NBA Press Release
  27 July 2005
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

Water level of Indira Sagar Dam Not to Increase Above 248 metres : Madhya Pradesh Hight Court

2, Sai Nagar, Mata Chowk
Khandwa, Madhya Pradesh
Tel: 9425056802

No Coercive Measures against Oustees

After a lengthy hearing of 12 days, turning down the proposal of the Madhya Pradesh Government and the NHDC (Narmada Hydro-Development Corporation) to raise the height of the dam to 262 metres or 258 metres, the bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court at Jabalpur comprising of Hon'ble Chief Justice R.V. Raveendran and Justice Shantanu Kemkar ordered, that the water level of the dam should not be increased above 248 metres. This will mean that there will be no additional submergence above last year^s levels. The matter was argued by the Advocate General Shri Raghunandan Singh on behalf of the NHDC and the State Government and Ms. Chittaroopa Palit on behalf of the Petitioners - the Narmada Bachao Andolan.

In the context of the Writ Petition filed by the Narmada Bachao Andolan in the Madhya Pradesh High Court at Jabalpur, regarding the rehabilitation of the oustees of the 91 villages slated to come under submergence by the Indira Sagar Dam in the current monsoon season, after a lengthy hearing of 12 days, the High Court has ordered that the water level of the dam should not be increased above 248 metres. The High Court also ordered that until full rehabilitation of the oustees of the 91 villages has been completed, which includes allotment of lands and house plots, and provision of rehabilitation grant, special rehabilitation grant, employment allowance, transportation allowance, etc, the height of the dam cannot be increased any further. The High Court also directed that no coercive measures be taken against the oustees of the 91 villages. The NHDC was directed to file a report on the status of rehabilitation by the 12th of August 2005.

It may be noted that the NBA had filed the Writ Petition on 6th of May 2005 and asked for a stay on the closure of the 20 radial gates, which if closed would raise the height of the dam to 262 metres and bringing the total impoundment of the Indira Sagar Dam to 91,000 hectares, the largest impoundment in the country. The NBA had prayed that the dam be kept at 245 metres, i.e. the crest level, and that the gates be left open. In the course of the hearing, the NBA pointed out that the rehabilitation of the oustees was yet to be done, that not a single oustee had been given agricultural land, that only around 200 families out of 10,000 had been given house plots, and that even by the 15th of July, large amounts of compensation were yet to be distributed.

It may be noted that the NHDC had planned to vacate the villages and force the oustees to break their houses by the 30th of April and to submerge the 91 villages by the 30th of June 2005 even though the rehabilitation was clearly far from complete, much in the manner that the people of Harsud were compelled to break their houses and move without rehabilitation last year. However, soon after the filing of the Writ Petition by the Narmada Bachao Andolan, on the 1st of July, the Advocate General gave an undertaking on behalf of the State Government not to close the gates or use coercive measures in order to evict the villagers.

The Grievance Redressal Authority (GRA) was directed to prepare a report on the status of rehabilitation and resettlement in the 91 villages by the High Court. The report submitted on the 15th of June pointed out that the majority of the compensation had been paid in late May and early June 2005 and that a significant portion of the oustees were yet to be paid. The GRA Report also pointed out that a great many level surveys were found wrong and that that although houses under the Backwater Level should be compulsorily acquired, even the Backwater computations had not been made. Following the GRA Report, the High Court ordered the authorities to present details of the Backwater Levels. In compliance with this Order, the NHDC asked the Central Water Commission (CWC) to present a report and the findings of this Report were that Backwater levels would be 5 to 6 metres above FRL at dam site and even higher behind the reservoir.

It may also be noted that if the gates of the dam are closed at 262 metres, a full additional 62,500 hectares will be submerged. Yet additional electricity benefits to Madhya Pradesh will be a mere 216 MU, less than 1% of Madhya Pradesh's total electricity consumption. At the present even without the closure of the dam gates, the Indira Sagar Project is producing at 90% of its full capacity.

Alok Agarwal
Bhagwan Mukati