NBA Press Release
  17 August 2007
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

Madhya Pradesh High Court directs reduction in the water level in Omkareshwar dam to 189 meters or less

2, Sai nagar, Mata Chowk,
Khandwa,
Madhya Pradesh
Tel/FAX: 0733-2228418, 9425394606, 9425928007
Email: nobigdams[at]sancharnet.in

Final hearing on case from 29th August, 2007

The Madhya Pradesh High Court today passed an important Order directing the State Government and the NHDC to reduce the water level at the Omkareshwar dam site to 189 meters or less, so that the 25 villages affected by the dam are not submerged. A bench comprising of Chief Justice Shri Anang Kumar Patnaik and Justice Shri Ajit Singh heard the application of the Narmada Bachao Andolan and passed an Order restraining the water level from being raised above 189 meters. The GOMP had admitted that water had been filled in the reservoir up to 190 meters.

It may be noted that earlier this year, the NBA obtained a stay from the High Court stopping the closure of the radial gates and sluice gates of the dam. Thereupon, the State Government and the NHDC had filed an application to be permitted to raise the water level at the dam site up to 189 meters on the basis of their contention that R&R of the oustees of 5 villages had been completed up to this level, although the R&R of the oustees of 25 villages affected at above 189 meters was yet to be done. This was opposed by the Narmada Bachao Andolan on the basis of the factual and legal situation, as a result of which the High Court passed an Order on the 18 th of May declining to permit the closure of the radial and sluice gates of the dam. However on the 11th of June 2007, the Supreme Court lifted the stay, on the appeal of the State Government.

After this, when the State government started to taking repressive measures in the remaining 25 villages, the Narmada Bachao Andolan approached the Courts once more and an Order was passed by the High Court for these 25 villages affected by the Omkareshwar dam above 189 meters water level on the 22 nd of July 2007 giving a stay on the severing of electricity, water, breaking of houses and public properties or any other coercive measures which may compel the oustees to leave.

Despite this Order of the High Court, on the 30th of July 2007, the Government of Madhya Pradesh accorded permission to the NHDC to fill the reservoir up to 191 meters. Because of the raising of the water level from 189 meters to 191 meters, several houses in Villages Toki, Gogalgaon, and Kelwa were submerged. Several other villages such as Nayapura and Guwadi became islands. It is in this context, that the Narmada Bachao Andolan filed an application in the Madhya Pradesh High Court yesterday praying that the water level in the dam should be kept at 189 meters or less. Noting the admission of the Respondents that the waters had been filled up to 190 meters, the Court directed that it should be lowered to 189 meters.

The matter was argued by the Advocate General Shri R.N.Singh on behalf of the Governmet of Madhya Pradesh and NHDC and Shri Alok Agarwal, senior activist on behalf of the Narmada Bachao Andolan. The final hearing on the issue of the R&R rights and entitlements of the oustees of the Omkareshwar dam, including their right to agricultural land will commence from the 29 th of August 2007.

Chittaroopa Palit,
Raj Kumar Sinha