Environmental Expert Committee submits its report indicting government of Madhya Pradesh

Devendra Pandey Committee has submitted to the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) its 3rd interim report, especially on the Command Area Development (CAD) Planning and canals of Indira Sagar, Omkareshwar (Narmada Dams), which brings out unbelievable non-compliance by Govt of MP and Narmada Valley Development Authority (NVDA) on CAD planning. The report says only draft report on CAD plan in Indira Sagar Project (ISP) & a brief interim report on Omkareshwar Project (OSP) are submitted and not even the final plans. Read more

What is submitted are not CAD plans but 'Expression of Interest'.The "plans" can not be approved and no further construction at the cost of environment should be permitted till compliance on prerequisites is obtained.

The report was submitted after the Supreme Court's endorsement of the Committee’s role and MoEF’s position as a sanctioning authority in its interim order in the case of Narmada Bachao Andolan (appeal in the SC against High Court – M.P.'s judgment by Govt of M.P.) dated 25-02-2010 which directed
that the canal work can proceed only with approval by the Devendra Pandey Committee and MoEF. It granted maximum of six week time to Pandey Committee and four weeks to MoEF.

Pandey Committee report clearly brings out that no full and final CAD Plans even for Omkareshwar, were submitted in 1992, as was argued by the Govt of M.P. in the Supreme Court and not one for ISP. Plans submitted in Oct 2009-Jan 2010 are also not for all distributaries and canals. For Omkareshwar, only brief interim report on CAD for left bank canal is ready and submitted.
The report further brings out that almost 60% of ISP command area is likely to face the danger of water logging & Stalinization and similarly large part of OSP command also is prone to drainage problem for which no mitigation measures are planned.

Calling such non planning and lack of planning, with the wanton proliferation of new projects as the biggest single malady in the major and medium irrigation sector, the Pandey Committee has disapproved the fact that there is still a tendency to restrict focus of CAD plan, to the traditional concerns regarding
distributory and optimal use of water, not the ecological impacts.

No implementable micro plans, disributory wise are submitted till date, the Committee has disclosed against all contrary pleadings by the state Govt before the HC and the SC, and hence balanced use of surface & ground water is far from planned. Very high water efficiency of 80% (as against less than 40% as the national average) is presumed without any supporting data. The report brings out this and much more and concludes as follows:

"For reasons detailed above, the Committee does not consider the draft command area development plans for Omkareshwar and ISP, submitted to the MoEF by M.P. in October 2009, as adequate in terms of conditions laid down as part of the environment clearance, and the subsequent stipulations by the MoEF and the NCA ESG. These plans detail only some of the engineering aspects of the CAD activity and the environmental safeguard measures essential for sustainable irrigation development as not been dealt with. Similarly the impact of construction of canal is not provided in the plan and therefore the committee could not assess the impacts of construction on environment such as loss of biodiversity, noise, water and air pollution etc. Therefore, these plans are incomplete and can not be approved."

MoEF letter to NVDA, M.P: Notice demanding response in four weeks:It is on the basis of the above report that MoEF has sent special letter to the vice chairman, Mr O. P. Rawat, NVDA, M.P. to submit its comments if any within our weeks. This letter can be treated as a notice, although MoEF, is even today, in a position of authority to issue stop work notice. While this is a welcome move, why is the ministry not taking an action under the environmental clearances to ISP (1987) and OSP (1993) as well as the Environment Protection Act 1986, without wasting time and not permitting any permanent damage, people question. Yet we look forward to the action at the earliest.