Green Tribunal allows filling up of Maheshwar dam reservoir
The national green tribunal has allowed filling up of the Maheshwar dam reservoir up to 154 mt on a "trial basis" for a period of three months on the condition that the project does not result into submergence of villages and agricultural land in the low lying area.
The tribunal overturned its earlier order of May 31 in which it had restrained the authorities from filling up the reservoir.
“After going through the term of reference (ToR) we are satisfied that adequate measures have been taken by the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) for protection of the villagers. In the aforesaid scenario of facts and circumstances, applying principles of sustainable development, we feel ends of justice and equity would be better served, if the Project Proponent is permitted to fill up the reservoir at the dam site up to 154 m and commence generation of 40 MW electricity on trial basis for a period of three months,” the order said.
The tribunal’s earlier order restraining the authorities from filling up the reservoir had come in response to the appeal from the two project-hit villagers against the centre's nod for closing the gates of Maheshwar dam on river Narmada for filling up the reservoir.
The villagers have challenged the centre's approval, arguing that the submergence may lead to irreparable damage to life and livelihood of the people.
The latest order on filling up the reservoir comes after the tribunal was satisfied with the steps taken up the project proponent and the government for rehabilitation and resettlement of the project affected people.
“It appears that steps were taken and directions were issued to the Project Proponent to go ahead with the construction work pari-pasu with the rehabilitation and resettlement work. The counsel appearing for Government of Madhya Pradesh stated before us that all necessary steps are being taken to complete the rehabilitation and resettlement work expeditiously,” the order said.
After the tribunal had restrained the authorities from filling up the reservoir on May 31, the MoEF had formed a high level committee to supervise the work of raising the level of the reservoir at dam site up to 154 m.
Although the tribunal expressed satisfaction with the steps taken up by the MoEF for the protection and allowed the reservoir to be filled, it has done so with condition that in any likelihood of the submergence of the villages, the project would be discontinued with.
“The Committee constituted by the MoEF shall remain vigilant and assure that the conditions imposed in the ToR are observed sacrosantly (sic) without any deviation whatsoever. It is needless to say that if there is any likelihood of submergence of abadi lands, then the process will be stopped/discontinued forthwith,” the order said.