INDO-ASIAN NEWS SERVICE
Bhopal, May 6, 2006
Those ousted by the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) on the Narmada river in Madhya Pradesh can now register their grievances at special camps set up by the government to solve their rehabilitation related problems.
“Special camps would be put up in Jhabua, Barwani, Dhar and Khargone districts for solving rehabilitation-related problems of the families affected by raising the dam height to 121.92 metres,” a state official said.
Sub-divisional officers (revenue), tehsildars and land acquisition officers/rehabilitation officers would be present at the camps to solve their problems, preferably on the spot, and provide them necessary guidance.
Also, the district administration would inform the affected families about the camps in advance so that they can avail themselves of the facility, the official said.
In the wake of complaints about rehabilitation and protests by Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) activists, including Medha Patkar, the Supreme Court had on April 17 warned of stopping the construction work on the Sardar Sarovar dam if rehabilitation was not carried out in accordance with its earlier judgement and the directive of the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal.
The present standoff is over raising the height of the Sardar Sarovar dam from the present 110.64 metres to 121.92 metres, which according to activists could render 35,000 more people homeless.
The state administration, however, charges the NBA with systematically playing politics with relief and rehabilitation operations.
“Only a few did not get compensation because they chose not to take it. Land plots were provided to 4,286 families but 3,879 declined them, as they perceive the location as unsuitable,” an official spokesman claimed.
“In rural rehabilitation locations, the plots allotted were 60 feet by 90 feet while the urban size was 60 feet by 40 feet.
Of the 30 big dams proposed along the Narmada, while the SSP and the Narmada Sagar Project are the mega dams, the Maheshwar and Omkareshwar dams are to form a complex with them, which would ultimately cater to the needs of the SSP.
The entire project – which promises to boost irrigation and power facilities – involves the states of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat.