NBA Press Release
  10 March 2008
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

Supreme Court Hears the Sardar Sarovar Case.

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

Government of MP Directed to Report on Compliance in Rehabilitation within 2 weeks

The cases regarding the Sardar Sarovar Project in the Narmada Valley were heard today, March 10, 2008, by the Supreme Court Bench, comprised of the Chief Justice with Justice Kapadia and Justice Sinha. Advocate Sanjay Parikh pleaded on behalf of the applicants, the dam affected adivasis and farmers who have raised the issues of rehabilitation where the legal mandate of land for land is violated and huge misappropriation of crores of rupees is exposed, challenging further erection of the gates (i.e. raise by 17 meters of dam height.)

Shri L.C. Jain, former High Commissioner to South Africa and Member, Planning Commission, one of the eminent petitioners who have filed a Public Interest Litigation seeking intervention into the matter as violation of Article 21, Right to Life. He also argued before the Court, on behalf of the petitioners Kuldip Nayar, Upendra Baxi, Swami Agnivesh, Aruna Roy, Ramaswamy Iyer, Kamla Bhasin, B.D. Sharma, Suhas Borker, and Harsh Mander. They have challenged the illegality of cash payment in lieu of land as well as submergence without rehabilitation.

Advocate Sanjay Parikh put forth the background of Narmada Tribunal Award with clear directives for rehabilitation to ensure a better standard of living. He brought out that against all the promises and affidavits by the State of Madhya Pradesh wherein it was claimed that about twelve thousand hectares of land were available, the state resorted to an illegal policy of paying cash (that too 1/3rd of the market price) and then the officials with group of touts created fake land registries while giving fraudulent reports to claim that the affected people were rehabilitated. Those who did not accept cash, including adivasis in the mountainous regions, are also not allotted cultivable, irrigable land, violating the Courtís judgments.

He submitted to the court tabulated data prepared by the affected people and activists of NBA showing how the official documents including affidavits manipulated the total number of Project Affected Families (PAFs) at every phase, for raising the dam height and how the number of families eligible for land also diminished. The Court also heard Adv Parikh on plea for cancellation of the Special Rehabilitation Package (SRP).

The violations of rehabilitation, Shri Jain pleaded, has amounted to violation of Right to Life, a Constitutional Right under Article No. 21. Shri Jain prayed that the Gramsabha, Constitutional Authority, must be the ultimate touchstone and should be requested to opine on the data and reports to decide on completion and compliance on rehabilitation. This is also mandatory under the PESA Act, 1997, he pleaded.

This was in pursuant to the order dated 23.4.2007 in which the Supreme Court had directed the GoMP to respond to how the SRP is resulting in the implementation of the Award and directions of the Court. The Central Authorities had put on record in the 79th meeting of the Narmada Control Authority that GoMP must submit a plan suggesting a mechanism and action to ensure that all the eligible PAFs get land.

The PAFs are the victims of a conspiracy by the Government Officials and the middlemen.

The Court has given two weeks time for Madhya Pradesh to respond and the affected PAFs as applicants have to file rejoinder submissions within 8 weeks thereafter.

The counsel for MP pointed out the figures of PAFs who have accepted SRP. This was countered by the counsel for the PAFs who submitted that the NCA, which is the final authority for implementation of the award, should decide how many PAFs have in fact received 5 acres of land. It is after that verification that the PAFs entitled for land can be asserted which can be done after the response from the GoMP.

The Court noted the total no. of PAFs who have accepted the SRP and other PAFs who have categorically asked for cultivable land who, the Court stated as per the Award, should be given cultivable and irrigable land. The court, on being pointed out noted that the High Court of Madhya Pradesh has issued the notices to the Narmada Valley Development Authority, the Narmada Control Authority and the Government of Madhya Pradesh on the issue of corruption as per SRP leading to deprivation and false allegations against the PAFs, leaving officials free to carry on.

Ashish Mandloi,
Medha Patkar