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
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
(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
which sought to bring the
Janata Party (BJP) run Governments in MP and
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.”