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Delay in relief for Narmada oustees annoys SC

March 10, 2008 22:47 IST

The Supreme Court on Monday expressed annoyance over the delay in providing relief to Narmada dam oustees saying the issue had not moved an inch forward in the last one year.

"Today, the position is that we have not moved an inch forward," a bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan said referring to its April 23, 2007 order in which it had asked the Madhya Pradesh Government to clarify the factual position on relief and rehabilitation which was objected to by NGO Narmada Bachao Andolan.

"Today we were expecting something concrete will emerge but its all repetition. We are only requesting to come up with something concrete," the bench, also comprising Justices S B Sinha and S H Kapadia, said.

The bench's observations came when advocate Sanjay Parikh, appearing for NBA questioned the facts and figures on the Special Relief Package provided by the state government to oustees.

The bench was hearing a contempt petition filed by the NBA alleging that authorities, particularly in Madhya Pradesh has not provided relief and rehabilitation package to the affected families as per the apex court direction while raising the height of the dam from 110m to 121.92m.

It said before moving ahead with the issue it would be proper that Madhya Pradesh and NBA should give suggestions to the Narmada Control Authority, the expert body which was looking into the relief and rehabilitation.

Thereafter, the NCAA will give its report on the basis of which the matter could be decided, the Bench said and posted the matter for final order after eight weeks.

The NBA was objecting to the fact that out of the 4,453 project affected family only 214 were to be allotted the land.

Parekh said there were irregularities in SRP as cases of fake registration of land had emerged and after the payment of first instalment the state government brought the process under halt.

This fact was accepted by senior advocate T R Andhyarujina, who was appearing for Madhya Pradesh. He said action has been taken and efforts were on to nail such persons.

The court was informed that a PIL has been filed in the Madhya Pradesh High Court seeking CBI probe into the fake registration of lands.

Parekh and advocate Prashant Bhushan said there was no cultivable land available in the land bank from which the farmers were offered land as a relief and rehabilitation measure.

Further, the SRP was 'forced' upon the ousters and farmers were compelled to sign the affidavit that irrigable and cultivable lands were available in the state but they prefer SRP.

Bhushan said it was the responsibility of the state government to purchase cultivable land from private party and allot it to the project affected family.

He said cash compensation was illegal and the method adopted by Madhya Pradesh was neither a valid rehabilitation under the Narmada Tribunal Award nor under the apex court orders.

However, the bench said it has to balance the equity and see whether any of the 214 family ready for the SRP.

At this, Bhushan said if the court was of the view of compensating with money for the land it will be the end of the matter.

The bench said there was a need for compartmentalising the scenario as some project affected family has opted for SRP and others have preferred some other form of relief.

"Apparently there does not appear to be a solution," the bench said asking the contesting parties to file written submission with supporting documents.

Madhya Pradesh Government had earlier countered the NBA's submissions by contending that the SRP was not forced on the oustees and the facts and figures presented by the NBA on relief and rehabilitation were not correct.

It had contended that land as compensation was given to those who have lost 25 per cent of their cultivable land while the rest were given cash compensation.

The state government had said the numbers would vary as the height goes up and when it will reach the eventual height of 138.68 m there would be 3,9368 project affected people and Grievance Redressal Authority headed by a retired High Court judge was looking into the relief and rehabilitation work.

It said that there was 5000 hectare land earmarked by the state government for the relief and rehabilitation.
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