For Raising Narmada Dam Height
By Gargi Parsai
15 May, 2003
The Narmada Control Authority
today gave its clearance for raising the height of the controversial
Sardar Sarovar Project in Gujarat from the present 95 metres to 100
metres (plus three metres humps), enlarging the area and habitations
under submergence this monsoon season. The permission comes a year after
the Gujarat Government was allowed to raise the height to 95 metres
(plus three metres humps) before the Assembly elections last year.
When contacted over telephone
in a remote village in the Narmada Valley, the Narmada Bachao Andolan
(NBA) leader, Medha Patkar, lashed out against the decision saying it
spelt "disaster, destruction and human tragedy" for thousands
of tribals and villagers in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra who would
face temporary and permanent submergence this monsoon.
"Just last night the
Maharashtra Government took us to show some land in a hilly region,
how can they then claim that they have settled affected people. Even
in Madhya Pradesh nothing has happened. Only a handful of landless people
have been shifted to house plots. The landed have not moved as they
are being offered cash. Gujarat has shown ex-partee allotment, only
on paper. How can the NCA accept this? This is a clear violation of
the Supreme Court order and the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal Award.
It seems Governments have now stopped caring for people," she said.
The decision to increase
the height was taken at the 66th Emergency Meeting of the NCA here chaired
by the Water Resources Secretary and NCA chairman, A.K. Goswami. The
Secretary, Social Justice and Empowerment, Gopal Reddy, who heads the
Rehabilitation and Resettlement (R and R) Sub-Group, also attended.
Even while Maharashtra has
to complete the mandatory rehabilitation and resettlement of displaced
people, the Sub-Group in its meeting on Tuesday accepted the State's
"undertaking" to do so before the monsoon and recommended
to the NCA to permit raising the height of the dam to 100 metres. It,
however, directed the State Governments concerned to make contingency
arrangements to "safeguard" the project-affected families
against any "untoward" incident during the flood season.
The R and R Sub-Group asked
the Maharashtra Government to shift all project-affected families settled
at temporary shelters to R and R sites well before the monsoon. The
State was also directed to look into the grievances of the previously
settled families and redress them.
Madhya Pradesh said it had
resettled nearly 3,700 families from 51 villages, partly in Gujarat.
After claiming that it had no land to rehabilitate a total of more than
33,000 families who would be displaced, the State has moved for giving
As per a Supreme Court Order
and the NWDT award, oustees must be resettled and rehabilitated six
months before raising the height of the dam with land for land compensation.