"Considering the ecological security as the very foundation of sustainable development
and a sound economy, we commit ourselves to awaken and assist the society in Narmada
basin, in making well informed right choices at right time so that we and our future
generations find this part of mother Earth a relatively better place to live."
An initiative for Ecological, Economic and Social advancement of Narmada basin through
grassroots level awareness and action for conservation of natural resources including
soil, water, forests and biodiversity.
It is a humble initiative by a group of people committed to conservation of entire
ecosystem of Narmada. Spread over an area of 98796 sq.km, Narmada basin, comprising
of Maikal, Vindhya and Satpura mountain ranges and 41 major tributaries, is under
severe stress due to various reasons. Rapidly increasing human population and fast
depleting natural resources are posing unprecedented threats to this non-glacial
river. The ecosystem of the river is changing fast due to man-made reasons. Enabling
people to get right information about Narmada, before contemplating any corrective
action, is our motto. We wish people to abstain from convenient half truths and
dig deeper in issues at hand.
Narmada is a non-glacial river. Forests in watersheds of Narmada play a very crucial
role in maintaining post-monsoon streamflow in her tributaries. In this sense the
vegetal cover of forests can be considered to be analogous to a gas release regulator
mounted on a LPG cylinder which facilitates regulated release of gas instead of
sudden, one time release. Conservation of forested watershed in Maikal, Vindhyan
and Satpura mountain ranges is closely linked to ecological security of Madhya Pradesh
and Gujarat. It is the need of the hour to understand the delicate and complex connection
between forests and water resources in Narmada basin before taking any corrective
A substantial part of Narmada basin is still quite well forested. There are broad-leaved,
Sal, Teak and miscellaneous forests comprising of a vast variety of species mix.
Amazingly rich bio-diversity existing in forests of Narmada basin not only supports
livelihoods of a predominantly tribal population; it is also a repository of rare
gene pool, so valuable for the entire mankind. These forests, predominantly spread
in Maikal, Vindhya and Satpura mountain ranges and valleys, govern the water dynamics
in the entire region. The forest cover increases interception and infiltration of
rainwater during monsoons, reduces surface runoff, enhances subsurface flow and
sustains perennial stream flow in rivers. There seems to be a direct co-relation
between forest cover and groundwater status in Madhya Pradesh, which is evident
from official data and maps released by the Forest Survey of India, DehraDun and
The Central Groundwater Board, North central region, Bhopal. (See Forest cover and
Groundwater Maps of Madhya Pradesh)
The life of this lifeline of Central India is changing very fast. Studies on Narmada
reveal that frequency and magnitude of floods during monsoons is on the rise, post-monsoon
flow in the river and its tributaries is declining and duration of stream flow is
shrinking. Demand pulls to meet the increasing needs of a burgeoning population,
are escalating the requirement of water whereas the capacity of forests to hold
water for longer periods and sustain post monsoon stream flow is declining. Forest
cover of the basin, even if not shrinking in terms of area statistics, is undergoing
qualitative degradation due to onslaught of wide spread poverty and unemployment.
Blame it on whomsoever you may like, but the fact remains that hydrological functions
of forests in Narmada basin are at stake and so is the life in Narmada basin in
years to come.
This initiative is due to serious concerns related to future of Narmada. We wish
people to learn from the past and act in the present to ensure a relatively better
future. Having a scientific focus of looking at things and issues, we are committed
to understand and highlight often overlooked and inconvenient truths trapped between
divergent views on conservation and sustainable development. We also believe and
reiterate that solutions to many problems of environment conservation lie in Indian
traditions and culture. There is a need to remember, understand and revive these
traditions to create an environment in which an informed society knowingly and willingly
rises to the occasion and meets the emerging challenges in the best possible manner.
"Narmada is the lifeline of Central India. She (we deliberately abstain from using
‘it’) is the very foundation of economy and hub of socio-cultural activities in
Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat, the two major states blessed with this great river.
Life without Narmada is just unimaginable here. Emotional and spiritual bonds of
Narmada extend to people in parts of Chattisgarh and Maharashtra also. After construction
of Sardar Sarowar dam, Narmada has started quenching thirst of parts of Rajasthan
as well, further extending its outreach."