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SC asks top panel to address Sardar Sarovar Dam water level over submergence of MP villages

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Villagers of Badwani in jalsatyagraha protest against raising water level of Narmada Sarovar Dam

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court Thursday said it is not for the court to decide on the level of water in the Sardar Sarovar Dam and asked a high-powered committee to look into the issue of submergence of villages in Madhya Pradesh due to rising water level.

The high-powered committee comprises of chief ministers of Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan and others.

"What we are thinking is that we cannot decide the level of water. There is already a high-powered committee. They should look into it," a 3-judge bench headed by Justice N V Ramana said.

"Let the committee sit and decide," it said.

The bench, also comprising justices Sanjiv Khanna and Krishna Murari, was hearing a plea which raised the issue of submergence of villages in Madhya Pradesh due to rising water level in Sardar Sarovar dam and rehabilitation of affected persons.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Narmada Control Authority (NCA), said the Sardar Sarovar reservoir regulation committee has regularly undertaken the maintenance of water level in the dam.

Senior lawyer Sanjay Parikh, appearing for the petitioners, said that submergence of villages still continues and "lots of islands" have been created due to this.

He said the Madhya Pradesh government should step in for rehabilitation of the affected persons.

To this, the bench told Parikh that NCA, in its affidavit, has countered the claims made in the petition.

Senior counsel Kapil Sibal, appearing for Madhya Pradesh, said that he would file a short affidavit in the matter by September 30.

The bench, after hearing the brief submissions, posted the matter for hearing on October 1.

At the fag end of the hearing, Mehta told the bench that water level in the dam is being monitored at the highest level.

Parikh had earlier told the bench that the petitioners have confined their prayer to the point that the high level committee should meet and take a decision about the maintenance of water level and for rehabilitation of the project affected families.

The bench had issued notices to the Centre, NCA, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and other respondents seeking their responses on the petition.

The water level in the Sardar Sarovar Dam at Kevadiya in Narmada district of Gujarat had recently reached its highest capacity at 138.68 metres for the first time since its height was raised in 2017.

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