THE WORK ON NARMADA (SARDAR SAROVAR) DAM REMAINS STALLED
NO COMPLIANCE ON REHABILITATION: NCA ADMITS
SUPREME COURT ASKS GOVERNMENTS OF MAHARASHTRA, MADHYA PRADESH AND UNION TO FILE AFFIDAVITS
The case on Sardar Sarovar (Narmada) rehabilitation, filed by groups of affected persons, came up today before the Supreme Court. This follows the order passed on 10th July 2006 wherein the Supreme Court had noted the decision given by the Prime Minister that as per the Shunglu Committee (OSG) report, the Resettlement and Rehabilitation (R&R) work should be completed during the Monsoon when the construction work at the dam site will be stopped at 119 meters instead of 122 meters. The Prime Minister in his decision had asked the authorities, in particular R&R Sub-group as well as Ministry of Water Resources to supervise and strictly monitor the work of rehabilitation. It was also decided that the NCA would review R&R work done, in the first half of October 2006. Only after the R&R work was completed that the construction at the dam site could resume. The decision of the Prime Minister was extensively referred to by the Supreme Court in its order dated 10 July 2006.
The counsel for the applicants Adv. Shanti Bhushan and Adv. Sanjay Parikh argued that even as per the report of Shunglu Committee it is clear that R&R work has not been completed in the case of thousands of SS Dam affected families. Shunglu Committee had inter-alia found that the land available in the land bank was uncultivable, non-irrigable; that still few thousands of Project Affected Families (PAFs) have to be rehabilitated; that thousands of adult sons are not yet recorded in compliance of the direction given by the Supreme Court in the year 2005. The Report has a special section bringing out that the pathetic and poor condition of R&R sites is such that, one-fourth of the sites are located on black cotton soil where basic amenities and facilities are not available and 50% of those are in government lands which are not ready and habitable. The affidavits have also put forth the fact that there has been no monitoring by the central agencies since the R&R Sub-group, under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, has not visited the submergence area since 2000.
The counsel pointed out that in spite of this being the condition, the work at dam site has been resumed, on the very day of Gandhi Jayanti as reported in the news papers, by Modi Government who also have claimed that it would be completed up to 122 meters by December. ADDITIONAL SOLICITOR GENERAL, MR GOPAL SUBRAMANIAM, APPEARING FOR UNION OF INDIA, CLARIFIED THAT THE WORK AT THE DAM SITE HAS NOT BEEN RESUMED. He also mentioned that a meeting of R&R Sub-group took place on 12.10.2006, followed by the meeting of Narmada Control Authority (NCA) on 13.10.2006. He, however, did not place copies of the Minutes of these two meetings before the Court. Mr Mukul Rohatagi who appeared for NCA stated that copies of the Minutes of these meetings are not available but they contain the fact that R&R is still to be completed.
THE COUNSEL APPEARING FOR THE APPLICANTS SPECIFICALLY DREW THE ATTENTION OF THE COURT TO CATEGORICAL FINDINGS GIVEN BY THE SHUNGLU COMMITTEE THAT THE LAND IN THE LAND BANK IS UNCULTIVABLE AND NON-IRRIGABLE AND THEREFORE, OFFERS WHICH WERE MADE TO THE PAFS ARE A COMPLETE VIOLATION OF NARMADA WATER DISPUTES TRIBUNAL AWARD (NWDTA) AND THE JUDGEMENTS OF THE SUPREME COURT AND A FRAUD COMMITTED UPON THE AFFECTED PEOPLE. IT WAS EMPHASISED THAT ON PAF’S REFUSAL TO ACCEPT THIS UNCULTIVABLE LAND, THE SPECIAL REHABILITATION PACKAGE (SRP) WAS ILLEGALLY THRUST UPON THEM. THE ATTENTION OF THE COURT WAS ALSO DRAWN TO THE SUFFERINGS CAUSED IN THE DISTRICTS OF JHABUA, DHAR AND BADWANI IN MADHYA PRADESH DUE TO RECENT SUBMERGENCE WITHOUT REHABILITATION.
A group of PAFs in Nandurbar district, Maharashtra, filed a new application before the apex court today, drawing the court’s attention to the serious violations of rehabilitation policy and judgements, as a result of heavy losses due to submergence without rehabilitation, faced by the adivasis since 1994 till 2006. The Court directed the Union of India, State of Madhya Pradesh and State of Maharashtra to file the response to the affidavits filed by the affected persons as well as reply to the PAFs’ application regarding Maharashtra, within next two weeks. THE CASE IS NOW BEING LISTED FOR DECEMBER 2006.
Ashish Mandloi Ravi Chavali Medha Patkar