Apex court rejects plea for dam oustees’ relief

July 27th, 2011 - 12:02 am ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, July 26 (IANS) The Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) Tuesday suffered a set-back after the Supreme Court rejected its plea for land for the landless displaced by construction of a dam for providing irrigation facilities to farmers in Khargone district in Madhya Pradesh.

The NBA wanted dierction to the Madhya Pradesh government to allot two hectares of land to each of the ousted families as part of a relief and rehabilitation package for those affected by the Upper Veda Project on Veda river in the district.

The apex court bench of Justice J.M. Panchal, Justice Deepak Verma and Justice B.S. Chauhan in their judgment said that it did not find any “cogent reason” in the demand for allotment of agricultural land to the landless oustees affected by the submergence of the dam affected area.

The court said that “contention is devoid of merit”.

Speaking for the bench, Justice Chauhan said: “Neither it (land to landless oustees) had ever been contemplated nor it is compatible with the policy. Nor has such a land ever been allotted to this class of persons. The contention is hereby rejected.”

The NBA had challenged the Madhya Pradesh High Court verdict which too had rejected its plea for allotment of two hectares of land to landless oustees.

The court rejected the plea by Chittaroopa Palit, who appeared in person for the NBA, that the project’s clearance by the union welfare ministry was subject to the grant of land to landless people affected by the irrigation project.

The judgment said that conditional clearance by the ministry had no statutory backing.

The court noted that the ministry had taken no action on its conditions not being adhered to in the execution of the irrigation project.

The ministry “did not consider it proper to take any action or even refer those letters to the state government. Thus, the said authorities also treated the same as non-statutory.”

The court also referred to earlier two such relief and rehabilitation packages in respect of the Narmada Valley projects, saying that even these did not have any provision for giving land to the landless oustees.

The dam was conceived in 1972. Its detailed project report was prepared Jan 10, 1992, and the environmental clearance to the project was given Oct 10, 2002.

The construction on the 317 feet high dam commenced March 23, 2004, and the construction of the dam up to the hight of 310 feet was completed in 2008.

It was at this stage that the construction on the dam was sought to be stopped by the NBA on the plea of allotment of land to landless people affected by the submergence of the villages.

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