Delay in installing gates on Narmada dam? Modi is playing politics with people's sentimentsBy Rohit Prajapati*
Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi repeatedly raises the issue of gate installation on Sardar Sarovar Dam and accuses the Prime Minister of India, Government of India for the alleged delay. For a man who aspires to the next Prime Minister, Modi should stop speaking irresponsibly and misguiding the people of Gujarat. The Congress party is no less culprit, as it also plays to the gallery.
Why is Modi not clearly representing the Supreme Court ruling before the people of Gujarat and trying to misguide the people? It is the Relief and Rehabilitation Sub-Group of Narmada Control Authority (NCA) which is not giving permission to install the gates because the villagers whose land will be submerged are still not resettled and rehabilitated as per Supreme Court Order. Narmada Control Authority is an expert body constituted by the Supreme Court and not a political body.
The main reasons behind the gate issue is the Supreme Court order dated 18 October 2000 in Narmada Bachao Andolan v/s Union of India. (AIR 2000 SC 3751). In order dated October 18, 2000 in Narmada Bachao Andolan Vs. Union of India and others the then Chief Justice BN Kirpal, Justice Dr AS Anand clearly stated that the NCA was “empowered to constitute one or more sub-committees and assign to them such of the functions and delegate such of its powers as it thought fit.”
Accordingly, the order recalls, the NCA constituted the following sub-groups: (i) Resettlement and Rehabilitation sub-group under the Chairmanship of Secretary, Ministry of Welfare; (ii) Rehabilitation Committee under Secretary, Minister of Welfare to supervise the rehabilitation process by undertaking visits to R & R sites and submergence villages. (iii) Environment Sub-group under the Chairmanship of Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests.
The order further says, “Before embarking on the Sardar Sarovar Project it was necessary that the Master Plan for rehabilitation of the families to be affected is completed. On November 13, 1996, a meeting of the Review Committee of the NCA chaired by the Union Minister of Water Resources was held. This meeting was attended by the Chief Ministers of all the States including Rajasthan and representatives of Ministry of Environment and Forests, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India.”
It adds, “In the meeting it was unanimously decided that the reviews of the implementation of re-settlement and rehabilitation measures will be undertaken for every five meter height of the dam jointly by the concerned R & R Sub-group and Environmental Sub-group so that work could progress pari passu with the implementation measurers.”
As the order clearly states, the reviews of the implementation of re-settlement and rehabilitation measures will be undertaken for every five meter height of the dam jointly by the concerned R & R Sub-group and Environmental Sub-group so that work could progress pari passu with the implementation measurers. People of Gujarat should note that this “pari passu” clause is preventing the gate installation on Sardar Sarovar Dam and the concerned authority is the Narmada Control Authority. ‘Pari Passu’ is a Latin term which roughly translated means “at an equal pace.”
The Supreme Court Order further states that "he R & R Sub-group and Rehabilitation Committee of NCA are responsible for applying its independent mind on R & R. The Sub-group convenes its meeting regularly to monitor and review the progress of R & R while Rehabilitation Committee visits the submergence areas/relocation sites to see whether the rehabilitation is taking place physically and to hear the individual problems of the PAPs. The R & R group, keeping in view the progress of relief and rehabilitation, has not permitted the height to be raised, until and unless it is satisfied that adequate satisfactory progress has been made with regard to R & R.”
The order says that the R&R group, keeping in view the progress of relief and rehabilitation, has not permitted the height to be raised, until and unless it is satisfied that adequate satisfactory progress has been made with regard to R & R. It points out:
“In the NCA, Re-settlement & Rehabilitation (R & R) Sub-group has been created for closely monitoring the R & R progress. This Sub-group is headed by the Secretary, Government of India, Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment and is represented by Members/Invitees of participating States, academic institutions having expertise in R & R, independent socio- anthropological experts and non-Governmental Organisations. The functions of this Sub-group are as follows:
1. To monitor the progress of land acquisition in respect of submergence land of Sardar Sarovar Project and Indira (Narmada) Sagar Project (ISP).
2. To monitor the progress of implementation of the action plan of rehabilitation of project affected families in the affected villages of SSP and ISP in concerned states.
3. To review the R & R action plan from time to time in the light of results of the implementation.
4. To review the reports of the agencies entrusted by each of the State in respect of monitoring and evaluation of the progress in the matter of re-settlement and rehabilitation.
5. To monitor and review implementation of re-settlement and rehabilitation programmes pari passu with the raising of the dam height, keeping in view the clearance granted to ISP and SSP from environmental angle by the Government of India and the Ministry of Environment and Forests.
6. To coordinate states/agencies involved in the R & R programmes of SSP and ISP.
7. To undertake any or all activities in the matter of re-settlement and rehabilitation pertaining to SSP and ISP.”
At the end of the order Supreme Court insisted on “ensuring compliance with conditions on which clearance of the project was given including completion of relief and rehabilitation work and taking of ameliorative and compensatory measures for environmental protection in compliance with the scheme framed by the Government thereby protecting the rights under Article 21 of the Constitution.”
Keeping these principles in view, it gave following directions:
“1) Construction of the dam will continue as per the Award of the Tribunal.
2) As the Relief and Rehabilitation Sub-group has cleared the construction up to 90 meters, the same can be undertaken immediately. Further raising of the height will be only pari passu with the implementation of the relief and rehabilitation and on the clearance by the Relief and Rehabilitation Sub-group. The Relief and Rehabilitation Sub-Group will give clearance of further construction after consulting the three Grievances Redressal Authorities.
3) The Environment Sub-group under the Secretary, Ministry of Environment & Forests, Government of India will consider and give, at each stage of the construction of the dam, environment clearance before further construction beyond 90 meters can be undertaken.
4) The permission to raise the dam height beyond 90 meters will be given by the Narmada Control Authority, from time to time, after it obtains the above-mentioned clearances from the Relief and Rehabilitation Sub-group and the Environment Sub-group.
5) The reports of the Grievances Redressal Authorities, and of Madhya Pradesh in particular, shows that there is a considerable slackness in the work of identification of land, acquisition of suitable land and the consequent steps necessary to be taken to rehabilitate the project oustees. We direct the States of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat to implement the Award and give relief and rehabilitation to the oustees in terms of the packages offered by them and these States shall comply with any direction in this regard which is given either by the NCA or the Review Committee or the Grievances Redressal Authorities.
6) Even though there has been substantial compliance with the conditions imposed under the environment clearance the NCA and the Environment Sub-group will continue to monitor and ensure that all steps are taken not only to protect but to restore and improve the environment.
7) The NCA will within four weeks from today draw up an Action Plan in relation to further construction and the relief and rehabilitation work to be undertaken. Such an Action Plan will fix a time frame so as to ensure relief and rehabilitation pari passu with the increase in the height of the dam.
It added, “Each State shall abide by the terms of the action plan so prepared by the NCA and in the event of any dispute or difficulty arising, representation may be made to the Review Committee. However, each State shall be bound to comply with the directions of the NCA with regard to the acquisition of land for the purpose of relief and rehabilitation to the extent and within the period specified by the NCA.”
Narmada has always been used for political expediency by both the political parties in Gujarat. The NCA has recently clarified its position the SSP status report on its website. After 2006 several NCA meetings took place, but in none decision was taken to give go ahead for gate installation. The Gujarat government had at one stage as a last attempt tried to get the permission to build pillars for the gate but that too was denied, as the rehabilitation compliance has not taken place.
What Gujarat government markets as a holiday package in monsoon with an overflowing dam, actually causes devastating effect when the backwaters of this overflowing dam submerges several villages in neighboring Madhya Pradesh. It was last year that Madhya Pradesh villages suffered unprecedented submergence in the Narmada Valley.
Presently the reservoir waters at the present 122 meters height are not being even fully used as the several CAG reports have pointed. The Supreme Court clearly states in conclusion that the Relief and Rehabilitation Sub-Group will give clearance of further construction after consulting the three Grievances Redressal Authorities and permission to raise the dam height beyond 90 meters will be given by the NCA, from time to time, after it obtains the above-mentioned clearances from the Relief and Rehabilitation Sub-group and the Environment Sub-group and each State shall be bound to comply with the directions of the NCA with regard to the acquisition of land for the purpose of relief and rehabilitation to the extent and within the period specified by the NCA.
Social Activist of Gujarat