NBA Press Release
  07 April 2008
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

Supreme Court directs Govt. of Madhya Pradesh to file details of land to be given to oustees

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Madhya Pradesh Govt. accepts liability to allot agricultural land to oustees

The Supreme Court today directed the Narmada Hydro-Development Corporation Limited (NHDC) and the Govt. of Madhya Pradesh to produce details of agricultural lands to be given to the oustees of the Omkareshwar Project, Madhya Pradesh and to file the same in the Apex Court by the 15th of April, 2008.

These directions of the Supreme Court were given in appeals filed by the State of Madhya Pradesh and the Narmada Hydro-Development Corporation Limited (NHDC) against the judgment of the Madhya Pradesh High Court of 21st February 2008, which directed the Madhya Pradesh Govt. to allot land for land with a minimum of 5 acres of irrigated agricultural lands to each land-holder, adult son and encroacher family affected by the Omkareshwar Project. In the case filed by the Narmada Bachao Andolan, the High Court had permitted even those oustees who had been given cash compensation by the Govt. without offering them agricultural land as was required under the R&R Policy, to claim allotment of land on the return of 50% of the compensation amount.

The Govt. of Madhya Pradesh and the NHDC had filed separate Special Leave Petitions against the High Court judgment in the Supreme Court last week. Today on the first hearing of the case, the Honorable Supreme Court observed that the oustees should have been provided land so that they do not become paupers or landless after displacement. In response, the Madhya Pradesh Government stated that it was prepared to give land to the oustees, and that it had a land bank of 5000 hectares in this regard. On hearing this, the Supreme Court directed them to produce the list of lands available for allotment to the oustees and file the same in the Court by the 15th of April. Permitting the Narmada Bachao Andolan who had obtained the favorable judgment from the High Court to file its response, the Supreme Court set the date of next hearing on the 21st of April 2008.

The Supreme Court also observed that if the State had promised to allot land to the oustees at the time of the clearances to the Project, they could not retract from their assurance when the time to provide lands has come, and the dam is built. It may be noted that the Madhya Pradesh Government had made a R&R Plan in 1993 wherein it had stated that it would obtain land from the 1.5 lakh hectares command area of the Project to give to the oustees, with a minimum of 2 ha, to each landholding or encroacher family so that the oustees could also benefit from the project. This R&R Plan was approved by the Union Ministry of Welfare in 1993, as well as the Ministry of Environment and Forests and was required to be complied with as per as many as five GOI clearances and several other binding legal agreements.

Narmada Bachao Andolan was represented by Senior Counsel of the Supreme Court Dr. Rajeev Dhawan, and Advocate Shri Sanjay Parikh. The State of Madhya Pradesh and the NHDC were represented by Senior Counsels of the Supreme Court - Shri Harish Salve, Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad, Shri Arun Jetley and Shri Mukul Rohtagi.

The Narmada Bachao Andolan welcomes the development, and states that the people of the area and the democratic institutions will have to ensure that every eligible family is given a minimum of 2 ha. of irrigable and cultivable land, well before submergence, so that their livelihoods are restored and they become better-off after displacement, as held by the Supreme Court in several cases.

Alok Agarwal
Radheshyam Tirole
Ramkuwar Rawat