Gargi Parsai

Raised from 110.64 m to 121.92 m as per rehabilitation sub-group's recommendation

Medha Patkar says permission granted without checking ground situation Alleges that the NCA never visited the valley and depended on States' claims

NEW DELHI: In a sudden move, the Narmada Control Authority (NCA) on Wednesday gave permission to the Gujarat Government to raise the height of the Sardar Sarovar Dam from the current 110.64 metres to 121.92 metres despite protests from the Narmada Bachao Andolan about thousands of displaced people yet to be rehabilitated.

A meeting of NCA chaired by J. Hari Narayan, who is also the Water Resources Secretary, took the decision on Wednesday after the Resettlement and Rehabilitation (R and R) sub-group headed by the Secretary, Social Justice and Empowerment, Sarita Prasad, recommended raising the height at its meeting held the same day in the morning. Speaking to The Hindu , Mr. Hari Narayan said the NCA considered the recommendation of the R and R sub-group. Besides, the Environment Clearance sub-group had given its approval last March.According to him, the Grievance Redressal Committees in each State should have examined the Action Taken Reports (ATRs) submitted by the State Governments.

The meeting was attended by Chief Secretary of Gujarat S.G. Mankad and secretaries and engineers concerned from Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.

In a strong reaction, NBA leader Medha Patkar said the permission has been granted under "secrecy'' without checking the ground situation. "It is a serious violation of the Narmada Tribunal Award and the Supreme Court verdicts from 2000 to 2005.'' The award says that displaced families have to be resettled at least six months in advance of raising the dam height, which would raise the submergence zone.

Ms. Patkar said as per the Government's figures, there were 24,421 families affected in 177 villages of M.P. between the heights of 110.64 metres and 121.92 metres. In addition there were hundreds of people whose names had been left out just to show rehabilitation on paper. She alleged that the R and R sub-group of the NCA had not visited the valley since November 2000.