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Centre assures dam construction will not be stopped

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Apr 17: Taking a 'please all' stand in the Sardar Saravar Dam case, the Centre today informed the Supreme Court that the Narmada dam was a measure of progress and the construction must go on.

Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium told a three judge bench comprising Chief Justice Y K Sabharwal, Mr Justice K G Balakrishnan and Mr Justice S B Sinha that the Centre was sincerely committed to the task of rehabilitation of oustees who have lost their land due to submergence.

The ASG also submitted that specific directions also be issued that in case an oustee refuses to accept an alternative piece of land, the government should be allowed to pay compensation in terms of money to such a person.

 ''This is a matter to be resolved in a congenial and not in a charged atmosphere,'' the Chief Justice remarked during the hearing. The height of Sardar Sarovar dam is to be raised initially to 121.92m from the present height of 110m. The proposed height of the dam is 136m.

Senior counsel Mr Shanti Bhushan appearing for Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), however, pleaded for interim stay against raising the height of the dam till the rahabilitation of the displaced was complete.

He also contended that if the construction of the dam was not stayed more land will be submerged displacing more people.

The Supreme Court had in 2000 directed the Centre and the Madhya Pradesh government to rehabilitate the persons displaced due to the dam, most of whom are tribals and farmers.

The Centre also sought directions to the Madhya Pradesh government to abide by the instructions of the Centre regarding rehabilitation.

When the Chief Justice indicated that an interim injunction will be the last resort, Mr Bhushan started pressing for interim relief.

The court was also informed that with the rise in height 16000 additional families will be displaced.


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