NBA Press Release
  16 March 2009
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

HC orders Government to obtain private agricultural and Government lands for oustees

2, Sai nagar, Mata Chowk,
Khandwa,
Madhya Pradesh
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Email: nobigdams[at]sancharnet.in

Order to verify cultivability of offered lands

In a very significant Order, a bench of the M.P. High Court comprising of Chief Justice Shri Anang Kumar Patnaik and Shri Ajit Singh today directed the Indian Institute of Soil Sciences, Bhopal which is linked to the ICAR (Indian Council of Agricultural Research) to verify whether the grazing lands offered to the oustees could be regarded as suitable for agricultural purposes. At the same time in the light of the admission of the State Government, that more than two thirds of these offered lands are encroached, the High Court directed the State Government to obtain alternate private agricultural lands, as well as other Government lands for the oustees. It may be noted that it is the first time judicial directions have been given to the State Government to obtain private lands for allotment to the oustees in the Narmada Valley.

It may be pointed out that although the Rehabilitation Policy of the State Government expressly states that the oustees may be allotted private lands obtained from willing sellers, GOMP had never done the same, and had consistently offered grazing lands to the oustees, so that the oustees were compelled to accept cash compensation and relinquish their right to a minimum of 2 ha. of irrigated land per family. In Sardar Sarovar dam, the Shunglu Committee had concluded that the oustees were forced to accept the cash package.

Order to verify suitability of lands

It may be noted that on 27th January 2009, the M.P. High Court had directed that the oustees would inspect the offered lands and file affidavits stating whether they are prepared to accept the offered lands. The oustees had filed separate affidavits on the 17th of February stating that the lands were not cultivable and irrigable, and that most of the lands inspected were under encroached. Although the State admitted that two-thirds of the land were encroached, it disputed the contention of the oustees that the other lands were not cultivable or irrigable. The High Court then ordered the Indian Institute of Soil Sciences, Bhopal to verify whether the lands in question are suitable for agricultural purposes in light of the contentions of the oustees, and to submit such report to the Court by the 25th of March. Two representatives each of the Narmada Bachao Andolan, State Government and NHDC would be present during the investigation.

Additional lands to be arranged for the oustees

The High Court today ordered that since the State Government had admitted that the majority of the lands are encroached, and it is difficult to remove the encroachments, the State Government must immediately locate private lands or other Government lands for allotment to the oustees.

High Court expresses inability to record satisfaction that R&R is complete

On the application of the State Government and the NHDC to increase the water level of the dam above 189 meters, the High Court said that as per the Report of the GRA (Grievance Redressal Authority) dated 13th March 2009, of the 8301 complaints, a decision would be taken about 3847 complaints by the Honble Supreme Court. Of the remaining 4454 complaints, orders have been passed in only 1566 complaints, and applications have been heard in another 500 cases. Hearings are due on 2388 complaints. The High Court said that when it was clear that a great deal of R&R work is outstanding, therefore the High Court cannot record its satisfaction that the R&R is complete or permit any further submergence. The next hearing on this issue is on the 26th of March.

The Advocate General of the State Shri R.N. Singh and Advocate Shri Arpan Pawar, Senior Supreme Court counsel Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad and Advocate Ms. Supurna Srivastava argued on behalf of NHDC and GOMP. NBA activist Chittaroopa Palit pleaded on behalf of the Narmada Bachao Andolan.

Alok Agarwal, Ramkuwar rawat, Gulabsingh