Gandhinagar, Monday: Government of Gujarat (GoG) today blamed the Congress-ruled Central Government for deliberately delaying granting permission to complete the gates at Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) to raise the dam height from 121.92 metres to 138.68 metres on the Narmada.
According to state government spokespersons, Finance Minister Nitin Patel and Energy Minister Saurabh Patel, the Government of Gujarat (GoG) has completed Rehabilitation and Resettlement (R&R) of Project Affected Persons (PAPs) in 2006, as so also the Government of Madhya Pradesh (GoMP) in consultation with R&R Sub-Group and the Government of Maharashtra (GoMH).
The ministers said that the partner states have submitted the completion report to R&R Sub-Group at the Narmada Control Authority (NCA) meeting in New Delhi on September 12, 2012. However, the meeting presided over by Union secretary for Justice and Empowerment postponed granting permission, asking some insignificant details from the Congress-led GoMH. The latter has complied with the details on January 8, 2013. These details had nothing to do with GoMP which had in fact submitted its report in January 2010.
And, yet, the ministers said that Gujarat’s Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil is blaming GoG and GoMP with a view to misleading the people of the state. It is unbelievable that Congress leaders of Gujarat weren’t aware of the real reasons behind the delay.
Out of 412 PAPs to be rehabilitated by GoMH, the Ministers pointed out that GoG provided private arable land to 90 PAPs in Nizhar taluka inside Gujarat while GoMH provided land to remaining 322 PAPs.
The next meeting of the R&R Group and NCA, which was scheduled to be held on January 23, 2013 was abruptly postponed at the eleventh hour citing the R&R Group’s Chairman’s indisposition.
The delay reflects the Central Government’s apprehension that allowing the dam’s height to go up to 138.68 metres would help Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi take the credit of completing the dam.
The ministers said that the GoG had completed all the spadework to place the gates (spillway piers) in June 2005, but for the permission. It would take about 30 months to complete the remaining job.
The ministers recalled that whenever Mr. Modi met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, he had requested the latter to end the stalemate. He repeated the request last time on February 6, 2013 during his courtesy call on being elected for another term. Dr Singh even expressed surprise at the delay. A delegation of Members of Parliament had also personally met the Prime Minister and submitted a memorandum but to no avail.
Sadly, they said, the completion of the dam to the stipulated height would benefit not only Gujarat but also Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. The completion would hold 34-lakh acre feet of water (three times the present capacity) and generate 40 per cent additional electricity, helping Maharashtra partly meet the power shortage.
The ministers regretted that a multipurpose river valley project of immense national importance to benefit four states is pending for the last 50 years due to the Congress party’s negative attitude.