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Setback to raise Narmada dam? Jabalpur High Court seeks details of outees' rehabilitation from authorities

By Our Representative
A new development in Madhya Pradesh may knock hard as setback to the Gujarat government, which is all set to raise the Narmada dam from 121.92 metres to 139.64 metres soon after the current monsoon season. The Jabalpur High Court of Madhya Pradesh has sought explanation from the Madhya Pradesh government, the Narmada Control Authority (NCA) and the Narmada Valley Development Authority (NVDA) to explain why shouldn’t the decision to raise of the dam height be stopped till action is taken on the Jha Commission Enquiry Report on large-scale corruption in the rehabilitation of Narmada oustees.
The anti-dam Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), which had filed the petition the Jabalpur High Court, in a statement said, it had challenged the NCA decision to raise the dam height on July 8. The next hearing on the petition has been fixed for July 25. The NCA decided to allow the Gujarat government to raise the dam height on June 12 by 17 meters. Challenging this, the NBA cited “the ongoing enquiry into Rs 1,000 crore corruption in the rehabilitation of Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP)-affected families and the right to life and livelihood of 2,50,000 still residing in the submergence area.”
The statement said, “The enquiry is being conducted by Justice SS Jha Commission, constituted by the Madhya Pradesh High Court in 2008. The High Court admitted the petition filed by the NBA and issued notices to the principal secretary, Madhya Pradesh government, the vice chairman Narmada Valley Development Authority, and the chairman of the Narmada Control Authority.”
The NBA contended, “2,500 fake registries have been unearthed in purchasing of land for the rehabilitation of the project affected families. This has resulted in nearly Rs 1,000 crore corruption affecting thousands of families, who didn’t get their due. The statement of the affected families, those who sold their land and other interested parties has been recorded in last five years.” In NBA’s view, if rehabilitation of the Narmada oustees has not taken place, there cannot be any decision to raise the Narmada dam.
It added, “The argument on the report prepared by an organisation called Maulana Azad National Institute of Technology, Bhopal authorised by the commission, is still going on over the serious irregularities in the construction work of 88 rehabilitation sites. In fact, the enquiry by the Jha Commission is at a critical stage. However, ignoring the ongoing processes, the order to increase the height of the dam is a gross violation of High Court and Supreme Court orders.”
Describing the NCA decision to raise the dam as “a conspiracy to protect the middlemen and government officials involved in the irregularities and corruption in the process of rehabilitation of project affected families”, the NBA said, While accepting the petition of the NBA, the High Court ordered that all the parties must respond by July 18, 2014 and the next hearing date was fixed for July 25, 2014.”
During the hearing Medha Patkar pleaded on behalf of the NBA, advocate RN Singh argued for the MP State Government and advocate Sayyed Naqvi for the Union government. The statement said, “The NBA welcomes the directions of the court in the matter. By accepting NBA’s petition HC set aside the earlier decision of inappropriately quashing the corruption related PIL in February 2014. This has revived the original petition of NBA demanding investigation in the corruption in R&R, being heard for past Seven years.”

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