Expresses disappointment with Supreme Court order

Expressing disappointment with a Supreme Court order that reversed a Madhya Pradesh High Court judgment on rehabilitation and resettlement of adult sons of the Omkareshwar dam displaced people, the Madhya Pradesh unit of the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) on Thursday said it would file a review plea.

“These cases were filed by the Madhya Pradesh government against High Court orders that favoured proper rehabilitation under the land-for-land policy for dam-displaced people,” said Chitaroopa Palit and Alok Agarwal at a press conference here.

Instead of asking the State for complying with the lower court order, the Supreme Court ordered ‘land-for-land' rehabilitation for land owners while ignoring the rights of adult sons. “Its permission to the State government to de-acquire the lands of five villages in the submergence zone is like sounding the death knell for 2,500 tribals,” Ms. Palit said.

The activists denied the “perjury” charge being pursued by the State against them saying they had informed the court that the habitants of the five villages in the partial submergence zone were notified but were still occupying the villages. “Both the State government and the NBA had filed perjury applications against one another but the court chose to entertain the State while making adverse remarks against us, which is against natural justice.”

According to them, rather than directing the State government to expedite provision of land to displaced land owners, even for implementation of its own order, the court has asked the oustees to approach the Grievance Redressal Agency in the State and, if not satisfied, file individual writ petitions in the lower court for relief.

“This will not only take years but may even deprive thousands of people of land entitlements. Which semi-literate oustee can approach the High Court individually for relief? We think this has hurt the interests of displaced families who are already suffering because their homes and livelihoods have been affected by the dam that brings them no benefits,” said Ms. Palit.

On the observation that the NBA had misinformed the court about the people of five villages still living in the submergence zone, they said: “Such adverse, sweeping remarks by the court casting suspicion on the NBA without any basis undermine people's organisations and will have a regressive impact on the right of the people to approach the judiciary.”

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