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Union minister Uma Bharati today defended the Narmada Control Authority (NCA) decision to give nod to shut gates of Sardar Sarovar Dam in Gujarat and impound water in the reservoir to its fullest capacity of 138.68 metres. Social activists and social organisation, particularly the National Alliance of People's Movement (NAPM), are up in arms against the NCA's "illegal" approval for lowering the gates. The NAPM are insisting that the state governments should first compensate affected families and rehabilitate them in line with a Supreme Court order, given in February this year. "We have to follow the Supreme Court's order," the Union Water Resources minister said during a briefing on three-year performance of her department. On the compensation issue, Bharati said all the steps have been taken to offer compensations to the affected ones in accordance with law and that states have agreed to it. "But there are also people who have refused to take compensation.
We have to follow the SC order," she added. The NCA on June 16 cleared the final raising of the dam by lowering its gates and impounding water in the reservoir up to full level of 138.68 metres, aiming to meet water needs of drought-prone areas in the state and Rajasthan. The NCA decision will result in increase in the dam's live storage capacity from 1,565 million cubic metres (MCM) to 5,740 MCM or by 267 per cent. The decision would also help irrigate 8 lakh hectares of area, provide drinking water to one lakh people and increased hydro electricity generation by 150 mega watt, the Union water resources ministry has said.
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