The Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) has criticized Thursday's (9th August) order of the National Green Tribunal, which allowed the filling of the Maheshwar dam reservoir up to 154 meters and generation of 40 MW electricity from the dam.

Saying the order was given on a “completely erroneous basis”, the NBA said the tribunal had “ignored the Central Electricity Authority's opinion” that no electricity could be generated at 154 meters.

The NBA said the tribunal's order was “in violation of articles 14, 21 and 300 A of the Constitution, the statutory provisions of the environmental clearance (dated 1.05.2011) accorded to the Maheshwar project and order's Supreme Court order that Relief and Rehabilitation must be completed prior to submergence.

“The tribunal based its order on a false certificate given by Khargone district collector Navneet Mohan Kotahri and Executive Engineer N.K. Trivedi on the request of the private promoters of the dam Shree Maheshwar Hydel Power corporation Ltd (SMHPCL) claiming there would be no submergence at 154 meters,” NBA leader Alok Agarwal said.

“The false claims lay exposed this monsoon season itself, when heavy rains filled the Maheshwar dam upto 154 meters and more than 400 houses and numerous fields in villages like Sulgaon, Pathrad, Behgaon, Mardana, Nagawan, Bhatiyan, Bhasunda, Lepa, Amlatha, Lalpura, Gogawan, Pitnagar were submerged,” said Mr. Agarwal.

The NBA made available photographs of some of the villages, showing submerged fields and houses when the dam's water level rose to 154 meters following heavy rains last week.

Further, the order ignores the official revenue records of the state government which show large number of lands and houses of the Maheshwar dam affected villages were submerged in the monsoon of 2011 at 154 meters, he said.

The 400 MW Maheshwar dam is India's first privately financed hydro-electric project and is one of the 39 big dams being built across the Narmada River.

In May this year, the union Ministry of Environment and Forests had allowed the filling of the Maheshwar dam up to 154 meters. The MoEF's permission was challenged in the National Green Tribunal by Antar Singh Patel and Sanjay Nigam, two oustees of the Maheshwar project.

Through an order passed on Thursday this week, the tribunal allowed the filling up of the dam upto 154 meters.