NBA Press Release
  05 September 2007
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

Supreme Court upholds Madhya Pradesh High Court Order in favor of oustees: Directs water level of Omkareshwar dam to be kept at EL 189 M

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Madhya Pradesh
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In an important development, the Supreme Court today refused the plea of the State of Madhya Pradesh and the NHDC that they should be permitted to raise the water level of the Omkareshwar dam above 189 M. They also refused to stay the Order of the M.P High Court in this matter. A division bench comprising of the Chief Justice of India Shri K.G. Balakrishnan and Justice R.V. Raveendran was hearing a Special Leave Petition filed by the NHDC and the State of M.P. against a restraint order obtained by the Narmada Bachao Andolan from the Madhya Pradesh High Court.

It may be noted that the High Court of Madhya Pradesh had passed an Order on the 22nd of June 2007 restraining the State Government and the NHDC from taking any coercive measures which would force the oustees in the 25 villages affected above 189 M water-level by the Omkareshwar dam, to leave their villages because the rehabilitation of these oustees was yet to be done. However, in open defiance of this Order, after the 30 th of July, the Government of Madhya Pradesh and the NHDC raised the water level above 189 M, which led to submergence of several houses and lands. Many other villages became islands, and lost contact with the outside world.

It was in this context, that the High Court passed another Order on the 17th of August 2007, directing the State and NHDC to bring down the water level to 189 M. The State and the NHDC challenged this Order of the High Court in the Apex Court.

Today, during the course of the hearing, the senior counsel for the Narmada Bachao Andolan pointed out that large number of houses had been submerged and swept away last month because the water-level in the reservoir was arbitrarily raised above 189 M, and the same could not be permitted because the fundamental right of the oustees under article 21 of the Constitution required rehabilitation in advance of submergence.

After the hearing, the Supreme Court passed an Order disposing off the petitions of the NHDC and the GoMP, and directing that the water level should be maintained at 189 M, and upholding the High Court Order. The final hearing in the public interest petition filed by the Narmada Bachao Andolan on the question of rehabilitation entitlements of the oustees of the Omkareshwar Project, including the allotment of lands, begins from the 25 th of September 2007 in the High Court of Madhya Pradesh.

Alok Agarwal,
Chittaroopa Palit,
Bhagwan Mukati,
Ramkuwar