‘ Govt favouring industries’


Narmada’s irrigation water diverted for industries, says Medha Patkar

Indore: Hardly a day has passed after the State Cabinet meeting was held at Narmada- Kshipra merging spot in village Ujjaini, when Narmada Bachao Andolan’s Medha Patkar has alleged that the State Government is using irrigation water of Narmada to fulfill industrial requirement.

Patkar, who is a petitioner in Narmada Valley canal project, claimed that the water is brought from Narmada into River Kshipra for industrial purposes only. She said that the river linking could have been the fifth phase while the first four should have been for Indira Sagar and Omkareshwar canal project.

However, without even completing the first phase of the canal project, the fifth phase of river linking was completed in one year. The reason she quotes for this is the requirement of water for industries under the DMIC project. She even accused that the river linking project has been funded by the industries of DMIC. It is noteworthy that earlier, a double bench of the High Court in response to a Public Interest Litigation had directed the State Government to form a high- level committee to hear objections on river linking project.

The petitioner has alleged that State Government, through Narmada- Kshipra River linking project, is using Narmada water of Omkareshwar reservoir for the purposes beyond the scope of the project. The HC also observed that Govt cannot change the original plan of Okareshwar project without approval from the sanctioning authorities.

Web: http://freepressjournal.in/govt-favouring-industries/#sthash.rMiJJ9oq.dpuf

Advertisements

HC to Govt: Form high- level committee to settle issues


PILs on Indira Sagar, Omkareshwar

Indore: The Indore bench of Madhya Pradesh High Court, on Tuesday, in response to a Public Interest Litigation ( PIL), directed the State Government to form a high- level committee to settle issues of Indira Sagar and Omkareshwar projects.

Double bench of Chief Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice JK Maheshwari directed the Government to constitute a high- level committee to hear issues raised by the Narmada Bachao Andolan ( NBA). The committee should comprise of Chief Secretary, Principal Secretary of Narmada Valley Development Authority ( NVDA) and Secretary, agriculture and water resources.

In the litigation, NBA chief Medha Patkar informed the court about the devastating effect in the rainy season due to non- implementation of canal project. Shortage of drainage system has caused enormous loss already while the affected farmers are not even noticed let alone compensation to them.

In its verdict, the HC also look into consideration of the State Government report and the affidavit filed by expert committee of the Ministry of Environment and Forest. The court observed that the State Government is non- serious about the NVDA matter and the latest report by the expert committee of MoEF, several previous reports, and other evidence stand testimony to it.

Patkar of NBA said that the formation of a high- level committee would help in fair and open dialogue on various issues, thus giving right treatment to the farmers and actual beneficiaries. She said that issues of rehabilitation for farmers who lost considerable chunk of their land would also be discussed with the committee.

Web: http://freepressjournal.in/hc-to-govt-form-high-level-committee-to-settle-issues/#sthash.k6rCKLqr.dpuf

Form panel for issues relating to Indira Sagar project: HC


INDORE: Indore bench of Madhya Pradesh high court on Tuesday directed the state government to constitute a high-level committee under chief secretary to discuss and resolve issues pertaining to Indira Sagar and Omkareshwar canal project in Narmada valley.
A double bench of Chief Justice A M Khanwilkar and Justice J K Maheshwari, while hearing a PIL over Indira Sagar and Omkareshwar Canal project, directed that a high level committee, comprising chief secretary, principal secretary of Narmada valley development department (NVDD) and secretary, agriculture and water resources will hear issues raised by Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) and those in the PIL in first week of March.
Medha Patkar, appearing in person, highlighted the adverse impact that has occurred and bound to occur in the coming monsoon due to non-implementation of the ‘on-farm development’ and ‘command area development’ in the canal project. Lack of adequate drainage works in numerous villages from Phase – I to Phase – IV of the project has caused massive loss and affected farmers are neither counted nor compensated. HC also took cognizance of ‘action taken report’, filed by state government and affidavit filed by expert committee of ministry of environment and forest (MoEF), highlighting inadequacies in canal and command area planning and execution by NVDA, which has led to severe impact on agricultural land causing crop loss.
Court pulled up state government over the way the project is being executed and observed that the government is treating it in a very non-serious manner, which is evident from the recent report of expert committee of MoEF, filed after their recent visit in January 2014 and in a series of earlier reports, recommendations and letters of MoEF.
Patkar expressed satisfaction over HC’s direction to form high level committee and said it would lead to a fair, open and conclusive dialogue on various outstanding issues, so that fruits of the project reach actual beneficiaries and needy farmers on time.
Issues of rehabilitation and compensation for farmers, losing less than 60% land would also be discussed before the committee.
Web:  http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/indore/Form-panel-for-issues-relating-to-Indira-Sagar-project-HC/articleshow/30647952.cms

M.P. HC directs high level meet between Chief Secretary, MoEF Officials and NBA on ISP-OSP Canals


MoEF files Affidavit: Severe non-compliance concluded

Alleges non-co-operation by NVDA towards NCA

18th February, 2014: The Hon’ble Chief Justice of the High Court of Madhya Pradesh, Indore Shri A.K. Khanvilkar, today directed the Government of M.P. to constitute a high level committee under the Chief Secretary to discuss and resolve issues pertaining to the Indira Sagar (ISP) and Omkareshwar (OSP) Canals in the Narmada valley. The CJ directed that Medha Patkar and 4 other representatives of Narmada Bachao Andolan would be invited to a meeting of this Committee to be convened by the Chief Secretary at Bhopal in the 1st week of March, 2014 and attended by the Principal Secretary of Narmada Valley Development Department, Secretary, Agriculture and Water Resources, officials of MoEF from Bhopal and Delhi and the inputs / suggestions of NBA would be taken for compliance on various measures and resolution of issues raised by NBA in the PIL on the ISP and OSP Canals and the orders issued by the Hon’ble Court. Upon insistence to hear him, the CJ also permitted one representative of Bharatiya Kisan Sangh to be present in the meeting.

In its latest report filed on 17th February, in the ongoing PIL, the MoEF states that out of 36,000 ha in Phase – I, On-Farm Development (OFD) Works have been carried on just about 3700 hecatres and the same is abysmally disproportionate to the irrigation.  Committee views this as a serious dereliction from consideration of irrigation and drainage management. The Expert Committee has also observed serious lapses due to deficient design and planning, inadequate attention to operation maintenance , CD works and link drains not concurrently constructed, no restoration, even after breaches in Aug, 2013 till January 14 (even to this date). 

The Committee reported, through the Ministry, poor quality canal work causing severe damage to farmers, should result in imposing penalty on the contract agency.On the issues of Narmada Banks irrigated tract issues (in those villages in close proximity to the river, where 70-80% irrigation exists), Committee has reiterated NVDA that all works in these areas be deferred, until Committee takes a final view.The NVDA itself has accepted that 40 villages in Phase – III of ISP, Badwani District have 100% irrigation, but overlap with the ISP command area. Similarly, dozens of villages in the proposed OSP command are already irrigated in the tehsils of Maheshwar, Manawar, Dharampuri and Kukshi. About 88 villages in OSP and 31 in ISP, i.e. 31, 570 hecatres command is being re-irrigated.

MoEF has also taken a categorical position that as per the clearance of 1987 to the ISP and the Narmada Water Scheme, 1987 Narmada Control Authority (NCA) is empowered to monitor all projects on the Narmada river, including the ISP. The Ministry has taken serious objection to the approach of NVDA with regard to non-cooperation with NCA, non-provision of necessary data and documents and has stated that this constitutes breach of the conditions on which the environment clearance was granted.

It may be pertinent to note that the Hon’ble CJ issued a detailed order on 3rd January, 2014 and directed various state and central authorities including the Chief Secretary, Govt. of M.P., Principal Secretary, NVDD, Secretary, MoEF, Secretary, Expert Committee and Planning Commission to file point-wise replies to all issues highlighted in the Order. NBA submitted a detailed Action Plan and raised various issues such as environmental non-compliance, lack of land based rehabilitation, compensation to be granted for losses etc. which were taken on record by the Court and specific orders for compliance were issued.

Medha Patkar, appearing in person, pointed out the huge scale of impacts that have already occurred and are bound to occur in the coming monsoon due to non-implementation of the on-farm development (OFD) and command area development (CAD). Lack of adequate drainage works in numerous villages from Phase – I to Phase – IV of the Project, has ccaused massive losses, while the affected farmers are neither counted nor compensated.

During the hearing today, the Court took cognizance of the voluminous ‘Action Taken Report’ filed by the state government and the Affidavit of the MoEF which exposed the gaps and inadequacies in the canal and command area planning and execution works by NVDA, which has led to severe impacts on agricultural land and crop losses. The Court questioned the senior counsel for the state for the non-serious manner in which it has been treating the entire issue, especially in the light of the clear conclusions of the Expert Committee, MoEF, not just in the latest report, after its filed visit in January, 2014, but in a series of earlier reports, recommendations and clearance letters of the MoEF.

NBA appreciates the conciliatory approach adopted by the Hon’ble Chief Justice to resolve all the issues and hope that the meeting with the senior most officials of the state government and officials of the MoEF would lead to a fair, open and conclusive dialogue on various outstanding issues, so that the fruits of the project reach the actual beneficiaries, needy farmers in time and that there is no unnecessary losses to other farmers, whether through canal breaches or canal excavation in irrigated areas. The serious issues of rehabilitation with land and compensation for farmers losing less than 60% land would also be discussed in the upcoming meeting with the CS.

Hearing another application filed by Me. Virendra Patidar challenging the diversion of Omkareshwar reservoir (Narmada) waters through the Narmada – Kshipra Link, the Hon’ble Court expressed his opinion that that the state government cannot change the command area or original plan, without approval from the central sanctioning authorities i.e. MoEF and Planning Commission. The applicant was directed to raise the issues before the Monitoring Committee of MoEF.

The Hon’ble Court has listed the canals matter for further hearing on 24th March, by when parties must report back on the status of compliance. Dozens of affected farmers from different villages and Tehsils were present during the court proceedings, represented by Medha Patkar. Senior Counsel Shri Shekahr Bhargav appeared for the GoMP / NVDA. Mr. Vivek Sharan, appeared for the MoEF, Union of India.

Mukesh Bhagoria                 Vikam Ratan             Devkaurbai               Meera (09179148973)

Tribal protest against acquisation of land for cement factory


INDORE: Up in arms against land acquisition, farmers from nearly 27 villages, mostly tribal, of Manavar Tehsil of Dhar district on Thursday protested against the acquisition of their land for the proposed cement plant and raised issue related to legality of the project.

Tribal alleged that even after submitting hundreds of applications to officials and local representatives they did not get satisfactory reply. On Thursday hundreds of villagers took out the rally at Main Street of Manavar and reached the SDM office and demanded to clear the stand of government over land acquisition.

Meera of Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) alleged that as per the rule to set up any project they need to get approval from the people of the area, here in this case Gram Sabha had passed a resolution opposing the proposed cement factory. “They even fail to produce documents related to approval from Ministry of Environment and Forest for the project and they don’t even have approval from the planning commission,” alleged Meera.

The plant, which is proposed in the scheduled adivasi area is being strongly challenged by the local adivasis – farmers, as thousands of them will be displaced and affected for the plant, its mines and by expansion, pollution activities. All the villages to be affected are in the command area of the Maan Dam of NVDA and the land is fully irrigated.

Chhagan Bhilala, resident of Manawar alleged that dam water meant for rural irrigation is being diverted for the industrial purpose.

Prashant Patidar, who was part of the protest said why fresh acquisition of land is being carried out which will displace hundreds of people, when hundreds of acre of land acquired for Dhar Cement is lying vacant. “The vacant land should be given for the new cement factory instead of acquiring fresh land,” he said.

Meera even raised question over the validity of the project saying that state government has signed a memorandum of understanding with the company for cement plant in October 2010 at Khajuraho Global Investor meet. The validity of the MoU was for three years. She claimed that project has lapsed and even then government is going ahead with the project. “There is no document to show that time period of MoU has been extended,” she said.

Protestors also demand that after the passing of new Land Acquisition Act 2013 all the process of land acquisition should be done under the new law. They alleged that administration is trying to acquire land under the old land acquisition act on the pretext that project was announced and notices for land acquisition was issued before the enforcement of new land acquisition act.

Web: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/indore/Tribal-protest-against-acquisation-of-land-for-cement-factory/articleshow/30157062.cms?referral=PM

 

NHDC unlikely to infuse funds into Maheshwar power project


Narmada Hydroelectric Development Corporation (NHDC), a subsidiary of MP government and National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC), is unlikely to chip in any funds into the controversial Shree Maheshwar Hydel Power Project.

Union ministry of power is learnt to have asked the NHDC to chip in at least Rs 700 crore in promoter’s equity in the 400 Mw  project.

If highly placed sources are to be believed, two meetings have already taken in this regard in New Delhi. NHDC has been asked to give a reply by 10 February.

“The matter was discussed in NHPC’s board meet,” a highly placed source who has direct knowledge of the development told Business Standard. On any decision in this regard, the source clarified, “Who will invest in an unviable project.”

Top officials of NHDC and other government officials are tight-lipped about the issue. A senior official, however, clarified that only State government and NHPC jointly can decide on the matter. They will also have to consider the big issue of resettlement and rehabilitation. NHDC can take over the project, it would be an easier option, the source said.

Reacting to the probable development, Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), which has been demanding that the project be dumped, has strongly objected to the move.

“The Union Ministry of Power had already said two years back that power generated through this project would not be less than Rs 11 per unit, if it comes to shape the domestic power tariff from the project would go up to Rs 15-17 per unit, who will buy the costly power? Also the state will have to follow recent Supreme Court ruling in resettlement and rehabilitation, as a result the project cost would escalate by another Rs 1,000 crore. Also, entire debt of the project has been declared NPA (non-performing asset) by Reserve Bank of India. If Union government is taking any such decision it would be wastage of public money,” Alok Agrawal, chief activist Narmada Bachao Andolan told Business Standard.

According to the source, a meeting took place on 13 January and later on 20th January in which NHDC was asked to chip in Rs 700 crore as contribution to the promoter’s equity, which has widened due to cost escalation.

Earlier, BHEL had also been asked to chip in but the ‘Navaratna’ company refused since payment against three machines (40×3 MW turbines) which it had supplied to the project is still pending.

“The cost has now gone up to Rs 5,600-6,000 crore and now there is another fund gap which is why they (Union government) want some public sector undertaking to chip in funds,” the source said adding, “If NHDC refuses they will go to some other PSU.”

Power Finance Corporation is the biggest lender and all lenders have cumulative exposure of Rs 2,200 crore to the project. “There are plans to infuse more funds and give the promoters more time,” the source said.

The 400 MW run-of-the-river project originally came into picture in 1993 when its projected cost was Rs 1,653 crore and power tariff pegged at Rs 2.64 per unit. Later it slipped into controversies and PFC came to extend financial support. A consortium of PFC (Rs 700 crore), HUDCO (Rs 250 crore), Central Bank of India (Rs 180 crore), State Bank of India (Rs 200 crore), Life Insurance Corporation of India (Rs 106 crore), IDBI (Rs 30 crore), Dena Bank (Rs 41 crore), Rural Electrification Corporation (Rs 250 crore) and IFCI (Rs 41 crore) was formed to provide loan to the project.

“So far approximately Rs 3,000 crore had been invested in the project but nothing has come off it,” Agrawal said.

NHDC has developed two projects – 1,000 Mw Indira Sagar project and 520 Mw Omkareshwar project  – on Narmada river in western Madhya Pradesh in Khandwa district. The Maheshwar power project is a downstream project of Omkareshwar project.

Web: http://www.business-standard.com/article/companies/nhdc-unlikely-to-infuse-funds-into-maheshwar-power-project-114013100676_1.html

Alirajpur Collector withdraws Sec 151 cases against 40 adivasi oustees – Jobat Satyagrahis stand vindicated


Intense dialogue with Collector, SP, Addl. SP for 4 hours: Offer of Land and house plots, fishing rights, fresh surveys from 20th January 

Jail Bharo Andolan in February, if promises are not kept

10th January, 2014: Surrounded and questioned by hundreds of adivasis for a second time yesterday, at the gates of the Collectorate, Alirajpur, the District Collector, Mr. N.P. Deheriya announced that he would immediately withdraw the charges of Sec 151, 107 and 116 (3) of Cr.P.C filed against 40 adivasis (including many elderly and 6 women) on the alleged and completely unsustainable ground of ‘breach of peace’ at the site of the Zameen Hak Satyagraha, Jobat.

Joined by Mr. Akhilesh Jha, SP and Mr. Saitaram Sastiya, Addl. S.P, the officials finally conceded that there was no disturbance to the peace by the oustees at Jobat. As the end of 4 hours long debate and dialogue with the Collector, the oustees and Medha Patkar convinced him that the occupation of government land at Jobat Farm was not in any way to disturb the peace of the locality, but was a measure undertaken, as a last resort, to assert the right to land and rehabilitation, which has been seriously affected, since more than a decade, when they have been facing the severe impacts of submergence. The following commitments were made by the Collector at the end of the dialogue: 

  • Cases of preventive detention under Sec. 151 would be immediately withdrawn.
  • The State would facilitate the process of seeking bail in the FIR of 2011 and the charge sheet in the same has also been filed.
  • The R&R Officer to begin showing land to the oustees from the 20th January and will ensure before this date that the land to be shown is cultivable and free of encroachment.
  • House plots will be offered in lieu of Rs. 20,000 given many years ago, without consent.
  • Surveys to be conducted in all the 13 villages once again to assess the actual and left our affected persons and properties.
  • Immediate registration of the proposed co-operatives of the displaced fish workers from Machliya, Umda, Bhiti and Chhota Khattali villages.
  • Assistance for irrigation facilities in the original villages by grant of 100% subsidized motor pumps.

The oustees also informed the authorities that the charges in the FIR of November, 2011 such as destruction of public property are completely false and fabricated and we shall fight this out in the court and also claim compensation for the losses caused due to crop destruction at the satyagraha.

The oustees asserted that this was the beginning of their struggle and expect the officials to keep up their promises, otherwise a massive Jail Bharo Andolan would start from February, 2014, with hundreds of women, children and cattle as well.  Later in the evening, many of the oustees, along with Medha Patkar went to the District Jail and met the satyagrahis and also conveyed  to them the developments of the day. The 40 adivasi oustees shall be bailed out by Monday. A brief chronology of the events in enclosed.

Idibai            Surbhan Bhilala            Kamla Yadav                 Meera (09179148973) 

40 Narmada Adivasi Oustees in Jail since 4 days


Demand Unconditional Release : Announce intense struggle

Hundreds storm offices of Collector and SP, Alirajpur

Condemn Illegal Eviction from 2.5 year old Jobat Zameen Hak Satyagraha

8th January: Hundreds of adivasis and farmers, representing a large number of oustees affected by the Sardar Sarovar and Jobat Dam Projects in the Alirajpur District of Madhya Pradesh, stormed the office of the Collector, Mr. N.P. Deheria yesterday and engaged in a day-long protest, demanding the immediate and unconditional release of about 40 adivasis, including 6 women, who were arrested on 5th January in a completely illegal manner from the site of the Zameen Haq Satyagraha at Jobat.

The protestors were stopped at the gates of the Collectorate by a large contingent of armed police brought in from Alirajpur, Badwani, Dhar and Thandla, while the women, men, elderly and youth, tried to barge inside for a dialogue with the Collector. The women, who had come along with little children demanded that their family members must be immediately released otherwise, they would sit on an indefinite protest at the Collectorate.

The Collector, came down thrice and heard the issues raised by the oustees from behind the gates, but could not given concrete and correct answers. After many hours of intense action and heated discussions with the Collector, SP, Addl SP and the Rehabilitation Officer, NVDA, it was assured that the process of offering land to the Jobat-dam oustees would begin within 3 days and process of showing land to the SSP oustees would begin within 10 days.

Shouting down the false information provided to the Collector by the NVDA officers that ‘the oustees don’t want land, that all have been paid compensation, that many are non-affected and that oustees are being provoked, the oustees stated that illegal submergence in the hilly villages of  Sardar Sarovar began since 1994 and submergence in Jobat began since 2003. However, till date, cultivable, irrigable, suitable and un-encroached land has not been provided to the affected families. The only land offered to the SSP-affected adivasis was bad, uncultivable, encroached land, which is in utter violation of law and orders of the Supreme Court.

It may be noted that the Collector of Alirajpur, deployed a large contingent of police force on 5th January, 2014 and illegally took into custody 40 Satyagrahis, including women, 75 year old and 2 children, who were camping at the Government Agricultural Farm, Jobat. It is well-known that hundreds of oustees have been on an indefinite Satyagraha, since the past 2.5 years and have been cultivating the land, not just as a protest, but also to feed their families, who have already faced illegal submergence since many years.

The Jobat Satyagraha is one of the longest non-violent, occupation struggles in recent history and has been resorted to by the oustees after umpteen attempts of petitioning, court cases and mass action by the adivasis. The oustees have been cultivating the land and have also reaped three harvests on this land. Infact recently the Collector also permitted the oustees to have a temporary power connection for irrigating the crop. However, since two weeks notices were being issued to the oustees to vacate the land, else they would be forcibly evicted. Our replies to these notices and appeal for a concrete dialogue were not responded to by the authorities and a brutal eviction drive ensued. It may be noted that the arrests are completely motivated and arbitrary, since the fact that the oustees have not yet been rehabilitated and the fact that all the officials, including the police have complete knowledge of the occupation since 2.5 years is well-known.

Infact, Dr. Afroz Ahmed, Director, Rehabilitation, Narmada Control Authority, indore and Kantilal Bhuria, Former Tribal Affairs Minister, Govt. of India also visited the Satyagraha and engaged in dialogue with the oustees. Dr. Afroz Ahmed also assured to raise the matter with the Rehabilitation Sub-Group, Delhi, after which a direction was issued by the Sub Group in its meeting on 12th September, 2013 to the Govt. of M.P. to offer Government farm lands in rehabilitation.

The arrests have been made seemingly under Section 151 Cr.P.C. i.e. ‘causing disturbance to peace in the area’, while the oustees were in the farm land and there was absolutely nothing they did to disturb peace in the locality. Secondly, an FIR registered against 100-150 ‘unknown people’ 2.5 years ago when the Satyagraha started, but no arrests were made, is now being used against these oustees in a wrongful and vindictive manner ! It may also be noted that in a similar case of illegal arrest and lathicharge at the Badwani Zameen Hak Satyagraha in June, 2007, the High Court, Jabalpur directed the Govt. of M.P. to pay Rs. 10,000 each to the arrested Satyagrahis and half payment has already been made, after the Supreme Court’s intervention and the case is still pending.

While in Sardar Sarovar, many hilly adivasis have not accepted any cash compensation, most of the Jobat Dam advasi oustees being illiterate, their signatures were taken on affidavits and were paid very meagre cash compensation, many years ago and their lands / houses were illegally submerged without being provided alternative cultivable land. In the presence of full media, the Rehabilitation Officer of the Narmada Valley Development Authority accepted that the applications of hundreds of oustees demanding land for land and for return of compensation, as per the Supreme Court’s orders in 2011 have not been attended to for more than one and a half year.

A day before, the oustees also marched to the office of the Superintendent of Police, Mr. Akhilesh Jha and questioned the arbitrary manner of arrests.  He was convinced that the contentious issue is lack of rehabilitation and that the police has no role to play. The oustees also submitted a complaint under the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 demanding legal action against all the concerned officers for arresting the adivasis, evicting them for the land, causing destruction of the standing crop at the Satyagraha and submergence of their lands and homes, without lawful rehabilitation. The protestors issued an ultimatum to Government of Madhya Pradesh, through the Collector, Alirajpur to unconditionally release all the jailed oustees and begin the process of land-based rehabilitation, within 3 days, otherwise an intense struggle would follow.

Please do call the Collector and SP, Alirajpur to immediately release all the oustees unconditionally and begin the process of rehabilitation.

Mr. N.P. Dehariya -Collector, Alirajpur – Ph – 09425188061

Mr. Akhilesh Jha, Superintendent of Police – Ph – 9753936277

Idibai            Surbhan Bhilala            Kamla Yadav                 Meera (09179148973) 

===============================================

National Alliance of People’s Movements
National Office : 6/6, Jangpura B, Mathura Road, New Delhi 110014
Phone : 011 26241167 / 24354737 Mobile : 09818905316
Web : www.napm-india.org

Twitter : @napmindia

MoEF Expert Committee visits ISP and OSP canal area: Listens to farmers Visit to continue tomorrow as well: Serious issues and impacts exposed


4th January, 2014: The Expert Committee appointed by MoEF to appraise and approve the environmental works related to the Omkareshwar and Indira Sagar Canals visited the villages in the Khargene and Khandwa districts today. Dr. B.P. Das, Chairman, Mr. T.K. Nair, Bio Diversity Expert, Dr. B.B. Director, Director, (River Valley Projects), MoEF, Mr. Lakhwinder Singh, Regional Chief Conservator of Forests, Bhopal were the Committee members who visited the villages to inspect the progress and problems related to construction of canals, the on-farm development works and other works as a part of command area development carried out in both the projects as well as the water logging, salinization due to seepage and canal breaches in various villages.

Image

The Committee was accompanied by tens of senior officials of NVDA in more than a dozen vehicles as also tens of villages in the canal affected and command areas. The field level assessment of the progress of canal and CAD works in the Phase-I areas of OSP and ISP brought out vividly that while each distributaries in this Phase are built and have waters released, to cover the command area upto a few thousand hectares in each, it is also seen that there are large chunks of lands falling outside the command area, which are benefitted and while many land holdings in the command area also not irrigated in the command, but by pumps and pipelines put up directly on the canals.

It was also seen that while in certain areas, without canal irrigation, large tracts right from the beginning of the command area are also seriously affected and losses worth crores of rupees are borne by the farmers, without compensation being paid. The Committee was given details lists of farmers, whose land was affected even without acquisition and the farmers expressed their anguish and anger, as in Mokhangaon, Toklai, Chhota Kelva and Gujarkhedi. While the NVDA officials showed certain areas where distributaries or minors were built, committee observed that lining was non-existent for main canals from 58 to 65 kms at least and in almost all distributaries, the lining was not of cement, but of cement blocks, not properly joined. The Committee reiterated that lining is a must and water should not be released without full lining. NBA has warned that the problem of water logging would be worst as was anticipated in many expert Committee reports and as happened in Bhakra Nangal, where 2 lakh hectares of land was affected and huge losses occurred. 

At few places, the chairmen of the Water Users Associations which were formed in the command area villages long back tried to belittle the issues of the canal-affected farmers and questioned their demanding compensation and completion of the pre-conditional works. However, at the end of the day, people in village after village and even the committee accepted that losses to the title holder farmers must be assessed and paid. In the concluding heated discussions the Committee has to accept that a number of recommendations in its earlier reports remain to be fulfilled and once again entrusted the responsibility to the NVDA officials. These include compensation for muck deposited illegally on un-acquired lands, review of already irrigated areas in the villages on the banks of Narmada, affected by Sardar Sarovar and Maheshwar dams.

Image

The Chairman also admitted that the Back Water Levels of Sardar Sardar Project are yet to be finally calculated and this needs to be considered so as to ensure no overlap of BWL and command area. Committee would continue to visit villages in the second phase of OSP and if possible, ISP tomorrow. This will include visit to villages where nothing short of disasters occurred in the monsoon of 2013 due to massive canal breaches. The affected farmers would also follow the Committee and give them a concluding brief tomorrow. NBA also notes that there is an interim order on the ISP and OSP canals passed by the Hon’ble High Court. A detailed repose to the same shall follow soon.

 Deven Tomar                                      Mukesh Bhagoria                    Jamsing Richa

Phone: 09826811982 

MPHC Chief Justice assures that Narmada canal work would be subject to full compliance with law & judicial orders


Court directs Principal Secretary, NVDD to comply with all social and environmental, aspects after 3 days of hearing. 

MoEF must report to Court: All project-related grievances to be addressed by the Grievance Redressal Authority (GRA)

The Madhya Pradesh High Court concluded three days of intense hearing of various parties in the matter of planning and implementation of the Omkareshwar (OSP) and Indira Sagar Canals (ISP), involving investment of thousands of crores of rupees from the state exchequer and affecting the lives and livelihoods of thousands of canal-affected adivasis and other farmers in the districts of Khandwa, Khargone, Dhar and Badwani in the state.

Taking serious note of the large number of social and environmental issues and impacts in the overall canal work, the Court summoned Mr. Rajnish Vaish, Principal Secretary, NVDD, from Bhopal and took an undertaking from him that the State would ensure full compliance with all the laws and judicial orders. Mr. Vaish filed an affidavit in the Court today, after consulting the Chief Secretary, as per directions issued yesterday and indicated the targets for completion of the Omkareshwar canal work. The Affidavit also states that there are no financial constraints for executing the canal and command area works, which also implies funds for compensation must also be made available.

He also reported that much of the work on the Omkareshwar canals are complete. NBA has contested these claims and further hearing on this specific aspect shall continue after vacation. Welcoming the CJ’s, initiative to resolve all the outstanding issues within the framework of law, NBA presented its Plan of Action to the Court and stated that if the work would have to be target based, all the pre-conditions such as rehabilitation, environmental safeguards, payment of compensation for losses, redressal of grievances etc. must, review of canals in irrigated villages must also be in a time bound manner.

NBA insisted that as on date, the MoEF has NOT given a final clearance to the canal work, per se and this Hon’ble Court must be guided by the framework set out by the Hon’ble Apex Court for the canal work. The MoEF has only approved about 600 Command Area Development (CAD) Plans and not the canal work. Plans for about 500 villages are yet to be submitted and overall implementation is far from satisfactory, as is reported in numerous reports of expert Committees. Medha Patkar, pleading in person also reported that farmers from the field, in hundreds from Phase – I to Phase –III in both projects are facing severe impacts of canal breaches, seepage, crop loss, water logging , health impacts etc, since the protective and pre-conditional on-farm and off farm safeguard measures have not been implemented, while the contractors have been paid hefty sums for the canal work.

The Division Bench of Hon’ble Chief Justice, Shri Justice A.N. Khanvilkar and Hon’ble Justice Shantanu Kemkar also inquired from the parties and issued directions to implead various other authorities such as Narmada Control Authority, Planning Commission etc. in the case. The Bench expressed its mind to issue appropriate directions to the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests for ensuring compliance with all the recommendations of the Expert Committee and also stated that the Ministry would be required to report back periodically to the Court.

Referring to the people’s agitation being shown as a ‘barrier’, by the state, the CJ asked as to why would people agitate if their issues are solved and demands met within the framework of law. The Bench also agreed that there is a clear need to expand the terms of the Grievance Redressal Authority in order to address all categorizes of project-related grievances such as muck disposal, crop losses due to water logging etc. The Hon’ble Justices stated that the Court would not hesitate to even invoke its power of contempt in case the concerned authorities fail to comply with its directions.

The Bench stated that it would issue a reasoned order by 2nd January, 2014 and would constantly monitor the progress on work as well as compliance of various legal stipulations. This phase of hearing is significant since it addresses some critical issues raised by two public interest petitions on the Omkareshwar (OSP) and Indira Sagar Canals (ISP). NBA’s petition was filed in March, 2013, on behalf of thousands of canal – affected families (CAFs) many of those are already seriously affected by the canal network. This petition raises serious issues of social and environmental impacts, lack of rehabilitation, unnecessary excavation of canals in irrigated villages, severe crop losses etc.  The other petition was filed by one Mr. Virendra Patidar, complaining of slow work, illegalities by the contractor, corruption, impacts of water logging in the 1st Phase of the Omkareshwar Project.

The struggle in the Court and on the field shall continue on various issues such as non-compliance with the directions of the Supreme Court, recommendations of the Expert Committees of the Union Environment Ministry, lack of rehabilitation, severe crop loss in dozens of villages due to water logging and muck disposal and lack of compensation for the same, lack of dialogue and use of police force on aggrieved farmers etc.

Medha Patkar pleaded on behalf of the canal-affected farmers. Adv. Dharmedra Chelawat appeared for the petitioner in the other case, Mr. Virendra Patidar. Shri Shekhar Bhargava pleaded for the GoMP / NVDA. Affected farmers were also present in the Court today.

Meera            Ramsing bhai           Mukesh Bhagoria              

For details: 09826811982 / 09179148973

National Alliance of People’s Movements
National Office: Room No. 29-30, 1st floor, ‘A’ Wing, Haji Habib Bldg, Naigaon Cross Road, Dadar (E), Mumbai – 400 014; 

6/6, Jangpura B, Mathura Road, New Delhi – 110014
Phone : 011 26241167 / 2435 4737
E-mail: napmindia@gmail.com  | napmindia@napm-india.org 
Web : www.napm-india.org