NBA Press Release
  07 August 2009
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

M.P. High Court Orders Continued Stay on Land Acquisition and Excavation for Indira Sagar (ISP) and Omkareshwar (OSP) - Narmada Canals

62, Mahatma Gandhi Road,
Badwani,
Madhya Pradesh - 451551
Tel: 07290-222464
Email: badwani[at]narmada.org

NBA CHALLENGES AS ‘UNCONSTITUTIONAL’ M.P. GOVT’S DIRECTIVE SUBSTITUTING JANPAD PANCHAYAT WITH GRAM SABHA AS THE CONSULTATIVE BODY

NO REPORT FROM GOMP ON OSP ENVIRONMENTAL MEASURES SINCE 15 YEARS – MOEF MINISTER

Madhya Pradesh High Court after hearing Narmada Bachao Andolan on the issue of Omkareshwar and Indira Sagar canals yesterday ordered that the land acquisition and canal excavation work should continue to remain stayed. The High Court bench comprising Chief Justice A.K. Patnaik and Justice P.K. Jaiswal had, after recording the fact that the Gram Sabhas in the scheduled areas were not consulted before land acquisition as per the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas), Act, 1996 which endows special powers to the Gram Sabhas in adivasi areas, ordered a status quo on the canal work by its earlier Interim Order of 1-07-2009 until resolution of all issues raised in the petition filed by NBA. The Court held that PESA Act, 1996 was enacted by the Parliament as per the powers granted under Article 243-M 4(b) of the Constitution. The non-negotiable features were to be incorporated into the state Panchayat Acts in 1996-97. However, when the Government of Madhya Pradesh had not included the clause of ‘Gram Sabha consultation before land acquisition’ in the state Act, the Central Act features were to be applicable and hence no land acquisition work can be possible without it.

When the work on canal excavation continued even after the Interim Order, NBA also filed a contempt petition on July 19th, with additional documents on the 6th of August, which is also to be heard along with the original petition. Meanwhile, on the 30th of July, the Revenue Department of the GoMP had issued certain directives declaring that for Narmada valley projects ‘Janpad’ will be the ‘appropriate Panchayat’ for consultation and not the Gram Sabha! All the officials of NVDA including Collectors, CEOs and certain politicians tried to get resolutions by Janpads passed while there arose a conflict in some Janpads and many asserted that Gram Sabhas should be consulted first and some questioned the resolutions passed in favour of completing the canal works, on various grounds and violations.

NBA argued before the Court that the said directive is not only against the law and Constitution but also interference in the administration of justice, since it is brought out mainly to bypass the Court’s order. The Court also heard NBA on the letters that were written by the Union Environment Minister Shri Jairam Ramesh to the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh Shivraj Singh Chauhan and a similar letter by the Secretary, MoEF Mr. Vijay Sharma to the Chief Secretary of the state Mr. Rakesh Sahni (attached) and pleaded that a total violation of environmental measures was established since no plans were submitted over the last 15 years after the conditional clearance was granted. The measures included command area development plans and works worth crores of rupees, which were to be planned, approved and partly executed before excavation. Without command area development and due to bad construction, canal breaches have started occurring in districts of Khargone and Khandwa and water logging has destroyed some fields.

After hearing Medha Patkar who pleaded on behalf of NBA, the Chief Justice A.K. Patnaik and Justice P.K Jaiswal passed their order extending the stay and fixed 1st of September for the next hearing by when the Respondents were also directed to file a reply to the contempt petitions and the detailed Rejoinder filed by NBA yesterday. Advocate Raghvendra was the advocate-on-record for the petitioner. Advocates Ravish Agrawal, Nagrath and others appeared for the Respondents – NVDA and GoMP. MoEF and NCA are yet to file their replies.

Arvind Bhagwan Devenbhai Ranvirbhai Tikambhai Shrikanth (Piprimaan) (Piplaj) (Semalda) (Jatpur)

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JAIRAM RAMESH
MINISTER OF STATE (INDEPENDENT CHARGE) ENVIRONMENT AND FORESTS
GOVERNMENT OF INDIA
NEW DELHI – 110003

D.O. No. J-11016/5/84-IA.I 24th July, 2009

Dear Shri Shivraj Singh Chouhanji,

The Omkareshwar Multipurpose Project was accorded environmental clearance on 13th October, 1993 subject to implementation of certain conditions. Recently I received a joint letter from some persons affected due to construction of this project, wherein it was intimated that their land is being forcibly acquired for the canals by applying ‘urgency clause’ of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894. The representation also brought out that there has been no compliance with the environment clearance conditions.

Shri Vijay Sharma, Secretary (E&F) wrote a letter on 1st July 2009 to the Chief Secretary of Madhya Pradesh mentioning all the above mentioned issues and with a request to send a compliance report, which is still awaited. A copy of the said letter is enclosed.

I would request you to kindly look into these issues and get the response sent at the earliest.

With warm regards,

Yours sincerely

(Jairam Ramesh)

Shri Shivraj Singh Chouhan,
Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh
Bhopal

Encl: as above

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VIJAI SHARMA
SECRETARY
MINISTRY OF ENVIRONMENT AND FORESTS
GOVERNMENT OF INDIA
NEW DELHI – 110003

BY SPEED POST

D.O. No. J-11016/5/84-IA.I 1st July, 2009

Dear Sir,

You may be aware that the Omkareshwar Multipurpose Project with Narmada Valley Development Authority (NVDA) as project proponent was accorded environmental clearance on 13.10.1993, subject to implementation of certain conditions. The project has two components, power generation (520 MW) and irrigation (2, 83, 324 ha command area). Power generation component is being done by National Hydro Development Corporation and irrigation component by Narmada Valley Development Authority.

2. Recently we have received a joint letter from some persons affected due to construction of this project, wherein it was intimated that their land is being forcibly acquired for the canals by applying ‘urgency clause’ of the Land Acquisition Act, allegedly in an unlawful and unjust manner. Secondly it has been claimed that despite the area being a notified scheduled area as per law, no measures have been taken or initiated to take their consent, as per the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas), Act, 1996. Further, the application of the urgency clause of Land Acquisition Act has taken away their right to raise objections. Lastly, the representation brings out that there has been no compliance with the environment clearance conditions. A copy of the representation is enclosed.

3. I may mention that one of the conditions (No. viii) of the Environmental clearance was that a detailed command area development (CAD) plan should be prepared and submitted by March 1994 so that the benefit of irrigation can be ensured, as proposed. Though 15 years have passed since the environmental clearance was granted, yet CAD plan has not been submitted to this Ministry till date. The affected villagers have intimated that their fields are irrigated through a pipeline from Narmada river and he wells and therefore, they do not need the canal water.

4. Coul you kindly request NVDA to clarify the reasons for land acquisition or the canals by applying Section 17 (urgency clause) of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, when this project is being planned for many years and also to ensure that the conditions stipulated in the environmental clearance dated 13th October, 1993 are fully implemented. Could you kindly ask the NVDA to submit a compliance report with due priority.

With regards, Yours sincerely

(Vijai Sharma)

Shri R.C Sahni,
Chief Secretary
Government of Madhya Pradesh
Vallabh Bhavan, Bhopal

Arvind Bhagwan Devenbhai Ranvirbhai Tikambhai Shrikanth
(Piprimaan) (Piplaj) (Semalda) (Jatpur)