India Intelligence Report

   PM Says Narmada Should Not Stop



  • PM tells Supreme Court that his Ministerial colleagues’ report was inaccurate

  • Asks SC not to stop work and that gaps in relief and rehabilitation can be completed during monsoons

  • Oversight committee, with left-leaning members, used 40 teams over 2 months to find no major deviation in relief work debunking NBA claims

Through a signed statement, the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told the Supreme Court (SC) that there is no real case for stopping the Narmada Dam virtually debunking a politically motivated report by his Cabinet members. The Ministerial team led by Water Minister Saifuddin Soz was shocked with the reality of living conditions and accused Madhya Pradesh (MP) of not implementing rehabilitation programs and asked Singh to make the call even though they recommended that the work on the Dam be stopped. Singh refused to make the call and punted the case to the SC.

After the SC refused to stop the work, the PM then announced a three-member panel that will assess, monitor, and advise the Government on relief provided to those ousted by the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) across the Narmada River. Two members of this panel belong to left-leaning organizations led by former Comptroller and Auditor-General and found that there is no prima facie evidence to stop the work on the Dam.

Accepting the findings of this Oversight Group which repudiated the accusations of opponents, the Singh virtually acknowledged that the conclusion of the ministerial panel led by Soz was off target. After a two month long exercise involving 40 teams, the group said there was no major deviation in the relief and rehabilitation work by the MP Government. Specifically, the group observed that while a number of project affected families (PAFs) was listed as claimants by the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), they could not substantiate the actual number of claims nor could they verify their veracity. This observation fundamentally debunks accusations made by the NBA bolstering the case of the MP Government. Provided with this conclusion, the SC ordered that there would be no restriction on the construction work at the dam site.

The development is most unsettling for the NBA and the Congress which sought to bring the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) run Governments in MP and Gujarat to the carpet and lay blame on those Governments. The only consolidation to the Dam opponents was the promise of the Federal Government to direct MP to be more proactive. Singh said that the MP Government must be “directed” to accelerate “relief and rehabilitation work” during the monsoons so “relief and rehabilitation sites can be brought at par with each other.”

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