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K.I.3. The development of a major water resource scheme can bring about linked: Physical; Economic; Social changes in the immediate environment. These may be positive and negative depending on the context, But can lead to conflict. The Narmada Valley Scheme India North of Mumbai.

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K.I.3. The development of a major water resource scheme can bring about linked:



Social changes in the immediate environment.

These may be positive and negative depending on the context,

But can lead to conflict.


The Narmada Valley Scheme


North of Mumbai.


Pros and cons

• Indian food production rose from 50 to 200 million tonnes 1950-1997; two-thirds of increase from irrigation but not make clear what proportion of the increase was contributed by large dams: estimated 10%; Government claims 30%

• Before 1978 all dams built without an environmental impact assessment (EIA). EIA became statutory only in 1994

• Estimates of those displaced by large dams in India in the last 50 years vary from 21 to 56 million people

• 40% of those displaced are adivasis (tribal people)

• Less than 50% of people displaced by large projects are rehoused

• The costs of dams are systematically underestimated and their benefits are inflated

• Accepted cost-benefit ratio for large dams is not met(80% of cases)

• Heavy silting shortens the life of many dams

• There have been 17 cases of earthquake tremor induced by large reservoirs in India


Narmada is the fifth largest river in India and largest west flowing river of Indian peninsula originating from an elevation of 900 m . It flows westwards over a length of 1,312 km before draining into the Gulf of Cambay. The basin lies between east longitudes 72° 32 and 81° 45' and north latitudes 21° 20' and 23° 45'.

The basin has an elongated shape almost like a thin ribbon with a maximum length of 953 km east to west and a maximum width of 234 km northto south.

The annual utilisable quantity of water of Narmada at Navagam, in Gujarat, was estimated to be 34.537 million cubic metre (MCM) at 75% dependability by NWDT. On full development, the Narmada has a potential of irrigating over 6 million ha (15 million acres) of land along with a capacity to generate about 3,000 Mega Watt of hydro electric Official website Narmada Valley Deveopment Authority


The controversy over large dams on the River Narmada has come to symbolise the struggle for a just and equitable society in India. In brief, the Government's plan is to build 30 large, 135 medium and 3000 small dams to harness the waters of the Narmada and its tributaries.

Opponents of the dam believe that the cost-benefit analysis is grossly inflated in favour of building the dams. It is well established that the plans rest on untrue and unfounded assumptions of hydrology and seismicity of the area and the construction is causing large scale abuse of human rights and displacement of many poor and underprivileged communities.

They also believe that water and energy can be provided to the people through alternative technologies and planning processes which can be socially just and economically and environmentally sustainable. of the River Narmada


Initial Budget(1986-87)Rs 6,400 cr

Expenditure so far Rs 14,000 cr

Projected Total costRs 24,000 cr

Cost of main canal Rs 4,000 cr

Villages submerged 14

Families displaced 4,600

Irrigation for 1.91 million hectares

Drinking water for8,200villages, 135towns

Diversion canal into arid Gujurat

Not just a dam!


Social Effects – Good…

‘‘Till last September, I was so worried I would lose my cropwhen there was no sign of a last spell of rain,’’ says Bijalbhai. ‘‘Since my village is barely 30 km from the dam site, it seemed I had been hearing of the Narmada waters forever. But when the branch canal finally brought the waters here, I realised it was a miracle. My crop got a new lease of life.’’

increasing his cotton yield from 250 kg to 700 kg = Farmers gain =

Better Standard of Living

India is a major global cotton producer. Organic v. pesticides / fertilisers


Improved Quality of Life

Old House

New house

New water facility

Rehabilitation and resettlement of Displaced Peoples

-In New Jalud village infrastructure like School, Dispensary, Seed-Storage, -Roads, Drainage, Electrification and Water Supply is complete.


Project would meet the drinking water needs of 8215 villages and 135 urban centres which are today suffering from acute shortage of water.

Sardar Sarovar dam

Clean water =

Reduced infant mortality


Social Effects - Bad

Communities displaced – up to 100,000 people

A grim situation awaits more than 1500 families in Maharashtra and 12000 families in Madhya Pradesh who face submergence this monsoon due to the rise in the height of the Sardar Sarovar dam to 100 meters in May of this year," the groups say.


Residents of Pendriapada (Guj) look on their destroyed homes and fields

Stagnant water increased….

More mosquitoes breeding…

Increased levels of malaria…


A huge percentage of the displaced are tribal people (57.6 per cent in the case of the Sardar Sarovar Dam). Include Dalits and the figure becomes obscene.

If you consider that tribal people account for only eight per cent, and Dalits 15 per cent, of India's population, it opens up a whole other dimension to the story.

Tribal momadic people displaced for settled irrigated cash crop growers

Narmada Main Canal


Civil Unrest if water management system fails

With incessant rains in Gujarat water logging is threatening the standing crops


Environmental : Good Points

Low rainfall, unreliable monsoon, long dry season –

Difficulties overcome by irigation

The fourth year of searing drought in South Asia is taking a heavy toll — dead livestock are scattered across a desiccated, dusty landscape, wells have run dry and thousands of people are wandering from their homes in search of food and water..

Drought affected villagers in eastern Gujurat,India, construct a 'check dam' to collect the monsoon rains that they hope will arrive.


Create new ecosystems e.g . in reservoirs. Can be used economically.

Large water bodies shall be created as a result of various dams being constructed on the river Narmada & its tributaries.

The reservoirs would, therefore, offer tremendous opportunities for fisheries development which would ultimately benefit the fishermen socially and economically in the respective areas.


Environment: bad points

Good land and vegetation flooded and destroyed

Drowning tree


Reservoirs may silt up quickly …

Recent reports show that larger dam reservoirs are silting up at rates far higher than assumed when the projects were built, that the life span of major Indian dams is likely to be only two-thirds of their projected life.

Thick silt deposits left by the receding monsoon waters at Domikhedi, Maharashtra. The near stagnant waters of the SSP reservoir allow silt to settle out, before this dries it creates a dangerous and impassable layer of mud


Soils may become saline in desert areas :

i.e. new farming not sustainable

Of the total area to be irrigated by Sardar Sarovar, only some 40 percent is classified as "suitable" and "very suitable" for irrigation. As to the remaining 60 percent, there are more or less severe problems related to high salt content in the soil or in the groundwater.


Economic: Good Points

Irrigation pumps in a village to the Narmada River allows cultivation of sugar cane, a water intensive crop.

This production is much coveted by the politically powerful farmers in Gujarat where water is scarce who will benefit from the construction of the SSP dam.


The estimates come with an upward revision, largely on the strength of the Narmada water released through the Integrated By-Pass Tunnel (IBPT) into the main canal system irrigating some 2.50 lakh hectares. Gujarat decided against declaring itself drought hit, despite the late arrival and early withdrawal of monsoon this year.

This, despite 2,747 villages being individually declared drought hit.

Produce higher value products reliably e.g. cash crops of cotton or tomatoes

Even if there is a drought in the region


Sardar Sarovar dam: At what price progress?

If the half-built dam is not finished all the money spent on it so far will have been wastedFor the last three years the people who live on the banks of the Narmada river in India have managed to halt the construction of a dam that threatens to destroy their way of life.

Good for the economy

HEP electricity created

Creates an industrial boom

e.g. textile factories processing the cotton grown by irrigation


Economic : Bad Points

Bargi dam, Madhya Pradesh. The first major dam to be completed on the Narmada River. It displaced 100,000 peoplehowever, since money ran out

before the irrigation canals were built only 5% of the planned land has benefited from irrigation (about as much land as the reservoir has taken). The large dam produces 105MW of electricity, a pitiful amount.


Generators blocked with silt

Reservoirs silt up

Production increase not as great as predictions.

Pushed through against massive public opposition

The rich gain And the poor lose out? Could the money be better spent?


Project began in 1979

3,200 dams to be built along 1,200km Narmada river

Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan likely to benefit

Opponents says it will displace 200,000 people and damage ecology

World Bank withdrew in 1993

To be fully complete by 2025

Narmada: A history of controversy

Farmland will be submerged. Poor lose out