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PM sets up Narmada committee; Report in three months

Written by: Staff

Berlin, Apr 24: Just a week before the Narmada Dam controversy comes up before the Supreme Court, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today constituted a three-member high level committee to oversee relief and rehabilitation of the people affected by the project and submit a report within three months.

The committee, headed by former Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) V K Shunglu, will conduct sample surveys to ascertain the status of rehabilitation, Dr Sanjaya Baru, PM's Media Advisor, told reporters here.

The committee has also been asked to recommend a system to ensure that all the families which will be affected by submergence when the dam's height is increased to 121.92 metres get relief and rehabilitation within three months as per the norms laid down by the Narmada Award, the Supreme Court and the Grievances Redressal Authority set up by the Madhya Pradesh government.

The other members of the committee, which will be known as Sardar Sarovar Project relief and rehabilitation oversight group, are Dr Jayaprakash Narain, Convenor of an NGO, Lok Satta, and Dr G K Chaddha, former Vice Chancellor of Jawaharlal Nehru University.

The government's move comes in the wake of a month-long agitation by the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) spearheaded by its leader Medha Patkar, who was on a 20-day fast to protest against raising the dam's height and demanding adequate compensation for and rehabilitation of the oustees.

As part of the efforts to persuade her to call off her fast and the NBA to end its agitation, Dr Singh had dispatched a ministerial team, headed by Water Resources Minister Saifuddin Soz, to Madhya Pradesh to assess the rehabilitation work.

He subsequently convened a meeting of the Review Committee of the Narmada Control Authority (NCA) after the GoM submitted its report, observing that rehabilitation work by the Madhya Pradesh government was not adequate.

Ms Patkar had called off her fast on April 17 in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling, stating that it would consider on May 1 the status of rehabilitation and threatening to stop work on the dam if relief was found wanting.

According to the terms of reference, the Committee will gather information on the total number of families affected by submergence, those who have not received the relief and rehabilitation package as per norms and check and verify whether alternative land was offered to the oustees and whether it is true that some did not accept land voluntarily.

Dr Singh, who is on a five-day visit of Germany and Uzbekistan, arrived here today from Hannover.


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