The Supreme Court on Tuesday has refused to entertain a plea seeking relief and rehabilitation measures for families affected by the Sardar Sarovar Dam on the Narmada river. A bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar quashed the plea stating that the Madhya Pradesh High Court will deal with the matter after hearing the parties. The Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) filed a petition to the court seeking extension to the July 31st deadline of vacating the remaining areas near the dam.
Senior advocate Fali S Nariman, who appeared for the petitioners, alleged that the Madhya Pradesh High Court has not even started hearing the plea despite saying it will hear from July 13. The court however refused to interfere in the matter.
Reacting to the outcome, V K Saxena, president of NGO National Council for Civil Liberties, who has been supporting and fighting for the cause of the Sardar Sarovar Project for 17 years, said it is the lifeline of the people of Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra. He also said that the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) led by Medha Patkar was using oustees to approach courts as the apex court in 2011 had come down heavily on it for allegedly filing false affidavits. The apex court had earlier cleared the decks for monetary compensation for the oustees of the Sardar Sarovar Project on river Narmada in Madhya Pradesh by ordering Rs 60 lakh for each of the families, likely to be displaced. However, NBA, which is leading the campaign for the oustees, was of the view that there was no good land that could have be given to oustees as compensation.
Meanwhile, a blame game has already started among different political sections after the police stormed into a fast site in Dhar village and forcefully removed NBA activist Medha Patkar and 11 others from the scene on Monday evening. Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan in his late night tweets reiterated the state government’s commitment towards the displaced population. He claimed that police did not arrest Patkar and her colleagues. AAP state convener Alok Agrawal too flayed the police lathicharge on protesters saying it was a cowardly act. Blaming the Congress party for the chaos, BJP state president Nandkumar Singh Chauhan urged Patkar not to stall the country’s ‘resurrection’. “The state government has offered a compensation package in accordance with the Supreme Court verdict.”
While local political leaders say there are about 40,000 families that are affected by the construction of this dam, the Union government reported to the Rajya Sabha, that there are only about 18,063 affected families. Moreover, out of these 18,000 families, only 6,724 live in the submerged areas.
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