The Indian People's Tribunal (IPT) released its report on issues of massive displacement, rehabilitation, environmental compliance and overall cost-benefits of the big dam projects like, Sardar Sarovar, Indira Sagar, Omkareshwar and Jobat, here on Thursday.
The report was released by A.P. Shah, the former Chief Justice of Delhi and Madras High Courts, and agricultural analyst, Devinder Sharma, in the presence of Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) leader, Medha Patkar and other activists in Bhopal.
It was brought out following the public hearings conducted during a two-day visit to the affected areas of the Sardar Sarovar Project by Justice Shah, Devinder Sharma and Prof. Jaya Sagade, Vice Principal Indian Law Society, Pune.
Both Justice Shah and Mr. Sharma expressed shock and concern over the magnitude of “planned displacement and unplanned developmentin the valley”, including sustained non-compliance of environmental guidelines and violation of law.
The report observed that since there had been “serious non-compliance on the pari-passu implementation of rehabilitation and environmental measures, we have appealed to the Prime Minister to constitute a High Level Committee of Ministers, officials, experts and representatives of the people's movements to undertake a comprehensive review of all the projects, and take a decision not to further fund or carry forward the project-work until this process of review is complete”.
The Tribunal also noted the “grave consequences” of the badly plannedcanals, running though the agricultural fields in Indira Sagar and Omkareshwar.
Responding to the serious allegations of legal and human rights violations in the Jobat-dam area ,the Tribunal re-asserted the right to land-based rehabilitation of all those displaced, which is already guaranteed in the State Rehabilitation Policy of Madhya Pradesh and in the clearances granted to the projects by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF).
Welcoming the findings and recommendations by the Tribunal, Medha Patkar stated that the Report affirmed the seriousness of the issues that people have been continuously raising for all these years, with little response and concrete action from authorities, both at the Central and State .
The report recommended that the concerned state governments and the Centre purchase private land for rehabilitation . A comprehensive survey of all affected families must be undertaken in consultation with the Gram Sabha to ensure compliance with the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996, and regulatory bodies and ministries like the MoEF , Narmada Control Authority and Grievance Redressal Authority must act strongly to ensure compliance with law and norms of the Projects, the tribunal said.