M A I N   N E W S

Narmada talks hit roadblock
Modi to go on fast
Prashant Sood and Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 15
Deep divisions emerged at today’s meeting of the six-member Review Committee of Narmada Control Authority (RCNCA).
The BJP Chief Ministers from Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Rajasthan pushed for raising the height of the Sardar Sarovar Dam to 121.92 metres from 110.64 metres, as decided by the Narmada Control Authority (NCA). But the Maharashtra Chief Minister along with two union ministers emphasised suspension of work on raising the dam height till rehabilitation work is done according to the Supreme Court guidelines.

At the end of the three-hour meeting, it was a three-three tie on all resolutions moved in the committee. Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi announced hours after the meeting that he will go on a 51-hour fast at Sabarmati from tomorrow to protest against the Centre’s “anti-development” decisions and convey opinion of people of Gujarat on raising the height of dam.

Water Resources Minister Saiffudin Soz told mediapersons that the resolution moved by him, Environment and Forest Minister A Raja and Maharshtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh said that as relief and rehabilitation work in Madhya Pradesh had not been completed according to norms laid down by the Supreme Court, the RCNCA suspends permission of NCA till such time as rehabilitation work is completed in accordance with the norms.

Mr Soz said the Sardar Sarovar Dam needs to be constructed as it will provide benefits to the people in MP, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Gujarat. Having indicated earlier that the Prime Minister may take a decision on the controversy over the dam height, Mr Soz came out with a statement later clarifying that there was no consensus at the RCNCA meeting whether construction of dam should be suspended as relief and rehabilitation of project-affected families had not been to the requirements laid down by the Supreme Court.

“Hence it is open to the Supreme Court to consider whether construction of dam should be temporarily suspended till such time as rehabilitation is done according to the laid down directions. Minister of Water Resources has not ordered suspension of the construction work of the dam,” the statement said.

Mr Soz, who met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh after the RCNCA meeting, said the issue was taken to the PM as it had remained unresolved.

Rajasthan Chief Minister Vashundhra Raje moved a resolution at the RCNCA meeting saying that grievances related to rehabilitation and resettlement had not been forwarded to the Grievance Redressal Authority which has been specifically set up for the purpose.

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan moved a resolution saying that all concerned parties should give priority to completion of Sardar Sarovar Dam so that the participating states could contribute in enhancing growth rate of the country. He said that Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal Award and guidelines of the Supreme Court should be adhered to on rehabilitation of project-affected people.

Mr Modi, who held a Press conference later, alleged that the Centre had “succumbed to pressure from Ms Patkar.” Maintaining that three-fourths of the participating states were in favour of retaining the dam height, he accused Maharashtra Chief Minister of taking an “anti-development” stand on the dam issue.

He said the infrastructure for getting 1450 MW power from the dam was ready and the power potential can be realised by raising the dam height. Mr Modi claimed that the unresolved issues at the RCNCA meeting could not be taken to the Prime Minister unless decided at the meeting.

He said the Centre would be “responsible” for any backlash against the attempts to stop work on raising the dam height. The Chief Minister said the Centre had not called the RCNCA meeting for the last two years.


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