A Mockery of Justice Delivery

Published on: December 29, 2015
Oustees from Maharashtra and Gujarat also expressed their concern and pointed out various violations of the Award. The tribunal held its hearing on the Narmada river bank at Rajghat for five hours and each oustee / deponent stood in the ‘dock’, to make their statements. The following persons deposed:

Devram Kanera, Kailash Awasya, Gokaru Bhilala, Shanta Yadav, Sanobar B Mansuri, Bhagirath Dhangar, Mohan Patidar, Pemal Bahan, Madu Kahar, Sawa Bahan, Ramesh Prajapati, Rahul Yadav, Dayaram Bhai, Mahesh Patel, Hari Bhai, Jagdish Patidar, Mukesh Bhagoria, Ad Umesh Patidar. The deponents from Maharashtra were Noorji Padwi, Punya Bhai, Yogini Khanolkar and from Gujarat deponents were Shankar Kagda, Lakhan Musaphir, Chintamani Bhai, all representing project affected families (PAFs).

A People’s Tribunal headed by four retired judges of India’s higher judiciary has decried the false information, on rehabilitation, provided by the (three) state and union government(s) to the Supreme Court where matters related to accountability remain pending since 2008
Bhagirath Dhangar spoke of the plight of hundreds of farmers, workers, small traders, shopkeepers, hawkers etc. whose lands and livelihoods are to be lost by the dam increase, with no alternative Relief & Rehabilitation (R & R) in sight. He questioned the fact that, if the balance is indeed ‘0’, then how is it that the government fair price shops, panchayats, voting and even government licensed wine shops are functioning here? Mahesh Patel exposed the fraud in the name of back water levels due to which 16,000 families has been declared “out of submergence”. He said that all these unscientific claims would be blown up by Narmada herself and her fury into which 99 tributaries and 999 large drains flow. Fish worker families represented by Savabai (Pichhodi) & Madubhai (Chikalda) demanded fishing rights in the reservoir and alternative livelihood. They said that fishing and riverine rights cannot be compensated in monetary terms.
Karan Yadav from Pipri read out the message from Ramesh Patel, the MLA of Badwani, admitting that governmental reports of R&R are patently false and that 99% oustees, still reside in the original villages awaiting R&R; which means that there has been no real rehabilitation at all. Patel submitted a written demand to the Tribunal that the SSP gates should not be installed at this stage, without completion of R&R, as per law. Meera spoke of the absolute failure and connivance of the elaborate machinery of monitoring and project authorities in complying with the Supreme Court’s orders and demanded that all the clearances granted by the authorities are unlawful and need to be set aside by the Apex Court. Advocate Umesh stated that thousands of SSP oustees are now owners of the acquired lands/houses as per 2013 Law Acquisition Act and Government dare not dispossess them.
Medha Patkar described the massive violation of the rights of the Gram Sabhas in the constitutionally protected scheduled Adivasi areas. She spoke of the possibilities of and need for a review even at this stage to avert the inhuman pauperization of 2.5 lakh people, for the benefits of corporates. “While displacement and disaster is planned by the State, development and rehabilitation is not” she said and concluded that continuation with the dam would mean a mass atrocity on both Dalits and Adivasis.
Soumya Dutta, one of the members of the recent Fact-Finding Committee to the Narmada valley (May, 2015), whose report has received wide attention and even alerted the Judges to the disaster in Narmada moderated the proceedings and shared with the Judicial panel, the findings of his Report co-authored by senior political leaders and experts including Hannan Mollah, Annie Raja, Dr. Sunilam, Raj Kachroo and Benoy Vishwam.
Three members of the Tribunals Justice P.C. Jain, Justice Nag Mohan Das and Justice P.D. Gyani visited many villages in five tehsils, including Khalghat, Dharampuri Township as well as village Semalda and village Chhoti Badri, Pipri and Chikalda Kamal Khaparkheda.
The villagers said that there are hundreds of oustees at the resettlement sites where R&R is incomplete as yet. They stated that the claim of the government of MP. that PAFs have been rehabilitated is manifestly false and untrue. The fishermen voiced concerns for the exclusion of fishing rights in the R&R demanding that boats