//Narmada issue: Govt throws ball in SC court, Modi announces 51-hr fast

Narmada issue: Govt throws ball in SC court, Modi announces 51-hr fast

New Delhi, Apr 15: Efforts to resolve the Narmada imbroglio failed to make headway at the review committee of the Narmada Control Authority here prompting the Centre to lob the ball to the Supreme Court for suspension of work on the dam till displaced persons are properly rehabilitated. Irked by the Centre`s stand, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi announced a 51-hour fast at Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad from tomorrow and alleged that the Centre was buckling under the pressure of Narmada Bachao Andolan.

A three-hour long meeting of the committee, convened by Union Water Resources Development Minister Saifuddin Soz in the wake of the protests by the Medha Patkar-led Narmada Bachao Andolan, ended in a tie with chief ministers of BJP-ruled Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan opposing any move to check the height of the Sardar Sarovar Dam, touted as Gujarat`s lifeline.

Soz, alongwith Environment and Forest Minister A Raja and Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, too brought out a separate resolution based on the findings of a Central study team stating that the rehabilitation and resettlement of project affected persons in Madhya Pradesh has "not been to the satisfaction of the requirements laid down by the Supreme Court".

"Hence, it is open to the Supreme Court to consider whether construction of the dam should be temporarily suspended till such time as rehabilitation and resettlement of the project affected families is done in consonance with its directions. Minister of Water Resources has not ordered suspension of the construction work of the dam", a statement from Soz said.

The Water Resources Minister said in his capacity as the chairman of the Review Committee of the Narmada Control Authority, he will submit a report to the Prime Minister reflecting the points of view expressed at the meeting including those of the chief ministers.

Meanwhile, NBA leader Patkar, currently in a city hospital here, announced that she would continue with her hunger strike and urged the Prime Minister to take a decision on the issue at the earliest.

An official statement said the meeting of the review committee of the NCA fully recognised that the Sardar Sarovar Dam needs to be constructed as it will provide several benefits to the people in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Gujarat.

"However, at the meeting, there was no consensus on the issue whether construction of the dam should be suspended in view of the fact that rehabilitation and resettlement of the project affected families in Madhya Pradesh has not been to the satisfaction of the requirements laid down by the Supreme Court", it said.

Emerging out of the meeting, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said his government was making the best efforts to rehabilitate the project affected persons and favoured simultaneous construction of the dam and the rehabilitation work.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh said he favoured suspension of the work on the dam as rehabilitation was not complete in Madhya Pradesh.

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