Indore: Directing that construction of canal network and development of command area under Omkareshwar project should be completed within the stipulated time, Indore bench of High Court in its interim order on Friday said that agitations should not hit the project and the agitators should be dealt with ‘ appropriately’. In its 20- page order, the court also directed to constitute a project monitoring authority comprising Chief Secretary and Secretary of Narmada Valley Development Authority ( NVDA).

The Authority would monitor the progress of construction work and ensure that the first phase of construction of canal network and development of command area is completed by June 2014. The Govt and project monitoring committee have been told to file compliance and status report by Feb 17.

Advocate Dharmendra Chelawat said the HC has also issued order to make the Planning Commission of India and the Grievances Readdresses Authority ( GRA) respondents in the case.“ If the Planning Commission will become respondent in the case, supply of funds for the project will continue uninterruptedly and the the GRA involvement will ensure redressal of the environmental issues and grievances of farmers,” he added.

This interim order of the court has come as a major reprieve to nearly 7000 farmers in 600 villages who are waiting for completion of canal works for many years. Two PILs were filed in the court over the project.

One PIL was filed in March, 2013 on behalf of thousands of canal– affected farmers in which issues of social and environmental impacts, lack of rehabilitation, unnecessary excavation of canals in irrigated villages, severe crop losses etc were raised.

Another PIL was filed by Virendra Patidar who had complained of slow work, illegalities by the contractor, corruption, impacts of water logging in the first phase of the project.During the hearings on the petitions, an affidavit was filed by Narmada Valley Development Department ( NVDD) principal secretary Rajneesh Vaish giving timelines for completion of the project phasewise.

As per the timelines, the first phase of the project covering 24000 hectares of land will be completed by June 14 and the second phase which covers 19578 hectares of land will be completed by June 2015.Third phase covering 48592 hectares will be completed by June 2015 and fourth phase will also be completed by the same time.

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