State clears decks, NBA cries foul
EVEN AS Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) leader Medha Patkar alleged that 35,000 families, to be affected by raising the Sardar Sarovar dam height to 121.91 metre, have been compensated only on ?paper?, the Madhya Pradesh Government affirmed that the rehabilitation work had been completed to facilitate raising of the dam height. The government sees no reason for any objection to raising the height.india Updated: Mar 20, 2006 13:30 IST
EVEN AS Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) leader Medha Patkar alleged that 35,000 families, to be affected by raising the Sardar Sarovar dam height to 121.91 metre, have been compensated only on ‘paper’, the Madhya Pradesh Government affirmed that the rehabilitation work had been completed to facilitate raising of the dam height. The government sees no reason for any objection to raising the height.
Narmada Valley Development Authority (NVDA) chairman A V Singh told Hindustan Times that the decision to raise the dam height had been taken on the basis of an action-taken report (ATR) presented to the authorised committee constituted by the Supreme Court and the sub-group of the Union Government.
“Once they are convinced about relief and rehabilitation (R&R) work, the matter would be forwarded to the Narmada Control Authority (NCA) and its decision on raising the dam height would be final,” he added.
However, Union Water Resources Minister Saifuddin Soz has said no action could be taken on raising the height unless the resettlement and rehabilitation of the project-affected people was ensured.
Pressing this demand, the NBA activists staged a dharna in front of the Union Water Resources Development Ministry in New Delhi for the third day today.
The NCA had, on March 8, cleared the proposal to raise the height of the dam from 110.64 meters to 121.91 meters.
On March 10, the Union Minister also wrote to the chief ministers of Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat seeking `redible guarantee’ from them about verification of resettlement claims from the gram sabhas and gram panchayats.
NBA leader Medha Patkar said that none of the affected gram panchayat or sabha had been consulted till date, and therefore
the protest against raising height of the dam would continue. Madhya Pradesh stands to gain nothing out of the decision but it has to ensure settlement of the project-affected families of the State as well as those from Gujarat, she added.
On the other hand, leaders from across the political spectrum in Gujarat are mounting pressure on the Union minister to withdraw the rider on raising the height.
A delegation of Gujarat MPs met Saifuddin Soz in this connection last week. But no such political initiative has come from Madhya Pradesh as yet.
Meanwhile, the NBA today reiterated that the 35,000 families in Madhya Pradesh affected by the project had only been compensated ‘on paper’ and alleged that the power generated was not reaching the State.
Of the 245 villages that face displacement in the wake of the ambitious project going on for the more than 20 years now, 193 were in Madhya Pradesh and they had not been resettled with any cultivable land, Medha said.
“The power generation capacity of the dam is 1450 MW, out of which about 56 per cent is for MP. Even after all these years, the dam has been able to produce only 150 MW of electricity and that too is for testing purposes. So eventually, not a single grid in MP has received power from this project,” she told reporters in New Delhi.
She claimed that the rehabilitation sites were not ready. For many villagers there isn’t even a chosen site. Many sites don’t have the basic amenities and none of them have sufficient house plots for all affected families, she said.
The NBA activists, who have discussed the issue with Soz and Union Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, claimed that even the power generated from the dam was not reaching the people of Madhya Pradesh. The activists demanded that all the ministries concerned like Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Ministry of Tribal Affairs and the Planning Commission should look into the issue.