Centre misleading court on canal projects: Madhya Pradesh

New Delhi, Feb 17 (IANS) The central government is misleading the Supreme Court on the ongoing construction of two canals for the Indira Sagar and Omkareshwar reservoir projects, the Madhya Pradesh government told the court Wednesday.

The state government accused the union government of making a wrong submission in an affidavit, which said the two ‘projects cannot be allowed as Command Area Development (CAD) Plan has not been submitted to it by the authorities concerned with the project’.

Taking strong objection to the affidavit filed by the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF), senior counsel T.R. Andhyarujina, appearing for the state government, told a bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan that ‘an incorrect affidavit has been filed by the MoEF to mislead the court’.

He said the union government was trying to create a wrong impression even though the Madhya Pradesh government had already submitted the CAD plan to the MoEF in September 1992 and August 1993.

Andhyarujina made the allegations when the court was hearing a lawsuit by the state government, challenging a Madhya Pradesh High Court ruling that had stopped it from further acquiring land and carrying out excavation and canal work for the Indira Sagar and Omkareshwar projects.

The high court order had come on another lawsuit of civil rights activist Medha Patkar of Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) fame. She contended the NBA was not against the project but was concerned about proper relief and rehabilitation of the families affected by the project.

‘There should be proper relief and rehabilitation of the project-affected families and a comprehensive compensation package,’ she said. The hearing was adjourned for Feb 25.

The apex court Dec 18 refused to suspend the high court order and sought the stand of Patkar and the union government, which too is party to the dispute.

The MoEF in its response has supported the high court’s ruling and Patkar’s stand that unless the CAD plan was submitted and approved by it, construction cannot be allowed.

It said that since 1994, the CAD plan had not been submitted which is a pre-requisite for constructing the canal. The MoEF in its affidavit said the CAD plan was not yet ready and experts have cautioned that the arid zone, if irrigated, would be converted into a desert.

The Madhya Pradesh government said the canal has already been laid and only a few steps are remaining to make it functional.

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