A division bench comprising Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Justice J B Pardiwala directed the secretary of Narmada Water Resources, Water Supply and Kalpsar Department to start the work at the earliest while disposing of a PIL.
Ukai Right Bank Canal Adivasi Adhikar Samiti through its Convener Mansinghbhai Chaudhari had filed the PIL contending that the project was completed way back in 1972 and as per the project plan, canals on both sides of the river were to be drawn.
"While the canals on left bank were completed long back, the Ukai-Gordha Link canal on right bank of the river was not commenced even after 40 years of completion of the dam. Despite several representations by the villagers, no action was taken by the government," it said.
Advocate S H Iyer, appearing for the petitioners, submitted before the court that the state government had already sanctioned Rs 44 crore towards the cost of constructing the canal in 1997.
"Thereafter, 15 years have passed, but the people of 59 villages (54 villages of Mandvi Taluka and 5 villages of Songadh taluka) are yet to get water" he argued.
State government pleader P K Jani submitted that the work could not commence since a strip of 24.45 km land was passing through forest land for which the clearance from Central Government, Ministry of Environment and Forest was necessary and the same was awaited.
During the course of hearing on this PIL, central government on July 16 granted the clearance and submitted before the court that the Ministry of Environment had cleared the project.
After hearing the arguments, the division bench observed in its order today that "since the Central Government has now granted approval for diversion of 52.2767 hectors of Reserved Forest land for construction of Ukai-Gordha right bank link canal, we direct the State Government to start the construction of canal at the earliest and complete the same within seven years as per schedule."