Historic decision for Land Allotment to Omkareshwar dam oustees
GRA holds that right of oustee to obtain land entitlement is undisturbed
Madhya Pradesh government must stop threatening oustees with submergence
The Grievance Redressal Authority(GRA) constituted for the oustees of the Omkareshwar Project has given a momentous decision directing the allotment of land for land in favor of the oustees of the Omkareshwar Project. The GRA has examining the applications of the oustees asking for land for land in light of the facts and circumstances of the case and the R&R Policy of the State Government for the oustees of the Narmada Projects, and decision of the Hon’ble Supreme Court dated 11.05.2011, held that the State and NHDC have failed to comply with the provisions of the R&R Policy, and the right of the oustee to obtain his land entitlement as per the R&R Policy is undisturbed. The Narmada Bachao Andolan welcomes these Orders, and states that these orders will be a milestone in the process of ensuring the rights and livelihoods of the oustees of the Narmada valley.
GRA Order after Orders of Hon’ble Supreme Court and High Court
It may be noted that despite the fact that every land oustee is entitled to land for land with a minimum of 2 ha. of irrigated and cultivable land under the R&R Policy, the State Government and the NHDC denied land to every single oustee, and instead gave them pittances in the name of compensation, that too, deposited behind the back of the oustees into their bank accounts, because of which the oustees could not purchase land and became pauperized. In a public interest litigation filed in this regard by the Narmada Bachao Andolan, the High Court Madhya Pradesh by its Order dated 21.02.2008, directed the authorities to allot 2 ha. of land to each displaced family entitled for land. The State Government and the NHDC had appealed this Order and judgment of the Hon’ble High Court in the Apex Court in 2008. On hearing the appeal, the Hon’ble Supreme Court passed an order and judgment on 11.05.2011 holding that the allotment of land as per the R&R Policy was a constitutional obligation of the State Government and the project authorities, but the authorities had failed to comply with any of the obligations under the R&R Policy. The Hon’ble Supreme Court had directed that the oustees file individual applications in this regard to the Grievance Redressal Authority. After the decision of the Hon’ble Supreme Court, around 2500 oustees had filed applications asking for land for land before the GRA. It is after hearing some of these applications, that the first 96 orders have been passed by the GRA.
GRA holds that land entitlement of oustee is undisturbed
The Grievance Redressal Authority has after hearing the oustees, State Government and the NHDC held that the right of the oustees to obtain their land entitlements is undisturbed because there has been no compliance with the R&R Policy. In its Order, the Authority has stated:
“The matter was examined in the light of the provisions of the R&R Policy and the aforementioned decision of the Hon’ble Supreme Court. No documents were placed by the NVDA/NHDC anywhere to show that the oustee was ever given the alternative to obtain land for land. Similarly, no documents were placed on record, namely any application of the oustee to the Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation Officer that he wants only compensation in lieu of land, or any Order issued by the Collector on any such application of an oustee from the Scheduled Tribes, after appropriate enquiry, to the effect that the application for payment of full compensation in a single installment and relinquishment of land for land is not against the interests of the family. In such a situation, the argument of the NVDA/NHDC cannot be accepted that the oustee has voluntarily accepted and utilized the compensation/Special Rehabilitation Grant. In this manner, payment of full compensation into the bank account of the oustee, without making any offer of land for land to the oustee, without his consent and without following the proper procedure of obtaining an application from the oustee did not disentitle the oustee to land for land, and the right of the oustee to obtain land for land has remained undisturbed.”
Claims of NBA vindicated
These orders of the GRA have vindicated the contention of the Narmada Bachao Andolan that by denying land to every single oustee of the Narmada projects, the State and the NHDC have completely violated the R&R Policy and pushed the oustees into penury. The Narmada Bachao Andolan welcomes these orders and demands that the State Government and the NHDC comply with the provisions of the R&R Policy, Orders of the Hon’ble Supreme Court and the current orders of the Grievance Redressal Authority, and ensure the livelihood of the oustees by providing them land and all rehabilitation amenities.
Jal Satyagraha continues with great force
The Jal Satyagraha which was commenced on 16th of July by the Omkareshwar dam oustees at Village Ghogalgaon is continuing with great enthusiasm and force. It may be pointed out that even without allotment of land and rehabilitation and resettlement measures to the oustee, the State Government and the NHDC Limited has been constantly threatening to raise the water level in the Omkareshwar dam reservoir from 189 meters to 193 meters, and to submerge the area, and to evict the oustees. This conduct of the State Government is not only against the law settled by the Hon’ble Supreme Court that R&R has to be completed at least six months before submergence, but is also completely unacceptable in a democracy. The oustees of the Omkareshwar dam have been squatting at Village Ghogalgaon on satyagraha since the 16th of July, prepared to drown if the State chooses to fill the dam, but not prepared to flee without receiving their rightful entitlements. The present Orders of the GRA has vindicated their stand that the State is yet to provide the oustees their entitlements and comply with the R&R Policy. The NBA demands that the State Government and the NHDC stop threatening the oustees with eviction and submergence and provide land, rehabilitation and resettlement to the oustees, as per the Orders of the GRA.
Alok Agarwal Kalabai Sagubai Sarpanch, Village Ghogalgaon Village Kamankheda
Punia Devchand Devendra Puri Vasudev Patel
Vill. Kelwa Village Kamankheda Village Ekhand