Free Press Journal

Take people’s view before decision on Narmada dam: Patkar


Mumbai:Social activist Medha Patkar today said the government should take into account views of people from the Narmada valley before taking any decision on increasing the height of the Sardar Sarovar dam project.

“The government has neither given us any hearing nor has it taken any time nor made any attempt to know the ground reality, before deciding to go forward with Sardar Sarovar Dam construction to its final height,” Patkar, leader of the Narmada Bachao Andolan, said.

“Can the height be raised in violation of law?” she asked.

“The decision has not been taken in a democratic manner. The government has not consulted concerned
ministries,” Patkar said.

Sardar Sarovar dam at its present height itself has 2 lakh people in its affected region, so if the height is raised by installing 17 metre-high gates, the densely populated villages in Nimad area of Madhya Pradesh with houses, farms, shops, temples, mosques and standing crops will face a watery grave, she said.

Adivasi villages in the hills of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat habitating hundreds of families are also to be further submerged. Altogether, not less than 2.5 lakh people, farmer, fish-workers, potters, shopkeepers will face a deluge and devastation, without rehabilitation, if the height is raised from 122 meters to 139 metres, she said.

“Will NDA government permit such an injustice to be caused in violation of Narmada Water Dispute Tribunal Award as well as Supreme Court judgements? she asked.

“Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel announced that ‘verbal permission’ will be granted and then the formalities will be completed within a week’s time. She claimed that no party state has any objection to raising the height. This is obviously neither true nor transparent,” the activist said.

None of the concerned new ministers, Uma Bharti, Prakash Javadekar or Thavarchand Gehlot, have looked into all the reports, detailed data as well as the ground level situation. Their visit to the valley could go a long way, she said.

“How could the government deal with such a grave situation and go ahead just because Narendra Modi is the Prime Minister. May we remind all the ministries that they have to first appraise the social and environmental impacts and judge serious non-compliance themselves,” she said.

Meanwhile Uma Bharti said, “Social justice ministry has given its report and they are 100 per cent satisfied and because of the the report of the (social justice) ministry they have done all the kind of things they have to do, the kind of responsibilities they have to commit, they did it and they have given their full satisfactory report in this meeting today and that is why decision has been taken by the secretary of water resources.”