Multiple Dams for Mumbai Region have Severe Impacts and are Unjustifiable

Press Release                                                                                                                                                  18.12.13                           

Multiple Dams for Mumbai Region have severe impacts and are unjustifiable

More than 50 people including tribal groups, social activists, water experts, ecologists and wildlife experts, academics came together for a brainstorming workshop about Dams coming up for Mumbai Region. The meeting was organized by South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People, Shramik Mukti Sangathana, Jalbiradari and Keystone Foundation.

About 12 dams are planned or are under construction to satisfy the increasing thirst of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR). All of these dams fall in eco-sensitive region of the Western Ghats. They will together submerge more than 22,000 hectares of land, including nearly 7000 hectares of forests, lakhs of trees and more than 750 hectares of Tansa Sanctuary. They will affect a minimum of 100,000 tribals who depend on the forests and their ancestral lands for livelihoods. These dams include Kalu, Shai, Balganga, Susari, Khargihill, Bhugad, Pinjal, Gargai, Middle Vaitarna, Barvi and Poshir, among others. These are in addition to the dams already constructed for MMR water supply.

Tribals and other affected groups of Thane and Raigad region have been strongly opposing these projects. Most people in Mumbai seems unaware of their struggles or impacts of these projects.

Most of these dams are escaping the social and environmental impact assessments and management plans, environment clearance requirements, environmental monitoring or public consultations due  to blunders in environmental impact assessment notification of Sept 2006, which excludes domestic and industrial water supply projects from environmental clearance process.

MMR has not done any sort of options assessment before pushing these projects and cursory review show that many options exist. At the city or Region level, there is no shortfall in water supply currently and the existing problems are due to inequitable, non-transparent, non-participatory and wasteful water governance in MMR. Municipal corporations under the MMR which are pushing new dams do not treat even 15% of their sewage. Bhiwandi Nizampur & Vasai Virar Corp do not treat ANY of their sewage. The Mumbai Region has no estimate of its rainwater harvesting potential, and there is little effective action in this direction despite high rainfall. Water supply and distribution losses are over 30%. Local water sources like rivers, lakes and wells are being destroyed by pollution and encroachments. There is no interest in democratizing governance of MMR water sector.

We urge the MMR region to address these issues first, which would lead to sustainable water supply to the city and suburbs. Konkan Irrigation Department which is constructing most of these projects has violated several laws related to tribal and forest rights, environment, forests and resettlement and has been mostly favoring a single contractor, illegally.

We strongly urge the MMRDA, MCGM, Municipal Corporations of MMR, Maharashtra government, Union Ministry of environment and forests, Maharashtra Forest Department, National Board of Wildlife and all others concerned to ensure that following steps are taken up urgently and in a credible way:

  1. Undertake thorough options assessment for Mumbai’s (and also same for other cities of MMR) water needs which includes groundwater use, local water sources, rainwater harvesting, sewage treatment and reuse, water supply efficiency, etc.,
  2. Undertake Environmental and Social impact assessments for all the dams coming up for Mumbai Region
  3. Take immediate action against KIDC for violating multiple laws while bulldozing ahead with projects and MMRDA for funding projects in the absence of clearances
  4. Respect peoples protests and Gram Sabha resolutions against displacement, deforestation and their refusal to give permission for these projects
  5. Take strong penal action against the officers and the contractors who have displaced Adivasis illegally
  6. Not to resume any work or planning for any project before the above is done, stop work on projects in the meantime.
  7. Change the EIA notification to ensure that all large dams are included for environment clearance, public hearings and EIA requirements.
  8. Immediately institute a credible Cumulative Impact Assessment of the projects already constructed and advanced in implementation.
  9. Institutionalize decentralized, democratic governance of water sector in MMR from bottom to top.

 

Forests in the Western Ghats are Mumbai’s and MMR’s lungs. They are the watersheds of rivers and water sources like Tansa and Bhatsa and naturally purify Mumbai’s & MMR’s drinking water.

Rich tribal culture of Thane and Raigad is a shared heritage of Mumbai and we have no right to displace the tribals or destroy their livelihoods.

Stop this destruction in Mumbai’s backyard.

Indavi Tulpule (indavi62@gmail.com), Shramik Mukti Sangathana, Thane;

Surekha Dalvi, (surekhadalavi@yahoo.com) Shramik Kranti Sangathana: Raigad;

Brian Lobo, (brianlobo6@gmail.com) Shramik Kashtakari Sanagthana: Dahanu;

Prashant Sarkhot, (loksangramsamiti@gmail.com)Shai Dharan Viroddhi Samiti,

Sitaram Shelar (sitaram.shelar@yuvaindia.org) YUVA, Mumbai;

Janak Daftari (daffy@jalsangrah.org), Jal Biradari, Mumbai

Shripad Dharmadhikary (manthan.shripad@gmail.com), Manthan Adhyayan Kendra, Pune

Parineeta Dandekar (parineeta.dandekar@gmail.com, 09860030472), SANDRP, Pune

 

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