NBA Press Release
  21 June 2008
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

High Court not satisfied with rehabilitation in Omkareshwar Project: Refuses permission to increase water level in dam

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

Directs GRA for another Report on R&R

After hearing the State Government, NHDC and the Narmada Bachao Andolan and examining the Report submitted by the Grievance Redressal Authority (GRA) on the 18th and 19th of June 2008, the Madhya Pradesh High Court passed an Order recording its finding that the Rehabilitation and Resettlement (R&R) of the oustees of the Omkareshwar dam is yet to be completed, and refused to give any permission to increase the water level in the Omkareshwar dam above current water level of 189 meters. The High Court directed the GRA to submit a Report within the next 15 days, giving details about how many oustees and their adult sons have received compensation in lieu of land and, how many have not received compensation in lieu of land. The Court has also asked the State government to consider expanding the GRA, so that the complaints of the oustees about the denial of their R&R entitlements may be heard and redressed expeditiously. The High Court also permitted the oustees to present their case through authorized representatives in front of the GRA. The next hearing of the case is on the 14th of July 2008.

The Omkareshwar Project is being constructed on the Narmada river in Khandwa district. 30 villages of Districts Khandwa and Dewas are being affected by this dam. Around 8000 to 10,000 families are affected by this dam. In March 2007, the Narmada Bachao Andolan filed a Public interest litigation in the M.P. High Court at Jabalpur on behalf of the affected families. In its final Order given on 21.02.2008, the High Court directed that all land-holders, encroachers and their adult sons should be allotted agricultural land. The High Court had also directed that even the land-owners who had been given compensation in lieu of land by the Govt. could return their compensation and claim land. The High Court had directed that the oustees should file their grievances with regard to denial of R&R entitlements with the GRA by the 31st of March 2008, and the GRA should redress all these grievances and file a to file a Report in the High Court on the 17th of June 2008. The High Court had stated that any further permission to raise the water level of the Omakreshwar dam was to be given only after the completion of R&R of the oustees.

The State Government and the NHDC challenged this Order of the M.P. High Court in the Supreme Court. After hearing the matter at length, the Supreme Court also directed that the High Court would decide about any further raising of the water level behind the dam only after its satisfaction that R&R had been completed. However the Supreme Court modified the Order of the High Court to the extent that the land claims of the oustees who have already taken compensation for land to be allotted land on the return of compensation, would not to be taken into account by the High Court at the time of raising the water level and the rights of these oustees would be decided by the Supreme Court at the time of the final hearing.

It was in this legal context, that the High Court heard the matter on the 18th and 19th of June. The GRA Report submitted to the High Court admitted that 3800 claims had been received asking for allotment of agricultural land, and 2800 complaints had been received about denial of other R&R entitlements, a total of 6500 complaints in all. The GRA Report also admitted that the above mentioned grievances and claims are pending. The NBA disclosed to the Court that out of the 3800 land claims, 2000 are of such land-holders, encroachers and their adult sons who have not received or accepted compensation in lieu of land. However the State has admitted that only around 350 families are to be allotted land. The GRA has been directed to give the exact figures of those entitled to land.

In addition to these 6500 complaints, the State Government has admitted in its affidavit, that over 2000 families are yet to be provided house-plots on R&R sites, although only 216 house-plots remain with the State Government. After the GRA has looked into the complaints of exclusion by the oustees, it is likely that there may be an increase of claims from 1500 families for house-plots, bringing the total requirement of additional house-plots required to be allotted on developed sites with all amenities before submergence to at least 3500 affected families.

On the 18th and 19th June 2008, in the hearing of the matter before the division bench of the High Court comprising of Hon'ble Chief Justice Shri Anang Kumar Patnaik and Shri Ajit Singh, the NHDC was represented by Senior Supreme Court Counsel Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad and State Government was represented by the Learned Advocate General Shri R.N. Singh, and the NBA was represented by activists Ms. Chittaroopa Palit.

Alok Agarwal,
Bhagwan Mukati,
Ramkuar Rawat,
Radheshyam Tirole