| NBA Press Release
|| 19 May 2008
Supreme Court Directs Madhya Pradesh High Court To Take Decision About Submergence On Assessment Of Rehabilitation And Resettlement
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The Supreme Court issued an Interim Order in an appeal filed by the Madhya Pradesh Government in the Supreme Court against the Order of the Madhya Pradesh High Court, in the matter of the rehabilitation and resettlement of the oustees of the Omkareshwar dam. The Supreme Court Order upheld the High Court Order that the Madhya Pradesh High Court will take a decision about further reservoir-filling after assessing the completion of R&R of the oustees, after receiving a report from the Grievance Redressal Authority (GRA). The Government of Madhya Pradesh had strenuously objected to the Madhya Pradesh High Court taking a decision about reservoir filling on the basis of its assessment of the completion of R&R, and had asked the Supreme Court to set this part of the High Court judgment aside. However this was refused.
In its appeal in the Supreme Court, the Government of Madhya Pradesh had also urged the Supreme Court to stay the Order of the High Court directing that the State Government should give agricultural land to the oustees. Specifically rejecting this prayer of the Madhya Pradesh Government, the Supreme Court refused to change the Order of the High Court directing allotment of land to landholders, adult sons and encroachers as per the R&R Policy. However, the Hon'ble Supreme Court clarified that the land claims of those families who have already accepted cash compensation in lieu of their acquired land and who have been permitted by the High Court to claim land allotment by returning the cash compensation, would not be considered at the present, and the decision about the claims of these oustees for land will be taken by Supreme Court itself at time of final hearing. However the Supreme Court directed that if the lands of any of these oustees are submerged in the interim period, they would be paid damages for the same. The next hearing in this case in Supreme Court will be in last week of July.
It maybe noted that the Madhya Pradesh High Court had passed its final Order on 21st of Feburary 2008 after a lengthy hearing on the Public Interest Litigation filed by the Narmada Bachao Andolan. In this Order it directed that all farmers, long-term encroachers and adult sons of farmers should be given land for land with the minimum allotment of 2 ha. of irrigated land. The High Court has also directed the oustees to file their complaints and grievances in front of Grievance Redressal Authority by 31st of March and had directed the GRA to hear these complaints and present a report to Hon'ble High Court by 14th June. The High Court had also listed the matter to take a decision about submergence beyond 189 meters On 17th of June.
The State Government and NHDC had filed an Appeal against this Order in the Supreme Court. The matter was heard by a bench of Supreme Court comprising of Hon'ble Chief Justice Mr. K.G. Balakrishnan, Justice Mr. R.V. Raveendran and Justice Dr. Mukundakam Sharma.
In the wake of this Order, the GRA is required to assess whether all adult sons of cultivators, long-term encroachers and all those landholders who have not accepted cash compensation have been given land for land with minimum of 2 ha. of irrigated land, as per the R&R Policy and the Order of the High Court. It maybe noted that there are at least 2000 land claims from the above mentioned categories which have already being filed with the Authority. In addition to this, the GRA will also be required to examine and pass orders on the 2300 complaints filed by the oustees in front of the GRA with regard to denial of other rehabilitation entitlements etc. The High Court will examine the report and take any decision about further submergence after this.
During the hearing in the Supreme Court, Senior Supreme Court Counsel Dr. Rajeev Dhawan and Advocate Mr. Sanjay Parikh represented the Narmada Bachao Andolan. The Madhya Pradesh Government and NHDC were represented by Senior Supreme Court Counsels Mr. Harish Salve and Shri Ravishankar Prasad. The next hearing in the Supreme Court will be in the last week of July.
The people of Narmada Valley and the Narmada Bachao Andolan are determined to realize their fundamental right to land and livelihood and to be made better-off after displacement. Unitedly they have faced, and will continue to face and to prevail over the callousness of the Government and the Project Authorities who constructed the dam wall in great haste, but failed to provide the villagers the just entitlements which had been promised to them.Alok Agarwal