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

M.P. High Court Issues Contempt Notice to Collectors and Contractors in Narmada Canals Case

62, Mahatma Gandhi Road,
Badwani,
Madhya Pradesh - 451551
Tel: 07290-222464
Email: badwani[at]narmada.org

COURT DIRECTS RESPONSE BY OCTOBER 9TH FOR ALLEGED CONTEMPT OF STATUS QUO ORDER ON LAND ACQUISITION AND CANAL EXCAVATION FOR ISP-OSP PROJECTS

Within a week after it issued contempt notice to the Narmada Valley Development Authority, for alleged contempt of its status quo Order dated 1-07-2009 in the case filed by Indira Sagar and Omkareshwar Canal affected, the Jabalpur High Court on the 9th of this month issued similar notices of contempt to the District Collectors of Dhar and Khargone Districts (while agreeing to include Collector, Badwani on application) and also to the three private contractors engaged by the Project authorities, who, the petitioners pointed out have committed contempt of the Order of the Hon’ble Court.

It may be recalled that NBA and the affected farmers-adivasis filed a Contempt Petition on 19-07-2009 in the instant case, bringing on record the contemptuous actions of the Respondents, with detailed evidence, which took place even days after the Court Order staying the canal work on the crucial plank 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.

Issuing contempt notices to Mr. Braj Mohan Sharma, District Collector, Dhar and Mr. Kedar Sharma, District Collector, Khargone and also to the contractors Sadbhav Engineering Limited, Ahmedabad, (working on Omkareshwar Canals in District Dhar), Goodwill Construction Company, Kota, Rajsathan and Biyani Construction Company, Jalgaon, Maharashtra (both working on ISP canals in Khargone, the Court called upon them to answer as to “why proceedings of contempt should not be initiated against them”, and directed reply to be filed by 09-10-2009.

Filing response to the contempt notice issued to the NVDA, its Chairman and Minister of State for Narmada Valley Development Department, Mr. Kanhaiya Lal Agrawal, submitted an “unqualified and unconditional apology for any act of commission or omission, if found on his part in discharge of his duties as Chairman of NVDA”. He, however stated that he is basically in a guiding role and is not concerned with the day to day functioning of NVDA. In response, NBA presented before the Court newspaper Reports of the answering Respondent himself visiting the canal areas, chiding and warning the field officials and contractors against any delay and directing that the work must be undertaken on a war-footing.

Though Mr. Agrawal had also annexed letters by the Chief Engineers of ISP and OSP dated 4th and 5th September, stating that no canal activity took place after the Court Order, on behalf of NBA, it was argued that the Collectors were submitted memoranda by the people and yet excavation and land acquisition continued in some place or the other. Moreover, there is no response to the specific allegations of the petitioners of violation of the Order in certain villages, submitted along with photographs and panchnamas, which is clearly intentional and only repetitive of the proven track record of NVDA of ‘non-compliance’ and violation of law. The petitioner shall pursue this in the subsequent hearings.

Upon the petitioner mentioning that the Badwani Collector as well is guilty of contempt, the Court indicated that an application be filed to make him a party to the contempt petition as well.

Senior Counsel Mr. Shekhar Bhargav appeared on behalf of NVDA while Medha Patkar pleaded the case of the petitioners. Advocate Raghavendra Kumar is the advocate on record. Affected farmers and adivasis from different villages were present in the Court during the proceedings.

Mukeshbhai (Nimbola) Madanbhai (Pichhodi Badwani) Kailashbhai (Karondia)
Kalubhai Bhilala (Dhar)