7th August, 2009
MADHYA PRADESH HIGH COURT ORDERS CONTINUED STAY ON LAND ACQUISITION AND EXCAVATION FOR INDIRA SAGAR (ISP) AND OMKARESHWAR (OSP) – NARMADA CANALS
NBA CHALLENGES AS ‘UNCONSTITUTIONAL’ M.P. GOVT’S DIRECTIVE SUBSTITUTING JANPAD PANCHAYAT WITH GRAM SABHA AS THE CONSULTATIVE BODY
NO REPORT FROM GOMP ON OSP ENVIRONMENTAL MEASURES SINCE 15 YEARS – MOEFMINISTER
Madhya Pradesh High Court after hearing Narmada Bachao Andolan on the issue of Omkareshwar and Indira Sagar canals yesterday ordered that the land acquisition and canal excavation work should continue to remain stayed. The High Court
bench comprising Chief Justice A.K. Patnaik and Justice P.K. Jaiswal had, after recording the fact that the Gram Sabhas in the scheduled areas were not consulted before land acquisition as per the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled
Areas), Act, 1996 which endows special powers to the Gram Sabhas in adivasi areas, ordered a status quo on the canal work by its earlier Interim Order of 1-07-2009 until resolution of all issues raised in the petition filed by NBA.
The Court held that PESA Act, 1996 was enacted by the Parliament as per the powers granted under Article 243-M 4(b) of the Constitution. The non-negotiable features were to be incorporated into the state Panchayat Acts in 1996-97.
However, when the Government of Madhya Pradesh had not included the clause of ‘Gram Sabha consultation before land acquisition’ in the state Act, the Central Act features were to be applicable and hence no land acquisition work can be possible without it.
When the work on canal excavation continued even after the Interim Order, NBA also filed a contempt petition on July 19th, with additional documents on the 6th of August, which is also to be heard along with the original petition. Meanwhile, on the 30th of July, the Revenue Department of the GoMP had issued
certain directives declaring that for Narmada valley projects ‘Janpad’ will be the ‘appropriate Panchayat’ for consultation and not the Gram Sabha! All the officials of NVDA including Collectors, CEOs and certain politicians tried
to get resolutions by Janpads passed while there arose a conflict in some Janpads and many asserted that Gram Sabhas should be consulted first and some questioned the resolutions passed in favour of completing the canal works, on
various grounds and violations.
NBA argued before the Court that the said directive is not only against the law and Constitution but also interference in the administration of justice, since it is brought out mainly to bypass the Court’s order. The Court also heard NBA on the letters that were written by the Union Environment Minister Shri Jairam Ramesh to the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh Shivraj Singh Chauhan and a similar letter by the Secretary, MoEF Mr. Vijay Sharma to the Chief Secretary of the state Mr. Rakesh Sahni (attached) and pleaded that a total violation of
environmental measures was established since no plans were submitted over the last 15 years after the conditional clearance was granted. The measures included command area development plans and works worth crores of rupees, which
were to be planned, approved and partly executed before excavation. Without command area development and due to bad construction, canal breaches have started occurring in districts of Khargone and Khandwa and water logging has
destroyed some fields.
After hearing Medha Patkar who pleaded on behalf of NBA, the Chief Justice A.K.Patnaik and Justice P.K Jaiswal passed their order extending the stay and fixed 1st of September for the next hearing by when the Respondents were also directed to file a reply to the contempt petitions and the detailed Rejoinder
filed by NBA yesterday. Advocate Raghvendra was the advocate-on-record for the petitioner. Advocates Ravish Agrawal, Nagrath and others appeared for the Respondents – NVDA and GoMP. MoEF and NCA are yet to file their replies.
Arvind Bhagwan Devenbhai Ranvirbhai Tikambhai Shrikanth
(Piprimaan) (Piplaj) (Semalda) (Jatpur)