The Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) has hit yet another roadblock. Even as the Union government passed an order to raise the height of the proposed dam from 90 metres (m) to 100 m recently (Down To Earth, Vol 10, No 19, February 28, 2002), the resettlement and rehabilitation (R&R) sub-group on SSP decided against any further construction beyond 90 m. In its February 7-8 meeting, sub-group chairperson Gopal Reddy said no permission has been given for further construction.
Regarding the proposed amendment to introduce cash compensation instead of land, Reddy said that the required process would only proceed in accordance with the Supreme Court judgement. The R&R sub-group, he said, has decided to first review the status of resettlement at 90 m and then at 100 m. Until then status quo will be maintained. Union minister for social justice and empowerment Satyanarayan Jatiya promised the agitating Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) activists that his ministry would not tolerate any injustice to the families affected by the SSP.
Meanwhile, NBA has demanded constitution of an independent committee of activists and officials to study the environmental impact assessment of the project. According to NBA, environmental mitigation plans are yet to be executed. The activists reminded environment sub-group chairperson Jayakrishnan that the environmental measures were not implemented and that the clearance for the SSP had lapsed several years ago.
NBA leader Medha Patkar said that the downstream impacts, for example, were neither fully studied nor planned for. The directly draining catchment area remained to be treated to the extent of 7,800 hectares. She also levelled an allegation that the compensatory afforestation had been exaggerated and did not reflect the situation on the ground.
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