Verdict goes unrecorded on dam Website

HIMANSHU KAUSHIK

RAJKOT, NOV 9: Though the State Government celebrated the Supreme Court verdict on the Narmada dam with much fanfare and spent a whopping amount to mark restarting of work at Kevadia, the Sardar Sarovar website does not contain a single word on the apex court judgment.

Launched by the State Government, the website -- http://www.sardarsarovardam.com -- was last updated over four months ago. Hailed as a historical verdict by most including Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel, the event has gone unrecorded on its website.

The front page of the site has a message from Jaynarayan Vyas and Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel along with a photograph of Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam chairman Bhupendrasinh Chudasma.

The current status of the dam was last updated on June 2, 2000 and has information about construction activity till April end. Besides, the site has a special section on current happenings regarding the dam. This section contains articles and press cuttings which were updated on June 30.

This is in sharp contrast to the claims of Minister for Major Irrigation Jaynarayan Vyas who, in a message on the first page, says the basic objective of the website was to provide all relevant information regarding the project. The Nigam, he has said, would update information on a regular basis. This message is followed by the Chief Minister's message which gives brief details of the project.

Moreover, the site also contains a letter to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee urging him not to consider taking any representation by the International Rivers Network (IRN) against the dam. The letter states: ``The petition (IRN) ignores the fact that NBA had filed a public interest litigation in the Supreme Court in March 1994 and that all aspects of the project as well as rehabilitation are under close judicial scrutiny.'' With the Supreme Court giving its verdict, the letter has no relevance now.

The Narmada site contains a section on the need for the SSP. This section elaborates on the drought in Gujarat, especially the drinking water shortage in Saurashtra and Kutch. The second section contains the main features, followed by a section each on the history of the dam, the Narmada river and its basin, the dam and reservoir, hydro power station, the main canal, a section on rehabilitation and resettlement, environment and protection measures, estimate and financial resources, special highlights, the complete status (a section on the progress of construction) and the current news (which infact are old news).

When asked about the lack of updated information on the website, managing director of Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam K C Kapoor said the contract for updating the site had ended long back. He said the State Government had completed the process of allotting the new contract and the updating process would begin shortly.


Copyright 2000 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.