NBA Press Release
  06 August 2002
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

Grievance Redressal Authority (GRA) Rejects Review Petition of NVDA : Directs Implementation of Interim Order of 31 July : Dhar Administration Starts Taking People Back to Their Village

NARMADA BACHAO ANDOLAN
Jail Road, Mandleshwar
District Khargone, Madhya Pradesh
Tel: 07283-33162
Email: nobigdam@sancharnet.in

In an important development in the saga of the Maan dam affected people, the Grievance Redressal Authority (NSP, Omkareshwar and Maan Project) (GRA), headed by Shri Ravindra Sharma, yesterday summarily rejected the review petition filed by the Narmada Valley Development Authority (NVDA) against the GRA's interim order of  31st July 2002. It also asked the NVDA and Collector, Dhar to promptly implement its orders of 31st July 2002. Today, the Dhar district administration approached the oustees who were sitting on dharna outside the Collector office and started the process of taking them back to their homes with their belongings as mandated by the GRA's order. According to news received just now, some people have already reached the original village, after having been taken by the government to the resettlement site, where their possessions were picked up and being brought back to the original village.

It may be recollected that on 20th July 2002, the government forcibly evicted the Maan dam affected people from the first affected village Khedi-Balwadi using massive police force and severe repression. The people were forcibly taken with all their possessions to the so called resettlement sites of Kesur and Aamkheda, 75 and 45 kms away respectively,  and dumped there. Following this, the people were on the streets since last 16 days, first in Indore, then Bhopal and since the last 5 days in Dhar.

The people then petitioned the GRA (Maan Project) on 23rd July and then again on 30th July 2002. It was on this Petition that the GRA passed its interim orders on 31st July 2002. These orders directed the government to take the people back to the relief camps in their original village along with their possessions, allow the people to stay in their houses provided they agreed to move out in case of flooding, and to remove the police from the villages.

When the oustees reached Dhar along with a copy of the above order, the NVDA stayed the implementation of the order and filed a review petition in front of the GRA. The NBA too filed a petition in context of the Review Petition. After closely scrutinizing the petitions, and hearing the petitioners in person, the GRA rejected the Review Petition and passed its Final Orders in the matter, directing the NVDA and Dhar administration to implement the same without any delay.

The Order of the GRA includes the following important directions(Translation from Original Hindi):

In the Direction No.  (2) of the Order, it is stated that : "In spite of being given ample time in the circumstances, the NVDA did not give  any response [to the complaints of the people forwarded by the GRA to NVDA]. >From this, one can conclude that either the NVDA did not have any basis / facts  for answers to the issues raised, or that it was deliberately delaying sending the response, so that this Authority would not be able to safeguard the interests of the affected people."

Direction No. (4) states: " The Rehabilitation Policy of Government of M.P. states clearly that  the resettlement of the people affected should be done well in advance of submergence. In this matter [Maan oustees], the full rehabilitation has not yet been done, nor full compensation paid. In these circumstances, to forcibly evict the people and take them at places 45-75 kms away from their present homes where even the facilities are not yet ready can never be called as appropriate or correct."

Direction No. (6) states: "The contention of the NVDA that the respondents [oustees] were evicted from their homes to protect them from floods and provide them with security can never be accepted because if  they were shifted from point of view of security and floods then they could have been kept at the temporary relief camps or resettlement sites near by itself. Not doing so but taking them far away from their present homes is not in conformity with justice. The contention of the NVDA that the respondents cannot be kept in temporary camps because they have been given all their entitlements as per the resettlement policy too cannot be accepted. This is because they have not yet been given the increased compensation nor other entitlements."

The Order also draws the attention of the NVDA and Dhar administration to the Section (15) of the Gazette Notification creating the GRA, which states that the orders of the GRA would be final and binding on the state government. It then directs the NVDA and Dhar administration to forthwith comply with its orders of 31st July, which direct the oustees to be put back in the original village with all their possessions.

The NBA believes that these Orders of the GRA vindicate its position and show that the issues it had been raising regarding the Maan oustees are valid. It now awaits the completion of the implementation of these Orders, calls for the total withdrawal of police from the submergence areas and warns that the Government should not repeat any such action.

Alok Agrawal
Chittaroopa Palit
Antubai