The Environment Ministry is constituting a committee to examine whether the Sardar Sarovar project, also called the Narmada Dam project, has complied with all environment norms, 23 years after the ministry gave clearance to the project.
The ministry on Wednesday constituted a committee headed by Yoginder K. Alagh, Chancellor Nagaland University, to examine the adequacy of environment plans for pari passu (equitable and complete) implementation of environment safeguard measures.
The committee was constituted after a sub-group of Narmada Control Authority, which is mandated to implement environment clearance norms for the project, said there were gaps in the implementation of environment action plan.
The sub-group had found the four states implementing the project— Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan — had failed to provide sufficient relief and rehabilitation to the displaced.
One of the terms of reference of the committee is to suggest a long-term monitoring of the environment action plan, which civil right groups such as Narmada Bachao Andolan have even termed “non-existent”.
In a related development, the environment ministry has also refused to give permission to increase the height of the dam from existing 121.92 meters till the command area development plans of one of the dams under the project, Omkreshwar multi-purpose project, has environment safeguard measures.
“These plans details only some of the engineering aspects of the command area development activity and the environmental safeguard measures essential for sustainable irrigation development has not been dealt with,” the ministry said in a letter to Madhya Pradesh government.
The ministry has given four weeks to the Madhya Pradesh government to respond to the findings of the committee.