Chief minister Keshubhai Patel on Wednesday said statements made by Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijay Singh about an out of court settlement on Narmada were not in right earnest.
Mr Singh had said during his recent visit to Rajkot that Madhya Pradesh is ready for out of court settlement on the contentious Narmada issue if Gujarat agrees to a reduced height of 436 feet.
Mr Patel during his post cabinet briefing to reporters dismissed the suggestion saying that Mr Singh is not offering anything new. He is only renewing the demand made at the chief ministers meeting organised by the Centre, where all states had accepted
the proposal of raising the dam height to 436 feet and then measuring the hydrology for a period of five years before proceeding further. The proposal had been accepted by then chief minister Suresh Mehta, he said.
Mr Singh had then stated that the currents had subsided since the tribunal award and the flow of water had decreased substantially. Later, Mr Singh had made a complete about-face and had refused to adhere to the agreement.
The chief minister said, Our request to Madhya Pradesh is to allow the height of the dam to be increased to 350 feet or 110 m, which is way below 436 feet, initially, to facilitate drinking water to Saurashtra, North Gujarat and Kutch.
Narmada minister Jaynarayan Vyas was more forceful in his comments and conveyed a complete lack of confidence in Mr Singhs statements. Mr Singh is trying to misguide the people of Gujarat. He is making big statements about compensating the power loss to
the states but Madhya Pradesh itself is a power deficit state, he said. There have been instances in the past where Mr Singh had committed to the height of 436 feet and then had retracted his statement. We do not have any confidence in his utterances,
He should build confidence by agreeing to the height of 350 feet first and then discuss further. Instead he went to Rajkot and lied that the entire Saurashtra will not get water from the Narmada, Mr Vyas said.
The Narmada minister clarified that entire Saurashtra will get drinking water, whereas 40-45 per cent from Aaji, Bhadar and Shatranj dams, which is kept on reserve for drinking, can be used for irrigation purposes.
Mr Singh is proposing an out of court settlement, but at the same time he is also preparing a case as per section 131 of the Constitution challenging the tribunal award that fixed the Narmada dam height to 455 feet. Mr Vyas further said that the Madhya
Pradesh chief minister is echoing statements made by NBA leader Medha Patkar, by saying that the entire Saurashtra will not benefit from the waters of the Narmada.
Well placed sources informed that Mr Singh is trying to create a rift between Gujarat, Rajasthan and Maharashtra, who are at present unanimous on the Narmada issue. If the height of the dam is reduced the flow of water to Rajasthan will be definitely
affected whereas the power supply to Maharashtra will also be drastically reduced, the source said.
As a result, Gujarat will lose support of both Rajasthan and Maharashtra, which is precisely what the Madhya Pradesh chief minister wants. The source further added that Mr Singh tries to create a rift by his statements each time visits Gujarat.
Meanwhile, BJP spokesman Bharat Pandya said that instead of releasing the Narmada water to water parched Saurashtra, Mr Singh is playing creating further problems. He reminded Mr Singh that Gujarat is the only state, which has initiated a Sardar Patel
Water Conservation Scheme for construction of checkdams in the state.