canals have not been counted. The less-known adverse impacts include the question of cost over-runs, which average 50 per cent. In India, these touch as much as 250 per cent, which makes a mockery of the entire concept of cost-benefit analysis. Furthermore, costs are recovered on power but not on irrigation. Finally, the other familiar argument by dam-builders, that this hydropower is clean, unlike thermal, fossil fuel or nuclear energy, is now being questioned: by submerging forest areas, dam reservoirs generate methane and greenhouse gases which approximate those of thermal power. One of the most alarming findings of this post mortem on dams is their long gestation periods and delays. According to the report of India's Parliamentary Standing Committee of the Ministry of Water Resources, dams begun 25 to 30 years ago have still not been completed. The cost spill-over amounts to a staggering Rs 75,000 crore. On the other hand, the Planning Commission has allocated only Rs 2,000 crore for this purpose. Not that the dam-builders have any qualms about such minor details: they continue to start new projects all the time. Another unfamiliar fact is that, according to a World Bank study, less than 40 per cent of the water from the "head" of the dam reaches its supposed destination in this country. Take the case of Sardar Sarovar. It was originally sanctioned by the Planning Commission a few decades ago on the ground that it would bring water to the thirsty in Saurashtra and Kutch. Today, it is clear that only a small proportion will reach these districts. There is also the related issue of the efficiency of irrigation. Groundwater is 1.5 times more efficient than surface or canal irrigation, which is plagued by leakage, evaporation and other losses. Worldwide, big dams have only delivered 40 to 50 per cent of their potential. Yet, China for instance is going ahead with the Three Gorges, one of the world's biggest. The resort to this mega-technology has led to overuse of water, leading to salinity and waterlogging. The first impact has contributed to a fifth of agricultural land alongside canals going out of production, as has been witnessed in Punjab and Haryana, not to mention ecologically similar zones in Pakistan. Besides, once an area has been earmarked for a big dam, all development funds virtually dry up. In the case of Indira Sagar, the huge dam on the Narmada in Madhya Pradesh, there isn't a road for 260 villages, or schools or primary health centres, because the area is condemned. At the same time, due to a paucity of funds, there is no sign of the dam coming up: even politicians in that state are opposed to it. Given all the shortcomings listed above, it would be well to set existing dams in order before embarking on new projects. The Indians who served on the WCD believe that the core emerging issue is a proper recognition of the rights of those affected by dams as well as a comprehensive assessment of risks. There is also a strong case for alternative methods of putting up dams, where the state creates greater opportunities for equity instead of depriving the most vulnerable of their rights. Tribals and lower castes can be accommodated in this process. Finally, these outcomes could be achieved through binding formal agreements, not left to the vagaries of the administrative and political process. Some activists like Patkar call for "prior informed consent" before launching dams. It is noteworthy that six European governments have decided to implement the WCD guidelines; Sri Lanka and Brazil have even set up a National Commission on Dams and Pakistan has asked for IUCN help to develop one on these lines. By contrast, the Ministry of Water Resources boycotted the briefing in Delhi, as did irrigation officials in Maharashtra during the Mumbai meeting. This ostrich-like attitude does not sit well with the new thrust towards transparency and democratic functioning in this new century.