Independent People's Tribunal of 4 Judges visits
Sardar Sarovar Project Areas
Receives applications from hundreds of oustees complaining of
gross violations and unlawful submergence
Badwani | 11th Sep, 2015: A Panel of three retired and well-known Justices of various High Courts including Jst. P.C Jain (Rajasthan High Court), Jst. Nag Mohan Das (Karnataka High Court) and Jst. V.D. Gyanai (Madhya Pradesh High Court) visited numerous villages in the Dharampuri, Manavar, Kukshi and Badwani Tehsils of the Sardar Sarovar Project affected areas today and received a large number of complaints / representations of violations of law and policy in the rehabilitation process, corruption and submergence of properties as well as atrocities on the poor, dalits and adivasis by the State.
The Panel of Judges was invited by a team of distinguished citizens including Jst (Retd.) Rajinder Sacher [Retd. Chief Justice, Delhi High Court].; Syeda Hameed [Former Member, Planning Commission of India and National Commission for Women]; Sagar Sarhadi, Senior film maker, short story and play writer, writer, director and producer; Prof. Anil Sadgopal,Eminent Educationalist and Founder, All India Forum on Right to Education.;Ramdas Bhatkal, Founder, Popular Prakashan, Mumbai and Senior Litterateurand Anand Patwardhan, Internationally Acclaimed Film Maker on Developmental and Human Rights Issues, to hear the oustees and also invite the State agencies for a hearing and give its findings on the legality of the decisions of the Government of India to pursue the dam work in the light of large number of complaints of denial of R&R from the oustees as well as official evidence from the orders of the GRAs, Jst. Jha Commission, High Court and Supreme Court as well as other authorities.
The Judges patiently held hearings in different villages including Khalghat, Dharampuri Township as well as Vill. Semalda (Teh. Manavar) and VillagesChhota Barda, Pipri and Chikalda, Kadmal, Khaparkheda and Nisarpur(Tehsil Kukshi); heard out the oustees, especially elderly persons and women who poured out their grievances of denial of R&R, poor quality amenities at the resettlement sites, massive corruption, unlawful submergence in 2012-13 etc.
The Judges were brief about the irregularities in the back water level surveys by the oustees of Gazipura and denial of livelihood based rehabilitation to the landless. Fish workers of Semalda demanded right to fisheries in the reservoir and alleged no response from the state despite umpteen representations. Farmers from Chhota Barda and Pipri claimed that since they have become owners of their acquired lands / houses, as per the new Land Acquisition Act, the ongoing dam work and attempts to submerge their properties is a gross legal violation. Farmers, workers, adivasis, fisher families from Chikalda, Nisarpur and other villages demanded that the Govt. must first come clean on the true state of land and livelihood based R&R and conduct oustee-wise, village wise fresh surveys before undertaking any further work on the dam.
"In a four hour long visit, I found people still living in the orginal villages and have not rehabilitated. It is unfortunate that the government promise but backtrack when it comes to their rehabilitation. Displacing people without rehabilitation is a violation of Article 21 of the Constitution of India", said Justice V.D. Gyani.
"I am shocked to see the scenario here. It is wrong and illegal to displace people without rehabilitation", commented Justice Jain. "The pain of the people here is deeper than the depth of the Sardar Sarovar Dam", added Justice Jain after hearing the complaints of the oustees in the villages he visited.
Justice Das who visited the valley for the first time said, "I have read in books about the struggle by the people in the Narmada valley over 30 years". "Gradually the practice of agriculture of is being declined. The policies results are such that the farmers are discouraged go ahead with agriculture. Agriculture must be respected and encouraged", he added.
On this occasion social activist Ms. Medha Patkar informed that there are 16,000 families who were earlier declared under submergence at the 122 m height of the Sardar Sarovar Dam but now when the height of the dam is being increased to 17 meters these same families are excluded from the list.
The Judges are to conclude their visit late evening and undertake a detailed hearing called "Jan Adalat" at Rajghat, Badwani tomorrowfrom 11 a.m. onwards in the presence of thousands of oustees and are likely to announce their interim Opinion / Findings, based on their observations and assessment of the legal and field situation. The Panel shall be joined by Jst. (Retd.) N.K. Modi (M.P. High Court) tomorrow.
Mukesh Hirdaram Rahul Yadav Leelabai Shantabai Contact Ph: 09179148973