Standoff over Sardar Sarovar on as Maharashtra puts a spanner

The stalemate over the completion of the multi-crore Sardar Sarovar dam project continues.

Written by Express News Service | Gandhinagar | Published: February 11, 2009 1:53 am

Says NCA should not allow the installation of steel radial gates and spillway piers at dam

The stalemate over the completion of the multi-crore Sardar Sarovar dam project continues. Maharashtra has stuck to its earlier stand against an approval to Gujarat by the Narmada Control Authority (NCA) to install steel radial gates and construct spillway piers and an overbridge at the dam.

Maharashtra was learnt to have expressed its views against Gujarat’s demand for the same at a meeting of the NCA’s R&R sub-group in Delhi on Monday.

The meeting,chaired by the Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry’s Secretary was attended by senior officials from Gujarat,Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.

“The Congress-NCP-ruled Maharashtra is creating hurdles in the way of early completion of the dam project. Our officials made a strong representation at the R&R sub-group meeting,urging the NCA to allow Gujarat to install radial gates and construct concrete piers so as to further raise the dam’s height to 188.68 metres from its present 121.92 metres,” said Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited (SSNNL) Chairman N V Patel on Tuesday.

The Maharashtra government’s argument is that the NCA should not grant an approval to Gujarat to complete work on the dam,for Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra are yet to finish work on rehabilitation and resettlement of the project-affected families in their respective states.

Maharashtra has also argued that the construction of piers and overhead bridge at the dam will cause additional submergence of 1.62 metres. As such,environment safeguard measures commensurate with this additional submergence should be completed in time (before further raising the dam’ height).

Blaming Maharashtra for the delay in completing the project,Patel said the neighbouring state has adopted “delaying tactics to deprive the people of Gujarat of the benefits accruing from the project”.

Madhya Pradesh has,on the other hand,requested NCA to grant permission to Gujarat to install radial gates and construct spillway piers before the monsoon sets in,he added.

A senior SSNNL official said he did not see any possibility of the installation of radial gates and construction of piers and overhead bridges at the dam before the monsoon this year.

The NCA would give its final nod to Gujarat only after considering the reports to be submitted by the R&R and Environment sub-groups. “These two sub-groups will have at least two to three more rounds of discussions with officials of the three beneficiary states,” the official said.

The Narmada dam height continues to stand at 121.92 metres for the last two years,with Gujarat awaiting the NCA nod since then to install the radial gates and construct the spillway piers. “We have kept ready 30 steel radial gates for the last two years. But they cannot be installed until the NCA gives its final nod,” the official said.

He added:“It’s because of a tug-of-war between the two neighbouring states that the dam project is not being completed and Gujarat continues to bear the brunt of it.”

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