Narmada: Union Ministry report nails claims on rehabilitation

Gargi Parsai
36,921 families will be affected in 226 villages in Gujarat, M.P. and Maharashtra
Centre sought to put the burden of proving the numbers on the NBA
Gujarat has spent only Rs. 10,918 crore till December 2005 on rehabilitation

NEW DELHI: A Sardar Sarovar Project Status Report submitted by the Union Water Resources Ministry to the Prime Minister’s Office on March 22 — after Narmada Bachao Andolan activists went on an indefinite dharna here — nails the claims of the States concerned on rehabilitation of dam-displaced families.
The report reveals that 36,921 families in 226 villages in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra will be affected consequent to the raising of the height of the Narmada dam. Even at the existing height of 110.64 metres, 27,934 families were affected in 186 villages in the three States. The Hindu has obtained the report exclusively.
Even when the Centre was armed with this crucial, authentic information, it sought to put the burden of proving the number of displaced families on the NBA. The NBA protested against raising the height of the dam, saying about 35,000 displaced families between the heights of 110.64 and 121.92 metres remained to be rehabilitated.
The Narmada Control Authority on March 8 permitted the Gujarat Government to raise the height to 121.92 metres, based on the rehabilitation reports submitted by the States concerned.
The Status Report reveals that of the 27,934 families affected at the height of 110.64 metres, 3,578 were in Gujarat, 2,663 in Maharashtra and 21,693 in Madhya Pradesh. At 121.92 metres, 4,726 families in Gujarat, 3,453 in Maharashtra and 28,742 in Madhya Pradesh will be affected. It clearly shows that 13,233 families remained to be resettled in Madhya Pradesh at 110.64 metres. The number of families who will be affected at the proposed height of 121.92 metres is 11,638.
However, the Centre in its application filed in the Supreme Court on April 17, claimed that all the affected families up to the height of 121.92 metres were resettled in the three States.
The Narmada tribunal award and the Supreme Court held that families facing submergence should be rehabilitated at least six months ahead of raising the dam height, by December 31, 2005. The report says that of Rs. 20,546 crore spent on the project by December 2005, the Centre provided Rs. 4,302.75 crore, including Rs. 226.50 crore as grant, to Gujarat under the Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme . The other beneficiary States, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan, together contributed Rs. 5,240 crore. In effect, Gujarat spent only Rs. 10,918 crore till December 2005.
The NBA has demanded suspension of construction of the dam until the rehabilitation of the displaced families is completed as per the law and not with cash compensation.

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