Narmada Bachao Andolan to knock Supreme Court over rehabilitation

Bhopal, Sep 10 (IANS) The Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) will move the Supreme Court challenging the Madhya Pradesh government’s claims of having rehabilitated families affected by a power project barring 53.
The group is at continuous loggerheads with the state government over the land acquisition and denial of land entitlements to small and marginal farmers, affected by the Indira Sagar Project (ISP).
‘It was total rehabilitation of 39,153 of the 39,206 affected families that paved way for raising the height of the reservoir to 260 m. Only 53 families had not moved from the reservoir area so far,’ an official spokesman said.
Madhya Pradesh High Court Friday allowed increasing the water level of the Indira Sagar reservoir to 260 m.
Prior to it, the court had on Aug 22, permitted the reservoir to be filled up to 255 m after hearing to all parties concerned which had pleaded that the level should not be raised until about 10,000 people living nearby were rehabilitated.
ISP is a part of the construction of dams on the Narmada river in central India and its impact on hundreds of thousands of people living in the river valley has become one of the most contentious social issues for the past two decades.
The struggle of the people of the Narmada valley against large dams began when the people to be displaced by SSP began organising themselves in 1985-86.
Since then a number of struggles have been launched and a host of court rulings passed but the plight of the sufferers has got aggravated by the day even as government budgets on their rehabilitation have swelled.
‘The NBA along with the ousted will monitor the entire process and continue to raise its voice until relief and rehabilitation of every single evicted is complete,’ NBA activist Alok Agarwal said.
‘NBA’s plea to give land for land or special grant to the displaced was not considered though the rehabilitation policy specifically mentioned that all small and marginal farmers would get a minimum of five acres of land even if they owned less than that,’ Agarwal said.
‘The state government and Narmada Hydro Development Corporation (NHDC) had deliberately denied this, forcing the farmers to take cash compensation,’ he added.
On the other hand, the government claimed that compensation for affected agricultural land apart from special compensation against well, trees and damaged pipelines had been provided under the rehabilitation scheme.
‘Besides, the adult male child and adult unmarried female child, considered separate family units as per provisions of rehabilitation policy, too have been fully compensated,’ the government statement, said.

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