| NBA Press Release
|| 07 August 2008
Madhya Pradesh High Court orders acquisition of 974 excluded houses: GRA confirms that houses in Govt surveys were arbitrarily excluded
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Putting a close to the unfortunate chapter of arbitrariness and illegality by the State Government that spanned four years, the bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court at Jabalpur comprising of Hon'ble Justice Shri Deepak Mishra and Hon'ble Justice Shri Sanjay Yadav directed that the 974 houses of 46 villages which had indisputedly been constructed prior to the Section 4 Notification should be acquired and compensated within the next four weeks. The order was passed in the public interest litigation filed by Shri Rajendra Prasad vs. State of M.P. Shri Rajendra Prasad is an oustee of the Indira Sagar Project and he is being assisted in this case by the Narmada Bachao Andolan.
It may be pointed out that the first Govt. survey in these villages was carried out at the end of 2004 and the second survey in November 2005. However, even after all these houses were numbered and measured, and put on the govt survey records, they were arbitrarily left out of the acquisition and compensation process and the residents of these houses were denied R&R. On the 25th of April, 2006, Collector Khandwa directed that these houses should be taken up for acquisition, but within two weeks, his Order was reversed by the Narmada Valley Development Authority. In September 2006, when the Indira Sagar reservoir was permitted by the High Court to be filled up to 260 meters, and hundreds of houses, and thousands of acres of land were either submerged or came into the very verge of submergence, then during the re-survey of the submergence area ordered by the High Court, these houses were once again surveyed for acquisition. However, once again they were excluded on the orders of the Collector Khandwa.
In this way for the last 4 years, the State Government and the NHDC have tortured the poor and tribal oustees of the submergence area. It is reprehensible that the NHDC, which has to pay for the compensation of the acquisition and R&R has been denying the poor oustees their lawful and statutory entitlements, while on the other hand in the last year alone, it's profits after taxes was Rs. 454 crores.
It was only after the application filed by the petitioner that the Government conceded that 2226 houses had been excluded from the last survey conducted in 2007. Of these, they agreed to acquire 1200 houses. However 974 houses were still excluded. Last month, the High Court directed the Grievance Redressal Authority to certify whether the remaining houses were in submergence and were existing on the date of Section 4 notification or not. In its letter written to the Vice Chairman NVDA, filed today in the Court, the GRA stated
"..The GRA received a copy of the affidavit of the petitioners enclosing the certified copies of the lists of the houses of 46 villages falling within BWL as per survey conducted by Executive Engineer, N.D.Division No. 13, Khandwa. A list of 922 houses left out of acquisition has also been enclosed. To sum up, it is an admitted fact (by NVDA and NHDC) that 974 out of 2226 houses included in the BWL survey lists of 46 villages have not been taken up for acquisition. It is also clear that these 974 houses of 922 oustees, were existing within BWL at the time of issue of Section 4 Notification. In fact all these houses have got to be acquired as they are covered in the BWL survey. They will in any case get submerged whenever BWL is reached."
It was on the basis of this clear finding of the GRA, that the High Court ordered that these houses must be immediately acquired and compensated. It may be pointed out that another 1000-1500 houses have been excluded from acquisition and compensation, which had been recorded in the Maximum Water Level surveys done by the Government in November 2005. The Narmada Bachao Andolan will supply a list and certified copies of the Government survey records to the GRA and the Court in the next one month.
An application was also moved on the 5th of August in the High Court that the Government of Madhya Pradesh was preventing survey of around 40 affected villages including the towns of Handia and Nemawar situated along the Indira Sagar Project reservoir, which fall beyond 55 kms from the dam site. The length of the ISP reservoir is 84 kms. This may lead to submergence of properties and also death of hundreds of persons in these villages if they are caught by surprise. It was also argued in the Court today that certain lands belonging to the oustees are being acquired but without the trees, wells, houses and other properties, which is in violation of the Land Acquisition Act. It was also argued that the State Govt. had admitted that the houses in the ISP area had been compensated at the compensation rates of the year 1999, although the Rehabilitation Policy required that the houses be compensated at replacement rates, and a prayer was made that the houses be revalued at current rates without any deductions, and the additional amount be provided as a grant to the oustees. This matter will be heard again on the 26th of August.
Shri R.N. Singh, Advocate General of the State and Shri Arpan Pawar, Advocate appeared for the State Government and NHDC, and Shri Abhijit Bhowmik, Advocate and Ms. Chittaroopa Palit, activist of the NBA appeared for the oustees. The Narmada Bachao Andolan welcomes this Order which will provide the oustees their legitimate entitlements. There is no doubt that the enormous determination and persistence shown by the people of the Narmada valley in the face of the unbelievable arbitrariness and injustice displaced by the State Government and the Company will lead them to victory.
Gajraj Singh, Bhagwan Mukati, Alok Agarwal