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National

Nod for raising Narmada dam height

By Our Special Correspondent

New Delhi May 17. Despite reports to the contrary on the resettlement and rehabilitation of the people to be displaced by the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP), a meeting of the Narmada Control Authority (NCA), chaired by the Water Resources Secretary, B.N. Navalawala, today approved raising the height of the dam in Gujarat up to 95 metres from 90 metres.

(Incidentally, Mr. Navalawala, who retired on April 31, has been re-appointed by the Centre as a Consultant to the Water Resources Ministry, holding "additional charge'' as Water Resources Secretary — an arrangement which is unprecedented. The earlier announced appointment of Mr. P.K. Goswami as the Water Resources Secretary was abruptly "cancelled''.)

According to an official statement, the sub-group on environment had cleared construction up to 100 metres, while the resettlement and rehabilitation sub-group, had recommended 95 metres only. The NCA, had deliberated upon both the suggestions before taking the decision.

As per the release, the three grievance redressal agencies on rehabilitation and resettlement in the States concerned had "expressed satisfaction'' with regard to the resettlement already carried out.

The NCA had drawn up an action plan in November 2000 for resettlement and rehabilitation of project-affected families and for stage-wise construction of the dam following a Supreme Court decision on a petition of the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA). The Court, however, had clearly said that all the States concerned must follow the norms in the Narmada Water Disputes Award on rehabilitation.

The NBA had said the land allotments were ex-partee and only on paper. The Maharashtra grievance redressal agency had earlier expressed reservations about the process of rehabilitation in the State. Madhya Pradesh, on the other hand, wants to circumvent the entire procedure by awarding "additional'' cash compensation and asking the oustees to purchase their own land.

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