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Last Updated: Monday, 17 April 2006, 17:36 GMT 18:36 UK
India court warns on Narmada dam
By Jyotsna Singh
BBC News, Delhi

Medha Patkar
Ms Patkar fasted for 20 days to protest against the dam's height
India's Supreme Court has said it could stop further construction of the Narmada dam if the authorities do not compensate displaced people.

The court told the Madhya Pradesh state government thousands of villages should be resettled and given adequate help.

The warning came as campaigners against the dam ended a 20-day hunger strike.

Thousands of people have been displaced by the project. Officials say the dam is essential for drought-prone areas in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.

The latest round of protests was sparked off by a decision to raise the height of the dam from 110 to 121 metres.

Hunger strikes

The Supreme Court said it would have "no choice but to stop the construction if the government fails to complete rehabilitation".

Opponents of the dam say more people face eviction if the height of the dam is allowed to be raised by another 11 metres, as per a recent court order.

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi
Mr Modi fasted for 51 hours in support of the dam

Anti-dam activists, led by environmentalist Medha Patkar, ended a 20-day hunger strike on Monday. They have demanded the government stop work on the dam until it has completed the rehabilitation work in the area.

The chief minister of western Gujarat state, Narendra Modi, began a fast ahead of the court hearing in protest at campaigners' efforts. He ended his fast after 30 hours following the court's ruling.

Disputes

The Sardar Sarovar dam project is being built on the Narmada river to resolve power and water shortages in central and western India.

Sardar Sarovar Dam
The dam project was initiated in the 1950's

The project was initiated by India's first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, in the 1950s. But it ran into long delays, legal disputes and protests.

Gujarat is one of the four states which stand to benefit from the project - which is expected to bring crucial water to its parched Saurashtra and Kutch regions. The three other states are Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.

People in Gujarat want the dam to be completed soon. But it is a tricky issue for the government of Madhya Pradesh where thousands of people have been displaced.

For more than a decade the protests have been led by well-known activist Medha Patkar and India's Booker prize winning author Arundhati Roy.

The case is due to be heard again in the Supreme Court on 1 May.


SEE ALSO:
Narmada dam activist arrested
05 Jun 03 |  South Asia
Dam protester's health gets worse
04 Apr 06 |  South Asia
Indian writer released from jail
07 Mar 02 |  South Asia
Legal challenge for top author
28 Aug 01 |  South Asia
Protest against India dam ruling
25 Oct 00 |  South Asia
Protest against controversial dam
23 Oct 00 |  South Asia
Go-ahead for India dam project
18 Oct 00 |  South Asia
No more land for controversial dam
06 Sep 00 |  South Asia


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