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SC clears decks for SSP,
bodyblow for NBA



Surprisingly, the judgment reads that there has been substantial compliance with the environmental standards in the construction of the Sardar Sarovar Project and calls on all parties concerned to cooperate for its
speedy completion, reports Rinku Pegu

New Delhi, October 18

Dashing the hopes of four lakh tribal population and farmers of the Narmada valley, the Supreme Court (SC), the highest judicial body in the country, ruled on Wednesday that the construction of the controversial Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) should go ahead unabated. For the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), the movement which has been crusading relentlessly for the past 15 years for the rights of the people displaced and disposessed by the project, it has come as a
severe bodyblow.

Overruling the NBA's main demand, the SC made it
clear that the height of the Sardar Sarovar dam on the Narmada river can be raised to its original height of 138 m, a decision that was earlier approved by a Tribunal. However, the court ruled that future construction should be subject to clearance from the two sub-committees
on environment and rehabilitation.

Giving a clean chit to the government, both Chief Justice A S Anand and Justice B N Kirpal agreed that there
has been no violation of environmental standards by
the project so far. And hence the height of the dam
can be raised to 90 m with immediate effect.

The judgment reads that there has been substantial compliance with the environmental standards in the construction of the SSP. And therefore calls on all
parties concerned to cooperate with each other for
the speedy completion of the Project.


The court ruled
that future construction should be subject to clearance from
the two sub-committees on environment and rehabilitation

Significantly, the third member
of the three-member divisional bench, Justice S P Bharucha gave a dissenting note. According to his own conclusion which is termed as minority judgement, Bharucha noted
that "there is evidence of environmental violation as the earlier environmental clearance was given without doing any environmental impact studies.
Further even those standards which were imposed, were violated later on," Justice Bharucha observed.

Interestingly, in clear violation of the Tribunal orders, which stated that further construction can go ahead
only after the complete rehabilitation of the presently displaced people - the judges have ruled that rehabilitation can go on simultaneously with further construction up to 90 m. The Madhya Pradesh government, however, has declared its inability to
settle 150 families due to lack of agricultural land.

The judgment has come under fire and has been labeled as anti-people by those engaged in the NBA movement. It needs to be noted that NBA as a movement had captured the imagination of the world for mobilising grassroot support to stop pro-dam authorities in their tracks.


 





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