India's Supreme Court has again ruled in favour of the construction of the Sardar Sarovar dam, but has warned that it will halt work if displaced populations were not compensated as promised.
The conditional go-ahead followed a government review that found people displaced by a series of dams in the Narmada Valley had not been given new land, money or housing as claimed. A three-judge bench headed by the Chief Justice has now given the western states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh one week to report progress in compensating thousands of villagers displaced by the project.
Work began last month to raise the height of Sardar Sarovar by 13m, making it the largest dam in the Narmada Valley development project. However opponents, who had gone on hunger strikes in New Delhi demanding resettlement, say increasing the height would displace even more people and submerge more farmland.
Supporters of the scheme however says that raising its height will benefit 40M farmers, allowing them to irrigate 200,000ha of barren land, and will allow the project to produce nearly 1500MW of electricity.
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