NBA Press Release
  03 September 2009
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

Jabalpur High Court Issues Contempt Notice to NVDA

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Madhya Pradesh - 451551
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The public interest litigation filed by NBA and the Indira Sagar, Omkareshwar Canal affected came up for hearing yesterday once again before the Hon’ble High Court of Jabalpur. It may be recalled that the Court had, by way of an Interim Order, on 01-07-2009 granted a status quo in the land acquisition and canal excavation work for the two dam Projects after the petitioners had raised vital issues such as violation of the letter and spirit of democratic local self-governance as enshrined in Article 243 of the Constitution and the mandate of no-land acquisition without prior Gram Sabha consultation as per the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996, no command area plans for 15-20 years and disregard to the right to land-based rehabilitation of thousands of canal affected families. This status quo was extended by this Hon’ble Court by its Interim Order dated 06-08-2009.

Proving to the Court how there has been scant compliance with the pre-conditions and stipulations in the environmental clearances, the petitioners also placed before the Court the letters written by the Union Minister and Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests to the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh and the State Chief Secretary in July 2009. The Investment Clearance letters by the Planning Commission mandating pari passu command area work along with the every phase of the dam and canal construction (Indira Sagar–1989 and Omkareshwar–2001) were also presented to the Court, showing how there were glaring violations in compliance with these mandatory provisions.

Quoting from the Constitution and the Stockholm Convention, the Hon’ble Chief Justice Shri A.K. Patnaik pointed out to the Respondents that “any impact on the environment would have an impact on the human population” and questioned the counsel for the Narmada Valley Development Authority as to whether NVDA had ever presented any Rehabilitation or Command Area Development Project in all these years?

In their order yesterday, the Court, for the second time directed continuation of the status quo after written and oral submissions by the petitioners and reply by the respondents. The Court also demanded detailed affidavits from the Respondents to various issues such as environmental aspects, rehabilitation and Gram Sabha consultation raised by the petitioners in their main and interim applications by the 8th of October, when the next hearing has been listed. It may also be noted that the entire land acquisition process in the scheduled areas is replete with illegalities such as ‘handing over’ cheques of meager denomination to the poor, or falsely assuring the adivasis that “officials would take of any court-related consequences!! and making them sign on affidavits etc, as has happened in Dhar and Badwani districts.

In an independent Contempt Petition filed on 19-07-2009, the petitioners also brought to the notice of the Court the continuing contemptuous actions of the Respondents, even upto the 20th of July and beyond, grossly violating the status quo Order. Medha Patkar, presenting the case for the petitioners argued that excavation for the canals, including blasting is still on, such as in village Jalkha, Tehsil Kasravad, Dist Khargone and in village Wayal, Tehsil Manawar, District District Dhar which is a blatant and intentional violation of the Court. Additional documents, photographs, news reports showing proof of contempt were filed on the 6th of August and 2nd of September, upon which the Court issued a contempt notice to NVDA, calling upon it to answer as to “why why proceedings of contempt should not be initiated against it”, and ordered NVDA to reply back by 07-09-2009.

After the petitioners submitted to the Court that the besides the GoMP, NVDA and concerned District Collectors, certain private companies / contractors who were entrusted the Omkareshwar and Indira Sagar Canal Project work are also guilty of contempt, the Court indicated to the petitioners that these contractors [Sadbhav Engineering Limited, Ahmedabad, (working on Omkareshwar Canals in Manawar, District Dhar), Goodwill Construction Company, District Kota, Rajsathan and Biyani Construction Company, District Jalgaon, Maharashtra (both working on ISP canals in Khargone)] as well parties in the Contempt Petition. Hearing of the contempt case has been listed for 9-09-2009.

Advocate Ravish Agrawal argued on behalf of the Respondetns. Medha Patkar presented the case of the petitioners. Affected farmers and adivasis from different villages were present in the Court and addressed the Press later.

Mukheshbhai (Nimbola) Kamla Yadav (Badwani) Kailashbhai (Karondia)
Kalubhai (Mandl) Tikambhai (Jatpur) Vikram (Piparimaan)