Narmada Bachao Andolan Vs. Union of India
& Ors  INSC 518 (18 October 2000)
KIRPAL , DR. A. S. ANAND KIRPAL,J.
Narmada is the fifth largest river in India and largest West flowing river of
the Indian Peninsula. Its annual flow approximates to the combined flow of the
rivers Sutlej, Beas and Ravi. Originating from the Maikala
ranges at Amarkantak in Madhya Pradesh, it flows Westwards over a length of
about 1312 km. before draining into the Gulf of Cambay, 50 km. West of Bharuch
City. The first 1077 km. stretch is in Madhya Pradesh and the next 35 km.
stretch of the river forms the boundary between the States of Madhya Pradesh
and Maharasthra. Again, the next 39 km. forms the boundary between Maharasthra
and Gujarat and the last stretch of 161 km.
Basin area of this river is about 1 lac sq. km. The utilisation of this river
basin, however, is hardly about 4%. Most of the water of this peninsula river
goes into the sea. Inspite of the huge potential, there was hardly any development
of the Narmada water resources prior to
1946, the then Government of Central Provinces and Berar and the then
Government of Bombay requested the Central Waterways, Irrigation and Navigation
Commission (CWINC) to take up investigations on the Narmada river system for
basin-wise development of the river with flood control, irrigation, power and
extension of navigation as the objectives in view. The study commenced in 1947
and most of the sites were inspected by engineers and geologists who
recommended detailed investigation for seven projects. Thereafter in 1948, the
Central Ministry of Works, Mines & Power appointed an Ad-hoc Committee
headed by Shri A.N. Khosla, Chairman, CWINC to study the projects and to
recommend the priorities.
Ad-hoc Committee recommended as an initial step detailed investigations for the
following projects keeping in view the availability of men, materials and
Tawa Project near Hoshangabad
Punasa Project and
Broach Project Based on the recommendations of the aforesaid Ad-hoc Committee,
estimates for investigations of the Bargi, Tawa, Punasa (Narmadasagar) and
Broach Projects were sanctioned by the Government of India in March, 1949.
Central Water & Power Commission carried out a study of the hydroelectric
potential of the Narmada basin in the year 1955. After the
investigations were carried out by the Central Water & Power Commission,
the Navagam site was finally decided upon in consultation with the erstwhile
Government of Bombay for the construction of the dam. The Central Water &
Power Commission forwarded its recommendations to the then Government of
Bombay. At that time the implementation was contemplated in two stages. In
Stage-I, the Full Reservoir Level (hereinafter referred to as FRL) was
restricted to 160 ft. with provision for wider foundations to enable raising of
the dam to FRL 300 ft. in Stage-II. A high level canal was envisaged in
Stage-II. The erstwhile Bombay Government suggested two modifications, first
the FRL of the dam be raised from 300 to 320 ft. in Stage-II and second the
provision of a power house in the river bed and a power house at the head of
the low level canal be also made. This project was then reviewed by a panel of
Consultants appointed by the Ministry of Irrigation & Power who in a report
in 1960 suggested that the two stages of the Navagam dam as proposed should be
combined into one and the dam be constructed to its final FRL 320 ft. in one
stage only. The Consultants also stated that there was scope for extending
irrigation from the high level canal towards the Rann of Kutch.
the formation of the State of Gujarat on 1st May, 1960, the Narmada Project stood
transferred to that State. Accordingly, the Government of Gujarat gave an administrative
approval to Stage-I of the Narmada Project in February, 1961. The Project was
then inaugurated by late Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru on 5th April, 1961. The preliminary works such as approach roads &
bridges, colonies, staff buildings and remaining investigations for dam
foundations were soon taken up.
Gujarat Government undertook surveys for the high level canal in 1961. The
submergence area survey of the reservoir enabled assessment of the storage
capability of the Navagam reservoir, if its height should be raised beyond FRL
320 ft. The studies indicated that a reservoir with FRL + 460 ft. would enable
realisation of optimum benefits from the river by utilising the untapped flow
below Punasa dam and would make it possible to extend irrigation to a further
area of over 20 lakh acres.
explorations for locating a more suitable site in the narrower gorge portion
were taken in hand and finally in November, 1963, site No. 3 was found to be
most suitable on the basis of the recommendations of the Geological Survey of
India and also on the basis of exploration and investigations with regard to
the foundation as well as construction materials available in the vicinity of
the dam site.
November, 1963, the Union Minister of Irrigation & Power held a meeting
with the Chief Ministers of Gujarat and
Madhya Pradesh at Bhopal.
result of the discussions and exchange of views, an agreement (Bhopal
Agreement) was arrived at. The salient features of the said Agreement were:
That the Navagam Dam should be built to FRL 425 by the Government of Gujarat
and its entire benefits were to be enjoyed by the State of Gujarat.
Punasa dam (Madhya Pradesh) should be built to FRL 850. The costs and power
benefits of Punasa Power Project shall be shared in the ratio 1:2 between the
Governments of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. Out of the power available to Madhya
Pradesh half of the quantum was to be given to the State of Maharashtra for a period of 25 years for which
the State of Maharashtra was to provide a loan to the extent
of one-third the cost of Punasa Dam. The loan to be given by the State of Maharashtra was to be returned within a period
of 25 years.
Bargi Project was to be implemented by the State of Madhya Pradesh, Bargi Dam was to be built to FRL 1365
in Stage I and FRL 1390 in Stage II and the Governments of Gujarat and Maharashtra were to give a total loan
assistance of Rs. 10 crores for the same.
pursuance of the Bhopal Agreement, the Government of Gujarat prepared a brief
project report envisaging the Navagam Dam FRL 425 ft.
submitted the same to the Central Water and Power Commission under Gujarat
Governments letter dated 14th
February, 1964. Madhya
Pradesh, however, did not ratify the Bhopal Agreement. In order to overcome the
stalemate following the rejection of the Bhopal Agreement by Madhya Pradesh, a
High Level Committee of eminent engineers headed by Dr. A.N.
the then Governor of Orissa, was constituted on 5th September, 1964 by the Government of India. The terms of reference
of this Committee were decided by the Government of India in consultation with
the States of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and
Gujarat. The same read as under:
Drawing up of a Master Plan for the optimum and integrated development of the Narmada water resources.
The phasing of its implementation for maximum development of the resources and
The examination, in particular, of Navagam and alternative projects, if any,
and determining the optimum reservoir level or levels.
Making recommendations of any other ancillary matters.
Khosla Committee submitted the unanimous report to the Government of India in
September, 1965 and recommended a Master Plan of the Narmada water development. In Chapter XI of
the said Report, the Khosla Committee outlined its approach to the plan of Narmada development. An extract from this
Chapter is reproduced below:
In their meeting from 14th to 18th December, 1964 at which the State
representatives were also present, the Committee laid down the following basic
guidelines in drawing up the Master Plan for the optimum and integrated
development of the Narmada water resources:-
National interest should have over-riding priority. The plan should, therefore,
provide for maximum benefits in respect of irrigation, power generation, flood
control, navigation etc. irrespective of State boundaries;
Rights and interests of State concerned should be fully safeguarded subject to
Requirements of irrigation should have priority over those of power;
to the provision that suitable apportionment of water between irrigation and
power may have to be considered, should it be found that with full development
of irrigation, power production is unduly affected;
Irrigation should be extended to the maximum area within physical limits of
command, irrespective of State boundaries, subject to availability of water;
and in particular, to the arid areas along the international border with
Pakistan both in Gujarat and Rajasthan to encourage sturdy peasants to settle
in these border areas (later events have confirmed the imperative need for
available water should be utilised to the maximum extent possible for
irrigation and power generation and, when no irrigation is possible, for power
generation. The quantity going waste to the sea without doing irrigation or
generating power should be kept to the un-avoidable minimum.
Master Plan recommended by the Khosla Committee envisaged 12 major projects to
be taken up in Madhya Pradesh and one, viz., Navagam in Gujarat. As far as Navagam Dam was
concerned, the Committee recommended as follows:- 1. The terminal dam should be
located at Navagam.
optimum FRL of the Navagam worked out to RL 500 ft..
FSL (Full Supply Level ) of the Navagam canal at off-take should be RL 300 ft..
installed capacity at the river bed power station and canal power station
should be 1000 mw and 240 mw respectively with one stand-by unit in each power
station (in other words the total installed capacity at Navagam would be 1400
benefits of the Navagam Dam as assessed by the Khosla Committee were as
follows:- (1) Irrigation of 15.80 lakh hectares (39.4 lakh acres) in Gujarat
and 0.4 lakh hectares (1.00 lakh acres) in Rajasthan. In addition, the Narmada
waters when fed into the existing Mahi Canal system would release Mahi water to
be diverted on higher contours enabling additional irrigation of 1.6 to 2.0
lakh hectares (4 to 5 lakh acres) approximately in Gujarat and 3.04 lakh
hectares (7.5 lakh acres) in Rajasthan.
Hydro-power generation of 951 MW at 60% LF in the mean year of development and
511 MW on ultimate development of irrigation in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh,
Maharashtra and Rajasthan.
Khosla Committee stressed an important point in favour of high Navagam Dam,
namely, additional storage. They emphasized that this additional storage will
permit greater carryover capacity, increased power production and assured
optimum irrigation and flood control and would minimise the wastage of water to
the sea. The Khosla Committee also observed that instead of higher Navagam Dam
as proposed, if Harinphal or Jalsindhi dams were raised to the same FRL as at
Navagam, the submergence would continue to remain about the same because the
cultivated and inhabited areas lie mostly above Harinphal while in the
intervening 113 km (70 mile) gorge between Harinphal and Navagam, there was
very little habitation or cultivated areas.
Khosla Committee report could not be implemented on account of disagreement
among the States. On 6th July, 1968 the State of Gujarat made a complaint to
the Government of India under Section 3 of the Inter- State Water Disputes Act,
1956 stating that a water dispute had arisen between the State of Gujarat and
the Respondent States of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra over the use,
distribution and control of the waters of the Inter-State River Narmada. The
substance of the allegation was that executive action had been taken by Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh which had
prejudicially affected the State of Gujarat and its inhabitants. The State of Gujarat objected to the proposal of the State of Madhya Pradesh to construct Maheshwar and Harinphal Dams over the river Narmada in its lower reach and also to the
agreement reached between the States of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra to jointly construct the Jalsindhi
Dam over Narmada in its course between the two
States. The main reason for the objection was that if these projects were
implemented, the same would prejudicially affect the rights and interests of Gujarat State by compelling it to restrict the height of the dam at
Navagam to FRL 210 ft. or less. Reducing the height of the dam would mean the
permanent detriment of irrigation and power benefits that would be available to
the inhabitants of Gujarat and this would also make it
impossible for Gujarat to re-claim the desert area in the
Ranns of Kutch. According to the State of Gujarat, the principal matters in disputes were as under:
The right of the State of Gujarat to
control and use the waters of the Narmada river on well-accepted principles applicable to the use of waters of
the right of the State of Gujarat to object to the arrangement between the
State of Madhya Pradesh and the State of Maharashtra for the development of
the right of the State of Gujarat to raise the Navagam dam to an optimum height
commensurate with the efficient use of Narmada waters including its control for
providing requisite cushion for flood control; and (iv) the consequential right
of submergence of area in the States of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra and
areas in the Gujarat State.
under Section 4 of the Inter-State Water
Disputes Act, 1956, the Government of India constituted a Tribunal headed
by Honble Mr.
V. Ramaswamy, a retired Judge of this Court. On the same day, the Government
made a reference of the water dispute to the Tribunal. The Reference being in
the following terms:
exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (1) of Section 5 of the
Inter-State Water Disputes Act, 1956 (33 of 1956), the Central Government
hereby refers to the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal for adjudication of the
water dispute regarding the inter-State river, Narmada, and the river-valley
thereof, emerging from letter No. MIP-5565/C-10527-K dated the 6th July, 1968, from the Government of Gujarat.
On 16th October, 1969, the Government of India made
another reference of certain issues raised by the State of Rajasthan to the said Tribunal.
State of Madhya Pradesh filed a Demurrer before the
Tribunal stating that the constitution of the Tribunal and reference to it were
ultra vires of the Act. The Tribunal framed 24 issues which included the issues
relating to the Gujarat having a right to construct a high
dam with FRL 530 feet and a canal with FSL 300 feet or thereabouts. Issues
1(a), 1(b), 1(A), 2,3, and 19 were tried as preliminary issues of law and by
its decision dated 23rd February, 1972, the said issues were decided against
the respondents herein. It was held that the Notification of the Central
Government dated 16th October, 1969 referring the matters raised by the State
of Rajasthan by its complaint was ultra vires of the Act but constitution of
the Tribunal and making a reference of the water dispute regarding the
Inter-State river Narmada was not ultra vires of the Act and the Tribunal had
jurisdiction to decide the dispute referred to it at the instance of State of
Gujarat. It further held that the proposed construction of the Navagam project
involving consequent submergence of portions of the territories of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh could form the
subject matter of a water dispute within the meaning of Section 2(c) of the 1956
Act. It also held that it had the jurisdiction to give appropriate direction to
Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra to take steps by way of acquisition or otherwise
for making submerged land available to Gujarat in order to enable it to execute
the Navagam Project and the Tribunal had the jurisdiction to give consequent
directions to Gujarat and other party States regarding payment of compensation
to Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, for giving them a share in the beneficial
use of Navagam dam, and for rehabilitation of displaced persons.
the aforesaid judgment of the Tribunal on the preliminary issues, the States of
Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan filed appeals by special leave to this Court and
obtained a stay of the proceedings before the Tribunal to a limited extent.
This Court directed that the proceedings before the Tribunal should be stayed
but discovery, inspection and other miscellaneous proceedings before the
Tribunal may go on. The State of Rajasthan was directed to participate in these interlocutory proceedings.
appears that on 31.7.1972, the Chief Ministers of Madhya Pradesh, Maharasthra, Gujarat and Rajasthan had entered into an
agreement to compromise the matters in dispute with the assistance of Prime
Minister of India. This led to a formal agreement dated 12th July, 1974 being arrived at between the Chief
Ministers of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra & Rajasthan and the Advisor to the
Governor of Gujarat on a number of issues which the Tribunal otherwise would
have had to go into. The main features of the Agreement, as far as this case is
concerned, were that the quantity of water in Narmada available for 75% of the
year was to be assessed at 28 million acre feet and the Tribunal in determining
the disputes referred to it was to proceed on the basis of this assessment. The
net available quantity of water for use in Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat was to be regarded as 27.25 million
acre feet which was to be allocated between the States. The height of the
Navagam Dam was to be fixed by the Tribunal after taking into consideration
various contentions and submissions of the parties and it was agreed that the
appeals filed in this Court by the States of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan would
be withdrawn. It was also noted in this agreement that development of Narmada should no longer be delayed in the
best regional and national interests.
the withdrawal of the appeals by the States of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan,
the Tribunal proceeded to decide the remaining issues between the parties.
On 16th August, 1978, the Tribunal declared its Award
under Section 5(2) read with Section 5(4) of the Inter-State Water
Disputes Act, 1956.
Thereafter, reference numbers 1,2,3,4 & 5 of 1978 were filed by the Union
of India and the States of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan
respectively under Section 5(3) of the Inter-State Water
1956. These references were heard by the Tribunal, which on 7th December, 1979, gave its final order. The same was
published in the extraordinary Gazette by the Government of India on 12th December, 1979.
arriving at its final decision, the issues regarding allocation, height of dam,
hydrology and other related issues came to be subjected to comprehensive and
thorough examination by the Tribunal. Extensive studies were done by the
Irrigation Commission and Drought Research Unit of India, Meteorological
Department in matters of catchment area of Narmada Basin, major tributaries of Narmada Basin, drainage area of Narmada Basin, climate, rainfall, variability of
rainfall, arid and semi-arid zones and scarcity area of Gujarat. The perusal of the report shows
that the Tribunal also took into consideration various technical literature
before giving its Award.
OF THE TRIBUNAL The main parameters of the decision of the Tribunal were as
DETERMINATION OF THE HEIGHT OF SARDAR SAROVAR DAM The height of the Sardar
Sarovar Dam was determined at FRL 455 ft.. The Tribunal was of the view that
the FRL +436 ft. was required for irrigation use alone. In order to generate
power throughout the year, it would be necessary to provide all the live
storage above MDDL for which an FRL +453 ft. with MDDL + 362 ft. would obtain
gross capacity of 7.44 MAF. Therefore, the Tribunal was of the view that FRL of
the Sardar Sarovar Dam should be + 455 ft. providing gross storage of 7.70 MAF.
It directed the State of Gujarat to took up and complete the
construction of the dam.
Geological and Seismological aspects of the dam site.
Tribunal accepted the recommendations of the Standing Committee under Central
Water & Power Commission that there should be seismic co-efficient of 0.10
g for the dam.
RELIEF AND REHABILITAION:
final Award contained directions regarding submergence, land acquisition and
rehabilitation of displaced persons. The award defined the meaning of the land,
oustee and family. The Gujarat Government was to pay to Madhya Pradesh and
Maharasthra all costs including compensation, charges, expenses incurred by
them for and in respect of compulsory acquisition of land. Further, the
Tribunal had provided for rehabilitation of oustees and civic amenities to be
provided to the oustees. The award also provided that if the State of Gujarat
was unable to re-settle the oustees or the oustees being unwilling to occupy
the area offered by the States, then the oustees will be re-settled by home
State and all expenses for this were to be borne by Gujarat. An important
mandatory provision regarding rehabilitation was the one contained in Clause XI
sub- clause IV(6)(ii) which stated that no submergence of any area would take
place unless the oustees were rehabilitated.
ALLOCATION OF THE NARMADA WATERS:
Tribunal determined the utilizable quantum of water of the Narmada at Sardar Sarovar Dam site on the
basis of 75% dependability at 28 MAF. It further ordered that out of the
utilizable quantum of Narmada water, the allocation between the
States should be as under:
Pradesh : 18.25 MAF Gujarat : 9.00 MAF Rajasthan : 0.50 MAF
Maharasthra : 0.25 MAF E) PERIOD OF NON REVIEWABILITY OF CERTAIN AWARD TERMS:
Award provided for the period of operation of certain clauses of the final
order and decision of the Tribunal as being subject to review only after a
period of 45 years from the date of the publication of the decision of the
Tribunal in the official gazette. What is important to note however is that the
Tribunals decision contained in clause II relating to determination of 75%
dependable flow as 28 MAF was non-reviewable. The Tribunal decision of the
determination of the utilizable quantum of Narmada water at Sardar Sarovar Dam site on the basis of 75% dependability at
28 MAF is not a clause which is included as a clause whose terms can be
reviewed after a period of 45 years.
Tribunal in its Award directed for the constitution of an inter- State
Administrative Authority i.e. Narmada Control Authority for the purpose of
securing compliance with and implementation of the decision and directions of
the Tribunal. The Tribunal also directed for constitution of a Review Committee
consisting of the Union Minister for Irrigation (now substituted by Union
Minister for Water Resources) as its Chairperson and the Chief Ministers of
Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan as its members. The Review Committee might
review the decisions of the Narmada Control Authority and the Sardar Sarovar
Construction Advisory Committee. The Sardar Sarovar Construction Advisory
Committee headed by the Secretary, Ministry of Water Resources as its
Chairperson was directed to be constituted for ensuring efficient, economical
and early execution of the project .
Control Authority is a high powered committee having the Secretary, Ministry of
Water Resources, Government of India as its Chairperson, Secretaries in the
Ministry of Power, Ministry of Environment and Forests, Ministry of Welfare,
Chief Secretaries of the concerned four States as Members. In addition thereto,
there are number of technical persons like Chief Engineers as the members.
Control Authority was empowered to constitute one or more sub-committees and
assign to them such of the functions and delegate such of its powers as it
thought fit. Accordingly, the Narmada Control Authority constituted the
following discipline based sub-groups:
Resettlement and Rehabilitation sub-group under the Chairmanship of Secretary,
Ministry of Welfare;
Rehabilitation Committee under Secretary, Minister of Welfare to supervise the
rehabilitation process by undertaking visits to R&R sites and submergence
Environment Sub-group under the Chairmanship of Secretary, Ministry of
Environment and Forests;
Hydromet Sub-group under the Chairmanship of Member (Civil), Narmada Control Authority;
Power Sub-group under the Chairmanship of Member (Power) Narmada Control
(vi) Narmada main Canal Sub-committee under the
chairmanship of Executive Member, Narmada Conrol Authority.
Award allocated the available water resources of the Narmada river between the four States.
Based on this allocation, an overall plan for their utilisation and development
had been made by the States. Madhya Pradesh was the major sharer of the water.
As per the water resources development plan for the basin it envisaged in all
30 major dams, 135 medium dam projects and more than 3000 minor dams. The major
terminal dam at Sardar Sarovar was in Gujarat, the remaining 29 being in Madhya Pradesh. Down the main course of the
river, the four major dams were the Narmada Sagar (now renamed as Indira
Sagar), Omkareshwar and Maheshwar all in Madhya Pradesh and Sardar Sarovar in Gujarat.
was to construct a canal in its territory to utilize its share of 0.5 MAF.
Details of the Sardar Sarovar Dam:
result of the Award of the Tribunal, the Sardar Sarovar Dam and related
constructions, broadly speaking, are to comprise of the following:
Main dam across the flow of the river with gates above the crest level to
regulate the flow of water into the Narmada Main Canal.
underground River Bed Power through which a portion of the water is diverted to
generate power (1200 MW). This water joins the main channel of the Narmada river downstream of the dam.
saddle dam located by the side of main reservoir through which water to the
main canal system flows.
Canal Head Power House located at the toe of the saddle dam, through which the
water flowing to the main canal system is to be used to generate power (250
main canal system known as Narmada main
canal 458 KM. long which is to carry away the water meant for irrigation and
drinking purposes to the canal systems of Gujarat and Rajasthan.
benefits from the project:
benefits expected to flow from the implementation of the Sardar Sarovar Project
had been estimated as follows:
17.92 lac hectare of land spread over 12 districts, 62 talukas and 3393
villages (75% of which is drought-prone areas) in Gujarat and 73000 hectares in
the arid areas of Barmer and Jallore districts of Rajasthan.
Water facilities to 8215 villages and 135 urban centers in Gujarat both within and outside command.
These include 5825 villages and 100 urban centers of Saurashtra and Kachchh
which are outside the command. In addition, 881 villages affected due to high
contents of fluoride will get potable water.
Generation: 1450 Megawatt.
man-years during construction 6 lac man-years in post construction.
against advancement of little Rann of Kutch
and Rajasthan desert.
protection to riverine reaches measuring 30,000 hac, 210 villages including
Bharuch city and 7.5 lac population.
Dhumkhal Sloth Bear Sanctuary.
Wild Ass Sanctuary in Little Rann of Kachchh c) Black Buck Sanctuary at
Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary in Kachchh e) Nal Sarovar Bird Sanctuary.
of fisheries: Deepening of all village tanks of command which will increase
their capacities, conserve water, will recharge ground water, save acquisition
of costly lands for getting earth required for constructing canal banks and
will reduce health hazard.
of sophisticated communication system in the entire command.
in additional annual production on account of (Rs.in crores) Agricultural
production 900 Domestic water supply 100 Power Generation 440 -------- Total
1400 -------- POST AWARD CLEARANCES:
order to meet the financial obligations, consultations had started in 1978 with
the World Bank for obtaining a loan. The World Bank sent its Reconnaissance
Mission to visit the project site and carried out the necessary inspection. In
May, 1985, the Narmada Dam and Power Project and Narmada Water Delivery and
Drainage Project were sanctioned by the World Bank under International
Development Agency, credit No. 1552.
in this respect was signed with the Bank on 10.5.1985 and credit was to be made
available from 6th
regard to the giving environmental clearance, a lot of discussion took place at
different levels between the Ministry of Water Resources and the Ministry of
Environment. Ultimately on 24th June, 1987 the Ministry of Environment and
Forests, Government of India accorded clearance subject to certain conditions.
The said Office Memorandum containing the environmental clearance reads as
MEMORANDUM Subject : Approval of Narmada Sagar Project, Madhya Pradesh and
Sardar Sarovar Project, Gujarat from environmental angle.
Narmada Sagar Project, Madhya Pradesh and Sardar Sarovar Project Gujarat have
referred to this Department for environmental clearance.
the basis of examination of details on these projects by the Environmental
Appraisal Committee for River Valley Projects and discussions with the Central
and State authorities the following details were sought from the project authorities:
Rehabilitation Master Plan
Phased Catchment Area Treatment Scheme
Compensatory Afforestation Plan
Command Area Development
Survey of Flora and Fauna 6. Carrying capacity of surrounding area.
Field surveys are yet to be completed. The first set of information hash been
made available and complete details have been assured to be furnished in 1989.
NCA has been examined and its terms of reference have been amplified to ensure
that environmental safeguard measures are planned and implemented in depth and
in its pace of implementation pari passu with the progress of work on the
After taking into account all relevant facts the Narmada Sagar Project, Madhya
Pradesh and the Sardar Sarovar Project, Gujarat State are hereby accorded environmental
clearance subject to the following conditions.
Narmada Control Authority (NCA)will ensure
that environmental safeguard measures are planned and implemented pari passu
with progress of work on project.
The detailed surveys/studies assured will be carried out as per the schedule
proposed and details made available to the Department for assessment.
The Catchment Area treatment programme and the Rehabilitation plans be so drawn
as to be completed ahead of reservoir filling.
The Department should be kept informed of progress on various works
Approval under Forest
(Conservation) Act, 1980 for diversion of forest land will be obtained
separately. No work should be initiated on forest area prior to this approval.
Approval from environmental and forestry angles for any other irrigation, power
or development projects in the Narmada Basin should be obtained separately.
(S.MUDGAL) DIRECTOR(IA) In November, 1987 for monitoring and implementation of
various environmental activities effectively, an independent machinery of
Environment Sub-Group was created by Narmada Control Authority. This Sub-Group
was appointed with a view to ensure that the environmental safeguards were
properly planned and implemented. This Sub-Group is headed by the Secretary,
Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India, as its Chairperson
and various other independent experts in various fields relating to environment
as its members.
the clearance was given by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, the
Planning Commission, on 5th
approved investment for an estimated cost of Rs. 6406/- crores with the
direction to comply with the conditions laid down in the environment clearance
accorded on 24th June,
to the State of Gujarat and Union of India, the studies as
required to be done by the O.M. dated 24th June, 1987, whereby environmental clearance
was accorded, have been undertaken and the requisite work carried out. The
construction of the dam had commenced in 1987.
November, 1990 one Dr. B.D. Sharma wrote a letter to this Court for setting up
of National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes including
proper rehabilitation of oustees of Sardar Sarovar Dam.
letter was entertained and treated as a writ petition under Article 32 of the
Constitution being Writ Petition No. 1201 of 1990.
On 20th September, 1991, this Court in the said Writ
Petition bearing No. 1201 of 1990 gave a direction to constitute the Committee
headed by Secretary (Welfare) to monitor the rehabilitation aspects of Sardar
Narmada Bachao Andolan, the petitioner herein, had been in the forefront of
agitation against the construction of the Sardar Sarovar Dam.
because of this, the Government of India, Ministry of Water Resources vide
Office Memorandum dated 3rd August, 1993 constituted a Five Member Group to be
headed by Dr. Jayant Patil, Member, Planning Commission and Dr. Vasant
Gowarikar, Mr. Ramaswamy R. Iyer, Mr. L.C.
and Dr. V.C. Kulandaiswamy as its members to continue discussions with the
Narmada Bachao Andolan on issues relating to the Sardar Sarovar Project. Three
months time was given to this Group to submit its report.
this time, the construction of the dam continued and on 22nd February, 1994 the Ministry of Water Resources
conveyed its decision regarding closure of the construction sluices. This
decision was given effect to and on 23rd February, 1994 closure of ten construction sluices
April, 1994 the petitioner filed the present writ petition inter alia praying
that the Union of India and other respondents should be restrained from
proceeding with the construction of the dam and they should be ordered to open
the aforesaid sluices. It appears that the Gujarat High Court had passed an
order staying the publication of the report of the Five Member Group
established by the Ministry of Water Resources. On 15th November, 1994, this Court called for the report of the Five Member
Group and the Government of India was also directed to give its response to the
order dated 13th
December, 1994, this
Court directed that the report of the Five Member Group be made public and
responses to the same were required to be filed by the States and the report
was to be considered by the Narmada Control Authority. This Report was
discussed by the Narmada Control Authority on 2nd January, 1995 wherein disagreement was expressed by the State of Madhya Pradesh on the issues of height and
hydrology. Separate responses were filed in this Court to the said Five Member
Group Report by the Government of India and the Governments of Gujarat and
On 24th January, 1995, orders were issued by this Court
to the Five Member Group for submitting detailed further report on the issues
Height b) Hydrology c) Resettlement and Rehabilitation and environmental
Patil who had headed the Five Member Group expressed his unwillingness to
continue on the ground of ill-health and on 9th February, 1995, this Court directed the remaining
four members to submit their report on the aforesaid issues.
On 17th April, 1985 the Four Member Group submitted its
report. The said report was not unanimous, unlike the previous one, and the
Members were equally divided. With regard to hydrology, Professor V.C.
and Dr. Vasant Gowariker were for adoption of 75% dependable flow of 27 MAF for
the design purpose, on the basis of which the Tribunals Award had proceeded. On
the other hand, Shri Ramaswamy R. Iyer and Shri L.C. Jain were of the opinion
that for planning purposes, it would be appropriate to opt for the estimate of
23 MAF. With regard to the question relating to the height of the dam, the
views of Dr. Gowariker were that the Tribunal had decided FRL 455 ft. after
going into exhaustive details including social, financial and technical aspects
of the project and that it was not practicable at the stage when an expenditure
of Rs. 4000 crores had been incurred and an additional contract amounting to
Rs. 2000 crores entered into and the various parameters and features of the
project having been designed with respect to FRL 455 ft. that there should be a
reduction of the height of the dam. The other three Members proceeded to answer
this question by first observing as follows:
must now draw conclusions from the foregoing analysis, but a preliminary point
needs to be made. The SSP is now in an advanced stage of construction, with the
central portion of the dam already raised to 80 m.; the canal constructed upto
a length of 140 Kms. ; and most of the equipment for various components of the
project ordered and some of it already wholly or partly manufactured. An
expenditure of over Rs. 3800 crores is said to have been already incurred on
the project; significant social costs have also been incurred in terms of
displacement and rehabilitation. The benefits for which these costs have been and
are being incurred have not materialised yet. In that situation, any one with a
concern for keeping project costs under check and for ensuring the early
commencement of benefits would generally like to accelerate rather than retard
the completion of the project as planned. If any suggestion for major changes
in the features of the project at this juncture is to be entertained at all,
there will have to be the most compelling reasons for doing so.
then addressed itself to the question whether there were any compelling
reasons. The answer, they felt, depended upon the view they took on the
displacement and rehabilitation problem. The two views which, it examined,
were, firstly whether the problem of displacement and rehabilitation was
manageable and, if it was, then there would be no case of reduction in the
height. On the other hand, if relief and rehabilitation was beset with serious
and persistent problems then they might be led to the conclusion that there
should be an examination of the possibility of reducing submergence and
displacement to a more manageable size. These three Members then considered the
question of the magnitude of the relief and rehabilitation problem. After
taking into consideration the views of the States of Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat, the three Members observed as
find that the Government of Indias idea of phased construction outlined earlier
offers a practical solution; it does not prevent the FRL from being raised to
455 in due course if the necessary conditions are satisfied; and it enables the
Government of Madhya Pradesh to take stock of the position at 436 and call a
halt if necessary. We would, however, reiterate the presumption expressed in
paragraph 3.9.2. above namely that no delinking of construction from R&R is
intended and that by phased construction the Government of India do not mean
merely tiered construction which facilitates controlled submergence in phases.
We recommend phased construction in a literal sense, that is to say, that at
each phase it must be ensured that the condition of advance completion of
R&R has been fulfilled before proceeding to the next phase (i.e. the
installation of the next tier of the gates). This would apply even to the
installation of the first tier. Judicious operation of the gates (while
necessary) cannot be a substitute for the aforesaid condition.
possibility of further construction when the FRL 436 ft. was reached or a
stoppage at that stage was left open by the Members. With regard to the
environment it observed that this subject had been by and large covered in the
first FMG report.
CONTENTIONS On behalf of the petitioners, the arguments of Sh. Shanti Bhushan,
learned senior counsel, were divided into four different heads, namely, general
issues, issues regarding environment, issues regarding relief and
rehabilitation and issues regarding review of Tribunals Award. The petitioners
have sought to contend that it is necessary for some independent judicial
authority to review the entire project, examine the current best estimates of
all costs (social, environmental, financial), benefits and alternatives in
order to determine whether the project is required in its present form in the
national interest or whether it needs to be re- structured/modified. It is
further the case of the petitioners that no work should proceed till
environment impact assessment has been fully done and its implications for the
projects viability being assessed in a transparent and participatory manner.
This can best be done, it is submitted, as a part of the comprehensive review
of the project.
strongly championing the cause of environment and of the tribals who are to be
ousted as a result of the submergence, it was submitted that the environmental
clearance which was granted in 1987 was without any or proper application of
mind as complete studies in that behalf were not available and till this is
done the project should not be allowed to proceed further. With regard to
relief and rehabilitation a number of contentions were raised with a view to
persuade this Court that further submergence should not take place and the
height of the dam, if at all it is to be allowed to be constructed, should be
considerably reduced as it is not possible to have satisfactory relief and
rehabilitation of the oustees as per the Tribunals Award as a result of which
their fundamental rights under Article 21 would be violated.
the State of Madhya
Pradesh has partly
supported the petitioners inasmuch as it has also pleaded for reduction in the
height of the dam so as to reduce the extent of submergence and the consequent
displacement, the other States and the Union of India have refuted the
contentions of the petitioners and of the State of Madhya Pradesh. While accepting that initially the
relief and rehabilitation measures had lagged behind but now adequate steps
have been taken to ensure proper implementation of relief and rehabilitation at
least as per the Award. The respondents have, while refuting other allegations,
also questioned the bona fides of the petitioners in filing this petition. It
is contended that the cause of the tribals and environment is being taken up by
the petitioners not with a view to benefit the tribals but the real reason for
filing this petition is to see that a high dam is not erected per se. It was
also submitted that at this late stage this Court should not adjudicate on the
various issues raised specially those which have been decided by the Tribunals
first propose to deal with some legal issues before considering the various
submissions made by Sh. Shanti Bhushan regarding environment, relief and
rehabilitation, alleged violation of rights of the tribals and the need for
review of the project.
As far as the petitioner is concerned, it is an anti-dam organisation and is
opposed to the construction of the high dam. It has been in existence since
1986 but has chosen to challenge the clearance given in 1987 by filing a writ
petition in 1994. It has sought to contend that there was lack of study
available regarding the environmental aspects and also because of the
seismicity, the clearance should not have been granted.
rehabilitation packages are dissimilar and there has been no independent study
or survey done before decision to undertake the project was taken and
project, in principle, was cleared more than 25 years ago when the foundation
stone was laid by late Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru. Thereafter, there was an
agreement of the four Chief Ministers in 1974, namely, the Chief Ministers of
Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan for the project to be
undertaken. Then dispute arose with regard to the height of the dam which was
settled with the award of the Tribunal being given in 1978. For a number of
years, thereafter, final clearance was still not given. In the meantime some
environmental studies were conducted.
final clearance was not given because of the environmental concern which is
quite evident. Even though complete data with regard to the environment was not
available, the Government did in 1987 finally give environmental clearance. It
is thereafter that the construction of the dam was undertaken and hundreds of
crores have been invested before the petitioner chose to file a writ petition
in 1994 challenging the decision to construct the dam and the clearance as was
given. In our opinion, the petitioner which had been agitating against the dam
since 1986 is guilty of latches in not approaching the Court at an earlier
point of time.
such projects are undertaken and hundreds of crores of public money is spent,
individual or organisations in the garb of PIL cannot be permitted to challenge
the policy decision taken after a lapse of time. It is against the national
interest and contrary to the established principles of law that decisions to
undertake developmental projects are permitted to be challenged after a number
of years during which period public money has been spent in the execution of
petitioner has been agitating against the construction of the dam since 1986,
before environmental clearance was given and construction started. It has, over
the years, chosen different paths to oppose the dam.
instance a Five Member Group was constituted, but its report could not result
in the stoppage of construction pari passu with relief and rehabilitation
measures. Having failed in its attempt to stall the project the petitioner has
resorted to court proceedings by filing this writ petition long after the
environmental clearance was given and construction started. The pleas relating
to height of the dam and the extent of submergence, environment studies and
clearance, hydrology, seismicity and other issues, except implementation of
relief and rehabilitation, cannot be permitted to be raised at this belated
Court has entertained this petition with a view to satisfy itself that there is
proper implementation of the relief and rehabilitation measurers at least to
the extent they have been ordered by the Tribunals Award. In short it was only
the concern of this Court for the protection of the fundamental rights of the
oustees under Article 21 of the Constitution of India which led to the
entertaining of this petition. It is the Relief and Rehabilitation measures
that this Court is really concerned with and the petition in regard to the
other issues raised is highly belated. Though it is, therefore, not necessary
to do so, we however presently propose to deal with some of the other issues
ON THE STATES It has been the effort on the part of the petitioners to persuade
this Court to decide that in view of the difficulties in effectively
implementing the Award with regard to relief and rehabilitation and because of
the alleged adverse impact the construction of the dam will have on the
environment, further construction of the dam should not be permitted. The
petitioners support the contention on behalf of the State of Madhya Pradesh to
the effect that the height of the dam should be reduced in order to decrease
the number of oustees. In this case, the petitioners also submit that with
regard to hydrology, the adoption of the figure 27 MAF is not correct and the
correct figure is 23 MAF and in view thereof the height of the dam need not be
Tribunal in this Award has decided a number of issues which have been
summarised hereinabove. The question which arises is as to whether it is open
to the petitioners to directly or indirectly challenge the correctness of the
said decision. Briefly stated the Tribunal had in no uncertain terms come to
the conclusion that the height of the dam should be 455 ft. It had rejected the
contention of the State of Madhya Pradesh for fixing the height at a lower
level. At the same time in arriving at this figure, it had considered the
relief and rehabilitation problems and had issued directions in respect
thereof. Any issue which has been decided by the Tribunal would, in law, be
binding on the respective states. That this is so has been recently decided by
a Constitution Bench of this Court in The 505. That was a case relating to a
water dispute regarding inter-State river Krishna between the three riparian
States and in respect of which the Tribunal constituted under the Inter-State Water
Disputes Act, 1956 had given an Award. Dealing with the Article 262 and the
scheme of the Inter- State Water Disputes Act, this Court at page 572 observed
inter-State Water Disputes Act having been framed by the Parliament under
Article 262 of the Constitution in a complete Act by itself and the nature and
character of a decision made thereunder has to be understood in the light of
the provisions of the very Act itself. A dispute or difference between two or
more State Governments having arisen which is a water dispute under Section
2(C) of the Act and complaint to that effect being made to the Union Government
under Section 3 of the said Act the Central Government constitutes a Water
Disputes Tribunal for the adjudication of the dispute in question, once it
forms the opinion that the dispute cannot be settled by negotiations. The
Tribunal thus constituted, is required to investigate the matters referred to
it and then forward to the Central Government a report setting out the facts as
found by him and giving its decision on it as provided under sub-Section (2) of
Section 5 of the Act. On consideration of such decision of the Tribunal if the
Central Government or any State Government is of the opinion that the decision
in question requires explanation or that guidance is needed upon any point not
originally referred to the Tribunal then within three months from the date of
the decision, reference can be made to the Tribunal for further consideration
and the said Tribunal then forwards to the Central Government a further report
giving such explanation or guidance as it deems fit. Thereby the original
decision of the Tribunal is modified to the extent indicated in the further
decision as provided under Section 5(3) of the Act. Under Section 6 of the Act
the Central Government is duty bound to publish the decision of the Tribunal in
the Official Gazette whereafter the said decision becomes final and binding on
the parties to the dispute and hash to be given effect to, by them. The language
of the provisions of Section 6 is clear and unambiguous and unequivocally
indicates that it is only the decision of the Tribunal which is required to be
published in the Official Gazette and on such publication that decision becomes
final and binding on the parties.
the Award is binding on the States, it will not be open to a third party like
the petitioners to challenge the correctness thereof. In terms of the Award,
the State of Gujarat has a right to construct a dam upto
the height of 455 ft. and, at the same time, the oustees have a right to demand
relief and re-settlement as directed in the Award. We, therefore, do not
propose to deal with any contention which, in fact, seems to challenge the
correctness of an issue decided by the Tribunal.
ISSUSES RELATING TO DIS-PLACEMENT OF TRIBALS AND ALLEGED VIOLATION OF THE
RIGHTS UNDER ARTICLE 21 OF THE CONSTITUION:
submission of Sh. Shanti Bhushan, learned senior counsel for the petitioners
was that the forcible displacement of tribals and other marginal farmers from
their land and other sources of livelihood for a project which was not in the
national or public interest was a violation of their fundamental rights under
Article 21 of the Constitution of India read with ILO Convention 107 to which
India is a signatory. Elaborating this contention, it was submitted that this
Court had held in a large number of cases that international treaties and
covenants could be read into the domestic law of the country and could be used
by the courts to elucidate the interpretation of fundamental rights guaranteed
by the Constitution. Reliance in support of was drawn to the ILO Convention 107
which stipulated that tribal populations shall not be removed from their lands
without their free consent from their habitual territories except in accordance
with national laws and regulations for reasons relating to national security or
in the interest of national economic development. It was further stated that
the said Convention provided that in such cases where removal of this
population is necessary as an exceptional measure, they shall be provided with
lands of quality at least equal to that of lands previously occupied by them,
suitable to provide for their present needs and future development. Sh. Shanti
Bhushan further contended that while Sardar Sarovar Project will displace and
have an impact on thousands of tribal families it had not been proven that this
displacement was required as an exceptional measure. He further submitted that
given the seriously flawed assumptions of the project and the serious problems
with the rehabilitation and environmental mitigation, it could not be said that
the project was in the best national interest. It was also submitted that the
question arose whether the Sardar Sarovar project could be said to be in the
national and public interest in view of its current best estimates of cost,
benefits and evaluation of alternatives and specially in view of the large
displacement of tribals and other marginal farmers involved in the project.
Elaborating this contention, it was contended that serious doubts had been
raised about the benefits of the project - the very rationale which was sought
to justify the huge displacement and the massive environmental impacts etc. It
was contended on behalf of the petitioners that a project which was sought to
be justified on the grounds of providing a permanent solution to water problems
of the drought prone areas of Gujarat would touch only the fringes of these
areas, namely, Saurashtra and Kutch and even this water, which was allocated on
paper, would not really accrue due to host of reasons. It was contended that
inspite of concentrating on small scale decentralized measures which were
undertaken on a large scale could address the water problem of these drought
prone areas. Huge portions of the State resources were being diverted to the
Sardar Sarovar Project and as a result the small projects were ignored and the
water problem in these areas persists. It was submitted that the Sardar Sarovar
Project could be restructured to minimise the displacement.
the aforesaid arguments, it has been submitted on behalf of the Union of India
and the State of Gujarat that the petitioners have given a
highly exaggerated picture of the submergence and other impacts of this
project. It was also submitted that the petitioners assertion that there was
large-scale re-location and uprooting of tribals was not factually correct.
to the respondents, the project would affect only 245 villages in Gujarat,
Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh due to pondage and backwater effect
corresponding to 1 in 100 year flood. The State-wise break up of affected
villages and the number of project affected families (PAFs) shows that only
four villages would be fully affected (three in Gujarat and one in Madhya
Pradesh) and 241 would be partially affected (16 in Gujarat, 33 in Maharasthra
and 192 in Madhya Pradesh). The total project affected families who would be
affected were 40827. The extent of the submergence was minimum in the State of
Madhya Pradesh. The picture of this submergence as per the Government of Madhya
Pradesh Action Plan of 1993 is as follows:
will be fully submerged in 39 villages and partially in 116 villages,
agricultural land will be affected upto 10% in 82 villages, 11 to 25% in 32
villages, 26 to 50% in 30 villages, 51 to 75% in 14 villages, 76 to 90% in 4
villages and 100% in only 1 village. In 21 villages, only abadi will be
affected and Government land only in 9 villages. Thus, in most of the villages,
submergence is only partial.
submergence area of the SSP can be divided into two areas:
Fully tribal, hilly area covering the initial reach of about 105 villages with
mainly subsistence economy. It includes 33 villages of Maharasthra, 19 of
Gujarat and about 53 of Madhya Pradesh.
Mixed population area in the plains of Nimad, with a well developed economy and
connected to the mainstream. This area includes about 140 villages in Madhya
two areas have quite different topographic and habitation features which result
in totally different types of submergence impacts. The state of the hilly area
to be affected by its submergence and where most of the tribal population
exists is described by the Government of Madhya Pradesh Action Plan, 1993 as
Narmada flows in hilly gorge from the origin to the Arabian Sea. The undulating
hilly terrain in the lower submergence area of Sardar Sarovar Project exhibit
naked hills and depleted forests. Even small forest animals area very rarely seen
because of lack of forest cover and water.
oft quoted symbiotic living with forests is a misnomer in this area because the
depleted forests have nothing to offer but fuel wood. Soil is very poor mostly
disintegrated, granite and irrigation is almost nil due to undulating and hilly
visiting this area finds the people desperately sowing even in the hills with
steep gradient. Only one rain fed crop of mostly maize is sown and so there is
no surplus economy.
inhabiting these interior areas find generous rehabilitation and resettlement
packages as a means to assimilate in the mainstream in the valley.
villages of Madhya Pradesh to be affected by the project, a very high
proportion of the houses would be affected whereas the land submergence was
only 14.1%. The reason for this is that the river bed is a deep gorge for about
116 km. upstream of the dam and as a result the reservoir will be long (214
km), narrow (average width of 1.77 km) and deep. The result of this is that as
one goes further upstream, the houses on the river banks are largely affected
while agricultural land which is at a distance from the river banks is spared.
A majority of 33014 families of Madhya Pradesh (which would include 15018 major
sons) would lose only their houses and not agricultural lands would be required
to be resettled in Madhya Pradesh by constructing new houses in the new abadi.
According to the Award, agricultural land was to be allotted only if the
project affected families lost 25% or more of agricultural land and on this
basis as per the Government of Madhya Pradesh, only 830 project affected
families of Madhya Pradesh were required to be allotted agricultural land in
to the Government of Gujarat the tribals constituted bulk of project affected
families who would be affected by the dam in Gujarat and Maharasthra, namely,
97% and 100% respectively. Out of the oustees of project affected families of
Madhya Pradesh, tribals constituted only 30% while 70% were non-tribals. The
total number of tribal project affected families were 17725 and out of these,
9546 are already re-settled. It was further the case of the respondents that in
Madhya Pradesh the agricultural land of the tribal villages was affected on an
average to the extent of 28% whereas in the upper reaches i.e. Nimad where the
agriculture was advanced, the extent of submergence, on an average, was only
8.5%. The surveys conducted by HMS Gour University (Sagar), the Monitoring and
Evaluation Agency set up by the Government of Madhya Pradesh, reveal that the
major resistance to relocation was from the richer, non-tribal families of
Nimad who feared shortage of agriculture labour if the landless labourers from
the areas accepted re-settlement. In the Bi-Annual report, 1996 of HMS Gour
University, Sagar, it was observed as follows:
pre-settlement study of submerging villages has revealed many startling
realities. Anti-dam protagonists presents a picture that tribals and backward
people are the worst sufferers of this kind of development project. This
statement is at least not true in case of the people of these five affected
villages. Though, these villages comprise a significant population of tribals
and people of weaker sections, but majority of them will not be a victim of
displacement. Instead, they will gain from shifting. The present policy of
compensation is most beneficial for the lot of weaker section. These people are
living either as labourers or marginal farmers. The status of oustee will make
them the owner of two hectares of land and a house. In fact, it is the
land-owning class which is opposing the construction of dam by playing the card
of tribals and weaker sections. The land-owners are presently enjoying the
benefit of cheap labour in this part of the region.
of cheap labour is boon for agricultural activities. This makes them to get
higher return with less inputs.
apparent that the tribal population affected by the submergence would have to
move but the rehabilitation package was such that the living condition would be
much better than what it was before there. Further more though 140 villages of
Madhya Pradesh would be affected in the plains of Nimad, only 8.5% of the
agricultural land of these villages shall come under submergence due to SSP and
as such the said project shall have only a marginal impact on the agricultural
productivity of the area.
accepting the legal proposition that International Treaties and Covenants can
be read into the domestic laws of the country the submission of the respondents
was that Article 12 of the ILO Convention No. 107 stipulates that the
populations concerned shall not be removed without their free consent from
their habitual territories except in accordance with national laws and
regulations relating to national security, or in the interest of national
economic development or of the health of the said populations.
said Article clearly suggested that when the removal of the tribal population
is necessary as an exceptional measure, they shall be provided with land of
quality atleast equal to that of the land previously occupied by them and they
shall be fully compensated for any resulting loss or injury.
rehabilitation package contained in the Award of the Tribunal as improved
further by the State of Gujarat and the other States prima facie
shows that the land required to be allotted to the tribals is likely to be
equal, if not better, than what they had owned.
allegation that the said project was not in the national or public interest is
not correct seeing to the need of water for burgeoning population which is most
critical and important. The population of India, which is now one billion, is
expected to reach a figure between 1.5 billion and 1.8 billion in the year
2050, would necessitate the need of 2788 billion cubic meter of water annually
in India to be above water stress zone and 1650 billion cubic metre to avoid
being water scarce country. The main source of water in India is rainfall which occurs in about 4
months in a year and the temporal distribution of rainfall is so uneven that
the annual averages have very little significance for all practical purposes.
According to the Union of India, one third of the country is always under
threat of drought not necessarily due to deficient rainfall but many times due
to its uneven occurrence. To feed the increasing population, more food grain is
required and effort has to be made to provide safe drinking water, which, at
present, is a distant reality for most of the population specially in the rural
areas. Keeping in view the need to augment water supply, it is necessary that
water storage capacities have to be increased adequately in order to ward off
the difficulties in the event of monsoon failure as well as to meet the demand
during dry season. It is estimated that by the year 2050 the country needs to
create storage of at least 600 billion cubic meter against the existing storage
of 174 billion cubic meter.
play a vital role in providing irrigation for food security, domestic and industrial
water supply, hydroelectric power and keeping flood waters back. On full
development, the Narmada has a potential of irrigating over
6 million hectares of land and generating 3000 mw of power. The present stage
of development is very low with only 3 to 4 Maf of waters being used by the
party States for irrigation and drinking water against 28 Maf availability of
water at 75% dependability as fixed by NWDT and about 100 MW power developed.
85% of the waters are estimated as flowing waste to sea. The project will
provide safe and clean drinking water to 8215 villages and 135 towns in Gujarat and 131 villages in desert areas of
Jalore district of Rajasthan, though against these only 241 villages are
getting submerged partially and only 4 villages fully due to the project.
cost and benefit of the project were examined by the World Bank in 1990 and the
following passage speaks for itself:
argument in favour of the Sardar Sarovar Project is that the benefits are so
large that they substantially outweigh the costs of the immediate human and
environmental disruption. Without the dam, the long term costs for people would
be much greater and lack of an income source for future generations would put
increasing pressure on the environment. If the waters of the Narmada river
continue to flow to the sea unused there appears to be no alternative to
escalating human deprivation, particularly in the dry areas of Gujarat. The
project has the potential to feed as many as 20 million people, provide
domestic and industrial water for about 30 million, employ about 1 million, and
provide valuable peak electric power in an area with high unmet power demand
(farm pumps often get only a few hours power per day). In addition, recent
research shows substantial economic multiplier effects (investment and
employment triggered by development) from irrigation development. Set against
the futures of about 70,000 project affected people, even without the
multiplier effect, the ratio of beneficiaries to affected persons is well over
is merit in the contention of the respondents that there would be a positive
impact on preservation of ecology as a result from the project. The SSP would
be making positive contribution for preservation of environment in several
ways. The project by taking water to drought-prone and arid parts of Gujarat
and Rajasthan would effectively arrest ecological degradation which was
returning to make these areas inhabitable due to salinity ingress, advancement
of desert, ground water depletion, fluoride and nitrite affected water and
vanishing green cover. The ecology of water scarcity areas is under stress and
transfer of Narmada water to these areas will lead to sustainable agriculture
and spread of green cover. There will also be improvement of fodder
availability which will reduce pressure on biodiversity and vegetation. The SSP
by generating clean eco-friendly hydropower will save the air pollution which
would otherwise take place by thermal generation power of similar capacity.
displacement of the tribals and other persons would not per se result in the
violation of their fundamental or other rights. The effect is to see that on
their rehabilitation at new locations they are better off than what they were.
At the rehabilitation sites they will have more and better amenities than which
they enjoyed in their tribal hamlets. The gradual assimilation in the main
stream of the society will lead to betterment and progress.
ISSUES The four issues raised under this head by Sh. Shanti Bhushan are as
Whether the execution of a large project, having diverse and far reaching
environmental impact, without the proper study and understanding of its
environmental impact and without proper planning of mitigative measures is a
violation of fundamental rights of the affected people guaranteed under Article
21 of the Constitution of India ? II. Whether the diverse environmental impacts
of the Sardar Sarovar Project have been properly studied and understood ? III.
Whether any independent authority has examined the environmental costs and
mitigative measures to be undertaken in order to decide whether the
environmental costs are acceptable and mitigative measures practical ? IV.
Whether the environmental conditions imposed by the Ministry of Environment
have been violated and if so, what is the legal effect of the violations ? It
was submitted by Sh. Shanti Bhushan that a large project having diverse and far
reaching environmental impacts in the concerned States would require a proper
study and understanding of the environmental impacts. He contended that the
study and planning with regard to environmental impacts must precede
construction. According to Sh. Shanti Bhushan, when the environmental clearance
was given in 1987, proper study and analysis of the environmental impacts and
mitigative measures, which were required to be taken, were not available and,
therefore, this clearance was not valid. The decision to construct the dam was
stated to be political one and was not a considered decision after taking into
account the environmental impacts of the project. The execution of SSP without
a comprehensive assessment and evaluation of its environmental impacts and a
decision regarding its acceptability was alleged to be a violation of the
rights of the affected people under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. It
was further submitted that no independent authority has examined vehemently the
environmental costs and mitigative measurers to be undertaken in order to
decide whether the environmental costs are acceptable and mitigative measures
practical. With regard to the environmental clearance given in June, 1987, the
submission of Sh. Shanti Bhushan was that this was the conditional clearance
and the conditions imposed by the Ministry of Environment and Forests had been
letter granting clearance, it was submitted, disclosed that even the basic
minimum studies and plans required for the environmental impact assessment had
not been done. Further more it was contended that in the year 1990, as the
deadline for completion of the studies was not met, the Ministry of Environment
and Forests had declared that the clearance had lapsed. The Secretary of the
said Ministry had requested the Ministry of Water Resources to seek extension
of the clearance but ultimately no extension was sought or given and the
studies and action plans continued to lag to the extent that there was no
comprehensive environmental impact assessment of the project, proper mitigation
plans were absent and the costs of the environmental measures were neither
fully assessed nor included in the project costs. In support of his
contentions, Sh. Shanti Bhushan relied upon the report of a Commission called
the Independent Review or the Morse Commission. The said Commission had been
set up by the World Bank and it submitted its report in June, 1992. In its
report, the Commission had adversely commented on practically all aspects of
the project and in relation to environment, it was stated as under:
assumptions upon which the projects are based are now questionable or are known
to be unfounded.
and social trade-off have been made, and continue to be made, without a full
understanding of the consequences. As a result, benefits tend to be
over-stated, while social and environmental costs are frequently understated.
Assertions have been substituted for analysis.
think that the Sardar Sarovar Projects as they stand are flawed, that
resettlement and rehabilitation of all those displaced by the projects is not possible
under the prevailing circumstances, and that the environmental impacts of the
projects have not been properly considered or adequately addressed.
history of environmental aspects of Sardar Sarovar is a history of
non-compliance. There is no comprehensive impact statement. The nature and
magnitude of environmental problems and solutions remain elusive.
Shanti Bhushan submitted that it had become necessary for some independent
judicial authority to review the entire project, examine the current best
estimates of all costs (social, environmental, financial), benefits and
alternatives in order to determine whether the project is required in its
present form in the national interest, or whether it needs to be
Shanti Bhushan further submitted that environmental impacts of the projects
were going to be massive and full assessment of these impacts had not been
done. According to him the latest available studies show that studies and
action plans had not been completed and even now they were lagging behind pari
passu. It was also contended that mere listing of the studies does not imply
that everything is taken care of. Some of the studies were of poor quality and
based on improper data and no independent body had subjected these to critical
considerable stress was laid by Sh. Shanti Bhushan challenging the validity of
the environmental clearance granted in 1987 inter alia on the ground that it
was not preceded by adequate studies and it was not a considered opinion and
there was non-application of mind while clearing the project, we first propose
to deal with the contention.
events after the Award and upto the environmental clearance granted by the
Government vide its letter dated 24th June, 1987 would clearly show that some
studies, though incomplete, had been made with regard to different aspects of
the environment. Learned counsel for the respondents stated that in fact on the
examination of the situation, the claim made with regard to the satisfactory
progress was not correct. In order to carry out the directions in the Award
about the setting up of an authority, the Inter-State Water
Disputes Act, 1956 was amended and Section 6-A was inserted to set out how
a statutory body could be constituted under the Act.
10th September, 1980 in exercise of the powers conferred by Section 6- A of the
Act the Central Government framed a scheme, constituted the Narmada Control
Authority to give effect to the decision of the Award.
January, 1980, the Government of Gujarat submitted to the Central Water
Commission a detailed project report in 14 volumes. This was an elaborate
report and dealt with various aspects like engineering details, canal systems,
geology of area, coverage of command area etc.
15th February, 1980 the Central Water Commission referred SSP to the then
Department of Environment in Department of Science & Technology.
that point of time, environmental clearance was only an administrative
requirement. An environmental checklist was forwarded to Government of Gujarat
on 27th February, 1980 which sought to elucidate information including
following ecological aspects:
Excessive sedimentation of the reservoir ii) Water logging iii) Increase in
salinity of the ground water iv) Ground water recharge v) Health hazard-water
borne diseases, industrial pollution etc.
Submergence of important minerals vii) Submergence of monuments viii) Fish
culture and aquatic life ix) Plant life-forests x) Life of migratory birds xi)
National Park and Sanctuaries xii) Seismicity due to filling of reservoir The
Government of Gujarat accordingly submitted information from September, 1980
till March, 1983. The information was also submitted on physio-social and
economic studies for Narmada Command Area covering cropping pattern, health
aspects, water requirement etc. A note of influence of Navagam dam on fish
yield including impact on downstream fisheries was also submitted.
techno-economic appraisal of the project was undertaken by the Central Water
Commission which examined water availability, command area development,
construction etc. The project was considered in the 22nd meeting of the
Technical Advisory Committee on Irrigation, Flood Control and Multi-purpose
projects held on 6.1.1983 and found it acceptable subject to environmental
this point of time, the matter was handled by the Department of Science and
Technology which also had a Department dealing with Environment. Environmental
Appraisal Committee of the Department of Environment, then headed by a Joint
Secretary, had in its meeting held on 12.4.1983 approved the project, in
principle, and required that further data be collected. This Environmental
Appraisal Committee dealt with the project on two other occasions, namely, on
29.3.1985 when it deferred meeting to await report of Dewan Committee on soil
conservation and thereafter on 6.12.1985 when it deferred the meeting to await
comments from the Forest Department. As stated hereafter, subsequently the
Secretary of newly constituted Ministry of Environment and Forests took up
further consideration of this project along with other higher officials.
the project was approved, in principle, studies and collections of data were
continuing. In May, 1983 the Narmada Planning Group, Government of Gujarat
after completion of preliminary surveys submitted work plans for various
activities such as cropping pattern, health aspects, water requirements, distribution
system, lay out and operation, development plan of the command, drainage and
ground water development.
July, 1983, a study report on Ecology and Environmental Impact of Sardar
Sarovar Dam and its Environs prepared by MS University was also submitted by
Government of Gujarat, covering the issues as mentioned below:
*Geology *Soil *Land use *Forest and Wildlife, Aquatic Vegetation *Water Regime
(Salinity, Tidal movements etc.) *Fisheries *Health *Seismicity A review
meeting was convened by the Secretary, Ministry of Water Resources in January,
1984 which was attended by a representative of the Department of Environment.
During this meeting, it was emphasized that the issues regarding catchment area
treatment, impact on wildlife, health, water logging etc. should be studied in
depth for assessment. The issue of charging of cost of catchment area treatment
to the project was also discussed. To sort out this matter, a meeting was
subsequently convened by the Member, Planning Commission on 23rd May, 1984 in
which the Ministry of Environment & Forests took a stand that there was a
need for an integrated approach to basin development covering the catchment and
command area. A project report, therefore, should be prepared to cover these
aspects. Since the catchment area for Narmada Sagar and Sardar Sarovar was very
vast, it was decided that an Inter-Departmental Committee should be set up by
the Ministry of Agriculture under the Chairmanship of Dr. M.L. Dewan. This
group could submit its report only in August, 1985 covering areas of catchment
of Narmada and Sardar Sarovar and recommended that at least 25-30% of the area
might require treatment for these projects.
consideration of the project in the Ministry, therefore, got deferred for this
report on catchment area treatment. During this time, Government of Madhya
Pradesh entrusted the studies on flora for Narmada Valley Project to Botanical
Survey of India and other related surveys were being carried out. Even though
there was a request on 10th June, 1985 from the Chief Minister of Gujarat to
the Minister of State for Environment and Forests for delinking of catchment
area treatment works on clearance of the project, but this request was not
this time the approval of SSP was being considered by the Secretary, Ministry
of Environment and Forests who invited other high officials in a review meeting
which was held on 31st December, 1985 under his chairmanship. In this meeting,
detailed presentations were made by the State officials of Gujarat, Madhya
Pradesh and Maharasthra as well as the experts who were involved in preparation
of plans. The Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests assessed and
reviewed readiness on various environmental aspects like Catchment Area
Treatment, Compensatory Afforesation, Rehabilitation, Command area Development,
Labour force and health issues, aquatic species, seismicity etc. and discussed
the available reports in detail in the presence of the officers of the
Central/State Governments, Botanical Survey of India, senior officers of Forest
Department, Planning Commission, Agriculture Department, Additional.
of Forests, Government of India, Deputy Inspector General, Assistant Inspector
General of Forest, Government of India, senior officers of the Ministry of
Environment and Forests, Secretary, Irrigation.
follow up, the Government of Maharashtra submitted environmental data regarding
affected areas in Maharashtra. This included:
assessment on wild life *Impact assessment on genetics, specifically
identifying the plant types which are likely to be lost as a result of
anthropological studies on tribals *The suitability of alternative land
suggested for compensatory afforestation for growing.
regarding alternate land in large blocks.
made for exploitation of mineral resources going under submergence.
fuels to the labourers.
made for treatment of catchment area including swoil conservation afforestation.
taken for preserving archaeological and historical monuments.
land use *Actions taken by Government of Maharashtra in pursuance of Dewan
for monitoring for environmental impact for the project.
related to rehabilitation of project affected persons.
Government of Gujarat also forwarded to the Government of India work plans on
and Wildlife Fish and Fisheries Health aspects The work plan on forests and
wildlife incorporated actions to be taken on the recommendations of the
Inter-Departmental Committee headed by Dr.
on soil conservation and afforestation works in the catchment area.
March, 1986, a meeting was convened by the Ministry of Water Resources in order
to discuss the issues of fisheries, flora/fauna, health, archaeology with the
officers of the Botanical Survey of India, Zoological Survey of India,
Archaeological Survey of India and the officers of the various departments of
the State and Centre to gear up the preparation of the environmental work
plans. The next meeting was held on 11th April, 1986. The Secretary, Ministry
of Environmental and Forests, who chaired the meeting of senior officials,
representatives of States and other agencies, sought additional information to
be made available by 30th April, 1986 before assessment and management
October, 1986, the Ministry of Water Resources prepared and forwarded to the
Ministry of Environment and Forests, a note on environmental aspects of the two
projects and noted the urgency of the decision. It also considered the
importance of the project, should the project be taken at all, environmental
aspects of the project and ultimately rehabilitation, compensatory
afforestation, fauna and flora, catchment area treatment, public health aspect,
prevention of water logging. It then considered what remained to be done and
enumerated the same with time schedule as follows:
Madhya Pradesh to complete the detailed survey of population likely to be
affected in all phases of N.S.P.
Maharashtra to prepare a detailed rehabilitation plan for 33 villages under
phase 1 of SSP .Three years
Madhya Pradesh to identify degraded forest lands twice the forest area to be
submerged for compensatory afforestation.
Survey of flora in Narmada valley assigned to Botanical Survey of India.
years 5. Survey of Wildlife by Zoological Survey of India.
Aerial photographs and satellite imagery to be analysed by All India Soil and
Land Use Survey Organisation and National Remote Sensing Agency and critically
degraded areas in catchment.
Surveys Three years.
studies to determine measures for CAT In 25000 ha. Three years after Aerial
this note two options were considered - one to postpone the clearance and the
other was to clear it with certain conditions with appropriate monitoring
authorities to ensure that the action is taken within the time bound programme.
It was concluded that in the light of the position set out, it was necessary
that the project should be cleared from the environmental angle, subject to
conditions and stipulations outlined.
Department of Environment and Forests made its own assessment through a note of
the Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests. It took the view that
following surveys/studies as set out therein might take at least 2-3 years. It
noted in this regard that:
estimate of Ministry of Water Resources on analysis of aerial photographs and
satellite imageries as 2-3 years.
Catchment area treatment programme can be formulated by three years thereafter;
Wildlife census by Zoological Survey of India would take at least three years;
Survey by Botanical Survey of India would take three years.
further took the view that it was essential that there should be a strong
management authority. It finally concluded that if the Government should decide
to go ahead with the project it should be done with provision of environmental
management authority with adequate powers and teeth to ensure that environment
management plan is implemented pari passu with engineering and other works. It
concluded that effective implementation of the engineering and environmental
measures simultaneously will go a long way and that such a project could be
implemented by harmonizing environmental conservation needs with the
Ministry of Environment and Forests had not given environmental clearance of
Narmada Sagar and Sardar Sarovar Dam despite all discussions which had taken
place. The documents filed along with the affidavit of Shri P.K. Roy, Under
Secretary, Prime Ministers Office dated 27th April, 2000 indicate that there
was difference of opinion with regard to the grant of environmental clearance
between the Ministry of Water Resources and the Ministry of Environment &
Forests. This led to the matter being referred to the Prime Ministers
Secretariat for clearance at the highest level. A note dated 20th November,
1986 prepared by the Ministry of Water Resources was forwarded to the Prime
Minister Secretariat as well as to the Ministry of Environment and Forests
after dealing with the environmental aspects relating to rehabilitation,
catchment area treatment, command area development, compensatory afforestation,
flora and fauna. This note indicated that there were two options with regard to
the clearance of the said project. One was to await for two to three years for
the completion of the operational plans and other detailed studies and the
second option was that the project should be given the necessary clearance
subject to the stipulation with regard to the action to be taken in connection
with various environmental aspects and appropriate monitoring arrangements to
ensure that the actions were taken in a time bound manner. The Ministry of
Water Resources recommended that it should be possible to give environmental
clearance of the project and ensure that the conditions are properly met
through a process of clear assignment of responsibility and frequent
monitoring. The modus operandi for instituting a monitoring system could be
discussed at the meeting.
26th November, 1986, a meeting took place which was attended, inter alia, by
the Secretary, Ministry of Water Resources, Secretary, Ministry of Environment
& Forests, Additional Secretary, Prime Minister Secretariat and
representatives of the Governments of Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat regarding the
environmental aspects of the Narmada Sagar and Sardar Sarovar Project. The
minutes of the meeting, inter alia, disclosed it was decided that the
Government of Gujarat would identify lands for allocation to the project
affected persons of Madhya Pradesh within a specified period of time. The
meeting also envisaged the arrangement of a Monitoring and Enforcement
Authority to monitor the project and to ensure that the actions on the
environmental aspects proceed according to the schedule and pari passu with the
rest of the project. This Authority was not to be mainly a advisory one but was
to be given executive powers of enforcement including the power to order
stoppage of construction activity in the event of its being of the opinion that
there was lack of progress in action on the environmental front.
19th December, 1986, the Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests sent to
the Secretary to the Prime Minister a combined note on the environmental
aspects of both the projects, namely, Narmada Sagar and Sardar Sarovar Project.
In this note, it was, inter alia, stated that there was absence and inadequacy
on some important environmental aspects even though the Sardar Sarovar Project
was in a fairly advance stage of preparedness. The note also recommended the
establishment of the Narmada Management Authority with adequate powers and
teeth to ensure that the Environmental Management Plan did not remain only on
paper but was implemented; and implemented pari passu with engineering and
other works. In the end, in the note, it was stated as follows:
despite the meagre availability of data and the state of readiness on NSP, the
Government should decide to go ahead with the project it is submitted that it
should do so only on the basis of providing a Management Authority as outlined
above with the hope that the public opposition, not just by vested interests
but by credible professional environmentalists, can be overcome. Effective
implementation of the engineering and environmental measurers simultaneously
would go a long way to prove that even such a project can be implemented by
harmonising environmental conservation needs with the development effort.
choice is difficult but a choice has to be made.
with this note was the statement showing the cost and the benefits of the
Narmada Sagar and the Sardar Sarovar dam. The same reads as follows:
NARMADASAGAR SARDAR SAROVAR
construction Rs. 1400 crores Rs. 4240 crores (1981 price level ) (1982 price
Loss of forest Rs. 320 crores
Environmental cost of loss of forests Rs. 30923 crores + - Rs. 8190 crores
Catchment Area development Rs. 300 crores Not available
Command area development Rs. 243.7 crores Rs. 604.0 crores Rs. 300.0 crores
Loss of Mineral Reserves ---- ----
Diversion of 42 km Railway line ----- ----
Population affected 129396 (1981 census) 86572 (Excluding population with land
submerged for short period every year)
Land submerged 91348 ha 39134 ha Benefits
Area irrigated 123000 ha 1792000 ha Net culturable land 140960 ha 2120000 ha
Power Generations 223.5 MW(firm power) 300 MW 1000 MV (Installed capacity) 1450
(Installed 118.3 MW in 2023 A.D.
a series of meetings held between the Secretary to Prime Ministers office as
well as the Ministry of Water Resources, a detailed note dated 15th January,
1987 was prepared by Mrs. Otima Bordia, Additional Secretary to the Prime
Minister. The notes opened by saying that Narmada Sagar and Sardar Sarovar
multipurpose projects have been pending approval of the Government of India for
a considerable amount of time. The States of Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat have
been particularly concerned and have been pressing for their clearance. The
main issues of environmental concern related to the rehabilitation of the
affected population, compensatory afforestation, treatment of the catchment
area, command area development, pertaining particularly to drainage, water
logging and salinity. The said note mentioned that the Department of
Environment and Forests had sent a note with the approval of the Minister for
Environment and Forests and had recommended conditional approval to the Narmada
Sagar and Sardar Sarovar Projects subject to three conditions:
Review of design parameters to examine the feasibility of modifying the height
of the dam;
Preparation in due time, detailed and satisfactory plans for rehabilitation,
catchment area treatment, compensatory afforestation and command area
Setting up of Narmada Management Authority with adequate powers and teeth to
ensure that environmental management plans are implemented pari passu with
engineering and other works.
further stated in the note that the Ministry of Water Resources and the State
Governments had no difficulty in accepting conditions (ii) and (iii). With
regard to review of design parameters and dam height, the Ministry of Water Resources
had examined the same after taking into consideration the comments of the
Central Water Commission and concluded that the reduction of the FRL of the
Narmada Sagar project would not be worthwhile. The Secretary to the Prime
Minister had discussed the matter with the Secretary, Ministry of Water
Resources and Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests and it was agreed
that the recommendation of the Minister of Environment and Forests of giving
clearance on the condition that items (ii) and (iii) referred to hereinabove be
accepted. The note also stated that in view of the technical report, reduction
in the dam height did not appear to be feasible. This note of Mrs. Otima Bordia
recommended that the Prime Ministers approval was sought on giving conditional
clearance. On this note, Mrs. Serla Grewal, Secretary to the Prime Minister
noted as follows:
at para 17 may kindly be approved. This project has been pending clearance for
the last 7 years and both the C.Ms. of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh are keenly
awaiting the clearance of the same. The agency, which is proposed to be set up
to monitor the implementation of this project, will fully take care of the
environmental degradation about which P.M. was concerned. The Ministry of
Environment and Forests have recommended clearance of this project subject to
conditions which will take care of P.Ms apprehensions. I shall request
Secretary, Water Resources, who will be Chairman of the Monitoring Agency, to
see that no violation of any sort takes place and P.Ms office will be kept
informed of the progress of this project every quarter. The matter is urgent as
last week C.M. Gujarat had requested for green signal to be given to him before
may kindly approve.
Prime Minister Shri Rajiv Gandhi, instead of giving the approval, made the
this is a good time to try for a River Valley Authority. Discuss It appears
that the Ministry of Environment and Forests gave its clearance to the setting
up of Inter-Ministerial Committee and on 8th April, 1987, following note was
prepared and forwarded to the Prime Minister.
case has got unduly delayed. P.M. was anxious that speedy action should be
taken. As such, since the Ministry of Environment have given its clearance subject
to setting up of an Inter-Ministerial Committee as indicated at A above, we may
give the necessary clearance. The three Chief Ministers may be requested to
come over early next week to give their clearance in principle for the setting
up of a River Valley Authority so that simultaneous action can be initiated for
giving practical shape to this concept. The clearance of the project, however,
should be communicated within two weeks as I have been informed by Shri Shiv
Shanker and Shri Bhajan Lal that interested parties are likely to start an
agitation and it is better if clearance is communicated before mischief is done
by the interested parties.
with another affidavit of Shri P.K Roy, Under Secretary, Prime Ministers Office
dated 2nd May, 2000, some correspondence exchanged between Legislature and the
Prime Minister has also been placed on record relating to the granting of the
environmental clearance by the Prime Minister. On 31st March, 1987, Shri
Shanker Sing Vaghela, the then Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha had written a
letter to the Prime Minister in which it was, inter alia, stated that the
foundation stone for the Narmada Project had been laid 25 years ago by the late
Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru and that after the Tribunals Award, Mrs. Indira Gandhi
had cleared the project in 1978, but still the environmental clearance had not
so far been given. It was also stated in his letter that the project was now
being delayed on account of so-called environmental problems. It was further
stated in his letter that the Sardar Sarovar Project, when completed, will
solve more of the pressing problems of environment than creating them. To this
letter of Shri Vaghela, the Prime Minister sent a reply dated 8th April, 1987
stating as follows:
seen your letter of 31st March regarding the Narmada Project. All aspects have
to be carefully considered before decisions are taken on a project of this
size. This is being done.
environment and ecological factors cannot be dis- regarded. We cannot also
dismiss the needs of our tribal people.
are required to ensure that rehabilitation plans are effective.
these aspects are being examined and a decision will be taken soon.
30th April, 1987, a press note was released by the Government of India, in which
it was stated that in a meeting presided over by the Prime Minister, it was
agreed by the Chief Ministers of Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat and representatives
of the Maharashtra Government that a high level River Valley Authority would be
set up for the control and development of the river basin. This press note also
stated that the Narmada Sagar and the Sardar Sarovar Project on the river
Narmada had been cleared. Soon, thereafter Shri Ahmad Patel, Member of
Parliament from Gujarat wrote a letter dated 14th April, 1987 to Shri Rajiv
Gandhi expressing his gratitude for according clearance to the Narmada
multi-purpose project. This letter was replied to on 22nd April, 1987 by Shri
Rajiv Gandhi who thanked Shri Patel for writing his letter dated 14th April,
1987 regarding the Narmada project. On 20th April, 1987, Shri Shanker Singh
Vaghela wrote another letter to the Prime Minister. While thanking him for
clearing the project, it was stated that there was apprehension about the
environment and ecological factors and also about the needs of the tribal
people. The Prime Minister was requested to clarify to the people of Gujarat
whether or not these aspects have finally been cleared or not and all the
doubts on this front have been finally set at rest or not. On 4th May, 1987 the
Prime Minister replied to this letter in which it was stated as follows:
should be no grounds for any misunderstanding in this regard. The Narmada
Project has been cleared while at the same time ensuring that environmental
safeguards will be enforced and effective measures taken for the rehabilitation
of the tribals. You could ask the Ministry of Water Resources or the State
Government for details.
we need make reference to a letter dated 10th June, 1987 written by Smt. Chandraben
Sureshbhai Shrimali, an M.L.A. of Gujarat and the reply of the Prime Minister
thereto. In the said letter dated 10th June, 1987, Smt.
thanked the Prime Minister for clearing the Narmada project and it was stated that the dry land of Gujarat and Saurashtra would be fertilised
through Narmada Yojna. To this, reply dated 30th June, 1987 of the Prime Minister was as follows:
you for your letter of 10th June. The visit to Surendranagar was useful and
educative. We are all looking forward to the early implementation of the Sardar
question of environmental protection also needs serious attention. I wish you
and the people of Surendranagar a good monsoon.
the documents and the letters referred to hereinabove, it is more than evident
that the Government of India was deeply concerned with the environmental
aspects of the Narmada Sagar and Sardar Sarovar Project. Inasmuch as there was
some difference of opinion between the Ministries of Water Resources and
Environment & Forests with regard to the grant of environmental clearance,
the matter was referred to the Prime Minister. Thereafter, series of
discussions took place in the Prime Ministers Secretariat and the concern of
the Prime Minister with regard to the environment and desire to safeguard the
interest of the tribals resulted in some time being taken. The Prime Minister
gave environmental clearance on 13th April, 1987 and formal letter was issued thereafter on 24th June, 1987.
not possible, in view of the aforesaid state of affairs, for this Court to
accept the contention of the petitioner that the environmental clearance of the
project was given without application of mind. It is evident, and in fact this
was the grievance made by Shri Vaghela, that the environmental clearance of the
project was unduly delayed. The Government was aware of the fact that number of
studies and data had to be collected relating to environment. Keeping this in
mind, a conscious decision was taken to grant environmental clearance and in
order to ensure that environmental management plans are implemented pari passu
with engineering and other works, the Narmada Management Authority was directed
to be constituted. This is also reflected from the letter dated 24th June, 1987 of Shri Mudgal giving formal
clearance to the project.
OTHER ISSUES RELATING TO ENVIRONMENT Prior to the grant of the environmental
clearance on 24th June, 1987, sufficient studies were made with regard to
different aspects of environment on the basis of which conditional clearance
was granted on 24th June, 1987, one of the condition of clearance being that
the balance studies should be completed within a stipulated time frame.
According to the Government of Gujarat, the conditions imposed in the
environmental clearance granted on June 24, 1987 were:
The NCA would ensure that the environmental safeguard measures are planned and
implemented pari passu with the progress of work on the project.
The detailed survey/studies assured will be carried out as per the schedule
proposed and details made available to the department for assessment.
The catchment area treatment programe and rehabilitation plans be so drawn so
as to be completed ahead of reservoir filling.
The department should be informed of progress on various works periodically.
further submitted by the Government of Gujarat that none of these conditions
were linked to any concrete time frame.
The first condition casts a responsibility on the NCA to ensure that the
environmental aspects are always kept in view. The best way to attain the first
and the fourth condition was to create an environmental sub-group headed by the
Secretary in the Ministry of Environment and Forest.
The second condition the conducting of surveys by its very nature could not be
made time bound. The surveys related to various activities to undo any damage
or threat to the environment not only by the execution of the project but in
the long term. Therefore, any delay in the conduct of surveys was not critical.
Besides, a perusal of the latest status report on environment shows that a
large number of surveys were carried out right from 1983 and also after 1987.
The third condition has already stood fully complied with as observed by
The fourth condition again involved keeping the department informed.
submitted that the concept of lapsing is alien to such conditions. In other
words, formal environmental and forest clearances granted by the Ministry of
Environment and Forests, Government of India are not lapsed and are very much
alive and subsisting.
regard to the lapsing of the clearance granted in 1987, it was contended by Mr.
Harish Salve that a letter dated 25th May, 1992 was written by the Secretary,
Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India to the Secretary,
Ministry of Water Resources stating, inter alia, that the conditions of
clearance of the project were not yet met and, therefore, a formal request for
extension of environmental clearance, as directed by Review Committee of
Narmada Control Authority, may be made and failing which, a formal notification
may be issued revoking the earlier clearance.
however, an admitted position that no formal notification has ever been issued
revoking and/or cancelling the aforesaid two clearances at any point of time by
the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India.
Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests has continued to hold and chair
the meetings of Environment Sub-Group, Narmada Control Authority closely
monitoring the execution of SSP for ensuring that environmental safeguard
measures are implemented pari passu with the progress of work. On 11th August, 1992, a letter was written by Narmada
Control Authority to the Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests sending
action plan and status in respect of environmental safeguard measures taken and
also stating amongst other details, the following:
number of letters were exchanged between the MOWR and MOEF and a great deal of
discussion took place both in the Environment Sub-Group and NCA as to whether
an application for extension of time as above is at all necessary. After a
detailed discussion in the last NCA meeting on 25th July, 1992, it has been
decided that NCA should clearly indicate the additional time required for the
completion of the remaining studies like flora and fauna and some aspects of
fisheries and a revised action plan based thereon be also sent expeditiously.
XXXXX Keeping in view the fact and circumstances mentioned above, I request you
to kindly agree to the schedule of the studies and the follow up actions as
presented here. A brief account of the action plan together with bar charts are
enclosed, presenting a pictorial view.
On 15th December, 1992, a letter was written to the
Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests, more particularly stating as
under, amongst other things:
Narmada Control Authority has already prepared an action plan and status on the
environmental measures of Sardar Sarovar Project and submitted to the Ministry
of Environment and Forests vide their letter No. NCA/EM/683 dated 11.8.1992 for
concurrence. As may be seen from their report on action, so far there is no
field season of every year this will be closely reviewed to attain pari passu
objectives so that the submergence during monsoon is taken care of.
above actions are scheduled to be completed by June, 1993. No doubt, action in Maharashtra is lagging. The matter was taken up
with the Chief Secretary of Maharashtra. A
copy of his reply dated 7.11.1992 is enclosed. You will observe that the
reasons for the lag are largely due to the un-cooperative and agitational
approach adopted by some people.
all these into account, you will appreciate that the action plans are adequate.
Minister for Water Resources, Government of India wrote a letter on 27th January, 1993 to the Minister of State for
Environment and Forests stating that there had been no violation of
environmental safeguard measurers. On 7th July, 1993, the Secretary, Ministry of Water
Resources, Government of India wrote a letter to the Secretary, Ministry of
Environment and Forests, Government of India, more particularly stating as
of all the environmental works is summarised in the sheet enclosed herewith. I
share your concern for initial delay in some of the studies but now it seems
that the work has started in full swing. However, there is a need to keep a
close watch and I am advising the NCA for the same.
letter dated 17lth September, 1993, the Minister of State for Environment and
Forests, Government of India wrote to the Minister for Water Resources,
Government of India appreciating the efforts made by the concerned State
Governments in making the environmental plans. The exchange of the aforesaid
correspondence and the conduct of various meetings of the Environment Sub-group
from time to time under the Chairmanship of the Secretary, Ministry of
Environment and Forests, disspells the doubt of the environment clearance
having been lapsed. In other words, there could not have been any question of
the environmental clearance granted to SSP being lapsed more particularly when
the Environment Sub-group had been consistently monitoring the progress of
various environmental works and had been observing in its minutes of various
meetings held from time to time, about its analysis of the works done by the
respective States in the matter of the status of studies, surveys and
environmental action plans in relation with:
phased catchment area treatment;
command area development;
survey of flora, fauna etc.
archeological and anthropological survey;
seismicity and rim stability of reservoir (vii) health aspects and (viii) fisheries
development of SSP and NSP reservoirs.
Shanti Bhushan in the course of his submissions referred to the report of the
Morse Committee in support of his contentions that the project was flawed in
more ways than one.
Morse Committee was constituted, as already noted, by the World Bank. Its
recommendations were forwarded to the World Bank.
from the Criticism of this report from other quarters, the World Bank itself,
did not accept this report as is evident from its press release dated 22nd June, 1992 where it was, inter alia, stated as
Morse Commission provided a draft of its report to the Bank for management
comments several weeks prior to the final release of the document. About two
weeks before this release, the commission provided a draft of its findings and
recommendations. The final version of the report is the sole responsibility of
its authors; the report was not cleared by the World Bank.
resettlement and rehabilitation (R&R), Bank management agrees with the
description of the R&R situation in each of the three states and with the
reports conclusions about the shortcomings in the preparation and appraisal of
the projects R&R aspects. We also agree that work should have been done
earlier on the issue of people affected by the canal in Gujarat.
we do not share the view that resettlement would be virtually impossible even
if Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh adopted the liberal resettlement package
provided for displaced people by the State of Gujarat. Given the experience so
far, and the fact that most of the impact of submergence on people will not
occur until 1997, there is still time to develop meaningful R&R packages
and programs in consultation with the affected peoples. Efforts are being
intensified to achieve this.
environment, bank management agrees with the independent review on the need for
a more effective central management in the Narmada Basin on environment impact studies and
mitigation programms. Management also agrees on the need to accelerate work on
estuary studies and health maters in Gujarat. However, management does not share the reviews conclusions about the
environmental severity of the study delays. Command area issues are being
addressed, including issues of water logging and salinity. On water
availability (hydrology), Bank Management disagrees with the finding that there
is insufficient impoundment of water upstream of the Sardar Sarovar Dam site to
make the irrigation system work as designed.
Government of India vide its letter dated 7th August, 1992 from the Secretary, Ministry of
Environment and Forests did not accept the report and commented adversely on
view of the above, we do not propose, while considering the petitioners
contentions, to place any reliance on the report of Morse Committee.
submitted on behalf of the petitioners that the command area development was an
important aspect as the benefits of the project depended on this and if proper
studies and plans were not done and not implemented, the very areas that were
supposed to benefit will end up being rendered unfit for cultivation and the
water logging and salinisation could refer vast areas of the command
unproductive. It was also submitted that still there was no integrated command
area environmental impact assessment. After referring to the status reports and
studies regarding the command area development, it was submitted that there was
need for some independent agency to examine the various studies, action plans
and the experience and to see whether there was ground to believe that the
proposed measures will work or not. It was contended that master plan for
drainage and command area development was still not in place and even the full
studies had not been done.
refuting the aforesaid contentions it was argued on behalf of learned counsel
for the respondents that the SSP will provide irrigation water for a cultivable
command area of 1.9 million hectares in Gujarat and 75,000 hectares in Rajasthan. The introduction of fresh water to
the drought-prone areas of Gujarat will
create obvious benefits for the farming communities. In order to safeguard
these benefits, control and monitoring was suggested by the Secretary, Ministry
of Environment and Forests and Chairman of the Environment Sub-group in the
following areas from time to time:
drainage, water logging and soil salinity;
potential impact on flora and fauna;
effects on public health;
thereto fifty in-depth studies had been carried out by the State Governments of
Gujarat and Rajasthan and some of the studies were still in progress. One of
the main objectives of carrying out these studies was to prevent excessive use
of ground water and water-logging.
is no reason whatsoever as to why independent experts should be required to
examine the quality, accuracy, recommendations and implementation of the
studies carried out. The Narmada Control Authority and the Environmental
Sub-group in particular have the advantage of having with them the studies
which had been carried out and there is no reason to believe that they would
not be able to handle any problem, if and when, it arises or to doubt the
correctness of the studies made.
submitted by Sh. Shanti Bhushan that the catchment area treatment programme was
not to be done pari passu but was required to be completed before the
impoundment. This contention was based on the terms of the letter dated 24th June, 1987 wherein conditional environmental
clearance was granted, inter alia, on the condition that the catchment area
treatment programme and rehabilitation plans be drawn so as to be completed
ahead of reservoir filling. Admittedly, the impounding began in 1994 and the
submission of Sh. Shanti Bhushan was that catchment area treatment programme
had not been completed by them and, therefore, this very important condition
had been grossly violated. Reference was also made to the Minutes of the
Environmental Sub-group meetings to show that there had been slippage in
catchment area treatment work.
clearance of June, 1987 required the work to be done pari passu with the
construction of the dams and the filling of the reservoir. The area wherein the
rainfall water is collected and drained into the river or reservoir is called
catchment area and the catchment area treatment was essentially aimed at
checking of soil erosion and minimising the silting in the reservoir within the
immediate vicinity of the reservoir in the catchment area. The respondents had
proceeded on the basis that the requirement in the letter of June, 1987 that
catchment area treatment programme and rehabilitation plans be drawn up and
completed ahead of reservoir filling would imply that the work was to be done
pari passu, as far as catchment area treatment programme is concerned, with the
filling of reservoir. Even though the filling of the reservoir started in 1994,
the impoundment Award was much less than the catchment area treatment which had
been affected. The status of compliance with respect to pari passu conditions
indicated that in the year 1999, the reservoir level was 88.0 meter, the
impoundment area was 6881 hectares (19%) and the area where catchment treatment
had been carried out was 128230 hectares being 71.56% of the total work
required to be done. The Minutes of the Environmental Sub-group as on 28th September, 1999 stated that catchment area
treatment works were nearing completion in the states of Gujarat and Maharashtra. Though, there was some slippage in Madhya Pradesh,
however, overall works by and large were on schedule. This clearly showed that
the monitoring of the catchment treatment plan was being done by the
Environmental Sub-group quite effectively.
regard to compensatory afforestation it was contended by Sh.
Bhushan that it was being carried out outside the project impact area. Further,
it was submitted that the practice of using waste land or lesser quality land
for compensatory afforestation means that the forest will be of lesser quality.
Both of these together defeated the spirit of the compensatory afforestation.
It was contended that the whole compensatory afforestation programme was needed
to be looked at by independent experts.
granting approval in 1987 to the submergence of forest land and/or diversion
thereof for the SSP, the Ministry of Environment and Forests had laid down a
condition that for every hectare of forest land submerged or diverted for
construction of the project, there should be compensatory afforestation on one
hectare of non-forest land plus reforestation on two hectare of degraded
forest. According to the State of Gujarat, it had fully complied with the condition by raising afforestation in
4650 hectares of non-forest areas and 9300 hectares in degraded forest areas
before 1995-96 against the impoundment area of 19%. The pari passu achievement
of afforestation in Gujarat was stated to be 99.62%.
afforestation was taking place on waste land or lesser quality land, it did not
necessarily follow, as was contended by the petitioners, that the forests would
be of lesser quality or quantity.
also contended on behalf of the petitioners that downstream impacts of the
project would include not only destruction of downstream fisheries, one of the
most important ones in Gujarat on which thousands of people are dependent but
will also result in salt water ingress. The project, it was contended, will
have grave impacts on the Narmada Estuary and unless the possible impacts were
properly studied and made public and mitigation plans demonstrated with the
requisite budget, one could not accept the claim that these matters were being
looked into. The need to assess the problem was stated to be urgent as
according to the petitioners rich fisheries downstream of the dam, including
the famed Hilsa would be almost completely destroyed. The salinity ingress
threatened the water supply and irrigation use of over 210 villages and towns
and Bharuch city.
these would not only have serious economic and other impacts but would also
directly destroy the livelihoods of at least 10000 fisher families.
all these contentions were based on the Morse Committee Report which the World
Bank and the Union of India had already rejected.
apart, according to the respondents, in 1992 Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam
Limited issued an approach paper on environmental impact assessment for the
river reach downstream. This provided technical understanding of the likely
hydrological changes and possible impact in relation thereto. It was further
submitted by learned counsel for the respondents that the potential for
environmental changes in the lower river and estuary had to be seen in the
context of the long term development of the basin. The current stage was
clearly beneficial. The three stages could be identified as follows:
1 covers the period roughly from the completion of Sardar Sarovar Dam to the
year 2015. Events occurring during this stage include (a) SSP Canal Command
will have reached full development and requires diversion of some water, (b)
the upstream demand will reach about 8 MAF and (c) the Narmada Sagar Dam will
have been built and placed in operation.
2 covers the period from 2015 and 2030 during which the demands upstream of SSP
continue to grow and will reach about 12 MAF still below the volume of 18 MAF that
Madhya Pradesh can take in a 75% year.
3 covers the period upto and beyond full basin development.
report given by M/s. H.R. Wallingford in March, 1993 in respect of the down
stream impacts of Sardar Sarovar Dam observes, inter alia, as under:
overall conclusion of the team undertaking the assessment described in this
report is that there are no down steam impacts whose magnitude and effect are
such as to cause doubts to be cast over the wisdom of proceeding with the
Sardar Sarovar Projects provided that appropriate monitoring and mitigation
measurers are applied. Much of this work is already in progress under the
auspices of the NPG, SSNNL and NCA. The recommendations in this report are
intended to provide a synthesis of their work and suggestions as to whether it
might be modified to enhance its usefulness.
said M/s. H.R. Wallingford in the findings of 1995 stated as under:
thought unlikely that any significant negative environmental impacts will occur
over the next 30 years as a result of the project. Some possible adverse
effects have been identified the main one being the effect of flood attenuation
on Hilsa migration. These needs to be monitored and more studies undertaken to
better understand the conditions which trigger spawning.
impacts in this period include reduced flooding and more reliable dry season
flows as well as an overall improvement of the health and well being of the
people to the reliable domestic water supply, improved nutrition and enhanced
above report clearly demonstrates that the construction of dam would result
into more regulated and perennial flow into the river with an overall
beneficial impact. It is also evident that until all the dams are constructed
upstream and the entire flow of river is harnessed, which is not likely in the
foreseeable future, there is no question of adverse impact including the
fishing activity and the petitioners assertions in this regard are
area of submergence was stated to be rich in archaeological remains but it
still remained to be studied. It was contended that there was danger of rich
historical legacy being lost and even a small increase in the dam height would
threaten to submerge many of the sites listed in the report of the
Archaeological Survey of India. There were stated to be five monuments which
would be affected at the dam height of 90 meter or above and no work was stated
to have commenced to protect any of the five monuments.
to the State of Gujarat, the Ancient
Monuments and Archaeological
Sites and Remains Act, 1958 charged the Central and/or State Department of
Archaeology with responsibility for the protection of important cultural sites.
Under the Act, sites were classified into three categories as follows:
1: Monuments of national importance which are protected by the Central
: monuments of religious or cultural importance which are protected by the
State Government; and Type 3 : monuments which are neither Centrally nor State
protected, but which are considered to be an important part of cultural
the same law, authorities charged with the protection of the monuments are
permitted to take suitable measures to ensure the preservation of any protected
site under threat from decay, misuse or economic activity.
case of Sardar Sarovar, where several sites may be submerged, the NDWT award
stipulated that the entire cost of relocation and protection should be
chargeable to Gujarat. Relocation work was to be supervised by the Department
of Archaeology under the provisions of the Ancient Monuments and
Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958.
three State Governments carried out a complete survey of cultural and religious
sites within the submergence zone. The principle of these surveys was to list
all Archaeological sites, identify and name any site under state protection and
further identify sites of religious or cultural significance which, although
not protected under national law, were of sufficient value to merit relocation.
So far as the State of Gujarat is concerned the Department of Archaeology
surveyed archeological sites in nineteen villages of submergence zone in
Gujarat under the title of Archaeological Survey of Nineteen Villages in
Gujarat submerged by Sardar Sarovar Reservoir, 1989.
addition to baseline studies on archaeological aspects, work had been carried
out on the anthropological heritage of Narmada Basin, including examination of
evidence of ancient dwellings and cultural artifacts. The principal studies in
this behalf are described below:
Survey of India: Narmada Salvage Plan: The Narmada Salvage Plan contains
detailed background data on palaeoanthropological, human ecological and other
aspects of the Narmada Valley. By May, 1992, surface scanning of 17 sample
villages coming under the submergence had been carried out and 424 specimens
including ancient tools etc. had been collected.
Survey of India. Peoples of India: This project entailed a complete survey of
33 tribes of India including those of Narmada Basin. The study covered all
aspects of tribal culture in India and was published in 61 volumes in 1992.
of current situation and progress, Government of Gujarat Survey of villages in
submergence zone Complete for all items in the State Identification of cultural
sites Complete for all items in the State Collection of data and documentation
of sites Complete Selection of appropriate sites Complete Action Plan Complete
It was further submitted on behalf of respondents that no centrally or state
protected cultural sites were located in the submergence area of the project.
Gujarat, the Department of Archaeology concluded that the temples of
Shoolpaneshwar and Hampheshwar were important monuments and should be moved to
a higher level. Sites were selected for constructing new Shoolpaneshwar and
Hampheshwar temples in consultation with temple trustees. Shoolpaneshwar had
been relocated and reconstructured near Gora, about 15 Km downstream from the
present location. Hampheshwar was also constructed at higher ground in
consultation with the temple trustees and pranpratistha was also planned on
22nd to 24th April, 2000 i.e.
the temple was submerged.
relation to flora and fauna studies, it was contended by the petitioners that
the studies had finished only recently and the action plans were awaited in
many cases. In the meanwhile, extensive deforestation of the submergence zone
had taken place, as also part of the area had been submerged, even as the
studies have been on. It was also contended that the impact on some of these
Wild Ass Sanctuary in Kutch would be very severe.
guidelines of the Ministry of Environment and Forests required that while
seeking environmental clearance for the hydropower projects, surveys should be
conducted so that the status of the flora and fauna present could be assessed.
A condition of environmental clearance of 1987 as far as it related to flora
and fauna was that the Narmada Control Authority would ensure in-depth studies
on flora and fauna needed for implementation of environmental safeguard
measurers. It is the case of the respondents that number of studies were
carried out and reports submitted.
observed that the submergence area and catchment area on the right bank of the
proposed reservoir exhibited a highly degraded ecosystem which was in contract
to the left bank area where there was fairly good forest cover which formed
part of Shoolpaneshwar Wildlife Sanctuary. With regard to the study of fauna,
the said report indicated that a well-balanced and viable eco-system existed in
the Shoolpaneshwar Sanctuary.
with the construction of dam, water availability and soil moisture will
increase and support varieties of plants and animals.
also contended on behalf of petitioners that the whole project will have
serious impacts on health, both around the submergence area and in the command.
The preventive aspects had not been given attention.
was no linkage between the studies and work.
behalf of State of Gujarat, it was contended that large number of studies had
been carried out on the health profile of villagers including studies on water
related diseases in SSP command area including the area downstream of the dam.
The study of M.S. University in 1983 and other studies concluded that the most
common diseases in the basin were Malaria, Scabies, Dysentery and Diarrhoea. Of
these only a threat to Malaria needed to be of concern. The study concluded that
the incidence of hygiene related diseases other than Malaria could be reduced
by better water availability. The Gujarat Work Plan covered villages within 10
KMs radius of the reservoir including re-settled population and made provision
for the monitoring, surveillance and control of Malaria. The principal features
of the Gujarat Work Plan included establishment of a hospital at Kevadia near
the dam site, strengthening of laboratory facility including establishment of
mobile unit residual insecticidal spraying operations etc. This showed that the
area of public health was in no way being neglected.
petitioner was also critical of the functioning of the Environmental Sub-group
as it was contended that the claims of the studies and progress report were accepted
at the face value and without verification. It was also contended that the
Ministry of Environment and Forests had grossly abdicated its responsibility.
This submission was based on the premise that clearance, which had been
granted, had lapsed and the Ministry of Environment and Forests did not insist
on the Ministry of Water Resources for its renewal and further more the
Ministry of Environment and Forests had not taken any cognizance of the
criticism about environmental aspects contained in the Morse Committee Report.
the Five Member Group in its first report was critical in many respects and
pointed out studies which had remained incomplete but no cognizance was taken
by the Ministry of Environment and Forests. The repeated abdication, it was
submitted, of the responsibility by the Ministry of Environment and Forests
indicated that it was not taking the whole issue with the seriousness it
behalf of the State of Gujarat, it was contended that various alleged dangers
relating to environment as shown by the petitioners were mostly based on the
recommendations of the Morse Committee Report and Five Member Group. While the
report of Morse Committee does not require our attention, the same not having
been accepted either by the World Bank or the Government of India. Para 4.5.2
of the report of Five Member Group which relates to creation of the Environment
Sub-group commends its establishment, its observation about its powers is as
It must be noted that the Environmental Sub-group is not a body which merely
observes and reports, but watchdog body which can recommend even the stoppage
of work if it feels dissatisfied with the progress on the environment front.
recommendations of the Environmental Sub-Group will have to be considered by
the NCA, and if there is any difference of opinion at that level, it will have
to be referred to the Review Committee, which has the Minister of Water and
Environment and Forests as a member. It seems doubtful whether any more
effective mechanism could have been devised or made to work within the
framework of our existing political and administrative structures, particularly
in the context of a federal system. Secretary (Environment & Forests) has,
in fact, been given a special position in the NCA inasmuch as he can insist on
matters being referred to the Review Committee and at the Review Committee the
Minister of Environment and Forests forcefully plead the environmental cause;
he can also make the environmental point of view heard at the highest level. If
in spite of all these arrangements, the environmental point of view fails to be
heard adequately, and if project construction tends to take an over-riding
precedence, that is a reflection of the relative political importance of these two
points of view in our system. This can be remedied only in the long term
through perusation and education, and not immediately through institutional
arrangements which run counter to the system. (Emphasis added) Apart from the
fact that we are not convinced that construction of the dam will result in
there being an adverse ecological impact there is no reason to conclude that
the Environmental Sub-group is not functioning effectively.
group which is headed by the Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests is
a high powered body whose work cannot be belittled merely on the basis of
conjectures or surmises.
Shanti Bhushan, learned Senior Counsel while relying upon A.P.
that in cases pertaining to environment, the onus of proof is on the person who
wants to change the status quo and, therefore, it is for the respondents to
satisfy the Court that there will be no environmental degradation.
A.P. Pollution Control Boards case this Court was dealing with the case where
an application was submitted by a company to the Pollution Control Board for
permission to set up an industry for production of BSS Castor Oil Derivatives.
Though later on a letter of intent had been received by the said company, the
Pollution Control Board did not give its no- objection certificate to the
location of the industry at the site proposed by it.
Pollution Control Board, while rejecting the application for consent, inter
alia, stated that the unit was a polluting industry which fell under the red
category of polluting industry and it would not be desirable to locate such an
industry in the catchment area of Himayat Sagar, a lake in Andhra Pradesh.
appeal filed by the company against the decision of the Pollution Board was
accepted by the appellate authority. A writ petition was filed in the nature of
public interest litigation and also by the Gram Panchayat challenging the order
of the appellate authority but the same was dismissed by the High Court. On the
other hand, the writ petition filed by the company was allowed and the High
Court directed the Pollution Board to grant consent subject to such conditions
as may be imposed by it.
this decision which was the subject-matter of challenge in this Court. After
referring to the different concepts in relation to environmental cases like the
precautionary principle and the polluter-pays principle, this Court relied upon
the earlier decision of this Court in Vellore Citizens there was a new concept
which places the burden of proof on the developer or industrialist who is
proposing to alter the status quo and has become part of our environmental law.
It was noticed that inadequacies of science had led to the precautionary
principle and the said precautionary principle in its turn had led to the
special principle of burden of proof in environmental cases where burden as to
the absence of injurious effect of the actions proposed is placed on those who
want to change the status quo. At page 735, this Court, while relying upon a
report of the International Law Commission, observed as follows:
precautionary principle suggests that where there is an identifiable risk of
serious or irreversible harm, including, for example, extinction of species,
widespread toxic pollution is major threats to essential ecological processes,
it may be appropriate to place the burden of proof on the person or entity
proposing the activity that is potentially harmful to the environment.
appears to us that the precautionary principle and the corresponding burden of
proof on the person who wants to change the status quo will ordinarily apply in
a case of pulluting or other project or industry where the extent of damage
likely to be inflicted is not known.
there is a state of uncertainty due to lack of data or material about the extent
of damage or pollution likely to be caused then, in order to maintain the
ecology balance, the burden of proof that the said balance will be maintained
must necessarily be on the industry or the unit which is likely to cause
pollution. On the other hand where the effect on ecology or environment of
setting up of an industry is known, what has to be seen is that if the
environment is likely to suffer, then what mitigative steps can be taken to off
set the same. Merely because there will be a change is no reason to presume
that there will be ecological disaster. It is when the effect of the project is
known then the principle of sustainable development would come into play which
will ensure that mitigative steps are and can be taken to preserve the ecological
balance. Sustainable development means what type or extent of development can
take place which can be sustained by nature/ecology with or without mitigation.
present case we are not concerned with the polluting industry which is being
established. What is being constructed is a large dam. The dam is neither a
nuclear establishment nor a polluting industry. The construction of a dam
undoubtedly would result in the change of environment but it will not be
correct to presume that the construction of a large dam like the Sardar Sarovar
will result in ecological disaster. India has an experience of over 40 years in
the construction of dams. The experience does not show that construction of a
large dam is not cost effective or leads to ecological or environmental
degradation. On the contrary there has been ecological upgradation with the
construction of large dams. What is the impact on environment with the
construction of a dam is well-known in India and, therefore, the decision in
A.P. Pollution Control Boards case (supra) will have no application in the
was made by Sh. Shanti Bhushan to the decision of the United States District
Court in the case of Sierra Club et. V. Robert F.
[350bF.Supp.1280(1973)]. In that case work had begun on Wallisville Project
which, inter alia, consisted of a construction of a low dam.
the case of the plaintiff that the construction of the project would destroy
hundreds of thousands of trees and enormous grain, fish and other wild life will
lose their habitat and perish. It was contended that the defendants were
proceeding in violation of law by not complying with the requirements of
National Environmental Policy Act, 1969, [NEPA]. Plaintiff, inter alia, sought
an injunction for restraining the undertaking of the project in violation of
the said Act. The District Court held that notwithstanding the substantial
amount of work had already been done in connection with the project but the
failure to satisfy full disclosure requirement of NEPA injunction would be
issued to halt any further construction until requirements of NEPA had been
complied with, that even though there was no Act like NEPA in India at the time
when environmental clearance was granted in 1987, nevertheless by virtue of Stockholm
Convention and Article 21 of the Constitution the principles of Sierra Club
decision should be applied.
India notification had been issued under Section 3 of the Environmental Act
regarding prior environmental clearance in the case of undertaking of projects
and setting up of industries including Inter-State River Project. This
notification has been made effective from 1994. There was, at the time when the
environmental clearance was granted in 1987, no obligation to obtain any
statutory clearance. The environmental clearance which was granted in 1987 was
essentially administrative in nature, having regard and concern of the
environment in the region. Change in environment does not per se violate any
right under Article 21 of the Constitution of India especially when
ameliorative steps are taken not only to preserve but to improve ecology and
environment and in case of displacement, prior relief and rehabilitation
measures take place pari passu with the construction of the dam.
time when the environmental clearance was granted by the Prime Minister
whatever studies were available were taken into consideration. It was known
that the construction of the dam would result in submergence and the consequent
effect which the reservoir will have on the ecology of the surrounding areas
was also known. Various studies relating to environmental impact, some of which
have been referred to earlier in this judgment, had been carried out. There are
different facets of environment and if in respect of a few of them adequate
data was not available it does not mean that the decision taken to grant
environmental clearance was in any way vitiated. The clearance required further
studies to be undertaken and we are satisfied that this has been and is being
done. Care for environment is an on going process and the system in place would
ensure that ameliorative steps are taken to counter the adverse effect, if any,
on the environment with the construction of the dam.
attention was also drawn to the case of Tennessee Valley Authority v. Hiram G.
Hill [437 US 153, 57 L Ed 2d 117, 98 S Ct 2279] where the Tennessee Valley
Authority had begun construction of the Tellico Dam and reservoir project on a
stretch of Little Tennessee River. While major portion of the dam had been
constructed the Endangered Species Act 1973 was enacted wherein a small fish
popularly known as the Snail darter was declared an endangered species.
Environmental groups brought an action in the United States District Court for
restraining impounding of the reservoir on the ground that such an action would
violate the Endangered Species Act by causing the snail darter extinction. The
District Court refused injunction but the same was granted by the United States
Court of Appeal. On further appeal the US Supreme Court held that the
Endangered Species Act prohibited the authority for further impounding the
river. The said decision has no application in the present case because there
is no such act like the Endangered Species Act in India or a declaration similar
to the one which was issued by the Secretary of the Interior under that Act.
What is, however, more important is that it has not been shown that any
endangered species exists in the area of impoundment. In Tennessee Valley
Authority case it was an accepted position that the continued existence of
snail darter which was an endangered species would be completely jeopardised.
other decisions were referred to by Sh. Shanti Bhushan Arlington Coalition on
Transportation v. John A. Volpe [458 F.2d 1323 (1972)] and Environmental
Defense Fund, Inc. v Corps of Engineers of United States Army [325 F.Supp.749
(1971)]. In both these decisions it was decided that the NEPA would be
applicable even in case of a project which had commenced prior to the coming
into force of the said Act but which had not been completed. In such cases
there was a requirement to comply with the provisions of NEPA as already
noticed earlier. The notification under Section 3 of the Environment Protection
Act cannot be regarded as having any retrospective effect. The said
notification dated 27th January 1994, inter alia, provides as follows:
therefore, in exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (1) and clause
(v) of sub- section (2) of Section 3 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986
(29 of 1986) read with clause (d) of sub-rule (3) of rule 5 of the Environment
(Protection) Rules, 1986, the Central Government hereby directs that on and
from the date of publication of this notification in the Official Gazette
expansion or modernization of any activity (if pollution load is to exceed the
existing one) or a new project listed in Schedule I to this notification, shall
not be undertaken in any part of India unless it has been accorded
environmental clearance by the Central Government in accordance with the
procedure hereinafter specified in this notification.
notification is clearly prospective and inter alia prohibits the undertaking of
a new project listed in Schedule I without prior environmental clearance of the
Central Government in accordance with the procedure now specified. In the
present case clearance was given by the Central Government in 1987 and at that
time no procedure was prescribed by any statute, rule or regulation. The
procedure now provided in 1994 for getting prior clearance cannot apply
retrospectively to the project whose construction commenced nearly eight years
AND REHABILITATION It is contended by the petitioner that as a result of
construction of dam over 41,000 families will be affected in three States
spread over 245 villages. The number of families have increased from 7000
families assessed by the Tribunal. It was further contended that the
submergence area can be broadly divided into two areas, fully tribal area which
covers the initial reach of about 100 or so villages which are almost 100 %
tribal and hilly. These include all the 33 villages of Maharashtra, all 19 of
Gujarat and many of the Madhya Pradesh. The second part of the submergence area
is the mixed population area on the Nimad plains with a very well developed
economy that is well connected to the mainstream. While the tribal areas are
stated to be having a rich and diverse resource base and the self sufficient
economy, the lack of so-called modern amenities like roads, hospitals and
schools are far more a reflection of the neglect and disregard by the
Government over the last fifty years than on anything else. Of the 193 villages
stated to be affected by Sardar Savorar submergence 140 lie in the Nimad
plains. The population of these villages are a mixture of caste and tribal and
these villages have all the facilities like schools, post offices, bus service
contended that whereas the project authorities talk only about the families
affected by submergence, none of the other families affected by the project are
considered as PAFs nor has any rehabilitation package been designed for them.
These non-recognised categories for whom no rehabilitation package is given are
stated to be those persons living in submergence area who are not farmers but
are engaged in other occupation like petty traders, village shop-keepers who
are to be affected by submergence; colony affected people whose lands were
taken in 1960 to build the project colony, warehouses etc.; canal affected
people who would be losing 25 per cent of their holdings because of the
construction of the canals; drainage affected people whose lands will be
acquired for drainage;
fishing families living downstream whose livelihood will be affected;
of the tribals whose catchment treatment area has been carried out;
who are going to be affected by the expansion Shoolopaneshwar Sanctuary;
persons going to be affected by Narmada Sagar Project and Garudeshwar Weir. It
was contended that there was an urgent need to assess comprehensively the
totality of the impact and prepare category specific rehabilitation policies
for all of them.
also submitted that the total number of affected families in all the three
States as per the Master Plan prepared by the Narmada Control Authority is
40727. According to the petitioner, however, this figure is an under-estimate
and the estimate of the land required for these PAFs is also on a much lower
side. The basis for making this submission is:
each village there are many persons left out of the Government list of declared
PAFs. These are joint holders [non recognised as landed oustees or PAFs] and
the adult sons.
Incorrect surveys have been conducted and the affected persons have serious
apprehensions about the validity of the surveys since at many places the level
markings are suspect, in many cases the people affected at higher levels have
been given notices for lower levels, many others at the same levels have been
left out and so on. It is also alleged that there have been short-comings in
the policies and if they are corrected many more oustees will be entitled to
PAFs status. Further more the cut off date for PAFs in Madhya Pradesh including
adult son is linked to the date of issuance of notification. Since land
acquisition process is still incomplete the number of adult sons entitled to
land would increase with the issuance of fresh Section 4 Notification.
the aforesaid it was contended that the total impact in terms of number of
oustees as well as land entitlement will be much larger than what is considered
in the Master Plan.
also submitted that there was major lacunae in the said policy like the three
States having dissimilar policy for R&R. This difference in rehabilitation
packages of different States, with the package of Gujarat being more
favourable, is leading to a situation where the oustees are forced to shift to
Gujarat. The other lacunae which are stated to have many serious problems are
alleged to be non provision for fuelwood and grazing land with fodder. No
provision for rehabilitation of people involved in non- agricultural
occupation. According to the petitioner the number of affected people even by
submergence have been underestimated. The policy regime governing them has many
serious lacunae. The increase in the numbers is due to lack of proper surveys
and planning and the provision of just and due entitlements to the PAFs. Since
this process of providing just entitlements is still incomplete, and the
policies need a thorough review, the numbers and entitlements are likely to go
up further. Even the magnitude of the task of R&R cannot be assessed
properly till the above are considered and proper policies introduced.
also contended that before embarking on the Sardar Sarovar Project it was
necessary that the Master Plan for rehabilitation of the families to be
affected is completed. According to the petitioner the Master Plan which was
submitted in the Court cannot be regarded as an acceptable Master Plan inasmuch
as it has no mention of people affected by Sardar Sarovar project other than
those affected by submergence and it has no estimate of resource base of the
oustees in their original village.
the plan makes no estimation of the forest land, grazing land and resources
being used by the oustees. The Master Plan persists with the discriminatory and
differential policies which are less than just to the oustees. There is also no
planning for community resettlement even though the Award of the Narmada
Tribunal made detailed provision regarding rehabilitation of the oustees which
required that there should be village wise community rehabilitation.
support of this contention reliance is placed on the following stipulation for
rehabilitation contained in the Award of the Narmada Tribunal That Gujarat
shall establish rehabilitation villages in Gujarat in the irrigation command of
the SSP on the norms hereafter mentioned for rehabilitation of the families who
are willing to migrate to Gujarat. The submission is that no specific
rehabilitation village, as envisaged by the Tribunals Award, has been
established in Gujarat. The issue of community re-settlement is stated to be
not merely an issue of community facility but is a more fundamental issue. The
issue is really one of preserving social fabric and community relation of the
oustees which, it is alleged, is being destroyed due to dispersal of the
community who are being resettled at different sites.
with the situation of those oustees who have been resettled in Gujarat it is
submitted by the petitioner that there are large number of grievances of the
said outstees in 35 re-settlement sites. With the passage of time the number of
problems overall would become much more, is the contention. The petitioner
finds fault with the quality of land which has been given in Gujarat to the
oustees contending that large number of oustees have been given land outside
the command area of irrigation and in some re-settlement sites there is a
serious water-logging problem. It also contends that though some amenities have
been provided but they are not adequate. It is also the case of the petitioner
that sufficient land for re- settlement of the oustees from Madhya Pradesh is
not available in Gujarat despite the claim of the State of Gujarat to the
regard to Maharashtra it is contended by the petitioner that the official
figure of the total number of PAFs affected in Maharashtra is not correct and
the number is likely to be more than 3113 PAFs estimated by the State of
Maharashtra. Further-more adequate land of desired quality has not been made
available for resettlement till 90 mtr. and even thereafter. Reference is made
to the affidavit of the State of Maharashtra in which it is stated that it
proposes to ask for the release of 1500 hectares of forest land for
re-settlement and the submission on behalf of the petitioner is that release of
such land shall be in violation of Forest Conservation Act, 1980 and is not in
public interest for forest cover will be further depleted.
regard to the State of Madhya Pradesh it is submitted that as per the award the
PAFs have a right to choose whether to go to Gujarat or to stay in the home
State. The State of Madhya Pradesh is stated to have planned the whole
re-settlement based on the assumption that overwhelming proportion of oustees
entitled to land will go to Gujarat yet even for the limited number of oustees
who are likely to stay in Madhya pradesh the submission is that no land is
available. The petitioner also disputes the averment of the State of Madhya
Pradesh that the oustees have been given a choice as to whether they would like
to go to Gujarat or stay in the home State. According to the petitioner the
majority of the oustees would prefer to stay in the home State that is Madhya
Pradesh but sufficient land for their resettlement in Madhya Pradesh is not
to the petitioner the State of Madhya Pradesh has stated that it does not have
land for any PAFs above 830 and even for 830 PAFs the land is not available. It
is also submitted that the Madhya Pradesh Government cannot wriggle out of its
responsibility to provide land for the oustees by offering them cash
compensation. The petitioner finds fault with the effort of the State of Madhya
Pradesh to push the oustees to Gujarat whose rehabilitation scheme is more
attractive and beneficial than that of Madhya Pradesh.
petitioner further contends that one of the fundamental principle laid down is
that all the arrangements and resettlement of the oustees Union of Indias case
this Court has held that resettlement and rehabilitation has to be done at
least six months in advance of submersion, complete in all respects. It is,
therefore, contended that since offers to the Madhya Pradesh oustees affected
at 90 mtr. to be settled in Madhya Pradesh has not been made, there cannot be
any question of further construction till one year after the resettlement of
these PAFs at 90 mtr.
petitioner is also critical of the functioning of the R&R Sub-group and it
is contended that the said Sub-group has not taken any cognizance of the
various issues and problems enumerated by the petitioner. It is submitted that
in assuring that the relief and rehabilitation arrangements are being done the
said R&R Sub-group merely accepts the assertions of the Government rather
than verifying the claims independently. There is also a complaint regarding
the manner in which the R&R Committee takes decision on the spot when it
makes frequent visits. It is contended that the decisions which are taken in an
effort to solve the grievances of the oustees is done in the most insensitive
way. The R&R Sub-group, it is contended, is an official agency of the
Government itself being a Sub-group of the NCA, which is pushing the project
ahead and the question raised by the petitioner is as to how can the same body
which is building a project and executing the R&R be also monitoring it.
a case of the petitioners that there is a need for independent monitoring
agency in the three States who should be asked to monitor the R&R of the
oustees and see to the compliance with the NDWT award. No construction should
be permitted to be undertaken without clearance from this authority. Lastly it
is contended that large number of grievances are persisting even after twenty
years and the pace of resettlement has been slow. The petitioner seems to have
contended that the relief and rehabilitation can be manageable only if the
height of the dam is significantly lessened which will reduce submersion and
displacement of people.
order to consider the challenge to the execution of the project with reference
to Relief and Rehabilitation it is essential to see as to what is the extent
and the nature of submergence.
Sardar Sarovar Reservoir level at 455 ft. would affect 193 villages in Madhya
Pradesh, 33 villages in Maharashtra and 19 villages in Gujarat. The submergence
villages are situated on the banks of river Narmada having gentle to steep
slopes of the Satpura hills. A village is considered affected even when the
water level touches the farm/hut at lowest level. It may be noted that only 4
villages (3 villages in Gujarat and 1 village in Madhya Pradesh) are getting
submerged fully and the rest 241 villages are getting affected partially.
state-wise land coming under submergence (category-wise) is given below:
(In(In Hectares) S S r N o .
of land GUJARAT MAHARASHTRA MADHYA PRADESH TOTAL 1 Cultivated land 1877 1519
7883 11279 2 Forest Land 4166 6488 2731 13385 3 Other land including river bed
1069 1592 10208 12869 Total land 7112 9599 20822 37533 The aforesaid table
shows that as much as 12869 hectares of the affected land is other than
agricultural and forest and includes the river bed area.
compared to other similar major projects, the Sardar Sarovar Project has the
least ratio of submergence to the area benefited (1.97% only). The ratio of
some of the existing schemes is as much as 25% as can be seen from the table
of Project State Benefite d Area (in ha) Subme rgence Area (in ha) Irrigation
benefit per ha.
Percentag e of area submerge d to area irrigated 1 Hirakud Orissa 251150 73892
3.40 29.42 2 Shriram- sagar Andhra Pradesh 230679 44517 5.24 19.14 3 Gandhisa
gar Madhya Pradesh 503200 66186 7.60 13.15 4 Paithan Maharasht ra 278000 35000
7.94 15.29 5 Tungbha dra Karnataka 372000 37814 9.84 10.16 6 .
Maharasht ra 94000 7750 12.13 8.24 7 .
-sagar Andhra Pradesh 895000 28500 31.40 3.18 8 .
Himachal Pradesh 676000 16800 40.24 2.48 9 Sardar Sarovar Gujarat 1903500 37533
50.71 1.97 Countering the assertion that the construction of the dam would
result in large scale relocation and uprooting of tribals, the factual position
seems to be that the tribals constitute bulk of PAFs in Gujarat and Maharasthra,
namely, 97% and 100% respectively. In the case of Madhya Pradesh, the tribals
PAFs are only 30% while 70% are non-tribals.
tribals who are affected are in indigent circumstances and who have been
deprived of modern fruits of development such as tap water, education, road,
electricity, convenient medical facilities etc. The majority of the project
affected families are involved in rain-fed agricultural activities for their
own sustenance. There is partial employment in forestry sector.
the area is hilly with difficult terrain, they are wholly dependent on vagaries
of monsoon and normally only a single crop is raised by them. Out of the PAFs
of Madhya Pradesh who have re-settled in Gujarat, more than 70% are tribal
families. Majority of the total tribal PAFs are stated to have already been
re-settled in Gujarat after having exercised their option. It is the contention
of the State of Gujarat that the tribals in large number have responded
positively to the re-settlement package offered by that state.
Madhya Pradesh, the agricultural lands of the tribal villages are affected on
an average to the extent of 28% whereas in the upper reaches i.e. Nimad where
the agriculture is advanced, the extent of submergence, on an average, is only
8.5%. The surveys conducted by HMS Gour University (Sagar) the Monitoring and
Evaluation Agency, set up by Government of Madhya Pradesh, reveals that the
major resistance to relocation is from the richer, non-tribal families of Nimad
who fear shortage of agricultural labour if the landless labourers from the
areas accept re- settlement.
displacement of the people due to major river valley projects has occurred in
both developed and developing countries. In the past, there was no definite
policy for rehabilitation of displaced persons associated with the river valley
projects in India. There were certain project specific programmes for
implementation on temporary basis. For the land acquired, compensation under
the provisions of Land Acquisition Act, 1894 used to be given to the project
affected families. This payment in cash did not result in satisfactory
resettlement of the displaced families. Realising the difficulties of displaced
persons, the requirement of relief and rehabilitation of PAFs in the case of Sardar
Sarovr Project was considered by the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal and the
decision and final order of the Tribunal given in 1979 contains detailed
directions in regard to acquisition of land and properties, provision for land,
house plots and civic amenities for the re- settlement and rehabilitation of
the affected families. The re-settlement policy has thus emerged and developed
along with Sardar Sarovar Project.
Award provides that every displaced family, whose more than 25% of agricultural
land holding is acquired, shall be entitled to and be allotted irrigable land
of its choice to the extent of land acquired subject to the prescribed ceiling
of the State concerned with a minimum of two hectares land. Apart from this
land based rehabilitation policy, the Award further provides that each project
affected persons will be allotted a house plot free of cost and re-settlement
and rehabilitation grant. The civic amenities required by the Award to be
provided at places of re-settlement include one primary school for every 100
families, one Panchayat Ghar, one dispensary, one seed store, one childrens
park, one village pond and one religious place of worship for every 500
families, one drinking water well with trough and one tree platform for very 50
families; approach road linking each colony to main road; electrification;
water supply, sanitary arrangement etc. The State Governments have liberalised
the policies with regard to re-settlement and have offered packages more than
what was provided for in the Award e.g the Governments of Madhya Pradesh,
Maharashtra and Gujarat have extended the R&R benefits through their
liberalised policies even to the encroachers, landless/displaced persons, joint
holders, Tapu land (Island) holders and major sons (18 years old) of all
categories of affected persons. The Government of Maharasthra has decided to
allot one hectare of agricultural land free of cost even to unmarried major
daughters of all categories of PAFs.
environmental clearance granted by the Ministry of Environment and Forests vide
its letter dated 24th June, 1987, one of the conditions stipulated therein was
for information from the project authorities on various action plans including
Rehabilitation Master Plan of 1989.
the contention of the petitioners that the failure to prepare a Master Plan
constitutes non-compliance with the requirement of the Tribunals Award as well
as environmental clearance. The Tribunals Award does not use the expression
Master Plan but as per clause XI Sub- clause IV(2)(iii), what is required, is
three States by mutual consultation shall determine within two years of the
decision of the Tribunal, the number and general location of rehabilitation
villages required to be established by Gujarat in its own territory.
with regard to this clause in the Award that, presumably, the aforesaid letter
of 24th June, 1987 granting environmental clearance required the preparation of
the new Master Plan.
1988 when the project was first cleared by the Planning Commission from
investment angle, it was estimated that 12180 families would be affected in
three States. Based on these numbers, the State Governments independently
prepared their action plans and announced their R&R policy based on
Tribunals Award. On the basis of the said action plans the Narmada Control
Authority submitted Rehabilitation Master Plan to the Ministry of Environment
and Forests along with its letter dated ¾.5.1989. Out of the total population,
which is affected by the submergence, large number are tribals and hence
attention was paid by the State Governments to liberalise their policies for
protecting the socio- economic and cultural milieu and to extend the R&R
benefits even to other categories of persons who were not covered by the Tribunals
Award. This led to the liberalisation of the R&R packages by the three
States which packages have been referred to hereinabove. As a result of the
liberalisation of the packages, the number of PAFs as estimated in 1992 by the
State Governments were 30144. Based on the material available, the three State
Governments prepared individual action plans in 1993 but those action plans
were integrated by the Narmada Control Authority first in 1993 and again in
1995 as an integrated Master Plan to present a holistic picture of the R&R
programme. The Master Plan deals with socio-economic and cultural milieu of
PAFs, the legal framework, R&R policy and procedures, implementation
machinery, organisation for R&R, monitoring and evaluation, empowerment of
women and youth, special care for vulnerable groups, financial plans for
R&R etc. As per the 1990 Master Plan the total PAFs have increased to 40227
from 30144 due to addition of 100 more genuine PAFs in Maharashtra. This Master
Plan includes village-wise, category-wise PAFs and their preference in R&R
to settle in home State or in Gujarat.
reason for increase in number of PAFs has been explained in the Master Plan and
the reasons given, inter alia, are:
After CWC prepared backwater level data, the number of PAFs in Madhya Pradesh
(MP) increased by 12000 PAFs as their houses are affected in a 1 in 100 years
Government of Gujarat (GOG) included major sons of the dyke villages as PAFs.
Cut off date for major sons was extended by GOG and Government of Maharashtra
PAFs affected in MP, have increased due to delay in publication of Section 4
notification under the Land Acquisition Act.
Persons socially or physically cut off due to impounding of water in reservoir,
are also considered as PAFs by all the three States.
All the three States decided to consider encroachers as PAFs.
Major unmarried daughters in Maharashtra are considered as a separate family by
Government of Maharashtra.
Some genuine PAFs were earlier left out (as many stayed in remote areas or used
to undertake seasonal migration to towns and developed areas in search of
as the State of Gujarat is concerned, its contention is that the task of
R&R is not impossible as recognised by the FMG-I in its 1994 report and
according to the State, it is fully ready and prepared to re-settle in Gujarat
all the PAFs upto FRL 455 ft.
13th November, 1996, a meeting of the Review Committee of the Narmada Control
Authority chaired by the Union Minister of Water Resources was held. This
meeting was attended by the Chief Ministers of all the States including
Rajasthan and representatives of Ministry of Environment and Forests, Ministry
of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India. In the meeting it was unanimously
decided that the reviews of the implementation of re-settlement and
rehabilitation measures will be undertaken for every five meter height of the
dam jointly by the concerned R&R Sub-group and Environmental Sub-group so
that work could progress pari passu with the implementation measurers. In its
meeting held on 6th January, 1999, R&R Sub-Group of Narmada Control
Authority observed that arrangements made by the States for R&R of the
balance families pertaining to the dam height EL 90 meter were adequate and a
meeting of the party States should be convened shortly to finalise the action
plan. Pursuant thereto a special Inter-State Meeting was convened under the
chairmanship of the Secretary to the Government of India, Ministry of Social
Justice and Empowerment on 21st January, 1999 at New Delhi and action plan for
re-settlement and rehabilitation for balanced families of dam height EL 90
meter was finalised for implementation by the States. It is the case of the
State of Gujarat that it had issued notices and made offers in January, 1998 to
PAFs affected at RL 90 meter in connection with the selection of land and their
re-settlement in Gujarat. According to it, even in respect of PAFs affected at
RL 95 meter, notices were issued in January, 1999 and to the PAFs included in
the subsequent list, notices were issued in September 1999. The process of land
selection by PAFs who had opted to resettle in Gujarat at RL 95 meter was
already started. According to the Union of India, the Master Plan was under implementation
and the progress of R&R at various elevations of dam viz. EL 90 meter, EL
95 meter, EL 110 meter and FRL 138.68 meter has been made.
measures which have been implemented for sustainable development with regard to
preserving the socio-cultural environment of the displaced persons in the
States of Maharashtra, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh are stated to be as follows:
Three choices to the people for the selection of relocation sites.
Integration of the displaced person with the neighbouring villages by
organising medical check-up camps, animal husbandry camps, festivals, eye
camps, rural development seminar for village workers etc.
Establishment of rehabilitation committees at different levels.
Respect of traditional beliefs, rituals and rights at the starting of house
construction, the day and time of leaving the old house and village and the day
and time of occupying the new house etc.
sacred places at the native villages are being recreated along with their
settlements at new sites.
Installation of all the religious deities with the due consultation of
Promotion of cultural milieu viz. Social festivals, religious rights, rights of
passage, presence of priests, shaman, kinsmen, clansmen etc.
Special consideration for the preservation of holistic nature of the culture.
Proper use of built-in-mechanism of cultural heritage of the displaced persons.
Launching of culturally appropriate development plan.
Genuine representation of the traditional leader.
Tribunal had already made provision of various civic amenities which were
further liberalised by the State Governments during implementation. The
existing development programmes were strengthened for ensuring sustainable
development at the rehabilitation sites. These were Integrated Rural
Development Programme (IRDP) for agriculture, business and village industries;
Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) for nutrition, health and education;
Jawahar Rojgar Yojna (JRY);
for improved seeds, fertilizers, irrigation, animal husbandry; Training Rural
Youth for self-employment (TRYSEM); Employment Guarantee Scheme (EGS), Social
Assistance; Industrial Training Institute (ITI); Tribal Development Programme
(TDP), financial benefits to the backward classes, economically weaker
sections, tribals and other backward classes (OBC), eye camps, subsidies to
farmers (seed, tractorisation, fertilizsers, diesel, etc.) agricultural prices
support subsidy etc.
benefits which were extended for improving the quality of life of the
re-settled PAFs included fodder farm, mobile sale, shop of fodder, seeds
cultivation training, initial help in land preparation for agricultural
activities, better seeds and fertilizers, access to finance, special programme
for women in the traditional skills enterpreneurship development, employment
skill formation, different plantation programmes, special emphasis for pasture
management, environment awareness and education programme, programmes for
bio-gas/smokeless chulhas, safe drinking water supply, electricity, lift
irrigation, fertilizers kit distribution, gypsum treatment of soil etc.
project authorities in these three States of Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and
Maharashtra represented that comprehensive health care was available in tribal
areas where the displaced families had been re-settled. It was contended that
extensive preventive health measures like mass immunization, anti-malaria
programme, family welfare programmes, child development schemes etc. had been
undertaken. What is important is that primary health centres were established
at relocation sites for all necessary health facilities to the PAFs.
submission on behalf of Union of India was that there was a well- established
mechanism of Government of India for coordination and monitoring of
Re-settlement & Rehabilitation (R&R) programmes in case of Sardar
Sarovar Project. The R&R Sub-group and Rehabilitation Committee of Narmada
Control Authority are responsible for applying its independent mind on R&R.
The Sub-group convenes its meeting regularly to monitor and review the progress
of R&R while Rehabilitation Committee visits the submergence
areas/relocation sites to see whether the rehabilitation is taking place
physically and to hear the individual problems of the PAPs.
R&R group, keeping in view the progress of relief and rehabilitation, has
not permitted the height to be raised, until and unless it is satisfied that
adequate satisfactory progress has been made with regard to R&R.
at an earlier point of time in 1994, the construction schedule had required the
minimum block level to be raised to 85 meters, the R&R Sub- group had
permitted the same to be raised to EL 69 meter only during that period to match
the R&R activity. It was in the meeting of R&R Sub-group on 6th
January, 1999 after the R&R Sub-group had reviewed the progress and had
satisfied itself that the land for re-settlement in Gujarat, Maharashtra and
Madhya Pradesh, which were available, was more than required for the
re-settlement of the balanced PAFs that it cleared the construction upto the
dam height EL 90 meters. The action plan for the same had been approved and is
under implementation by the States concerned.
petitioners had contended that no proper surveys were carried out to determine
the different categories of affected persons as the total number of affected
persons had been shown at a much lower side and that many had been denied PAF
status. From what is being stated hereinabove, it is clear that each State has
drawn detailed action plan and it is after requisite study had been made that
the number of PAFs have been identified. The number has substantially increased
from what was estimated in the Tribunals Award. The reason for the same, as
already noticed, is the liberalisation of the R&R packages by the State
Governments. Except for a bald assertion, there appears to be no material on
which this Court can come to the conclusion that no proper surveys had been
carried out for determining the number of PAFs who would be adversely affected
by the construction of the dam.
and rehabilitation packages in the three States were different due to different
geographical, local and economic conditions and availability of land in the
States. The liberal packages available to the Sardar Sarovar Project oustees in
Gujarat are not even available to the project affected people of other projects
in Gujarat. It is incorrect to say that the difference in R&R packages, the
package of Gujarat being the most liberal, amounts to restricting the choice of
the oustees. Each State has its own package and the oustees have an option to
select the one which was most attractive to them. A project affected family
may, for instance, chose to leave its home State of Madhya Pradesh in order to
avail the benefits of more generous package of the State of Gujarat while other
PAFs similarly situated may opt to remain at home and take advantage of the
less liberal package of the State of Madhya Pradesh. There is no requirement
that the liberalisation of the packages by three States should be to the same
extent and at the same time, the States cannot be faulted if the package which
is offered, though not identical with each other, is more liberal than the one
envisaged in the Tribunals Award.
with the contention of the petitioners that there were large number of persons
who were living in the submergence area and were not farmers and would lose
their livelihood due to loss of the community and/or loss of the river and were
not being properly rehabilitated, Mr. Harish Salve, learned Senior Counsel
contended that this averment was not true.
to him, all the families in the 105 hilly tribal villages were agriculturists,
cultivating either their own land or Government land and all of whom would be
eligible for alternative agricultural land in Gujarat. Only a small number of
non-agriculturists, mainly petty shopkeepers were found in these villages of
tribal areas. In Gujarat there were 20 such non- agriculturists families out of
a total of 4600 affected families and all of these had been re-settled as per
their choice so that they could restart their business. In Maharashtra out of
3213 affected families, not a single family was stated to fall under this
category. Amongst the affected families of Madhya Pradesh, the figure of such
non-agriculturists family was also stated to be not more than couple of 100. In
our opinion it is neither possible nor necessary to decide regarding the number
of people likely to be so affected because all those who are entitled to be rehabilitated
as per the Award will be provided with benefits of the package offered and
regard to the colony affected people whose 1380 acres of land was acquired in
six villages for the construction of a colony, most of the landholders had continued
to stay in their original houses and about 381 persons were stated to have been
provided permanent employment in the project works. At the time, the land was
acquired in 1962-63, compensation was paid and in addition thereto, the
Government of Gujarat devised a special package in August, 1992 providing
ex-gratia payment upto Rs.
to the land losers for purchase of productive assets or land for those who had
not received employment in the project.
with the contention of the petitioners that there will be 23500 canal affected
families and they should be treated at par to that of oustees in the
submergence area, the respondents have broadly submitted that there is a basic
difference in the impacts of the projects in the upstream submergence area and
its impacts in the beneficiary zone of the command area. While people, who were
oustees from the submergence zone, required re-settlement and rehabilitation,
on the other hand, most of the people falling under the command area were in
fact beneficiaries of the projects and their remaining land would now get
relocated with the construction of the canal leading to greater agricultural
output. We agree with this view and that is why, in the Award of the Tribunal,
the State of Gujarat was not required to give to the canal affected people the
same relief which was required to be given to the oustees of the submergence
with the contention of the petitioners that the oustees were not offered a
chance to re-settle in Gujarat as a community and that there was a clear
requirement of village-wise communication rehabilitation which had not been
complied with, the contention of the respondents was that no provision of
Tribunals Award had been shown which caused any such obligation on the Government
of Gujarat. What the Award of the Tribunal required is re-settlement of the
PAFs in Gujarat at places where civic amenities like dispensary, schools, as
already been referred to hereinabove, are available.
to the Tribunals Award, on the recommendation of the World Bank, the Government
of Gujarat adopted the principle of re- settlement that the oustees shall be
relocated as village units, village sections or families in accordance with the
outstees preference. The oustees choice has actively guided the re-settlement
process. The requirement in the Tribunals Award was that the Gujarat shall
establish rehabilitation villages in Gujarat in the irrigation command of the
Sardar Sarovar Project on the norms mentioned for rehabilitation of the families
who were willing to migrate to Gujarat. This provision could not be interpreted
to mean that the oustees families should be resettled as a homogeneous group in
a village exclusively set up for each such group.
concept of community wise re-settlement, therefore, cannot derive support from
the above quoted stipulation. Besides, the norms referred to in the stipulation
relate to provisions for civic amenities. They vary as regards each civic
amenity vis-à-vis the number of oustees families. Thus, one panchayat ghar, one
dispensary, one childrens park, one seed store and one village pond is the norm
for 500 families, one primary school (3 rooms ) for 100 families and a drinking
water well with trough and one platform for every 50 families. The number of families
to which the civic amenities were to be provided was thus not uniform and it
was not possible to derive therefrom a standardised pattern for the
establishment of a site which had nexus with the number of oustees families of
a particular community or group to be resettled. These were not indicators
envisaging re-settlement of the oustees families on the basis of tribes,
sub-tribes, groups or sub-groups.
re-settlement as a group in accordance with the oustees preference was an
important principle/objective, the other objectives were that the oustees
should have improved or regained the standard of living that they were enjoying
prior to their displacement and they should have been fully integrated in the
community in which they were re-settled. These objectives were easily
achievable if they were re-settled in the command area where the land was twice
as productive as the affected land and where large chunks of land were readily
available. This was what the Tribunals Award stipulated and one objective could
not be seen in isolation of the other objectives.
Master Plan, 1995 of Narmada Control Authority also pointed out that "the
Bhils, who are individualistic people building their houses away from one
another, are getting socialised; they are learning to live together".
to the preferences of the affected people to live as a community, the
Government of Gujarat had basically relied on the affected families decision as
to where they would like to relocate, instead of forcing them to relocate as
per a fixed plan.
underlined principle in forming the R&R policy was not merely of providing
land for PAFs but there was a conscious effort to improve the living conditions
of the PAFs and to bring them into the mainstream. If one compares the living
conditions of the PAFs in their submerging villages with the rehabilitation
packages first provided by the Tribunals Award and then liberalised by the
States, it is obvious that the PAFs had gained substantially after their
re-settlement. It is for this reason that in the Action Plan of 1993 of the
Government of Madhya Pradesh it was stated before this Court that therefore,
the re-settlement and rehabilitation of people whose habitat and environment
makes living difficult does not pose any problems and so the rehabilitation and
re-settlement does not pose a threat to environment. In the affidavit of Dr.
Asha Singh, Additional Director (Socio & CP), NVDA, as produced by the
Government of Madhya Pradesh in respect of visit to R&R sites in Gujarat during
21st to 23rd February, 2000 for ascertaining the status relating to grievances
and problems of Madhya Pradesh PAFs resettled in Gujarat, it was, inter alia,
mentioned that the PAFs had informed that the land allotted to them is of good
quality and they take the crops of Cotton, Jowar and Tuwar. They also stated
that their status has improved from the time they had come to Gujarat but they
want that water should start flowing in the canals as soon as possible and in
that case they will be able to take three crops in one year as their land is in
the command area. Whereas the conditions in the hamlets, where the tribals
lived, were not good enough the rehabilitation package ensured more basic
facilities and civic amenities to the re-settled oustees. Their children would
have schools and childrens park, primary health centre would take care of their
health and, of course, they would have electricity which was not a common
feature in the tribal villages.
with the contention of the petitioners that there was no provision for grazing
land and fuel wood for the PAFs, it is rightly contended by the State of
Gujarat that grazing land was not mandated or provided for in the Tribunals
Award but nevertheless, the grazing land of six villages was available for use
of PAFs. It may be that the grazing land was inadequate but this problem will
be faced by the entire State of Gujarat and not making such land available for
them does not in any way violate any of the provisions of the Award.
regard to providing irrigation facilities, most of the re-settlement of the
project affected families were provided irrigation facilities in the Sardar
Sarovar Project command area or in the command areas of other irrigation
projects. In many of the out of command sites, irrigated lands were purchased.
In cases where the irrigation facilities were not functioning, the Government
of Gujarat had undertaken the work of digging tubewells in order to avoid any
difficulty with regard to irrigation in respect of those oustees who did not have
adequate irrigation facilities. It was contended that because of the delay in
the construction of the project, the cut off date of 1stJanuary, 1987 for
extending R&R facilities to major sons were not provided. The Tribunals
Award had provided for land for major sons as on 16.8.1978. The Government of
Gujarat, however, extended this benefit and offered rehabilitation package by
fixing the cut off date of 1.1.1987 for granting benefits to major sons.
According to the Tribunals Award, the sons who had become major one year prior
to the issuance of the Notification for land acquisition were entitled to be
allotted land. The Land Acquisition Notification had been issued in 1981-82 and
as per the Award, it was only those sons who had become major one year prior to
that date who would have become eligible for allotment of land. But in order to
benefit those major sons who had attained majority later, the Government of
Gujarat made a relaxation so as to cover all those who became major upto
1.1.1987. The Government of Gujarat was under no obligation to do this and
would have been quite within its right merely to comply with the provisions of
the Tribunals Award. This being so, relaxation of cut off date so as to give
extra benefit to those sons who attained age of majority at a later date,
cannot be faulted or criticised.
with the contention of the petitioners that there is a need for a review of the
project and that an independent agency should monitor the R&R of the
oustees and that no construction should be permitted to be undertaken without
the clearance of such an authority, the respondents are right in submitting
that there is no warrant for such a contention. The Tribunals Award is final
and binding on the States. The machinery of Narmada Control Authority has been
envisaged and constituted under the Award itself. It is not possible to accept
that Narmada Control Authority is not to be regarded as an independent
authority. Of course some of the members are Government officials but apart
from the Union of India, the other States are also represented in this
Authority. The project is being undertaken by the Government and it is for the
Governmental authorities to execute the same. With the establishment of the
R&R Sub-group and constitution of the Grievances Redressal Authorities by
the States of Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, there is a system in
force which will ensure satisfactory re-settlement and rehabilitation of the
oustees. There is no basis for contending that some outside agency or National
Human Rights Commission should see to the compliance of the Tribunal Award.
OF REHABILITATION PROGRAMME The Ministry of Water Resources, Government of
India is the Nodal Ministry for the Sardar Sarovar Project and other Union
Ministries involved are the Ministries of Environment and Forests and Social
Justice and Empowerment. As a consequence of the Tribunals Award, Narmada
Control Authority was created to co-ordinate and oversee the overall work of
the project and to monitor the R&R activities including environmental
safeguard measures. The Review Committee of the Narmada Control Authority
consists of the Union Minister of Water Resources as its Chairman, the Union
Ministry of Environment and Forests and the Chief Ministers of Gujarat, Madhya
Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan as Members. This Review Committee may suo
moto or on the application of any party State or the Secretary, Ministry of
Environment and Forests review any decision of the Narmada Control Authority.
In the Narmada Control Authority, Re-settlement & Rehabilitation (R&R)
Sub-group has been created for closely monitoring the R&R progress. This
Sub-group is headed by the Secretary, Government of India, Ministry of Social
Justice & Empowerment and is represented by Members/Invitees of
participating States, academic institutions having expertise in R&R,
independent socio- anthropological experts and non-Governmental Organisations.
The functions of this Sub-group are as follows:
monitor the progress of land acquisition in respect of submergence land of
Sardar Sarovar Project and Indira (Narmada) Sagar Project (ISP).
monitor the progress of implementation of the action plan of rehabilitation of
project affected families in the affected villages of SSP and ISP in concerned
review the R&R action plan from time to time in the light of results of the
review the reports of the agencies entrusted by each of the State in respect of
monitoring and evaluation of the progress in the matter of re-settlement and
monitor and review implementation of re-settlement and rehabilitation
programmes pari passu with the raising of the dam height, keeping in view the
clearance granted to ISP and SSP from environmental angle by the Government of
India and the Ministry of Environment and Forests.
coordinate states/agencies involved in the R&R programmes of SSP and ISP.
undertake any or all activities in the matter of re-settlement and
rehabilitation pertaining to SSP and ISP.
COMMITTEE India and others 1992 Suppl.(3) SCC 93 directed the formation of a
Committee under the chairmanship of the Secretary, Ministry of Social Justice
& Empowerment, Government of India to visit the submergence
areas/re-settlement sites and furnish the report of development and progress
made in the matter of rehabilitation. The Rehabilitation Committee headed by
the Secretary, Government of India, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment
and having representatives of the three State Governments as its members had
been constituted. It is the case of the Union of India that this Committee
visited regularly the various R&R sites and submergence villages in the
three States and submitted reports to this Court from time to time. By order
dated 24th October, 1994, this Court in the aforesaid case of B.D.Sharma
(supra) observed that all the directions issued by the Court from time to time
have been complied with and nothing more be done in the petition and the
petition was disposed off. Most of the recommendations/observations as made by
this Committee are stated to have been complied fairly by the States concerned.
addition to the above, the officials of the Narmada Control Authority are also
stated to be monitoring the progress of R&R regularly by making field
visits. The individual complaints of the PAFs are attended and brought to the
notice of the respective Governments.
REDRESSAL MECHANISM The appeal mechanism has been established in the policy
statements by all the three State Governments for the redressal of grievances
of the PAFs. According to this mechanism, if a displaced person is aggrieved by
the decision of the Rehabilitation Officers in respect of any R&R process,
he may appeal to the concerned agency/officers.
Resolution dated February 17, 1999, the Government of Gujarat set up a
high-level authority called Grievance Redressal Authority (GRA) before whom the
oustees already re-settled and to be re-settled in Gujarat could ventilate
their grievances for redressal after their re-settlement till the process of
re-settlement and re-habilitation is fully completed. The said Grievances
Redressal Authority has Mr. Justice P.D. Desai, retired Chief Justice as its
Chairman. This machinery had been established to:
create an Authority before whom oustees who have re-settled in the State of
Gujarat can ventilate their grievances relating to the R&R measures taken
by the State of Gujarat;
ensure that the oustees already settled and the oustees settled hereinafter in
the R&R sites created for re-settlement and rehabilitation of the oustees
from the States of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra receive all the benefits and
amenities in accordance with the Award and the various Government resolutions
made from time to time;
ensure that Gujarat oustees re-settled in Gujarat have received all the
benefits and amenities due to them.
Gujarat Rehabilitation Authority has installed a permanent in- house Grievances
Redressal Cell (GRC) within Sardar Sarovar Punarvasavat Agency. The Grievances
Redressal Cell deals with the grievances of the PAFs and the grievances
redressal is undertaken by it in the following three ways.
Grievances Redressal Cell deals grievances in the regular course on the basis
of applications i.e. by holding enquiries and implementing decisions taken
Grievances redressal on the spot though mechanism of Tatkal Fariyad Nivaran
Grievances redressal under the mechanism of Single Window Clearance System.
Redressal Authority has surveyed sites in which PAFs have been re-settled and
has submitted reports to this Court from time to time which disclose
substantial compliance with the terms of the Award and the rehabilitation
Fourth Report dated 15.11.1999, the Grievances Redressal Authority observed
pursuant to the grievances redressal measures taken by GRC, whose approach is
positive and grievance redressal oriented, a considerable number of grievances
have been resolved by extensive land improvement work done on agricultural land
at different sites within a period of six months i.e. April-September, 1999.
R&R Sub-group in its 20th field visit of the R&R sites in Gujarat on
12/13.1.2000 has noted as follows:
Committee after the visit and from interaction with the PAFs, concluded that
there is vast improvement in the conditions of PAFs at these R&R sites as
compared to the grievances reported for the same sites during previous visits
by the Committee/NCA officers. Assessing the perception of PAFs the Committee observed
that the majority of PAFs are happy and joining mainstream of countrys
Grievances Redressal Cell has dealt with and decided a total of over 6500
instance of Grievances Redressal Authority, an Agricultural Cell is set up in
Sardar Sarovar Punarvasavat Agency with effect from 1st July, 1999. This was
done with an objective of enhancing the productivity of agricultural land
allotted to PAFs by adopting of suitable farm management practices and in
assisting in resolving land related grievances.
w.e.f. 1.5.1999, Medical Cells have been set up in Sardar Sarovar Punarvasavat
Agency for ensuring effective functioning of medical infrastructure and
providing organised system of supervising and monitoring and also for
conducting health survey-cum-medical check up activities.
Grievance Redressal Authority has become an effective monitoring and
implementing agency with regard to relief and rehabilitation of the PAFs in
Gujarat. Apart from resolving independent grievances of PAFs and enforcing the
compliance of the provisions of the Award through its exhaustive machinery and
mechanism, it is also trying to guide in respect of various other issues not
covered by the provisions of the Award such as i) Vocational training of the
Review of Narmada oustees employment opportunity rules;
Issue relating to Kevadia Colony;
Issue relating to tapu land;
Development of Kevadia as a tourist centre etc.
Maharashtra, a local committee was constituted comprising of Additional
Collector (SS), Divisional Forest Officer, Re-settlement Officer and two
representatives of the oustees nominated by the local Panchayat Samities from
among the elected members of the village panchayats in the project affected
villages/taluka. This Committee is required to examine the claims of the PAFs
and give directions within a time frame and an appeal from its decision lies to
the Commissioner. In addition thereto, vide notification dated 17th April, 2000
the Government of Maharasthra has set up a Grievances Redressal Authority in
lines established by the State of Gujarat and Mr. Justice S.P. Kurdukar,
retired Judge of this Court, has been appointed as its Chairman. This Authority
is expected to be analogous to the Grievances Redressal Authority of Gujarat.
Madhya Pradesh, the grievances of the PAFs have first to be made by a claim
which will be verified by the patwari and then scrutinised by the Tehsildar.
PAFs may file an appeal against the decision of R&R official before the District
Collector who is required to dispose off the same within a period of three
months. In the case of Madhya Pradesh also by Notification dated 30th March,
2000 the Government of Madhya Pradesh has constituted a Grievances Redressal
Authority similar to the one in Gujarat with Mr.
Sohni, retired Chief Justice of Patna High Court as its Chairman.
MONITORING & EVALUATION AGENCIES The Monitoring and Evaluation of the
rehabilitation programme is also being carried out by the independent socio-anthropological
agencies appointed by the State Governments of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and
Gujarat as well as Narmada Control Authority. These agencies, which are
professional and academic institutes, conduct surveys and in-depth studies
relating to PAFs in the submergence and rehabilitation villages. The main
object of the monitoring is oriented towards enabling the management to assess
the progress, identify the difficulties, ascertaining problem areas, provide
early warning and thus call for corrections needed immediately.
Center for Social Studies, Surat is the monitoring agency for the Government of
Gujarat. This Institute has prepared 24 six monthly progress reports in
relation to the re-settlement of PAFs of submergence villages of Gujarat.
Similarly for the project affected families of Madhya Pradesh/Maharashtra who
have re-settled in Gujarat, the Government of Gujarat has appointed the Gujarat
Institute of Development Research, Ahmedabad as the independent Monitoring and
Evaluation Agency for monitoring R&R programmes.
Madhya Pradesh the monitoring and evaluation had been carried out by Dr.
H.S.Gaur University, Sagar and the same has been dis-engaged now and a new
agency is being appointed. The findings of Dr. H.S. Guar University, Sagar
indicated that displaced families in Madhya Pradesh are, by and large, happy
with the new re-settlement in Gujarat and one of the main reason behind their
happiness was that the shifting from hamlets had changed their socio-economic
Maharashtra the monitoring and evaluation was earlier being done by the Tata
Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. This agency had reported that overall
literacy rate among project affected persons above six years of age is about
97%, while illiteracy in submergence villages was rampant.
more the report showed that in the submergence villages, the tribals mostly
relied on traditional healers for their ailments. Now the current scenario is
that at R&R sites, health centres and sub-centres have been established.
thus seen that there is in place an elaborate network of authorities which have
to see to the execution and implementation of the project in terms of the
Award. All aspects of the project are supervised and there is a Review
Committee which can review any decision of the Narmada Control Authority and
each of the three rehabilitating States have set up an independent Grievances
Redressal Authority to take care that the relief and rehabilitation measures
are properly implemented and the grievances, if any, of the oustees are
May, 2000, this Court directed the State Governments of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh
and Maharashtra to file affidavits disclosing the latest status of
re-settlement and rehabilitation work for the existing as well as prospective
oustees likely to be affected by raising the height of the dam.
to the said direction affidavits on behalf of the three States have been filed
and, in response thereto, the petitioners have also filed an affidavit.
behalf of the State of Gujarat the affidavit of Sh. V.K. Babbar, Commissioner
(Rehabilitation) and Chief Executive Officer, Sardar Sarovar Punavasvat Agency
[SSPA] has been filed, according to which at FRL 138.68 m. the status with
regard to PAFs to be re-settled is stated to be as follows:
Total number of PAFs resettled/allotted agricultural land in Gujarat Balance
PAFs to be resettled in Gujarat Gujarat 4575 25 Maharashtra 710 290 Madhya
Pradesh 3280 10450 Total 8565 10765 It is the case of State of Gujarat that 8565
PAFs have been accommodated in 182 R&R sites fully equipped with the
requisite civic amenities as provided by the Tribunals award. The agricultural
land allotted to these PAFs is 16973 hectares.
specifically with the status of PAFs at RL 90 mtr., 95 mtr. and 110 mtr. it is
averred in the said affidavit that all the PAFs of Gujarat at RL 90 mtr. have
been re-settled and the balance PAFs of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra affected
at RL 90 mtr. have already been offered R&R package in Gujarat. The process
of re-settlement is continuing and reliance is placed on the observation of the
GRA which has stated in its Fourth Report dated 15th November, 1999 that There
is substantial compliance of the Re-settlement and Rehabilitation measures as
mandated by the Final Report of NWDT, including provision of civic amenities,
and also of all the inter-linked provisions of the Government of Gujarat and
that, therefore, PAFs from the States of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra
affected upto the height of RL 90 mtr. can be accommodated as per their choice
at these selected 35 sites in Gujarat.
respect to the PAFs affected at RL 95 mtr. the affidavit states that the PAFs
of Gujarat have already been settled and while the affected PAFs of Madhya
Pradesh and Maharashtra have been offered R&R package in Gujarat in January
1999, September 1999 and January 2000.
95 mtr. Action Plan for these PAFs has also been prepared by the Government of
Gujarat in consultation with the Governments of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra
and has been sent to the NCA. The case of the State of Gujarat, therefore, is
that all the PAFs wanting to be re-settled in Gujarat have been offered the
package but consent of all the PAFs has not so far been received but the
Government of Gujarat has sufficient land readily available which can be
allotted to the said PAFs as soon as they come and select the same.
regard to the status of PAFs at RL 110 mtr. all the PAFs of Gujarat have been
re-settled and 2761 PAFs [2642 of Madhya Pradesh and 119 of Maharashtra] remain
to be re-settled in Gujarat and R&R package will be offered to them before
November 2000. The land which is required to be allotted to them is stated to
be around 6074 hectares and the State of Gujarat has in its possession 8146
hectares. The civic amenities in 40 new R&R sites are scheduled to be
completed by December 2000 and these sites would serve to accommodate not only
PAFs between RL 95 mtr. and RL 110 mtr. but would also serve to accommodate
PAFs from submergence villages which would be getting affected at levels above
RL 110 mtr. The Action Plan giving the village-wise details is said to have
been sent to NCA in June 2000 for its approval.
to the said affidavit the balance number of PAFs remaining to be re-settled at
Gujarat at FRL 138.68 mtr. is 10765. Taking into account that an additional
area of 10% towards house plot and common civic amenities would be required in
addition to the allotment of minimum 2 hectares of agricultural land, the total
land requirement per PAF would be approximately 2.2 hectares. For planning
purposes in respect of 10765 PAFs the land requirement would be about 23700
hectares. As against this requirement the status of land, as per the said
affidavit, under different categories with the Government of Gujarat is stated
to be as under:
Land [In ha] 1.
identified (offers received in respect of private land and Government land)
available (private land for which price is approved by Expert Committee and offer/counter
offer conveyed and acceptance of land holder obtained.
in possession of SSPA/GOG in 12 districts 8416 ha.
averred that between March and 21st June 2000 the land in possession as well as
the land identified has increased considerably.
also been explained in the said affidavit that the Government of Gujarat has a
well-established practice of procuring land for R&R at realistic market
prices for willing sellers. Officers hold discussions with prospective sellers,
verify the suitability of land and after the prices is settled the same is
procured through legal process of Land Acquisition Act and consent awards are
passed so that the PAPs are assured of undisputed legal title free from all
encumbrances. This process of negotiated purchase has been streamlined. At the
instance of the GRA, a retired judge of the High Court is now appointed as
Chairman of the Expert Committee with retired senior Government Secretaries as
its members. This Expert Committee oversees the exercise of purchase of
suitable land at the market price. At the instance of the GRA, PAPs are being
issued Sanads for the land allotted to them which will ensure provision of a
proper legal document in their favour.
with the term of the Award to the effect that Gujarat shall acquire and make
available a year in advance of the submergence before each successive stage,
land and house sites for rehabilitation of the oustees families from Madhya
Pradesh and Maharashtra who are willing to migrate to Gujarat, the affidavit
states that the Gujarat Government has already identified sufficient land for
accommodating the balance PAFs remaining to be re-settled in Gujarat at FRL
138.68 mtr. In respect of PAFs upto RL 110 mtr. Gujarat has sufficient land
available to meet the R&R requirements but for the PAFs above RL 110 mtr.
suitable land has already been identified and the same would be acquired and
made available one year in advance of the submergence before each successive
stage. The affidavit gives reason as to why it is not advisable for the State,
at this stage, to acquire the total requirement of land for FRL in one go. What
is stated in the affidavit is as follows:
Since at present GOG has sufficient land to meet R&R requirement to
accommodate PAFs upto RL 110 m, it would not be necessary to acquire further
land immediately, especially when the additional land would be required only
after the R&R Sub-group and Environment Sub-group give approval for RL 95
m. to RL 110 m. after examining the preparedness at different stages. This
would ensure that public money is not unnecessarily blocked for a long period.
acquiring land much before it would be required, problems of illegal trespass
are likely to arise.
The excess land would, by and large, remain fallow and no agricultural
production would take place.
the land remains fallow for long the overall productivity of the land would be
the time of allotment, the State Government would again have to spend a
sizeable amount to remove weeds, bushes, small trees etc.
The State Government would have to incur a sizeable amount to prevent tampering
with the boundary marks, prevent neighbouring farmers removing the top soil or
from diverting natural drains passing through their fields towards the land
purchased for R&R etc.
affidavit also gives facts and figures showing that all requisite civic
amenities have been developed and made available at the R&R sites.
of the salient features which are highlighted in this behalf are as under:
three-room primary school is provided in all MP/MH sites irrespective of the
number of families resettled.
dispensary with examination room, medical equipment, medicines is provided in
all MP/MH sites irrespective of the number of resettled families.
PAFs (86%) out of the total MP/MH PAFs resettled in Gujarat have availed of the
Rs.45,000 financial assistance and built pucca core houses.
Overhead tanks for drinking water are provided in large R&R sites.
the instance of GRA, toilets are being provided in the houses of PAFs with the
help of NGOs.
total cost incurred so far by the Government of Gujarat in providing the land
and civic amenities upto May 2000 is stated to be 194 crores. The Grievances
Redressal Cell is stated to have redressed large number of grievances of the
PAFs whether they were related to land, grant of civic amenities or others. The
salient features of working of the Grievance Redressal Cell is stated to be as
present 2 senior IAS officers with supporting staff are working exclusively for
redressal of grievances.
reasoned reply is given to the applicants. The applicant is also informed that
if he is aggrieved with the decision he may prefer an appeal to GRA within thirty
Single Window Clearance Systems main objective is to proactively resolve
grievances and to avoid delays in inter-departmental co-ordination.
Tatkal Fariyad Nivaran Samitis are held in the R&R sites to resolve
grievance of the PAFs in an open forum.
PAFs are being involved at every stage of grievance redressal. The works have
been carried out in most cases by the PAFs.
Agriculture Officers of the Agricultural Cell are actively helping, guiding the
PAFs in their agricultural operations and upgrading their skills.
view to effectively rehabilitate and assimilate the PAPs Vasahat Samitis have
been constituted in 165 R&R sites, consisting of 5 PAPs, one of whom is a
female. This ensures the participation of the PAPs in the process of
development and these Samitis are vested with the responsibility to sort out
minor problems. With a view to ensure more effective participation in Panchayat
affairs and better integration of PAPs an Order under Section 98 of the Gujarat
Panchayats Act, 1993 has been issued by the Government of Gujarat providing
that there shall be upto two invitees from amongst the PAPs depending upon the
number of PAPs at the sites in the village Panchayat within whose jurisdiction
the R&R are situated. Pursuant to this 196 PAPs have been inducted as
invitees to then Village Panchayats. The salient features of the rehabilitation
programme of the PAPs are as follows:
are given productive assets in kind (7000/PAFs) to purchase bullocks, bullock
carts, oil engines etc.
are given subsistence allowance (Rs.4500/PAF) in cash to meet contingency needs
in the initial period.
Vocational training is provided to PAFs for improving their income levels,
priority being given to those dependents who are not entitled to be declared as
PAFs on their own rights. Tool kits are supplied either free or with 50%
are actively involved in all the rehabilitation activities such as conducting
are being covered by the ongoing developmental schemes of the Government (DRDA,
Tribal Sub Plan etc.) ? An Extension (Agriculture) officers has been appointed
for approximately every 150 families to guide them in agriculture operation and
assist them in day to day problems (getting ration cards, khedut khatavahis
etc.) ? In recent years focus is on empowering the PAFs and making them self
cell has been set up for providing services and treatment to PAPs free of cost.
The cell is headed by Deputy Director (Medical) and is having a nucleus of
medical experts consisting of a physician, a pediatrician, a gynecologist, 21
MBBS doctors, pharmacists etc. The salient features of the medical help
programme for the benefit of PAPs is stated to be as follows:
Medical Officers and paramedic staff are making house-to-house visits to
motivate the PAPs to come forward to avail of the medical services.
all dispensaries, a full time multipurpose health worker (female) is available.
Multi-specialization diagnostic/treatment camps are organised fortnightly,
where advance investigations are diagnostic facilities like ECG, X-ray
ultrasound are available.
Patients requiring further services are brought to Government hospitals or any
other specialty hospital and necessary treatment given free of cost.
has placed an order for a mobile medical hospital equipped with diagnostic and
comprehensive health survey and medical check up covering 29423 PAPs has been
completed. A special record system of family health folder and health profile
of each PAP is prepared.
Nutrition supplements are given to children (upto 6 years), expectant and
lactating mothers through the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS).
Special food supplement in the form of Hyderabad Mix is given to malnourished
children and vulnerable target groups.
School going children are covered under the Mid-Day Meal Scheme.
Under TB Control, all chest symptomatic persons are screened by special
examinations like sputum microscopy, X-ray, blood tests and persons found
positive for TB are given domiciliary treatment under direct observation of
doctors or paramedics. In 77 cases, treatment is completed and patients are
Under preventive health care, health education material is distributed and Health
and Cleanliness Shibirs are organized.
special survey covering physically handicapped and mentally retarded persons
has been organized and social welfare benefits given.
Other National Health Programmes (maternal child health, immunization, school
health check up, family welfare etc.) are regularly conducted.
Agricultural Cell has been set up in the SSPA which assists the Grievances
Redressal Machinery in resolving the problem relating to the agricultural land.
The salient features of this cell are as follows:
Agriculture Cell is involved in purchasing land, supervision of land
improvement works and processing land related grievances of the PAFs.
Agriculture training classes are organized for PAFs in the training institutes
of the State Government.
Assistance is given for availing crop-loan credit from banks and extension
education is imparted in matters of marketing, cropping pattern, use of
improved seeds, insecticides and latest equipments.
Afforestation was carried out in 33 R&R sites during 1999- 2000 by planting
3500 saplings which are protected by bamboo tree-guards. Plantation is done
along the roadside, common plots, school premises etc. In the remaining sites
plantation work is undertaken by NGOs.
instance of GRA an educational cell has been set up in the SSPA. The main
function of which is to improve the quality of education imparted and to
improve the school enrolment. The salient features of this cell are as under:
School enrolment which was 4110 in 1998-99, increased to 4670 in 1999-2000. Out
of the 4670 students enrolled, 2126 were girls (46.3%).
number of schools is 170 and the number of teachers in 384. In the last
academic year, 66 schools were upgraded by increasing the number of classes.
is regularly sending the teachers for in-service training. So far 120 teachers
have been imparted training.
Every year during the period of June to August, a special drive is taken to
increase the school enrolment.
the current year 150 adult education classes have been started in the R&R
sites with the help of NGOs.
advisory committee has been created to make recommendations on how to improve
the education being imparted. Members include faculty of MS University,
officers of Education Department, Principal of Teacher Training Centre.
further averred in this affidavit that at the instance of GRA a large number of
measures have been taken to improve the organisational structure of SSPA so as
to effectively meet the challenge of R&R and make the R&R staff
accountable. The salient features of this are stated to be as follows:
strategic policy decision has been taken to create three separate divisions in
SSPA for Rehabilitation, Re- settlement and Planning. Each division is in
charge of a senior level officer of the rank of Additional/Joint Commissioner.
Staff strength in SSPA has been considerably augmented especially at the field
review the structural and functional aspects of SSPA services of a management
consultancy agency (M/s TCS) has been engaged and draft report has been
received and is being examined.
demographic survey is to be conducted to comprehensively document information
regarding the PAPs with special reference to their family composition,
marriage, births, deaths, life expectancy, literacy, customs, culture, social
Staff is being trained to sensitize them especially with regard to
rehabilitation and second-generation issues.
level officers have been sent for R&R training at Administrative Staff
College of India, Hyderabad.
the aforesaid affidavit it is more than clear that the GRA, of which Mr.
Justice P.D. Desai, is the Chairman, has seen to the establishment of different
cells and have taken innovative steps with a view to making R&R effective
and meaningful. The steps which are being taken and the assistance given is
much more than what is required under the Tribunals Award. There now seems to
be a commitment on the part of the Government of Gujarat to see that there is
no laxity in the R&R of the PAPs.
appears that the State of Gujarat has realised that without effective R&R
facilities no further construction of the dam would be permitted by the NCA and
under the guidance and directions of the GRA meaningful steps are being
undertaken in this behalf. In this connection we may take note of the fact that
along with the said affidavit Sh. V.K. Babbar, again under the directions of
the GRA, has given an undertaking to this Court, which reads as follows:-
per this undertaking, inter alia, in respect of scattered pieces or parcels of
lands in possession of the SSPA for R&R which do not add upto a contiguous
block of 7 hectares by themselves or in conjunction with other lands steps will
be taken to purchase or acquire contiguous lands so that the said small pieces
of land become a part of continuous block of 6 hectares or more. This exercise
will be undertaken and completed on or before 31st December, 2000. In case it
is not possible to have a contiguous block of minimum of 6 hectares further
directions will be sought from GRA or such piece or parcel of land will be put
to use for other public purposes relating to R&R but which may not have
been provided for in the NWDT award.
Henceforth, the land which is acquired or purchased for R&R purposes shall
be contiguous to each other so as to constitute a compact block of 6 hectares.
Henceforth land to be purchased for R&R will be within a radius of 3 kms.
from an existing or proposed new site and if there is a departure from this
policy prior approval of the GRA will be obtained.
Demarcation of boundary of 5211 hectares of land whose survey has been
undertaken by the GRA and carving out individual plots of 2 hectares for
allotment to PAFs will be undertaken and completed on or before 31st December,
other undertakings relate to soil testing and/or ensuring that suitable land is
made available to the PAFs after the quality of land is cleared by the
agriculture experts of the Gujarat Agriculture University.
regard to the lands in possession of the SSPA which are low lying and
vulnerable to water logging during monsoon, an undertaking has been given that
the land has been deleted from the inventory of lands available for R&R
unless such lands are examined by the Agricultural Cell of SSPA and it is
certified that the access to these lands is clear and unimpeded and that they
are suitable for R&R. Compliance report in this regard is to be submitted
to the GRA on or before 31st December, 2000.
addition to the aforesaid undertaking of Sh. V.K. Babbar, undertakings of the
Collectors of Khedr, Vadodara, Ahmedabad, Narmada, Panchmahal and Bharuch
Districts have also been filed. Apart from reiterating what is contained in the
undertaking of Sh. V.K. Babbar, in these undertakings of the Collectors, it is
stated that necessary mutation entries regarding entering the name of
SSPA/SSNNL in the village records of right in respect of the land in possession
for R&R or PAFs likely to be re-settled in Gujarat have been made but the
certification of these entries will be completed and the matter reported to the
GRA before 31st August, 2000. If this is not done the land is to be deleted
from the inventory of land available for R&R. Necessary mutation entries in
the village records or rights regarding removal of encumbrances of original
landholders shall also be completed by that date.
what is noticed hereinabove, this Court is satisfied that more than adequate
steps are being taken by the State of Gujarat not only to implement the Award
of the Tribunal to the extent it grants relief to the oustees but the effort is
to substantially improve thereon and, therefore, continued monitoring by this
Court may not be necessary.
behalf of the State of Madhya Pradesh, in response to this Courts order dated
9th May, 2000, an affidavit of Sh. H.N. Tiwari, Director (TW), Narmada Valley
Development Authority has been filed. It is stated therein that with a view to
arrange re-settlement of the PAFs to be affected at different levels detailed
instructions to the Field Officers of the submergence area were issued by Sh.
Tiwari vide letter dated 20th May, 2000 in respect of all the aspects of
resettlement of the PAFs. This is related to identification of land, processing
of land acquisition cases and passing of the Award, taking of PAFs to Gujarat
for selection of land, allotment of land to the PAFs who decide to remain in
Madhya Pradesh and development of sites. There are 92 sites for re-settlement
of the PAFs which are required to be established and out of these 18 are stated
to be fully developed, development in 23 sites is in progress, 18 sites are
such where location has been determined and land identified but development
work has not started and 33 sites are such where location of land for the
development is to be decided by the task force constituted for this purpose.
specifically with the states of PAFs to be affected at different levels this
affidavit, inter alia, states that with regard to PAFs to be affected at EL 85
mtr. those of whom who have opted to go to Gujarat land has been offered to
them by the Government of Gujarat, those PAFs who have changed their mind and
now want to remain in Madhya Pradesh land is being shown to them in Madhya
not been categorically stated whether the PAFs who are so affected have been
properly resettled or not. On the contrary, it is stated that no Awards in land
acquisition cases have been passed in respect of six villages and it is only
after the Awards are passed that house plots will be allotted and compensation
paid. The provision for financial assistance for purchase of productive assets
will be released when the PAFs shift and start construction of the houses. The
reason for not making the payment in advance rightly is that if the grants are
paid to the oustees before they shift they may possibly squander the grant and
the State Government may be required to pay again to establish them on some
self employment venture.
the re-settlement of PAFs in Madhya Pradesh out of ten relocation sites
mentioned in the affidavit only five have been fully developed. It is also
stated that 163 PAFs are resisting from shifting to Gujarat under the influence
of anti dam activists, though they have been given notices containing offer of
the land and house plots by the Government of Gujarat.
addition thereto 323 PAFs who were earlier resisting have now been persuaded
and arrangements for selection of land for them in Gujarat has been initiated.
regard to the R&R status of PAFs to be affected at EL 95 mtr. it is, inter
alia, stated that those losing 25 per cent of their holdings are entitled to be
allotted cultivable land and notices were given to them to identify the land
which can be allotted. In the said notice it was stated that the development process
will be undertaken with regard to the said land only after it is selected by
the PAFs. There is also a mention in the affidavit filed in the name of Narmada
Bachao Andolan, the petitioner herein, not allowing the State Government to
conduct survey for demarcation of the submergence area and identification of
the PAFs to be affected at EL 132.86 mtrs. [436 ft.]. Six out of twenty five
relocation sites required to be developed have been fully developed.
on behalf of the State of Madhya Pradesh draws a picture of rehabilitation
which is quite different from that of Gujarat. There seems to be no hurry in
taking steps to effectively rehabilitate the Madhya Pradesh PAFs in their home
State. It is indeed surprising that even awards in respect of six villages out
of 33 villages likely to be affected at 90 mtr. dam height have not been
passed. The impression which one gets after reading the affidavit on behalf of
the State of Madhya Pradesh clearly is that the main effort of the said State
is to try and convince the PAFs that they should go to Gujarat whose
rehabilitation package and effort is far superior to that of the State of
Madhya Pradesh. It is, therefore, not surprising that vast majority of the PAFs
of Madhya Pradesh have opted to be re-settled in Gujarat but that does not by
itself absolve the State of Madhya Pradesh of its responsibility to take prompt
steps so as to comply at least with the provisions of the Tribunals Award
relating to relief and rehabilitation. The State of Madhya Pradesh has been
contending that the height of the dam should be lowered to 436 ft. so that
lesser number of people are dislocated but we find that even with regard to the
rehabilitation of the oustees at 436 ft. the R&R programme of the State is
no where implemented. The State is under an obligation to effectively resettle
those oustees whose choice is not to go to Gujarat. Appropriate directions may,
therefore, have to be given to ensure that the speed in implementing the
R&R picks up. Even the interim report of Mr. Justice Soni, the GRA for the
State of Madhya Pradesh, indicates lack of commitment on the States part in
looking to the welfare of its own people who are going to be under the threat
of ouster and who have to be rehabilitated. Perhaps the lack of urgency could
be because of lack of resources, but then the rehabilitation even in the Madhya
Pradesh is to be at the expense of Gujarat. A more likely reason could be that,
apart from electricity, the main benefit of the construction of the dam is to
be of Gujarat and to a lesser extent to Maharashtra and Rajasthan. In a federal
set up like India whenever any such Inter-State project is approved and work
undertaken the States involved have a responsibility to co-operate with each
other. There is a method of settling the differences which may arise amongst
there like, for example, in the case of Inter-State water dispute the reference
of the same to a Tribunal. The Award of the Tribunal being binding the States
concerned are duty bound to comply with the terms thereof.
behalf of the State of Maharashtra affidavit in response to this Courts order
dated 9th May, 2000, the position regarding the availability of land for
distribution to the PAFs was stated to be as follows:
Total land made available by the Forest Department 4191.86 Hectares ii] Land
which could not be allotted at present to PAF [a] Gaothan land [used
residential purposes} 209.60 hectares [b] land occupied by river/ nallah/hills
795.62 hectares [c] Land under encroachment by third parties 434.13 hectares
Therefore, the net land available At present for allotment was 4191.86 (-)
1439.35 2752.51 hectares Total area of land allotted To 1600 PAFs 2434.01
hectares Remaining cultivable land Available with the State 2752 2434.01 318.50
hectares It is further stated in this affidavit that out of 795.62 hectares of
forest land which was reported to be uncultivable the State has undertaken a
survey for ascertaining whether any of these lands can be made available for
cultivation and distribution by resorting to measures like bunding, terracing
and levelling. It is estimated that 30 to 40 hectares of land would become
available. In addition thereto the affidavit states that the Government of
Maharashtra has decided to purchase private land in nearby villages for re-
settlement of PAFs and further that GRA has been established and Justice S.P.
Kurdukar, a retired judge of this Court has been appointed as its Chairman. It
is categorically stated in this affidavit that the State Government would be in
a position to make these land available to all the concerned project affected
Water is one element without which life cannot sustain. Therefore, it is to be
regarded as one of the primary duties of the Government to ensure availability
of water to the people.
are only three sources of water. They are rainfall, ground water or from river.
A river itself gets water either by the melting of the snow or from the
rainfall while the ground water is again dependent on the rainfall or from the
river. In most parts of India, rainfall takes place during a period of about 3
to 4 months known as the Monsoon Season. Even at the time when the monsoon is
regarded as normal, the amount of rainfall varies from region to region. For
example, North-Eastern States of India receive much more rainfall than some of
other States like Punjab, Haryana or Rajasthan. Dams are constructed not only
to provide water whenever required but they also help in flood control by
storing extra water. Excess of rainfall causes floods while deficiency thereof
results in drought. Studies show that 75% of the monsoon water drains into the
sea after flooding a large land area due to absence of the storage capacity.
According to a study conducted by the Central Water Commission in 1998, surface
water resources were estimated at 1869 cu km and rechargeable groundwater
resources at 432 cu km. It is believed that only 690 cu km of surface water
resources (out of 1869 cu km) can be utilised by storage. At present the
storage capacity of all dams in India is 174 cu km. which is incidentally less
than the capacity of Kariba Dam in Zambia/Zimbabwe (180.6 cu km) and only 12 cu
km more than Aswan High Dam of Egypt.
the reservoir of a dam stores water and is usually situated at a place where it
can receive a lot of rainfall, the canals take water from this reservoir to
distant places where water is a scare commodity. It was, of course, contended
on behalf of the petitioner that if the practice of water harvesting is
resorted to and some check dams are constructed, there would really be no need
for a high dam like Sardar Sarovar. The answer to this given by the respondent
is that water harvesting serves a useful purpose but it cannot ensure adequate
supply to meet all the requirements of the people. Water harvesting means to
collect, preserve and use the rain water. The problem of the area in question
is that there is deficient rainfall and small scale water harvesting projects
may not be adequate. During the non rainy days, one of the essential ingredients
of water harvesting is the storing of water. It will not be wrong to say that
the biggest dams to the smallest percolating tanks meant to tap the rain water
are nothing but water harvesting structures to function by receiving water from
the common rainfall.
serves a number of purposes. It stores water, generates electricity and
releases water throughout the year and at times of scarcity.
storage capacity is meant to control floods and the canal system which emanates
therefrom is meant to convey and provide water for drinking, agriculture and
industry. In addition thereto, it can also be a source of generating
hydro-power. Dam has, therefore, necessarily to be regarded as an
are three stages with regard to the undertaking of an infrastructural project.
One is conception or planning, second is decision to undertake the project and
the third is the execution of the project. The conception and the decision to
undertake a project is to be regarded as a policy decision. While there is
always a need for such projects not being unduly delayed, it is at the same
time expected that as thorough a study as is possible will be undertaken before
a decision is taken to start a project.
such a considered decision is taken, the proper execution of the same should be
taken expeditiously. It is for the Government to decide how to do its job. When
it has put a system in place for the execution of a project and such a system
cannot be said to be arbitrary, then the only role which a Court may have to
play is to see that the system works in the manner it was envisaged.
project may be executed departmentally or by an outside agency.
choice has to be of the Government. When it undertakes the execution itself,
with or without the help of another organisation, it will be expected to
undertake the exercise according to some procedure or principles. The NCA was
constituted to give effect to the Award, various sub-groups have been
established under the NCA and to look after the grievances of the resettled
oustees and each State has set up a Grievance Redressal Machinery. Over and
above the NCA is the Review Committee. There is no reason now to assume that
these authorities will not function properly. In our opinion the Court should
have no role to play.
now well-settled that the courts, in the exercise of their jurisdiction, will
not transgress into the field of policy decision. Whether to have an
infrastructural project or not and what is the type of project to be undertaken
and how it has to be executed, are part of policy making process and the Courts
are ill equipped to adjudicate on a policy decision so undertaken. The Court,
no doubt, has a duty to see that in the undertaking of a decision, no law is
violated and peoples fundamental rights are not transgressed upon except to the
extent permissible under the Constitution. Even then any challenge to such a
policy decision must be before the execution of the project is undertaken. Any
delay in the execution of the project means over run in costs and the decision
to undertake a project, if challenged after its execution has commenced, should
be thrown out at the very threshold on the ground of latches if the petitioner
had the knowledge of such a decision and could have approached the Court at
that time. Just because a petition is termed as a PIL does not mean that
ordinary principles applicable to litigation will not apply. Latches is one of
Interest Litigation [PIL] was an innovation essentially to safeguard and
protect the human rights of those people who were unable to protect themselves.
With the passage of time the PIL jurisdiction has been ballooning so as to
encompass within its ambit subjects such as probity in public life, granting of
largess in the form of licences, protecting environment and the like. But the
balloon should not be inflated so much that it bursts.
Interest Litigation should not be allowed to degenerate to becoming Publicity
Interest Litigation or Private Inquisitiveness Litigation.
exercising jurisdiction in PIL cases Court has not forsaken its duty and role
as a Court of law dispensing justice in accordance with law. It is only where
there has been a failure on the part of any authority in acting according to
law or in non-action or acting in violation of the law that the Court has
stepped in. No directions are issued which are in conflict with any legal
provisions. Directions have, in appropriate cases, been given where the law is
silent and inaction would result in violation of the Fundamental Rights or
other Legal provisions.
protecting the rights of the people from being violated in any manner utmost
care has to be taken that the Court does not transgress its jurisdiction. There
is in our Constitutional frame-work a fairly clear demarcation of powers. The
Court has come down heavily whenever the executive has sought to impinge upon
the Courts jurisdiction.
same time, in exercise of its enormous power the Court should not be called
upon or undertake governmental duties or functions. The Courts cannot run the
Government nor the administration indulge in abuse or non-use of power and get
away with it. The essence of judicial review is a constitutional fundamental.
The role of the higher judiciary under the constitution casts on it a great
obligation as the sentinel to defend the values of the constitution and rights
of Indians. The courts must, therefore, act within their judicially permissible
limitations to uphold the rule of law and harness their power in public
interest. It is precisely for this reason that it has been consistently held by
this Court that in matters of policy the Court will not interfere. When there
is a valid law requiring the Government to act in a particular manner the Court
ought not to, without striking down the law, give any direction which is not in
accordance with law. In other words the Court itself is not above the law.
respect of public projects and policies which are initiated by the Government
the Courts should not become an approval authority. Normally such decisions are
taken by the Government after due care and consideration. In a democracy
welfare of the people at large, and not merely of a small section of the
society, has to be the concern of a responsible Government. If a considered policy
decision has been taken, which is not in conflict with any law or is not mala
fide, it will not be in Public Interest to require the Court to go into and
investigate those areas which are the function of the executive. For any
project which is approved after due deliberation the Court should refrain from
being asked to review the decision just because a petitioner in filing a PIL
alleges that such a decision should not have been taken because an opposite
view against the undertaking of the project, which view may have been
considered by the Government, is possible. When two or more options or views
are possible and after considering them the Government takes a policy decision
it is then not the function of the Court to go into the matter afresh and, in a
way, sit in appeal over such a policy decision.
the petitioner wants the Court to do in this case is precisely that. The facts
enumerated hereinabove clearly indicate that the Central Government had taken a
decision to construct the Dam as that was the only solution available to it for
providing water to water scare areas. It was known at that time that people
will be displaced and will have to be rehabilitated. There is no material to
enable this Court to come to the conclusion that the decision was mala fide. A
hard decision need not necessarily be a bad decision.
environment concern has not only to be of the area which is going to be
submerged and its surrounding area. The impact on environment should be seen in
relation to the project as a whole. While an area of land will submerge but the
construction of the Dam will result in multifold improvement in the environment
of the areas where the canal waters will reach. Apart from bringing drinking
water within easy reach the supply of water to Rajasthan will also help in
checking the advancement of the Thar Desert. Human habitation will increase
there which, in turn, will help in protecting the so far porous border with
considering Gujarats demand for water, the Government had reports that with the
construction of a high dam on the river Narmada, water could not only be taken
to the scarcity areas of Northern Gujarat, Saurashtra and parts of Kutch but
some water could also be supplied to Rajasthan.
rights had to be considered. If for one set of people namely those of Gujarat,
there was only one solution, namely, construction of a dam, the same would have
an adverse effect on another set of people whose houses and agricultural land
would be submerged in water. It is because of this conflicting interest that
considerable time was taken before the project was finally cleared in 1987.
Perhaps the need for giving the green signal was that while for the people of
Gujarat, there was no other solution but to provide them with water from
Narmada, the hardships of oustees from Madhya Pradesh could be mitigated by
providing them with alternative lands, sites and compensation. In governance of
the State, such decisions have to be taken where there are conflicting
interests. When a decision is taken by the Government after due consideration
and full application of mind, the Court is not to sit in appeal over such
Since long the people of India have been deriving the benefits of the river
valley projects. At the time of independence, food-grain was being imported
into India but with the passage of time and the construction of more dams, the
position has been reversed. The large-scale river valley projects per se all
over the country have made India more than self- sufficient in food. Famines
which used to occur have now become a thing of the past. Considering the
benefits which have been reaped by the people all over India with the
construction of the dams, the Government cannot be faulted with deciding to
construct the high dam on the river Narmada with a view to provide water not
only to the scarcity areas of Gujarat but also to the small areas of the State
of Rajasthan where the shortage of water has been there since the time
case of projects of national importance where Union of India and/or more than
one State(s) are involved and the project would benefit a large section of the
society and there is evidence to show that the said project had been
contemplated and considered over a period of time at the highest level of the
States and the Union of India and more so when the project is evaluated and
approval granted by the Planning Commission, then there should be no occasion
for any Court carrying out any review of the same or directing its review by any
outside or independent agency or body. In a democratic set up, it is for the
elected Government to decide what project should be undertaken for the benefit
of the people. Once such a decision had been taken that unless and until it can
be proved or shown that there is a blatant illegality in the undertaking of the
project or in its execution, the Court ought not to interfere with the
execution of the project.
of people living on the proposed project sites and the areas to be submerged is
an important issue. Most of the hydrology projects are located in remote and
in-accessible areas, where local population is, like in the present case,
either illiterate or having marginal means of employment and the per capita
income of the families is low. It is a fact that people are displaced by
projects from their ancestral homes.
of these people would undoubtedly disconnect them from their past, culture,
custom and traditions, but then it becomes necessary to harvest a river for
larger good. A natural river is not only meant for the people close by but it
should be for the benefit of those who can make use of it, being away from it
or near by. Realising the fact that displacement of these people would
disconnect them from their past, culture, custom and traditions, the moment any
village is earmarked for take over for dam or any other developmental activity,
the project implementing authorities have to implement R&R programmes. The
R&R plans are required to be specially drafted and implemented to mitigate
problems whatsoever relating to all, whether rich or poor, land owner or
encroacher, farmer or tenant, employee or employer, tribal or non-tribal. A
properly drafted R&R plan would improve living standards of displaced
persons after displacement.
example residents of villages around Bhakra Nangal Dam, Nagarjun Sagar Dam,
Tehri, Bhillai Steel Plant, Bokaro and Bala Iron and Steel Plant and numerous
other developmental sites are better off than people living in villages in
whose vicinity no development project came in. It is not fair that tribals and
the people in un-developed villages should continue in the same condition
without ever enjoying the fruits of science and technology for better health
and have a higher quality of life style. Should they not be encouraged to seek
greener pastures elsewhere, if they can have access to it, either through their
own efforts due to information exchange or due to outside compulsions. It is
with this object in view that the R&R plans which are developed are meant
to ensure that those who move must be better off in the new locations at
Government cost. In the present case, the R&R packages of the States,
specially of Gujarat, are such that the living conditions of the oustees will
be much better than what they had in their tribal hamlets.
of forest because of any activity is undoubtedly harmful.
going into the question as to whether the loss of forest due to river valley
project because of submergence is negligible, compared to de- forestation due to
other reasons like cutting of trees for fuel, it is true that large dams cause
submergence leading to loss of forest areas. But it cannot be ignored and it is
important to note that these large dams also cause conversion of waste land
into agricultural land and making the area greener. Large dams can also become
instruments in improving the environment, as has been the case in the Western
Rajasthan, which transformed into a green area because of Indira Gandhi Canal,
which draws water from Bhakhra Nangal Dam. This project not only allows the
farmers to grow crops in deserts but also checks the spread of Thar desert in
adjoining areas of Punjab and Haryana.
and ecological consideration must, of course, be given due consideration but
with proper channellisation of developmental activities ecology and environment
can be enhanced. For example, Periyar Dam Reservoir has become an elephant
sanctuary with thick green forests all round while at the same time wiped out
famines that used to haunt the district of Madurai in Tamil Nadu before its
construction. Similarly Krishnarajasagar Dam which has turned the Mandya
district which was once covered with shrub forests with wild beasts into a
prosperous one with green paddy and sugarcane fields all round.
a number of such river valley projects have been undertaken in all parts of
India. The petitioner has not been able to point out a single instance where
the construction of a Dam has, on the whole, had an adverse environmental
impact. On the contrary the environment has improved. That being so there is no
reason to suspect, with all the experience gained so far, that the position
here will be any different and there will not be overall improvement and
prosperity. It should not be forgotten that poverty is regarded as one of the
causes of degradation of environment. With improved irrigation system the
people will prosper. The construction of Bhakra Dam is a shining example for
all to see how the backward area of erstwhile undivided Punjab has now become
the granary of India with improved environment than what was there before the
completion of the Bhakra Nangal project.
Award of the Tribunal is binding on the States concerned. The said Award also
envisages the relief and rehabilitation measures which are to be undertaken. If
for any reason, any of the State Governments involved lag behind in providing
adequate relief and rehabilitation then the proper course, for a Court to take,
would be to direct the Awards implementation and not to stop the execution of
the project. This Court, as a Federal Court of the country specially in a case
of inter-State river dispute where an Award had been made, has to ensure that
the binding Award is implemented. In this regard, the Court would have the
jurisdiction to issue necessary directions to the State which, though bound,
chooses not to carry out its obligations under the Award. Just as an ordinary
litigant is bound by the decree, similarly a State is bound by the Award. Just
as the execution of a decree can be ordered, similarly, the implementation of
the Award can be directed. If there is a short fall in carrying out the R&R
measures, a time bound direction can and should be given in order to ensure the
implementation of the Award. Putting the project on hold is no solution. It
only encourages recalcitrant State to flout and not implement the award with
impunity. This certainly cannot be permitted. Nor is it desirable in the
national interest that where fundamental right to life of the people who
continue to suffer due to shortage of water to such an extent that even the
drinking water becomes scarce, non-cooperation of a State results in the
stagnation of the project.
clamour for the early completion of the project and for the water to flow in
the canal is not by Gujarat but is also raised by Rajasthan.
Clause 3 of the final decision of the Tribunal published in the Gazette
notification of India dated 12th December, 1979, the State of Rajasthan has
been allocated 0.5 MAF of Narmada water in national interest from Sardar
Sarovar Dam. This was allocated to the State of Rajasthan to utilise the same
for irrigation and drinking purposes in the arid and drought-prone areas of
Jalore and Barmer districts of Rajasthan situated on the international border
with Pakistan, which have no other available source of water.
is the basic need for the survival of human beings and is part of right of life
and human rights as enshrined in Article 21 of the Constitution of India and
can be served only by providing source of water where there is none. The
Resolution of the U.N.O. in 1977 to which India is a signatory, during the
United Nations Water Conference resolved unanimously inter alia as under:
people, whatever their stage of development and their social and economic
conditions, have the right to have access to drinking water in quantum and of a
quality equal to their basic needs.
is being made available by the State of Rajasthan through tankers to the
civilians of these areas once in four days during summer season in quantity,
which is just sufficient for their survival. The districts of Barmer and Jalore
are part of Thar Desert and on account of scarcity of water the desert area is
increasing every year. It is a matter of great concern that even after half a
century of freedom, water is not available to all citizens even for their basic
drinking necessity violating the human right resolution of U.N.O. and Article
21 of the Constitution of India. Water in the rivers of India has great
potentiality to change the miserable condition of the arid, drought-prone and
border areas of India.
availability of drinking water will benefit about 1.91 lac of people residing
in 124 villages in arid and drought-prone border areas of Jalore and Barmer
districts of Rajasthan who have no other source of water and are suffering
already seen, the State of Madhya Pradesh is keen for the reduction of the dams
height to 436 ft. Apart from Gujarat and Rajasthan the State of Maharashtra
also is not agreeable to this. The only benefit from the project which
Rajasthan get is its share of hydel power from the project.
lowering of the height from 455 ft. to 436 ft. will take away this benefit even
though 9399 hectares of its land will be submerged. With the reduction of
height to 436 ft. not only will there be loss of power generation but it would
also render the generation of power seasonal and not throughout the year.
the indicators of the living standard of people is the per capita consumption
of electricity. There is, however, perennial shortage of power in India and,
therefore, it is necessary that the generation increases. The world over,
countries having rich water and river systems have effectively exploited these
for hydel power generation. In India, the share of hydel power in the total
power generated was as high as 50% in the year 1962-63 but the share of hydel
power started declining rapidly after 1980. There is more reliance now on
thermal power projects. But these thermal power projects use fossil fuels,
which are not only depleting fast but also contribute towards environmental
pollution. Global warming due to the greenhouse effect has become a major cause
of concern. One of the various factors responsible for this is the burning of
fossil fuel in thermal power plants.
is, therefore, international concern for reduction of greenhouse gases which is
shared by the World Bank resulting in the restriction of sanction of funds for
thermal power projects. On the other hand, the hydel powers contribution in the
greenhouse effect is negligible and it can be termed ecology friendly. Not only
this but the cost of generation of electricity in hydel projects is
significantly less. The Award of the Tribunal has taken all these factors into
consideration while determining the height of the dam at 455 ft. Giving the
option of generating eco-friendly electricity and substituting it by thermal
power may not, therefore, be the best option.
the setting up of a thermal plant may not displace as many families as a hydel
project may but at the same time the pollution caused by the thermal plant and
the adverse affect on the neighbourhood could be far greater than the
inconvenience caused in shifting and rehabilitating the oustees of a reservoir.
is and has been in the recent past protests and agitations not only against
hydel projects but also against the setting up of nuclear or thermal power
plants. In each case reasons are put forth against the execution of the
proposed project either as being dangerous (in case of nuclear) or causing
pollution and ecological degradation (in the case of thermal) or rendering
people homeless and posses adverse environment impacts as has been argued in
the present case. But then electricity has to be generated and one or more of
these options exercised. What option to exercise, in our Constitutional
framework, is for the Government to decide keeping various factors in mind. In
the present case, a considered decision has been taken and an Award made
whereby a high dam having an FRL of 455 ft. with capability of developing hydel
power to be constructed. In the facts and circumstances enumerated hereinabove,
even if this Court could go into the question, the decision so taken cannot be
While issuing directions and disposing of this case, two conditions have to be
kept in mind, (i) the completion of project at the earliest and (ii) ensuring
compliance with conditions on which clearance of the project was given
including completion of relief and rehabilitation work and taking of
ameliorative and compensatory measures for environmental protection in
compliance with the scheme framed by the Government thereby protecting the
rights under Article 21 of the Constitution. Keeping these principles in view,
we issue the following directions.
Construction of the dam will continue as per the Award of the Tribunal.
the Relief and Rehabilitation Sub-group has cleared the construction up to 90
meters, the same can be undertaken immediately. Further raising of the height
will be only pari passu with the implementation of the relief and
rehabilitation and on the clearance by the Relief and Rehabilitation Sub-group.
The Relief and Rehabilitation Sub-Group will give clearance of further
construction after consulting the three Grievances Redressal Authorities.
Environment Sub-group under the Secretary, Ministry of Environment &
Forests, Government of India will consider and give, at each stage of the
construction of the dam, environment clearance before further construction
beyond 90 meters can be undertaken.
permission to raise the dam height beyond 90 meters will be given by the
Narmada Control Authority, from time to time, after it obtains the
above-mentioned clearances from the Relief and Rehabilitation Sub-group and the
reports of the Grievances Redressal Authorities, and of Madhya Pradesh in
particular, shows that there is a considerable slackness in the work of
identification of land, acquisition of suitable land and the consequent steps
necessary to be taken to rehabilitate the project oustees. We direct the States
of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat to implement the Award and give
relief and rehabilitation to the oustees in terms of the packages offered by
them and these States shall comply with any direction in this regard which is
given either by the NCA or the Review Committee or the Grievances Redressal
Even though there has been substantial compliance with the conditions imposed
under the environment clearance the NCA and the Environment Sub-group will
continue to monitor and ensure that all steps are taken not only to protect but
to restore and improve the environment.
NCA will within four weeks from today draw up an Action Plan in relation to
further construction and the relief and rehabilitation work to be undertaken.
Such an Action Plan will fix a time frame so as to ensure relief and
rehabilitation pari passu with the increase in the height of the dam. Each
State shall abide by the terms of the action plan so prepared by the NCA and in
the event of any dispute or difficulty arising, representation may be made to
the Review Committee. However, each State shall be bound to comply with the
directions of the NCA with regard to the acquisition of land for the purpose of
relief and rehabilitation to the extent and within the period specified by the
Review Committee shall meet whenever required to do so in the event of there
being any un-resolved dispute on an issue which is before the NCA. In any event
the Review Committee shall meet at least once in three months so as to oversee
the progress of construction of the dam and implementation of the R&R
any reason serious differences in implementation of the Award arise and the
same cannot be resolved in the Review Committee, the Committee may refer the
same to the Prime Minister whose decision, in respect thereof, shall be final
and binding on all concerned.
Grievances Redressal Authorities will be at liberty, in case the need arises,
to issue appropriate directions to the respective States for due implementation
of the R&R programmes and in case of non- implementation of its directions,
the GRAs will be at liberty to approach the Review Committee for appropriate orders.
Every endeavour shall be made to see that the project is completed as
expeditiously as possible.