Skip to main content

Open court verdict in Narmada valley: How can submergence decrease when dam height increases?

By Our Representative
In a major fillip to the Narmada Bachao Andolan's (NBA's) campaign against the Gujarat government going ahead with raising the height of the Narmada dam from 122 to 139 metres, a high-profile people's tribunal consisting of four retired justices of various high courts have called upon the Supreme Court and the Government of India to “urgently review” the status of displacement, submergence and rehabilitation of the Narmada dam oustees before allowing the dam construction to continue.
Following a hearing organized by prominent citizens at Rajghat in Badwani town in Madhya Pradesh, in their “interim verdict”, pronounced in before about 10,000 oustees of the Narmada dam, the panel of four retired judges declared that there were “gross violations” of the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal Award and judgments of the Supreme Court in allowing the dam construction to continue.
Those who organized the hearing included Justice Rajinder Sacher (retired Chief Justice, Delhi High Court]; Syeda Hameed (former member, Planning Commission); Sagar Sarhadi (senior film maker), Prof Anil Sadgopal (eminent educationalist), Ramdas Bhatkal (founder, Popular Prakashan, Mumbai and litterateur) and Anand Patwardhan (acclaimed film maker).

Speaking at the proceedings of the people's tribunal, retires justices PC Jain (Rajasthan High Court), Nag Mohan Das (Karnataka High Court), VD Gyani (Madhya Pradesh High Court) and NK Mody (Madhya Pradesh High Court) said they were “gravely concerned” over the displacement of about 2.5 lakh people due to the completion of the dam.
Calling it a “violation of the constitutional right to life, destruction of livelihood, and wiping out of an entire culture and civilization”, the four ex-judge penal said, “The dam work and installation of gates should not proceed in the present circumstances of clear evidence of multiple violations”, adding, “The 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.”
Reading out the operative part of their preliminary verdict, Justice Jain said, “The official claims of no additional submergence due to the current dam work is clearly unlawful and also unbelievable, since when the dam is being completed with the same original height, there is no reason why the submergence area would not increase.”
Basing its observation on the testimony of about 35 oustees, the panel said, “The Judgement of the Supreme Court dated 18/10/2000 and 15/3/2005 as well as several orders of the Grievance Redressal Authorities (GRAs). Justice Jain added, the government must await the report of Justice Jha Commission of Inquiry into Corruption in resettlement and rehabilitation (R&R) before any further work is undertaken.
The justices urged the Social Justice Bench of the Supreme Court to review its decisions and hearings in the light of the “overwhelming evidence” of legal violations and well as the “obviously flawed full rehabilitation” reports of the project authorities.
Those gave their testimonies included representatives of the adivasis from the hilly and plain areas, farmers who have been entangled in the fake registries scam, landless oustees, fish workers, potters, boatmen, small traders etc from Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat.
Speaking on the occasion, NBA leader Medha Patkar said there were “massive violations of the rights of the gram sabhas in the constitutionally protected scheduled adivasi areas”, adding, there was an urgent need to review the “inhuman pauperization of 2.5 lakh people for the benefits of corporates...” Others who spoke on the occasion included members of an earlier fact finding team – Soumya Dutta, Hannan Mollah, Annie Raja, Dr Sunilam, Raj Kchroo and Benoy Vishwam.
Senior officials of the Central and State governments of the three states, including the chairperson of the Narmada Control Authority, resettlement and rehablitation sub-groups and grievances redressal authorities of the three states, as also those who are implementing the Sardar Sarovar Project in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, were invited, but they did not turn up.

Comments

TRENDING

India under Modi among top 10 autocratizing nations, on verge of 'losing' democracy status

By Rajiv Shah
A new report, prepared by a top Swedish institute studying liberal democracy, has observed that there has been a sharp “dive in press freedom along with increasing repression of civil society in India associated with the current Hindu-nationalist regime of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.” The report places India among the top 10 countries that “have autocratized the most”. Other countries that have been identified for rolling towards autocracy are -- Hungary, Turkey, Poland, Serbia, Brazil, Mali, Thailand, Nicaragua and Zambia.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam*
RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

RSS supremo Deoras 'supported' Emergency, but Indira, Sanjay Gandhi 'didn't respond'

By Shamsul Islam*
National Emergency was imposed on the country by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on June 25-26, 1975, and it lasted for 19 months. This period is considered as ''dark times' for Indian democratic polity. Indira Gandhi claimed that due to Jaiprakash Narayan's call to the armed forces to disobey the 'illegal' orders of Congress rulers had created a situation of anarchy and there was danger to the existence of Indian Republic so there was no alternative but to impose Emergency under article 352 of the Constitution.

Letter to friends, mentors: Coming together of class, communal, corona viruses 'scary'

By Prof (Dr) Mansee Bal Bhargava*
COVID greetings from Ahmedabad to dear mentors and friends from around the world…
I hope you are keeping well and taking care of yourself besides caring for the people around you. I’m writing to learn how is the science and the society coping with the prevention and cure of the pandemic. I’m also writing to share the state of the corona virus that is further complicated with the long-standing class and communal viruses.

Clean chit to British rulers, Muslim League? Karnataka to have Veer Savarkar flyovers

By Shamsul Islam*
The BJP government of Karnataka led by BS Yediyurappa is going to honour Hindutva icon VD Savarkar by naming two of the newly built major flyovers in Bangalore and Mangalore after him. There was a huge uproar against this decision of the RSS-BJP government as many pro-Kannada organisations with opposition parties and liberal-secular organizations questioned the logic to ignore so many freedom fighters, social reformers and others from within the state.

Hurried nod to Western Ghat projects: 16 lakh Goans' water security 'jeopardised'

Counterview Desk
Taking strong exception to "virtual clearances" to eco-sensitive projects in the Western Ghats, the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) in a statement has said urged for a review of the four-lane highway, 400 KV transmission line and double tracking of the railway line through the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary and Mollem National Park in Goa.

Disturbing signal? Reliance 'shifting focus' away from Indian petrochemical sector

By NS Venkataraman*
Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), a large Indian company, has expanded and grown in a spectacular manner during the last few decades, like of which no industrial group in India has performed before. RIL is now involved in multi various activities relating to petroleum refineries, petrochemicals, oil and gas exploration, coal bed methane, life sciences, retail business, communication network, (Jio platform) media/entertainment etc.

Case for nationalising India's healthcare system amidst 'strong' private control

Counterview Desk
A draft discussion note, prepared by Dr Maya Valecha, a Gujarat-based gynecologist and activist, sent to the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) as also a large number of activists, academics and professionals as an email alert, is all set to create a flutter among policy experts for its strong insistence on nationalizing India’s healthcare system.

Oxfam on WB project: ICT 'ineffective', privatised learning to worsen gender divide

By Rajiv Shah 
A top multinational NGO, with presence in several developed and developing countries, has taken strong exception to the World Bank part-funding Strengthening Teaching-Learning and Results for States (STARS) project in six Indian states – Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Odisha – for its emphasis on information and communication technology (ICT)-enabled approaches for teacher development, student assessment and digital platform for early childhood education.