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Apex court asks chief ministers of 4 states, Centre to 'review' Narmada submergence

By Our Representative
The Supreme Court has refused to accept the report of the Sardar Sarovar Reservoir Regulation Committee dated October 14, 2019, submitted by the Union of India and the Narmada Control Authority (NCA). 
The apex court refusal came after senior counsel Sanjay Parikh, appearing for the Sardar Sarovar dam affected persons, argued that the committee "illegally" decided on accelerated filling of water in the dam's reservoir, leading to submergence of 176 villages in the Narmada valley.
The court, following a hearing on the matter on October 24, directed that the Review Committee, consisting of four chief ministers of the beneficiary states Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, and the Union minister of water resources, should meet and decide the question of water level in the Sardar Sarovar dam as well as the question of rehabilitation "expeditiously".
The apex court also gave petitioners Madan Singh and others, who are backed by the anti-dam Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), liberty to submit a memorandum before the Review Committee on the matter.
NBA said in a communique, the petitioners argued that they were affected by illegal raising of water level to the full reservoir level (FRL), 138.68 metres, in violation of the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal (NWDT) Award and directions of the Supreme Court that "no submergence should take place till rehabilitation is complete in all respects".
The petitioners argued, due to the accelerated filling of the reservoir, grave devastation took place in 176 villages of Madhya Pradesh
In the responses filed by the State of Gujarat, the Narmada Control Authority (NCA) and the Union of India, said NBA, "it clearly came out that the accelerated filling of reservoir took place on September 15, 2019 in 24 hours, contrary to the guidelines of Central Water Commission that the filling up to FRL should be done cautiously." 
Yet, this was done "ahead of the celebration of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s birthday on September 17, 2019."
The petitioners argued, due to the accelerated filling of the reservoir, "grave devastation" took place in 176 villages of Madhya Pradesh, and thousands of families of farmers and agricultural labourers, including women and children had to "run to save their lives", and only some of them have been given a temporary shelter in tin sheds.
It said, thousands of others are still suffering due to loss of livelihood, and are without food, water and shelter. Thousands of cattle are without fodder since the pastures in the original villages are submerged and alternatives have not been provided at the resettlement sites.
Tushar Mehta, solicitor general, appeared for Union of India, NCA and the State of Gujarat. NBA said, he did this "in spite of the fact that all the three parties are independent, and NCA especially is supposed to be an interstate impartial authority to guide and direct states whithin the legal framework."

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