Large scale irrigation Projects no more feasible: Jairam Ramesh

Minister for rural development Jairam Ramesh clarified that with the enactment of Land Acquisition Bill acquisition of land for another major irrigation project like the Sardar Sarovar Dam would not be feasible. He held that enormous and major irrigation projects are no longer practicable as it requires large-scale land acquisition and displacements of habitations.

What is the controversy about Sardar Sarovar Dam?

The Sardar Sarovar Dam is a gravity dam on the Narmada River near Navagam, Gujarat in India. The dam took form in 1979 as part of a development scheme to increase irrigation and produce hydroelectricity. It is the largest dam and part of the Narmada Valley Project, a large hydraulic engineering project involving the construction of a series of large irrigation and hydroelectric multi-purpose dams on the Narmada River. The dam is one of India’s most controversial dam projects and its environmental impact and net costs and benefits are widely debated. The World Bank was initially a funder of the SSD, but withdrew in 1994. The project led to large scale displacement of tribal people inhabiting in the project region as well as damage to environment. The development of the project witnessed protests including Narmada Bachao Andolan. Land acquisition, displacement and rehabilitation of ousted families still remains a matter of conflict and dispute between the state governments and citizens.
Responding to difficulties faced by the state governments in implementing, some provisions of the Land Acquisition Bill, some exemptions have been made. These are:

  1. Land or compensation may be provided to the displaced family but not both. And land may be provided wherever possible. However, this exemption will not apply when the affected family belongs to the Dalits and tribals community. For SC, ST the government will have to provide land for land.
  2. Waiver has been given for conduction the social impact assessment process since the environment impact assessment asked all the relevant questions about displaced and affected families.



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