Unlawful and Unjust Political expediency to raise dam height

The controversy over the Sardar Sarovar Dam has reached its peak once again with the Governments of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, colluding with the Ministry of Water Resources, are bypassing the Ministry of Environment and Forests and the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and are exerting all sorts of pressures on the MoEF and Centre for obtaining further clearance to raise the
height of the dam by erection of 17 mts high gates. Read more

There have been moves towards this at the latest meeting of the Environment Sub-Group of the Narmada Control Authority held on 26th March, wherein Gujarat and M.P. vehemently challenged the Dr. Devender Pandey Multi-disciplinary Expert Committee Report which brought out serious non-compliance of various environmental conditions by the states. A special meeting would be held on the
1st April with a single-point agenda to discuss and decide on the issue of whether there has been pari passu implementation of the clearance conditions along with the project construction work and whether gates can be raised without causing any additional submergence and thereupon grant clearance.

Any move to accord further permission to the Dam at this point in time is highly questionable and totally unjust, when there are still 2,00,000 people in the submergence area whose lawful rehabilitation is yet to happen. The Judicial Commission inquiring into crores of corruption in the rehabilitation is also yet to submit its Report.

Further permission would be a mockery of the detailed Report by the Pandey Committee that has pointed out gross violation of the environmental safeguard measures and stipulations as mentioned in the 1987 environmental clearance. The Committee has clearly concluded that the conditions on catchment area treatment and command area development are seriously flouted, without which the claimed benefits would remain unattainable and unsustainable and has, therefore recommended no further reservoir filling and construction either on dams or canals.

The benefits scenario on the other hand is in doldrums today, with the Project costs have shot up to 45,000 crore rupees, with a paltry 10% of the benefits having been realized as on date. There is enormous evidence today against this hoax of ‘benefits’ which Gujarat has tried to spread. With just 7-10% of the available waters being harnessed, just 30% canals built over 30 years and not more than 1.5 lakh hectares irrigated at 122 mts height (as against the promise of 8 lakh hectares), there is absolutely no case for any raise in dam height as no additional befits are to accrue with further increase. A comprehensive report by Gujarat’s own eminent citizens has exposed the failure of the Dam, after 30 full years.

It is thus high time for the nation to question as to whether there can be any further pampering of this monument of mismanagement and Injustice? Instead of granting further permission and funds, Gujarat should be made to account for all the crores of rupees it has been given till now and get the canals to be constructed first. Thousands of adivasis, farmers, fish workers and other affected are to begin a massive yatra from Badwani on April 11th and reach Indore on the 13th to sit-in on an indefinite demonstration at the Narmada Control Authority, raising all these issues and demanding their land and
livelihood based rehabilitation and compliance on environmental measures as pre-conditional for further work at the dam site and canals.

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Elites TV News, USA
Citizen News Service (CNS), India/Thailand