The Sardar Sarovar Dam : a Brief Introduction
Amongst the 30 large dams planned for the Narmada, the Sardar Sarovar dam is the largest. With a proposed height of 136.5 m (455 feet), it is the focal point of both the dam-builders plans and the Narmada Bachao Andolan's opposition. The Govt claims that the multi-purpose Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) would irrigate more than 1.8 million hectares (mostly in Gujarat, some in Rajasthan) and quench the thirst of the drought prone areas of Kutch and Saurashtra in Gujarat. The opponents of the dam counter that these benefits are grossly exaggerated and would never accrue to the extent suggested by the Govt. Instead the project would displace more than 320,000 people and affect the livelihood of thousands of others. Overall, due to related displacements by the canal system and other allied projects, at least 1 million people are expected to be affected if the project is completed.
|Map #1: Command area of the SSP||Map #2: Command area of the SSP||Map #3: Project area of the SSP|
With no information forthcoming from the Govt. regarding the details of the project, the plans for the people to be affected etc. the NBA declared its opposition to the entire project taking into consideration the scale of adverse impacts. Throughout 1990-91, with a series of dharnas (sit-in's), non-violent protests (satyagraha) the NBA highlighted the plight of the oustees and the fundamentally flawed nature of the project. Under intense pressure, the World Bank (which was funding the dam to the tune of $450 million) was forced to constitute an independent review committee, the Morse Commission. The first independent review of any of the Bank funded projects, the Morse Report indicted the Bank on many counts and tacitly endorsed all the main concerns raised by the Andolan. The resultant international furore forced the Bank to finally withdraw from the project (with mutually face-saving measures for the Banks and the Govt. of India which asked the Bank to leave one day before the deadline for some stipulations was to expire).
Following a writ petition by the NBA calling for a comprehensive review of the project to take into consideration all the concerns raised, the Supreme Court of India halted construction of the dam in 1995 at a height of 80.3m. However, in an interim order in February 1999, the Supreme Court gave the go ahead for the dam's height to be raised to a height of 88m (85m + 3m of "humps"). The resultant increased flooding in the monsoon season of 1999 can potentially drown the homes and lands of as many as 2000 tribal families in about 50 villages.
On October 18, 2000, the Supreme Court of India delivered its judgement on the Sardar Sarovar Project. In a 2 to 1 majority judgement, it allowed immediate construction on the dam upto a height of 90m. Further, the judgement authorized construction upto the originally planned height of 138m. in 5-meter increments subject to receiving approval from the Relief and Rehabilitation Subgroup of the Narmada Control Authority. It should be noted that the Court has said nothing new on the matter. The Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal Award states that land should be made available to the oustees at least an year in advance before submergence (Clause IX, Subclause IV(2)(iv) and Subclause IV(6)(i)). The essentially unfettered clearance from the Supreme Court has come from the Court despite major unresolved issues on resettlement, the environment, and the project's costs and benfits.
On a separate page devoted to
the Supreme Court ruling, we have made information available about the
supreme court judgements, the critiques of the judgement, media coverage,
and ongoing actions to press ahead with the struggle.
Status of rehabilitation
In a recent report, a panel of the Indian People's Tribunal on Environment and Human Rights (IPT)
confirms "the failures of government agencies to adhere
to [..] the Supreme Court judgment in 2000, [..]"
For Annexures, click here.
Excerpts from the ministerial team on the R&R status
Courtesy: The Hindu, Apr 17 2006
United Nations on concerns about raising of dam height
UN Press Release; April 13, 2006
Is Sardar Sarovar Really Gujarat's Lifeline ?: A fresh appraisal
Has the Construction Advisory Committee Cleared Sardar Sarovar Dam Height Raise to 121 metres ?
NBA Press Release; March 01, 2006
No Displacement in the name of Tourism!!
Update: Nov 10 2004
- Displacement Without Rehabilitation:Adivasis of Alirajpur Tehsil, Jhabua Dist., Madhya Pradesh (Feb 2004) [Word doc]
- Maharashtra Cabinet decision re raising the SSP dam height (Jan 2004) [Word doc]
International Accountability Project: Letter sent by Dana Clark to the Worldbank regarding the current situation in the Narmada valley and its
role and accountability in the SSP project (Jun 2003) [ PDF (100K)]
Letter sent by prominent Indian citizens to the Chief Justice Khare regarding the situation in the Narmada valley
[PDF ] [
RTF Word ]
Letter sent to the PM by UNHCR regarding violation of adivasi rights during the submergence
Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) Reports and Sardar Sarovar Nigam Ltd: a selection
Compiled by Himanshu Upadhyay: [ HTML Word Doc]
Narmada submergence Jul 2003 images
More submergence 2003 pictures (courtesy Nigamanth Sridhar) Submergence 2003 | Jeevanshala
Video of Narmada submergence from 2002 (MPG, 52 Mb)
Final report of Habitat International Coalition's fact finding team
to the Narmada valley (SSP and Maan dams) September 2002
[ Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 ]
Letter sent by the Habitat International Coalition to the Prime Minister of
India regarding the situation in the SSP and Maan dam projects based on a fact-f
inding team sent by HIC in September to the valley after the monsoons.
(November 22, 2002): [Word Doc (120 KB)]
- Report of Public Hearings (Jan Sunvayi) from the Narmada Valley. [ RTF (249 K) ] [ PDF (424 K) ]
Rehabilitation Status as of February 2002; Note prepared by the NBA
- Letter submitted to the Indian Prime Minister by Miloon Kothari, United Nations Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living (August 10, 2001): [ Word Doc (64 KB), HTML (23 KB); Annex: Word Doc (25 KB), HTML (6 KB) ]
Maharashtra Government Task Force Report Translation (Word RTF):
[Intro with NGO Observations Part1 (100 KB) Part 2 (414 KB) Part 3 (264 KB)]
- Report of the Daud Committee on the status of rehabilitation in Maharashtra (June 29, 2001): Word RTF (285 KB); HTML (169 KB)
- Displacement, Submergence and Rehabilitation in Sardar Sarovar Project: Ground Reality indicating utter injustice; Note from NBA; October 26, 2000
- The Supreme Court order and the case of the SSP affected families at the dam height EL 90m; Note from NBA; October 22, 2000
NBA Press Release; September 26, 2005
Actions carried out inside and outside India
Pictures of the Delhi
hunger fast/dharna (Mar-Apr 2006)
Coverage of the Delhi Demos (Narmada and Bhopal) by CACIM
Bhoomi Hakk Satyagraha Images
- Satyagrahas in the narmada valley
- NGOs call on World Bank to assume obligations on Sardar Sarovar Project. November 10th, 2000
- NGO letter to World Bank on Sardar Sarovar Project; November 2, 1999
- Millenium Wheel Protest, October 1999
1. Press Statement by Solidaridos con Itoitz
2. NBA Supports Action at Millenium Wheel
International activists on a 3 day fast in front of World Bank HQ, Washington DC, Friday April 23 2004
[Background, Endorsements, Demands ] [Media advisory ] [Press kit ]
Narmada Bachao Andolan Statement of solidarity with WB fasters and protestors, April 25, 2004
Sixty years in enough: statement by Arundhati Roy
Some resources on the Sardar Sarovar Project
- Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal Award (NWDT)
- The Supreme Court ruling, critiques, news clips etc.
- Till the Rivers All Run Dry: A Human Ecological Analysis of the Narmada Bachao Andolan Prasenjit Maiti
- Who pays? Who profits?; A short guide to the Sardar Sarovar Project
- SSP no use for Saurashtra, admits CM; Indian Express, February 27, 2000
THE HOLIEST RIVER
: Chapter One of "Masters of Illusion :
The World Bank and the Poverty of Nations" by Catherine Caufield.
- Sardar Sarovar: A brief booklet published by INTACH
- "Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP): An Overview", Patrick McCully, IRN's Campaigns Director, May 25, 1994.
- "Exercising the Other Option", The Economic Times, New Delhi, 8 October 1994, detailing alternative power and water schemes to Sardar Sarovar.
- "A Brief Report on SSP Benchmarks", Patrick McCully, April 1, 1993. IRN's Campaigns Director examines the failure of Sardar Sarovar to meet performance benchmarks set forth by the Indian Government and the World Bank.
- "Confidential World Bank Evaluation Admits Future of Narmada Dam Uncertain", IRN, May 16, 1995.
- "Irrigation Project Threatens Endangered Mammal", January 7, 1995. A report on the threat the SSP poses to the endangered Wild Ass.
- Operations Evaluation Department Memo to World Bank, March 29, 1995. A confidential memo critical of the SSP.
- "Narmada Human Rights Observers' Visit, July 2-8, 1993". A report on the findings of a human rights team's visit to the dam, resettlement and other affected sites.
- "A Report of the Narmada International Human Rights Panel", October 1993. A report extensively detailing the excessive use of force by the police against activists and others.
- SSP impasse: Is there a solution; May 1997; Economic Times
- "Sardar Sarovar: Will the Courts Advise Study of Alternatives?". A report on a meeting in Delhi that examined alternatives to Sardar Sarovar.
Documentation of some alternatives to the
Sardar Sarovar Project
- Sardar Sarovar Nigam Limited (Dam Builder's web site)