Writes to Madhya Pradesh CM about Maheshwar clearance

Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh has written to Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan informing him of “grave violations” of the conditions for environmental clearance given for the Maheshwar dam project by the MoEF under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.

As a consequence, the Ministry proposes to stop construction work on the dam until a comprehensive relief and rehabilitation (R&R) plan with all details of agricultural land, house-plots and other relevant aspects is submitted to the Ministry and until the R&R works are brought up to pace with the construction work on the dam.

The Minister has expressed concern over lack of progress made on the R&R front while the construction of the dam is 80 to 90 per cent complete. It has also expressed apprehension that once the dam is built, the privately owned Shree Maheshwar Hydel Power Corporation might relinquish its responsibility, leaving the dam oustees in the lurch.

The MoEF’s assessment of the project, according to Mr. Ramesh, is that while the project has reached an advance stage, the rehabilitation measures are way behind schedule. The extent of submergence, the requirement and availability of agricultural land and other resources that were to be ascertained have not been done yet. Further, a comprehensive R&R plan with all details of agricultural land and house-plots that was to be submitted to the Ministry by December 2001 has not been submitted yet. The above points, according to the Minister, are in violation of Condition 3 (vi) of the clearance.

The Narmada Bachao Andolan has demanded that in keeping with the Minister’s concerns and the orders of the Madhya Pradesh High Court, further construction of the dam be stopped until the R&R measures are implemented with all requisite details.