Thursday, November 19, 2015

Approach Supreme Court to "review" its June 2014 order on Narmada oustees, advises Independent Tribunal

Anti-Narmada dam agitation in Madhya Pradesh
By Our Representative
The final report of the Independent People’s Tribunal on Sardar Sarovar, “Claims and Realities of Development and Rehabilitation”, released in Delhi, says that “thousands of families, especially the tribals, fisher folk and landless poor” have not being given “any alternative place to live”, though the Gujarat government is going ahead with raising the height of the Narmada dam from 121.92 metres to 138.68 metres.
The report, prepared by retired justices of different high courts, VD Gyani, Panachand Jain, Nagamohan Das and NK Modi, says that “essential components of land-based rehabilitation for even those recognized as project affected has “not been implemented, with many instances of oustees being compelled to opt between barren/conflict ridden lands or paltry monetary compensation.”
Pointing out that cultivable, irrigable lands have not been located, nor purchased by the governments of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, the report says, as for Gujarat it is “refusing identification of land for those who seeking change of bad lands.” The report was released by the National Alliance of People’s Movements, an apex body of tens of mass organizations led by well-known social activist Medha Patkar.
“The rehabilitation sites chosen/identified by the governments are in extremely poor conditions, having no adequate facilities for people to live there as per the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal (NWDT) norms, with poor water supply, broken roads, no electricity, and non-existent or pathetic education and health facilities”, the report underlines.
Based on the team’s visit to a number of affected villages in September 2015 and interaction with 10,000 oustees, the report says, “The claims of the Central Government and the governments of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat before the Supreme Court that the rehabilitation was fully or substantially completed is false.”
Based on this, the report wants the petitioners fighting for justice to the Narmada dam oustees to “approach the Supreme Court for review of the order dated June 12, 2014 under Article 137 of the Constitution of India and pray the court to reexamine and determine the rights of the PAFs, oustees, landless persons and other adversely affected persons living in Narmada Valley.”
The report wants the governments to “identify and provide cultivable and irrigable lands to about 6000+ oustee families who have been paid compensation”, as “joint inspections have revealed that government land bank “is largely comprised of uncultivable/encroached land and not fit for oustees.”
The report says, the governments should recognize the rights of adult sons, who were denied “independent land allotment” despite clear orders of the Narmada Control Authority (NCA), Grievances Redressal Authority (GRA), and Rehabilitation and Resettlement (R&R) Sub Groups.”
Providing details of flawed R&R of the three state governments, the report says that as many as 15,946 projected affected families (PAFs) in Madhya Pradesh have been declared as ‘out of submergence’ due to flawed revision of backwater levels, reducing the area under submergence than what was earlier stipulated.
In Maharashtra, it says, about 1,200 adivasi PAFs, mostly under 121.92 metres in 33 villages and/or R&R sites, have yet to be rehabilitated, and the joint survey of July, 2014 revealing 791 PAFs as “not yet rehabilitated is an “underestimated figure.”
And as for Gujarat, the report says, there are “issues of oustees from different villages of Gujarat, who have not yet received part or full land, house plots and other R&R entitlements, or not shifted to R&R sites as per the NWDT provisions.”

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