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SC puts off Narmada hearing to May 1
Onkar Singh in New Delhi | April 17, 2006 12:26 IST
Last Updated: April 17, 2006 19:37 IST
The Supreme Court on Monday postponed the hearing on the plea of Narmada Bachao Andolan with regard to the rehabilitation of families displaced by the Sardar Sarovar dam on Narmada river, to May 1, 2006.
A three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice of India Y K Sabharwal, Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justice S B Sinha has given one week notice to the four concerned states - Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh - to file their rejoinders.
The court observed that if the rehabilitation work was not done properly, it will have no other alternative but to stop the construction of the dam.
Former law minister Shantibhushan appeared for the NBA while Harish Salve appeared on behalf of the state of Madhya Pradesh.
Major work of rehabilitation comprising the relocation of more than 35,000 displaced families has to be undertaken by the Madhya Pradesh government.
Earlier in the day, in an inconclusive hearing, the apex court had categorically said that if there was any lacuna in the rehabilitation of the Narmada oustees, the government should appoint a committee to remove those and oversee proper rehabilitation of the affected public.
The government on its part offered Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh to appoint this committee. The court was favourably inclined to accept this suggestion.
The Centre told the court that it was committed to construction of the Sardar Sarovar dam on the river Narmada and favoured constituting a committee to evolve a suitable mechanism to rehabilitate the people displaced by the project.
The Centre informed the bench that the oustees would be completely rehabilitated before August, 2006, the period of onset of monsoon.
Noted Supreme Court advocate Gopal Subramaniam argued the case for the Government of India. The NBA wants a complete ban on raising the height of the dam.
In its affidavit, the Centre has revealed that the height of the Sardar Sarovar dam could be as high as 136.68 meter, 15.05 meter more than the 212.92 permitted by the apex court.
(With PTI Inputs)