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The Indian Express : National Network


Monday, August 20, 2001

Now big dam reaches height of trouble

3-mtr higher Narmada dam means state has to rehabilitate more families


GANDHINAGAR, AUGUST 19: IN what could be termed a setback for the Gujarat government, a meeting of the Review Committee of the Narmada Control Authority (RCNCA) held in New Delhi on Saturday decided that the three-metre hump constructed on the Narmada dam would be considered as part of the actual height of the dam.

This was stated in an official press release issued by the state government on Saturday. The implication of this decision is that Gujarat would have to rehabilitate Project Affected Families (PAFs) for three more metres before any further construction is taken up.
The state government had so far taken the stand that the newly-constructed hump could not be considered part of the total height of the dam.

The Gujarat government so far claims to have rehabilitated PAFs at a height of 90 metres with the construction up to 90 metres approved by the Court.

Official sources say the state government is yet to complete rehabilitation of oustees at the height of 95 metres and the latest decision entails that more families would have to be rehabilitated with the effective height of 98 metres before it can approach the NCA for further approval.

The decision also entails that the government shall not be able to construct another hump whenever approval is given for increase in the dam height. The apex court had cleared construction of the dam up to 90 metres after it was satisfied with the rehabilitation work at that height. The court had also approved construction of the hump of three metres, not considering it part of the damís height.

Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijay Singh, Rajasthan Irrigation Minister Kamla Devi and Maharashtraís Minister of State for Relief and Rehabilitation Ramraj Nimmalkar participated in the meeting of the RCNCA. And Keshubhai Patel agreed to allow the three-metre hump to be a part of the damís height.

The meeting also decided another important thing, which the Gujarat government may find it difficult to implement. It was decided that all PAFs at a dam height of 100 metres should be rehabilitated by December 31, 2001.

After the rehabilitation is done, an approval of the same by Rehabilitation & Resettlement Sub-Group and Environment Sub-Group of the NCA would be required. When the approval comes depends on the NCAís next meeting, after the rehabilitation work is complete.
Then, Gujarat also has the uphill task of tackling the Madhya Pradesh government on this count. All this may take time at least till April next, sources said.

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© 2001: Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd. All rights reserved throughout the world.