Sunday, May 15, 2016

On the Supreme Court hearing on 13th May, 2016
New Delhi | 14th May, 2016: The Madhya Pradesh government and its Narmada Valley Development Authority have given another blow to the process of eliminating corruption, preventing irregularity and illegality in rehabilitating the people affected by the Sardar Sarovar Project. With the 7 years long inquiry by the Justice Jha Commission, that was appointed by the High Court of Madhya Pradesh and carried out with its support and directives against all odds faced due to the non-cooperation of the state government submitting its report to the government; it was expected that the state would be quite prompt in taking action against the culprits. While it was necessary to mitigate the loot of the state exchequer as well as the deprivation of the adivasis, poor farmers, Dalit labourers and others, the exactly opposite seems to be the state’s strategy.
The authorities and the state agencies are against any such action and instead favour the position of the corrupt officials, employees and their agents. Despite, the Jha Commission Report being already in the hands of the Chief Secretary of Madhya Pradesh since April 2016 and all documents including the annexures are received by them from the High Court, there seems to be no action taken by the concerned department. By being so adamantly non-transparent and not caring for any obligation to make the Report public nor allowing the High Court to use its powers under Article 226 and to take the findings of the Commission, which was specifically appointed in order to seek assistance in collecting data and analysis so as to take further the appropriate legal action against the corrupt; the state is successfully misbriefing the apex court and resorting to awful tactics including unreliable affidavits to ensure that inquiry doesn’t result in any action. Rather by pushing the dam to its ultimate height and moving towards closure of gates of the Dam, the state of Madhya Pradesh seems to be keen to submerge all its black deeds that have cost the oustees a great deal. The state, it appears certainly wants the report to be redundant and instead of rehabilitation, the oustees face forcible submergence.

What happened at the Supreme Court on the 13th of May also indicates the same. The Court while allowing the payments in cash/cheque maintained that they cannot be disbursed without thorough scrutiny of the Jha Commission; which is exactly what the state would not prefer. Instead they wanted to have no individual authority to check the payment of cash as entitlement since such an encashment itself was against the Narmada Water Dispute Tribunal Award and the state R&R policy; endorsed not by one but by 4 judgments of the apex court. However, the change in regime at the Centre has resulted in an unjust push towards the completion of the dam as a violation of previous judgments and more than 2 and a half lakh people, their homes agricultural lands, forests and tree covers who stay in the submergence area. This the state achieved in the Court by making a number of incorrect statements.
While they have been claiming zero balance in rehabilitation, they now claim there are 1038 families yet to receive disbursement of some grant or other – a figure which is in underestimated since the NCA’s figure is 2,143 and the NBA asserts that there are thousands more. Their claim that a SRP is over and above the normal compensation as per the NWDTA is incorrect since compensation is always deducted from the package. They also claimed that they have always co-operated with the Jha Commission and the NBA only wants to create barriers in the rehabilitation process and this is indeed why the NBA wants an independent authority and not the GRA for scrutiny.

It is worth noting how they bluffed the Court regarding the GRA and its role. The Court granted them freedom to design the mechanisms of scrutiny by the Retired High Court Judges chairing the GRA’s and appointed by the state itself while taking away the High Court’s role. The Supreme Court dismissed their petition of 2009 questioning the Jha Commission but accepted their appeal to continue scrutiny through the GRA.

NBA feels this will open a Pandora’s box and expresses disappointment at the latest turn of events.

Medha Patkar                       Ashwini VS                Rahul Yadav             Kamla Yadav                       
Kailash Awasya

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