NBA Press Release
  11 June 2007
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

Supreme Court issues stay order on the Interim Stay of High Court

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Madhya Pradesh
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Asks the High Court to Expedite Hearing

Also says that High Court should give its verdict on the issue of Displaced People's Rights without being influenced by the Supreme Court's stay order

While hearing the appeal against the stay order issued by the MP High Court regarding Narmada Bachao Andolan's PIL on the Omkareshwar Project, the Supreme Court has issued a stay on the interim stay order of the High Court and asked it to expedite hearing keeping in view the gravity of the matter. The apex court has issued orders to both the involved parties to appear before the Chief Justice, MP High Court (Jabalpur Bench) on June 19th, 2007. The court has also said that the High Court should give its verdict without being influenced by the Supreme Court's stay on its interim stay order.

The displaced people pf Omkareshwar Project had filed a PIL in the Jabalpur Bench of the High Court through Narmada Bachao Andolan. After prolonged hearings on the matter, and accepting the fact the displaced people had not been rehabilitated according to the policies laid down, the High Court had ordered and interim stay on the closing of radial and sluice gates of the dam. The state government and NHDC had filed an appeal in the Supreme Court. The appeal was heard by a bench of Justice Ajit Pasayat and Justice Navlekar today.

Today's Supreme Court order can lead to filling up of the reservoir of the Omkareshwar dam, but due to reduced amount of water in the Indira Sagar dam reservoir and the Narmada river, the reservoir will not perhaps be filled till the monsoons arrive. The Supreme Court has not mentioned anything about the state of rehabilitation of the displaced people and have instead asked the High Court to expedite its hearing and arrive at a decision soon. It has also clearly stated that the High Court should be unaffected by the Supreme Court's stay on its interim stay order while issuing its final verdict. The Narmada Bachao Andolan is confident that it will again successfully establish the issue of the displaced people's rights in the High Court and urge the Court to issue a final and just verdict that till all the affected persons are rehabilitated according to the policies, the dam reservoir should not be allowed to fill up.

It is to be noted here that the present order does not affect the existing rehabilitation policy that grants the right of land to all adult sons and adult unmarried daughters of the affected families. The environmental clearance given to the Omkareshwar project that grants land to the landless affected families will also remain unaffected. According to a government survey report, due to the fact that the affected families have not been given land according to the rehabilitation policy of 1993, more than 85% of the affected families have not been able to buy land and have been pushed to pauperisation. The High Court has taken cognisance of this very fact and asked that the displaced be provided with land according to the 1993 rehabilitation policy. The displaced people are firm that will raise this issue of their right in front of the court as well as the state government.

On the other hand, the huge dharna of the Indira Sagar and Omkareshwar affected people continued for the eighth day today. The indefinite hunger strike by five persons - Chittaroopa Palit, Bhagwan Mukati, Krishna Bai, Suraj Bai and Ashok Chaturvedi entered its sixth day. 41 other affected persons also started their three-day relay fast in solidarity today. The people hjave made it loud and clear that their struggle and peaceful agitation will continue till they achieve their full rights and just demands.

Alok Agrawal