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Narmada dam: Clear picture on rehabilitation by June

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, May 15: Union Water Resources Minister Saifuddin Soz today said a clear picture on the issue of resettlement and rehabilitation of the oustees of the Sardar Sarovar dam would emerge by June 30 when the three-member Oversight Group submits its report.

Replying to a spate of questions in the Lok Sabha on the subject raised by Mr Ajoy Chakraborty (CPI-M) and others, he alleged that there were ''grey areas'' in rehabilitation of the affected families in Madhya Pradesh. This was evident when the team of ministers deputed by the Prime Minister also visited the site.

In this context, Mr Soz said there was no major complaint about resettlement and rehabilitation in Maharashtra and Gujarat.

Pointing out that the Oversight group led by Mr Shunglu was Madhya Pradesh-specific, he said the committee was given three months time to verify the status of rehabilitation of the families affected by the raising of the height of the dam from 110.64 metre to 121.92 metre.

He said his ministry had been helping the Shunglu committee in whatever way it could.

Replying to a question, he readily agreed to place before the House all the correspondence that the Union Water Resources Ministry had made with the governments of Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh on the issue of raising the height of the dam, which was found to have irrigation and hydro electric potential.

Mr Soz said the centre had not taken any decision to review the height of the Sardar Sarovar Dam (Narmada Dam). As per the directions issued by the Supreme Court on October 18, 2000, the Narmada Control Authority (NCA) is to accord permission to raise the height of the dam for its construction as per the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal Award, in stages, pari passu with the implementation of the relief and rehabilitation and on the clearance given by the resettlement and rehabiliation sub group and environment sub group of NCA.

Accordingly, after taking into account the recommendations of both of its sub-groups and the assurances of all the party states, NCA in its meeting on March 8 this year decided to accord permission to raise the height of dam in the spillway portion from 110.64 metre to 121.92 metre as per the approved design.

The Review Committee for Narmada Control Authority in its meeting held on April 2006 reviewed the permission granted by the NCA to raise the height of the dam but no decision could be arrived at as there were no consensus in the meeting of the review committee.

Accordingly, the chairman of the review committee reported the matter to the Prime Minister. In response to the reference made by the Chairman of the RCNCA and the observations of the Supreme Court, the Prime Minister constituted the oversight group to go into the issue ''very minutely''.

Mr Soz said there are 18,093 project affected families in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra and it has been reported that all the project-affected families are going to be resettled pari passu with the construction of the dam by the end of June 2006.


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