Here are the latest developments:
- Sources said the decision to allow an increase in the height of the dam was taken at a meeting of the Narmada Control Authority or NCA with the union water resources ministry today. The NCA monitors work on the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd dam project.
- The NCA was in 2000 authorised by the Supreme Court to take a call on the proposal to raise the height of the dam from time to time after taking into account relief and rehabilitation and environmental considerations.
- The Gujarat government, which administers the SSNNL, has for some time been seeking permission to raise the dam's height to optimize power generation and water supply. This, it argues, will also benefit neighbouring states Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.
- The height of the dam was last raised in 2006. The demand for another raise had till this year been fronted by Narendra Modi, who was chief minister of Gujarat for 13 years, before he took over as the country's prime minister.
- His successor in Gujarat, Anandiben Patel, reportedly raised the issue with him at a meeting in the capital earlier this week.
- Medha Patkar of the Narmada Bachao Andolan or NBA, said, "it is an absolutely obnoxious contrast that the new government has not given us any hearing nor has it taken any time nor made any attempt to know the ground reality, before deciding to go forward with Sardar Sarovar Dam construction to its final height.''
- But Union water resources minister Uma Bharti defended the decision. "The social justice ministry has given its report. And they are 100 per cent satisfied. After taking into various things, and as part of their responsibility, the social justice ministry expressed its satisfaction," she told reporters when asked whether the move had been guided by political considerations.
- The NBA has for years protested against the project, claiming that it has displaced lakhs of people whose land has been submerged. It has protested against raising the height any more.
- Sardar Vallabhabhai Patel, India's first home minister, came up with the plan of constructing a dam over the river Narmada in 1946-47 for the optimum use of Narmada waters.
- The foundation stone of the dam was, however, laid by the country's first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, on April 5, 1961. The Supreme Court had earlier given the approval for the project to raise the height of the dam to 138.72 metres.
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