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Narmada Dam Issue

Narmada Dam Issue

General awareness on current topics is essential as not only you will be getting questions on GK in various MBA entrance exams but it will be useful for Essay writing test and WAT also.

Today, you will read General Awareness Topic: “Narmada Dam Issue” 
Though India is not a water scarce country but for effective utilization of water, it needs a network of canals, dams etc which not only provide the water for irrigation and household purposes but also generates electricity. 
However, most of such projects result in displacement of large number of families which are solely dependent of land for their livelihood. 
These project affected families (PAF) bear the brunt of these projects by sacrificing the only source of their livelihood but didn’t get the benefits of such projects in the form of water of electricity. 
This is the major issue with almost all the river water projects which face opposition from the PAF and environmentalist and Sardar Sarovar Project (part of Narmada Valley project) is not an exception.
Amongst the 30 large dams planned for the Narmada, the Sardar Sarovar dam with a proposed height of 136.5 m (455 feet), is the largest and the focal point of both the dam-builders plans and the Narmada Bachao Andolan's opposition. 
The Government claims that the multi-purpose Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) would irrigate more than 1.8 million hectares (mostly in Gujarat, some in Rajasthan) and will 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 Government. 
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. 
On October 18, 2000, the Supreme Court of India delivered its judgment on the Sardar Sarovar Project. In a 2 to 1 majority judgment, it allowed immediate construction on the dam up to a height of 90m.
Further, the judgment authorized construction up to the originally planned height of 138m and 5-meter increments subject to receiving approval from the Relief and Rehabilitation Subgroup of the Narmada Control Authority. 
Supreme Court recognized the need of such projects for the long term development of the country along with recognizing the rights of the PAF. 
Edifice of development erected over the plight of the downtrodden. Most of the development projects which require land acquisition are often stalled due to protests and litigation majorly over the issue of the land. 
The most important reason behind an increase stalled development projects is the stalled rehabilitation of the PAF of the erstwhile industrial and development projects. 
Removing the poor tribals from their livelihood and ancestral land in the name of development without providing them alternate source of income is the infringement of their human rights.
What is at stake is not whether Sardar Sarovar can deliver the benefits it is meant to deliver, but whether it is affecting the human rights of any individuals or groups.
Indeed, human rights are not competing claims of one individual or group against another. They are fundamental entitlements that all individuals have, such as the right to life. While it is no doubt fundamental to consider the developmental benefits of any planned project, these cannot be weighed against human rights.
Human rights thus have to be considered independently. In the case of a project like the Sardar Sarovar dam, the main human rights impacts relate to the displacement of people caused by submergence. 
Monetary benefits are provided in many cases, but without any idea about investment opportunities, PAF which are mostly tribals, spend the compensatory money in consumer expenditure which is soon exhausted.  
Therefore, along with monetary compensation, some livelihood resources suitable for them should be part of compensation. Without the rehabilitation of project affected families, development achieved will be a false one.
No doubt, Sardar Sarovar project is going to benefit in a big way viz ; 
• The Sardar Sarovar Project will provide irrigation facilities to 17.93 lac ha. of land, covering 3112 villages of 73 talukas in 15 districts of Gujarat. It will also irrigate 75,000 ha. of land in the strategic desert districts of Barmer and Jallore in Rajasthan and 37,500 ha. in the tribal hilly tract of Maharashtra through lift. About 75% of the command area in Gujarat is drought prone while entire command (75,000 ha.) in Rajasthan is drought prone. 
• A special allocation of 0.86 MAF of water has been made to provide drinking water to 135 urban centers and 8215 villages (45% of total 18144 villages of Gujarat) within and out-side command in Gujarat for present population of 18 million and prospective population of over 40 million by the year 2021.
All the villages and urban centers of arid region of Saurashtra and Kachch and all "no source" villages and the villages affected by salinity and fluoride in North Gujarat will be benefited. Water supply requirement of several industries will also be met from the project giving a boost to all-round production. 
• There will be two power houses viz; River bed power house and canal head power house with an installed capacity of 1200 MW and 250 MW respectively. The power would be shared by three states - Madhya Pradesh - 57%, Maharashtra - 27% and Gujarat 16%. This will provide a useful packing power to western grid of the country which has very limited hydel power production at present. 
• A series of micro hydel power stations are also planned on the branch canals where convenient falls are available. 
• It will also provide flood protection to areas measuring 30,000 ha. Covering 210 villages and Bharuch city and a population of 4.0 lac in Gujarat.
• It is also proposed to develop wild life sanctuaries viz. "Shoolpaneshewar wild life sanctuary" on left Bank, Wild Ass Sanctuary in little Rann of Kachchh, Black Buck National Park at Velavadar, Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary in Kachchh, Nal Sarovar Bird Sanctuary and Alia Bet at the mouth of River. 
Thus the benefits of the project are hard to ignore and it must be carried on with utmost priority, however, not without rehabilitating the project affected families which is also as important as the project itself.   
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