Supreme Court grants time to MoEF to file Affidavit
Indira Sagar and Omkareshwar Canals continue to be stayed:
Next hearing on Febrary 16th
The Supreme Court today began its hearing on the case of Indira Sagar and Omkareshwar canals in the Narmada valley involving Narmada Bachao Andolan and the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) against the Government of Madhya Pradesh (GoMP).
The M.P. Government has filed an appeal in the apex Court for stay on the judgement by the High Court of Madhya Pradesh due to which the work on land acquisition and canal construction for the two mega projects has been stopped since July 1st, 2009 till the crucial Command Area Development (CAD) planning and related environmental measures as well as rehabilitation of the canal affected families is fully and satisfactorily planned, duly approved by the MoEF and is executed.
The Supreme Court today permitted the Ministry of Environment and Forests time to submit its Affidavit as a party when Advocate Vivek Tankha on behalf of the Ministry expressed a view that the Ministry having a major role as a sanctioning authority for CAD plans will like to place the fact and views before the Hon’ble Court.
The Govt. of Madhya Pradesh represented by Advoacte Andyarjuna and Adv. Mukul Rohatgi argued for an immediate stay on the High Court’s Judgement so as to recommence the canal related works to make use of the Omkareshwar (OSP) and Indira Sagar reservoir (ISP) waters. The Govt. has stated that the CAD plans were presented before the Expert Committee appointed by MoEF just on 30th January 2010!
On behalf of Narmada Bachao Andolan, Advocate Sanjay Parikh and activist Medha Patkar, appearing as petitioner in person and on behalf of the thousands of canal affected adivasis and farmers asked the Court not to permit land acquisition and construction without the necessary planning of social and environmental measures, which are the statutory conditions and pre-requisites as per the environmental clearance and rehabilitation policy and were indeed to be ready in 1989 for ISP and 1994 for OSP.
Upon the GoMP arguing that the canals have progressed much and hence delay is unpardonable, NBA asserted that thousands of kilometers long canals are yet to be built and more than a decade long delay has simply been a result of lack of planning and poor management by the project authorities and not the affected farmers who have every right to raise the issues related to these livelihoods. NBA has also questioned the claim that already irrigated lands from the villages on the Narmada bank and to those to be partly affected by the Maheshwar and Sardar Sarovar dam have been excluded from the ‘‘beneficiary zone’. Detailed data and documents have already been presented by all concerned parties before the Hon’ble Court, beyond what was presented and pleaded in the High Court from July 2009 to November 2009.
NBA’s case is also that the M.P. Government has committed through its Policy that the canal affected families would also be rehabilitated based on the family wise impact as are the reservoir-affected, with the principle of equal loss- equal compensation. However, the Government has deliberately and arbitrarily amended its own policy to exclude large number of these families, shirking its responsibility and trampling upon their livelihoods, which the High Court has already head to be violation of the right to the right to equality (Article 14) and right to life (Article 21) guaranteed by the Constitution of India.
NBA firmly opines that, considering the total violation of law ad policy an the fact that and for saving thousands of hectares of irrigable from water logging and salinization and other environmental impacts, and protecting the right to life and livelihood of thousands of farmers who are to be impacted that the canal network, the Hon’ble Supreme Court upholds the Judgment of the High Court delivered by Chief Justice Justice A.K. Patnaik and Justice Ajit Singh on 11-11-2009.
The Bench of Hon’ble Chief Justice Shri K.G. Balakrishnan, Justice J.M. Panchal and Justice B.S Chouhan heard the parties today and fixed the next hearing after the MoEF files the affidavit, on February 16th.
Some of the representatives from amongst the affected farmers and adivasis were resent in the Court today.
Mukeshbhai Jagdishbhai Jalalbhai Karansingh Ashish Mandloi
(Nimbola) (Dahivar) (Mandil) (Nandra)
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