NBA Press Release
  18 May 2009
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

High Court Orders No submergence of lands and houses in affected villages of Maheshwar and Upper Beda dam

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

After hearing on an application filed by the Narmada Bachao Andolan, the Madhya Pradesh High Court today directed the State Government and the project authorities to ensure that no lands or houses in the 61 affected villages should be submerged due to the Maheshwar dam. It may be noted that the Maheshwar dam is a privatized project which was handed over by the State Government to the S. Kumars group in 1992. The bench comprising of Justice Deepak Mishra and Jutice Ajit Singh also directed that the rehabilitation measures should be expeditiously granted in accordance with the Rehabilitation Policy.

It may be noted that a public interest litigation was filed by the Narmada Bachao Andolan in the Madhya Pradesh High Court for the rehabilitation and resettlement of about 15,000 affected families in the 61 affected villages. The NBA pointed out during the hearing that less than 3% of the affected families have been rehabilitated. No land has been allotted to the villagers as per the R&R Policy of the GOMP and no R&R sites have been constructed for the villagers with adjacent agricultural lands. The petitioner stated that it was clear from the reports of the Ministry of Environment and Forests and the admissions of the company itself, that it had completely failed to provide rehabilitation.

After hearing on an application filed by the Narmada Bachao Andolan, the Madhya Pradesh High Court today directed the State Government and the project authorities to ensure that no lands or houses in the 61 affected villages should be submerged due to the Maheshwar dam. The Court also directed that the rehabilitation measures should be expeditiously granted in accordance with the Rehabilitation Policy.

It may also be noted that on the 6th of May 2009, the Madhya Pradesh High Court in an important decision had directed that the agricultural lands of the oustees can no more be purchased by the Company through sale deeds, but could only be acquired under consent awards under the LA Act. The Hon'ble Court held that the direct purchase of oustees lands through sale deeds was in contravention of the R&R Policy and therefore of the fundamental rights of the oustees under Article 21 of the Constitution. The Court also held that the terms of the agreement which the Company compelled the oustees to sign which stated that after sale of their lands, they would not longer be entitled to any R&R benefits including land and other grants was exploitative of the oustees. It is thus clear that the project authorities will have to grant a minimum of 5 acres irrigated and cultivable lands and other R&R entitlements to all land-holders and their adult sons, as well as all R&R benefits to the other oustees.

The application in the Maheshwar dam case was heard on the 18th of May by a bench comprising of Hon'ble Justice Deepak Mishra and Justice Ajit Singh. The State government was represented by Advocate General Shri R.N. Singh and the Narmada Bachao Andolan was represented by activist Chittaroopa Palit.

Stay on submergence in Upper Beda dam

In the context of the Upper Beda dam being constructed in the Narmada valley, after hearing a public interest litigation filed by the Narmada Bachao Andolan, on the 6th of May 2009, the Madhya Pradesh High Court has directed that no lands and villages in the submergence area may be submerged by the Upper Beda dam. The Upper Beda dam is one of the 30 large dams being built in the Narmada valley, and 14 villages, mostly tribal, are affected by this dam. For the last 13 years, the villagers of the area have been fighting for their rights under the aegis of the Narmada Bachao Andolan.

During the hearing, the Narmada Bachao Andolan pointed out that the State Government had itself admitted that the villagers have not been rehabilitated with agricultural lands and with other R&R entitlements as per the R&R Policy and even land acquisition has not been completed. On this basis, the High Court directed that the State Government should ensure that no lands or houses should be submerged in the forthcoming monsoons. The High Court also directed that the back-water surveys should be done of all the affected villages, that the process of land acquisition and R&R should be expedited, and Family Lists should be immediately prepared.

The petition on the Upper Beda dam was heard by the bench comprising of Chief Justice Anang Kumar Patnaik and Justice Ajit Singh. The State government and the NVDA was represented by Senior Advocate Shri Shekhar Bhargava and the Narmada Bachao Andolan was represented by activist Chittaroopa Palit.

Alok Agarwal, Ramkuar Rawat, Bhagwan Birla, Bana bai