Controversies Surrounding the Sardar Sarovar Dam

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Geography Project – Controversies surrounding the Sardar Sarovar Dam Most of the SSP's advantages will benefit Gujarat (downstream), while most of the disadvantages will be felt upstream of the dam in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. According to the initial plan, the main dam will house a 1200 megawatt (MW) powerhouse, while the canal will have power generating units totaling 250 MW installed; this brings the total installed capacity to 1450 MW. The 1450 MW figure hides the fact that most of this generation capacity will be reduced to zero once the main canal is completed, diverting the bulk of the water flow into irrigation projects. Furthermore, of the remaining 250 MW capacity installed on the canal, only 50 MW can be sustained on a continuous basis. Not only does the project generate less power than originally assessed, but when the electricity used to run the canal networks is subtracted, a net deficit of 80 MW occurs. That is, when the irrigation component is counted, the project will consume more power than it generates. According to official statistics, the SSP and the Narmada Sarovar Project (NSP) will together submerge about 55,681 ha of prime agricultural land, as well as 56,066 ha of forest land and lead to the submergence of 245 villages(officially estimated at 67000 persons). The Department of Environment and Forests (DEF) estimated the cost due to the loss of forests alone to be Rs. 391 billion (Rs. 302 billion due to NSP and Rs. 89 billion due to SSP) During the July 1993 monsoon, the partially-built dam began impounding water much faster than expected, leaving hundreds of families to be flooded out of their homes. This brought to light the fact that dam construction had proceeded far ahead of the rehabilitation and relocation projects, rather than being conducted simultaneously as required by law. Numerous cases have been documented of persons being resettled onto mortgaged land or dumped (by police who cleared out their villages) into temporary...
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