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Gates of Narmada dam jammed by 3 saffron states
Gandhinagar: Sep 1 2015, Gujarat: The Gujarat government may be ahead of schedule in raising the height of Sardar Sarovar dam but it will still have to wait for the crucial, final permission from the Supreme Court for installing the dam’s erected gates as Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, the two BJP-governed states, are yet to rehabilitate and resettle more than 1000 displaced families.
At current pace, the rehabilitation and resettlement is likely to take at least three to five years.
Soon after the BJP-led NDA government took charge at the Centre in May 2014, the new dispensation had given the nod to raise the height of Sardar Sarovar dam from the existing 121.92 metres to 138.68 metres.
The work of installing the gates is likely to be completed by January 2017 by Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd (SSNNL), which will have to wait for the permission from the apex court.
At present height, available water is 1.27 million acre feet (MAF). Once the gates are installed and the SC gives the nod to close the gates, the total storage capacity will be 4.75 MAF (four times the present capacity).
The Gujarat government, however, does not seem to be in any hurry to get the final resettlement and rehabilitation work done. Highly placed sources in the state Narmada department said, “We are at present dealing with some cases filed by Medha Patkar. Once the SSNNL completes the work of raising the dam height, we will apply before the Narmada Control Authority (NCA) and other agencies for the required permission to close the gates. A physical survey of the area going under submergence and of affected families has to be undertaken. Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra will have to resettle and rehabilitate around 1000 families. Both the states have been given tentative intimation but no process has been initiated. We may need to request the Centre to ask MP and Maharashtra to expedite the process.”
Families likely to be resettled before submergence at 138 meter
Gujarat government and NCA have not yet started the survey process of Projected Affected Families (PAF) which will be required to get nod from the Supreme Court for closing the erected gates. Around 1000 families will have to be shifted from Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.
Patkar ready for next battle
Activist Medha Patkar has already filed a fresh petition in the Supreme Court claiming that the relief and rehabilitation of several families has not been done satisfactorily. Though the apex court has not taken any stand, but if the state government lags in giving proper relief and rehabilitation even after raising the dam height, Gujarat will not be able to close the gate for several years.