- HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Bhopal
- Updated: Nov 17, 2015 20:51 IST
NBA leader Medha Patkar with Justice (Retd.) V D Gyani (second from left) and other members of the Independent People’s Tribunal in Bhopal on Tuesday. (PTI)
A panel of four retired judges who conducted a fact-finding mission into the Sardar Sarovar project (SSP)-affected area of the Narmada Valley in September this year, has said that the claims of the MP, Maharashtra and Gujarat governments about complete rehabilitation of affected people made before the Supreme Court is false.
The panel further held that, based on the findings, the claim of the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) that permission to increase height of the dam granted by the Narmada Control Authority on basis of the SC clearance is legally untenable seems to be true.
The Narmada Control Authority had earlier granted permission to increase the dam’s height from 121.92 metres to 138.68 metres.
Findings may be placed before SC soon
Justice (retired) VD Gyani, one of the panel members, presented the final findings of the panel called the ‘independent people’s tribunal on SSP’, before the media on Tuesday.
He said that there would be an attempt to place the findings before the Supreme Court soon.
The retired judge said that during their field visit on September 11 and representations made by affected people from three states and the organisations working for them, especially the NBA, sufficient evidence had come to light that rehabilitation and resettlement of people affected by the 121.92 metres height was nowhere close to complete.
At least 33 villages in Maharashtra and 193 villages and a town (Dharampuri) in MP were yet to be completely rehabilitated.
‘15,000 families to be affected by increased height of project not even recognised’
“Children are still going to same schools and people are casting votes in the same booths from years in the villages that the MP government has claimed have been completely shifted and resettled. What does that prove?” Justice Gyani said.
Further, he said, over 15,000 families which would be affected by the increased height of the project have not been recognised at all as project-affected families (PAFs) due to faulty calculation of the backwater levels.
Patkar hails panel’s findings
Therefore, Justice Gyani said, the panel was of view that increasing in the height of the dam would affect thousands of the people and should not be allowed before the rehabilitation and resettlement (R&R) of all affected people was completed by the three state governments.
Medha Patkar of the NBA said that the findings of the panel were a shot in the arm for the affected people who have been struggling for their rights from several years now.
“Our demand is the withdrawal of permission for further construction and installation of a gate of SSP till all the affected families are rehabilitated and resettled according to norms,” she said.
Patkar said that while 11,000 families affected by SSP have been resettled till now, at least 45,000 families are yet to be rehabilitated properly and livelihood of many fishermen and artisans are in shambles.
“The findings of the judges’ panel would be helpful for us to forward our cause,” she said.
4 Retired Justices call upon Supreme Court and Govt. of India to review the status of displacement, submergence and rehabilitation of Sardar Sarovar oustees
New Delhi: In a Press Conference organised by Delhi Solidarity Group, the Final Report of the “Independent People’s Tribunal on Sardar Sarovar – Claims and Realities of Development and Rehabilitation” was released for general distribution to expose the fraudulent data flagged by the government to justify height increase of the Sardar Sarovar Dam. About 10,000 oustees of Sardar Sarovar Dam were present at the People’s Tribunal or Jan Adalat held on 11th and 12th September 2015 in Rajghat, Badwani (Madhya Pradesh) before a panel of 4 retired Judges of various High Courts including Jst. P.C Jain (Rajasthan High Court), Jst. Nag Mohan Das (Karnataka High Court) and Jst. V.D. Gyani (Madhya Pradesh High Court) and Jst. N.K. Mody (Madhya Pradesh High Court).
Based on their observations and assessment of the legal and field situation, the panel concluded gross violations of the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal Award and Judgements of the Supreme Court and expressed grave concern at the displacement of about 2.5 lakh people due to the completion of the Dam and the mass violation of the constitutional right to life, destruction of livelihoods, as also wiping out of an entire culture and civilization.
They stated that the further dam work and installation of gates should not proceed in the present circumstances of clear evidence of multiple violations. Observing that the concerned authorities have miserably failed to comply with the provisions of the Award and the Apex court’ orders and have committed serious dereliction of legal obligations, they called for a serious review of the entire situation and a serious social-economic impact assessment.
Mr. Soumya Dutta (Convenor, Bharat Jan Vigyan Jatha) addressed the Press with Retd. Justice R. Sachhar, Jst. P.C Jain (Rajasthan High Court) and Jst. N.K. Mody (Madhya Pradesh High Court). Just. Sachhar recalled his long association with the Narmada Valley and emphasized that people who once considered SSP as the 8th Wonder of the World were soon disillusioned by it. He also recounted the attrocities, injustices and human rights violations that the people of the valley have been facing for the last 30 years. He also questioned the role of media in underexposing the limitations of the project that have been covered up by the government. Just.
Just.Jain spoke about his horror at discovering such blatant violations of rehabilitation rights of the oustees where one house in the same street falls under the submergence zone and is entitled to rehabilitation whereas the next house is not accounted for. His visit to the Dharampura town also revealed such instances where markets, archaeological sites and temples will be submerged if the dam height is further raised.
Just. N.K Mody spoke briefly about the Justice Jha Commission that is constituted to investigate the frauds in rehabilitation and added that the authorities have recieved over 15,000 complaints. Mr. Saumya Dutta denounced the entire background logic of raising the dam height as untruthful and spoke about the Central Water Commission research on backwater levels in the Narmada Valley which are entirely illogical. Mr. Dutta also warned that this year a drought situation prevented submergence but next year rains can displace over 2.5 lakh people from the valley and requested media to not take it lightly.