NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday asked a high-level committee to take a call on issues related to submergence of villages due to release of water from the Sardar Sarovar Dam (SSD).
The Bench, headed by Justice N.V. Ramana, asked the Chief Ministers of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat to sit together with the Narmada Control Authority (NCA) and take a decision on the issue.
The court, which was hearing a plea filed by people affected by the submergence, listed the matter for October 1. The plea has raised the question of rehabilitation before submergence as well as the water level to be maintained in the SSD in Gujarat.
The petitioners said they were affected due to directions by the NCA contrary to the Narmada tribunal's award and past judgments of the Supreme Court, wherein it was mandated that no submergence should take place without rehabilitation.
The petitioners said the SSD being an inter-state project, terms and conditions of the award were binding on Gujarat, MP and Maharashtra.
The stipulation that no submergence should take place till complete resettlement and rehabilitation was not only a mandatory condition but was also affirmed by the Supreme Court judgements in 2000 and 2005, they said. In those judgements, the Supreme Court held that even temporary submergence couldn't take place till complete resettlement and rehabilitation, the petitioners added.
After the last order in February 2017, the complete resettlement and rehabilitation should have been done. The counsel said due to the illegal decision, water started rising in the reservoir and was allowed to reach the full reservoir level of 138.68 meter on September 17.
The petitioners told the court 178 villages had been affected. The said decision was a cruel and inhuman way to compel people to vacate under threat of submergence, they added.