Jabalpur High Court: Corruption in rehabilitation

Jabalpur High Court: Corruption in rehabilitation

High Court strongly reacts to prolonged inaction by Narmada Control Authority
and government of Madhya Pradesh (GoMP) in containing corruption Directs Govt. to provide detailed data on all eligible Project Affected Families (PAF) excluded from list of declared by 22nd July, 2009 The public interest litigation (PIL) on rampant and continuing corruption and irregularities in rehabilitation of the Sardar Sarovar Project affected persons went yet another step ahead today with NBA filing its detailed rejoinder to the reply affidavits filed by the Narmada Control Authority, NVDA and Government of Madhya Pradesh.

The hearing today was pursuant to the hearing on the 19th of June, when the Court had agreed to hear the parties in detail on the various aspects of corruption. NBA had filed detailed rejoinders on the 19th and again today stating, with specific examples of individuals and villages how corruption is continuing unchecked and not just senior officials, but even the Counsels and the Court are, in a way, mislead by suppressing the facts and even forging documents! Medha Patkar, arguing for the petitioners began by strongly contesting the position of the Respondents who had filed a Special Leave Petition in the Supreme Court specifically praying to set aside the Order of the High Court dated 21-08-2008, through which the Justice Jha Commission was constituted and instead, while arguing stated that they were not against the Commission, but only wanted the Interim Order of the High Court of 24th, April regarding disbursal of livelihood grants to be stayed.

The Respondents, stating that the
Supreme Court is 'seized' of the matter tried to convey that High Court may give a 'final hearing' in the matter. However the petitioners showed that the Supreme Court Order dated 10th March 2008 clearly stated that the Court is aware of the ongoing PIL in the High Court and when the Court-appointed Jha Commission Report is awaited and a series of I.As on serious allegations and complaints of corruption not yet responded, the case would continue. It was also argued on behalf of the petitioners that despite repeatedly providing information and complaints to the Narmada Control Authority and the Central Ministries, no action was taken, expect sending letters to the state government and clearing the dam height without actually fulfilling its monitoring mandate as power the Narmada Tribunal Award and Supreme Court Judgements.

Responding to the petitioner's complaint that the NVDA has till
date, almost one year after seeking information under RTI, not yet provided the list of all PAFs who have been declared ineligible, whereas this is a matter concerning the issues of life, liberty and livelihoods of the PAFs and must be provided within 48 hours, the Bench comprising Chief Justice Shri A.K. Patnaik and Justice Shri P,K. Jiaswal directed that detailed lists of all the PAFs must be provided by the State by the next date of hearing. In the interim, the Court had also required the NBA to provide a sample list of eligible PAFs who were denied lawful rehabilitation entitlements as per law and policy, Contending that the issue of corruption in Sardar Sarovar is so huge that it may be beyond the bounds of the Registrar (Vigilance) to investigate, the Court favoured independent investigation into all these matters, and stated that it is their constitutional prerogative to intervene when the state authorities fail to act as per law.

The Court has also observed that the haste which the Government is showing with
all the development projects should be reflected at least in half by seriously taking the environmental compliance measures and rehabilitation of the project affected persons. The petitioners had once again conveyed through concrete data how corruption is resulting in violation of the right to life and right to rehabilitation of thousands of PAFs. Senior Counsel Mr. Bhargav represented the GoMP / NVDA and Mr. Naqvi argued for the NCA. The next of hearing has been posted to 22-07-2009.

Shrikanth, Kamla Yadav, Medha Patkar