Ex-judges shocked at poor rehabilitation

Two of the four former judges who went to the Narmada Valley to hold a “people’s tribunal” to see if complaints of lack of rehabilitation of people displaced by the Sardar Sarovar dam were valid came back shocked.

“We witnessed at various places that nothing has been done. Forged and fabricated sale deeds and false reports have been given about sale of government land. People came before us with documents. We were not satisfied about the allotment of land, establishment of settlement or of township as governments are supposed to do under law. Thousands of people are roaming helter-skelter. How can they live in partly submerged land and manage degraded land allotted in lieu of their fertile land some 80 km away?’’ asked P.C. Jain, retired judge of the Rajasthan High Court.

“What we saw is flagrant violation of human rights,” said the judge, who chaired the tribunal, while presenting on Wednesday a report of their findings on “Independent People’s Tribunal on Sardar Sarovar.” The team visited Badwani and other places and held people’s court for spot assessment of the situation.

Retired judge N.K. Mody of the Madhya Pradesh High Court, who is a member of the tribunal, told journalists that if the height of the Narmada dam had to be raised from the present 122.92 to 138.68 metres then certain legal conditions had to be fulfilled, which had not been done.

About 1.80 lakh people in more than 145 villages and a township were yet to be rehabilitated. Six High Court judges were looking into 50,000 complaints, he said.

“This is not a personal grievance,” said Rajinder Sachar, former Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court and one of the prominent citizens who requested four retired judges — Justices Jain, Mody, V.D. Gyani (retired judge of the Madhya Pradesh High Court) and Nagamohan Das (retired judge of the Karnataka High Court) — to re-visit the claims on SSP rehabilitation and development.

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