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Gujarat’s tall Narmada dream hits MP bottleneck MP Raises Objections To Fill Sardar Sarovar To Full Capacity

June 26, 2019 05:58 AM

COURTESY TIMES OF INDIA JUNE 26

Gujarat’s tall Narmada dream hits MP bottleneck
MP Raises Objections To Fill Sardar Sarovar To Full Capacity
Kapil.Dave@timesgroup.com

Gandhinagar:

Gujarat was nursing high hopes to store Narmada waters to the brim during this monsoon after the Sardar Sarovar dam height was raised to 138.68 metres in September 2017. The Kamal Nath-led Congress government in Madhya Pradesh has thrown aspanner in the works for Gujarat.


With Modi-led Union government’s nudge, the Shivraj Singh Chauhan government had supported speedy rehabilitation work of Project Affected Families (PAF) in Narmada's upstream. The new Kamal Nath government, on the contrary, has put its foot down over Gujarat’s bid to store the river water up to full reservoir level (FRL) citing non-completion of PAF rehabilitation, mandatory pre-requisite for allowing Gujarat maximum storage of water.

On Monday, Surendra Singh Baghel, minister, Narmada Valley Development Authority, MP, told TOI that major irregularities in rehabilitation and resettlement have surfaced and that the Gujarat government had provided MP far less funds for rehabilitation than mandated.

“In the name of Sardar Sarovar Project, the Centre is pressuring us to force people out without compensation and create unrest. After Congress took over, we detected irregularities in the R&R process and gaps in funds given by the Gujarat government and the actual requirement,” said Baghel.


Gujarat seeks intervention of NCA

We have ordered a resurvey of the project affected families (PAF),” said Surendra Singh Baghel.

He said that the MP Government would seek more money from the Gujarat Government once the resurvey is over. “Our CM has already raised objections before the central government and the NCA (Narmada Control Authority) in this connection,” he added.

Gujarat government is crying foul saying that it has already paid up Rs 400 crore upfront for rehabilitation of PAF after dam height was raised.

Moreover, top officials say that in 2017, Gujarat had tested the dam’s capacity up to 131meters following consent from Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra — the other three states part of the Narmada water-sharing agreement.

“We got the permission to construct dam up to FRL level and even closed the sluice gates only after consent of all three stakeholder states. If there was no major issue then, why now?” quizzed Rajiv Gupta, additional chief secretary, forest and environment, and managing director, Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd (SSNNL).

Reeling under severe water crisis, Gujarat has sought intervention of the Narmada Control Authority (NCA) reiterating it's need to store water during monsoon to meet it's drinking water and irrigation requirement. Narmada is deemed lifeline of Gujarat as it caters to 80% of it's drinking water and 45% of it's irrigation needs. It is also critical to supplying water to parched Saurashtra through SAUNI Yojana.

“We also need to test the stability of the structure at FRL and also simultaneous functioning of the sluice gates,” said a senior Narmada water resources department official.

Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) activist Medha Patkar, however, said it would be criminal to permit Gujarat to store water up to 138.68 meters. “It would be criminal as 30,000 families would be directly impacted and lives of lakhs of poor people will be at risk,” she said.

“Neither the NCA nor any agency can uproot poor citizens. Serious instances of corruption and siphoning off R&R money have come to light in MP owing to corrupt practices all these years,’’ Patkar said.

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