Raising of Narmada dam halted
Union Water Resources Minister said that Gujarat Govt had no legal authority to increase the height of the dam.india Updated: Apr 15, 2006 22:01 IST
Attempts to hammer out a solution to the Narmada imbroglio on Saturday ended in a stalemate prompting a recommendation to the Prime Minister for temporary suspension on raising the height of the Sardar Sarovar Project.
The Review Committee of the Narmada Control Authority (NCA) which met in New Delhi in the wake of the anti-dam agitation spearheaded by Medha Patkar failed to achieve a breakthrough with Chief Ministers of BJP-ruled Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan putting up a stiff resistance to the Centre's move to stop work on the project touted as 'Gujarat's lifeline'.
The Union Water Resources Minister Saifuddin Soz, Environment and Forest Minister A Raja and Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh countered it by bringing a resolution recommending to the Prime Minister immediate suspension of work till all project affected persons were rehabilitated in accordance with the orders of the NCA and the Supreme Court directives.
While Soz initially announced after the meeting that he as Chairman of the NCA has ordered the suspension of the work, he later amended it saying it was in the process of being suspended as it was being immediately recommended to the Prime Minister.
Since there is a tie and the Central team led by me had found that rehabilitation in Madhya Pradesh was not complete in accordance with the directives, through a resolution we are recommending the suspension to the Prime Minister", Soz said adding, "we are not against the dam's construction and I know its advantages."
He wanted the Supreme Court to see for itself whether rehabilitation has taken place according to its orders and an effective system is put in place for the same.
Emerging out of the meeting, a visibly angry Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi charged the Centre with acting under Patkar's pressure and being scared of agitation. He also accused Deshmukh of following the Congress whip and reminded him that the project stood to benefit Maharashtra immensely.
"The issue is unresolved. There is no decision. There is a tie. Three-fourths of the states are in favour of increasing the height of the dam. The Centre and its representatives want to push the country into darkness due to political reasons and I appeal to the people of Gujarat to exert pressure through democratic means", he said.
Terming as "unfortunate" the Centre's moves to stall the work, he said it posed a threat to the future of all states as once completed, the project would generate 1450 mw of power.
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said all the three BJP-ruled states moved separate resolutions demanding simultaneous completion of the project and rehabilitation.
Rejecting Modi's charges of politicisation, Soz said his own party MPs from Gujarat had met him and appealed against any suspension of work on the project.