May 10, 2008
life in general: (part 2) the myth of rehabiliation
In November last year I had blogged about how I felt that rehabilation in development projects was nothing but a myth. I had visited some villages in the Narmada valley in December 2005 and in my few interactions with the villagers I was pretty much sure that the so-called rehab of people getting displaced by the mighty Narmada Dam was only on paper.
Imagine this: There are, say, 15 planets like Earth in our universe where there is life form similar to humans. Now, say, 2-3 of them have become very powerful and they can do inter-galactical travel fairly easily. Now, suppose that these 2-3 find their existing habitats very restricting -- they want to grow and develop further and believe it is only good for other living planets also that such growth and development takes place. But for that they would want some large companies that have massive industrial complexes to vacate their lands because these lands would be needed for that inter-galactic development project. So, say, they select the Surat-Hazira industrial belt in India where you have major industrial houses like Essar, Reliance, ONGC, Kripco, Gujarat Fertilser, L&T and others. Say, they also select some areas in the US where Dupont and Exxon have their factories.
Now, how would these companies feel? Say, those planets' rulers create some rules concerning rehab and tell the companies that they will be given some alternate land in the Sahara Desert and for some even on the Moon. When they find it difficult to even do that they will just give some piddly few dollars and tell these companies 'Thats it, now the chapter is closed." How would these massive industrial houses react? No doubt, they will be furious about it and tell in a court in those planets that their property rights should be respected and they should not be forced out of their lands. But the judges in those inter-galactic planets' courts won't be sympathetic to their arguments.
I would like the big industrialists to think about how they would feel if they are on the receiving end of the same thing they inflict on others.
Anyway, back here in our country, a current court case initiated by the Narmada Bachao Andolan highlights the issues of myth of rehab and brings out the massive corruption involved.
See this press release:
NARMADA BACHAO ANDOLAN
62 Mahatma Gandhi Marg, Badwani, M.P. Ph. 07290-222464, 09424855042,
Maitri Niwas, Tembewadi, Dhadgaon, Nandurbar, Maharashtra. Ph: 02595-220620
Press Release: 8th May 2008
CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE HIGH COURT OF MADHYA PRADESH, AT JABALPUR, TO HEAR CASE OF CORRUPTION WORTH CRORES OF RUPEES IN REHABILITATION OF FAMILIES AFFECTED BY THE SARDAR SAROVAR PROJECT ON THE 13TH OF MAY, 2008
The Chief Justice of Madhya Pradesh High Court, at Jabalpur would hear the case of corruption worth crores of rupees in the rehabilitation of the families affected by the Sardar Sarovar Project on the 13th of May, 2008, in which notices and interim orders were issued by the Chief Justice on March 3rd 2008 and was yet to come for hearing. The Govt. of M.P. is yet to file a reply petition and documents.
On behalf of NBA, it was, therefore, pleaded that the matter was very urgent as lakhs of rupees worth rehabilitation funds are being misappropriated by the officers of the NVDA and their touts. The corruption is also rampant through manipulated records of oustees and in allotment of house plots.
The Govt. of M.P., NVDA, NCA and none of the other respondents, seven in all, submitted reply within 4 weeks, the time stipulated by the Chief Justice, while issuing the notices in March.
Yesterday on May 7th, NBA urged for an early hearing and in spite of the Deputy Advocate General, M.P. requesting for further time and hearing after the May vacation, upon submission of few more documents, and describing the fiery situation, NBA, through Medha Patkar, stated the fear of the affected persons cheated, yet recorded as rehabilitated and submergence of thousands of families would be imposed, if an early hearing is not held.
The CJ fixed the hearing of the case on May 13th, 2008 at Madhya Pradesh High Court, at Jabalpur.
FOR FURTHER DETAILED READING:
The Public Interest Litigation filed by NBA, Writ Petition No: 14765/2007 filed on 15th October 2007 in Jabalpur High Court, was again heard on 7th May 2008. The Case is regarding the huge and unprecedented Corruption in all aspects of Rehabilitation process of Sardar Sarovar Dam affected families in Madhya Pradesh.
During the last hearing on March 3rd, the bench consisting of Chief Justice A K Patnaik and Justice Prakash Shrivastava had heard the plea by Medha Patkar and gave the order, issuing notices to the respondents which included Chief Secretary, State of Madhya Pradesh, Chairman, Narmada Valley Development Authority, Chairman, Narmada Control Authority (NCA) (who is also Secretary to the Ministry of Water Resources, Secretary, Revenue Department, GoMP, Director General of Police, M.P., Inspector General, Stamps and Registration, M.P., District collectors of 5 districts such as Badwani, Dhar, Jhabua, Khargone and Dewas, to file their replies within a month.
But since that has not happened even after two months, Medha Patkar raised a question regarding this. Mr. Shukla, the Deputy Advocate General of Madhya Pradesh, who pleaded for the respondents informed the court that the government will soon file the reply petition!
Meanwhile NBA has submitted more documents to substantiate the lack of rehabilitation as well as the unprecedented corruption by officials and dalals, on the rehabilitation front. This includes the Report of the Public Hearing by Anna Hazare, Arvind Kejriwal, S M Mushrif and Anand Kothadia during February 2008, the latest Minutes of the NCA and R&R Subgroup and other materials.
Though the Madhya Pradesh Government pleaded to postpone the next hearing till after the vacation, the Court has ordered to have the next hearing on May 13th, admitting the plea from Medha Patkar that the issue demands urgency and cannot be postponed that long.
The nexus between the Narmada Valley Development Authority (NVDA) officials and contractors in the establishment of the rehabilitation sites has resulted in shoddy and uninhabitable preparation of R&R sites, thousands of eligible PAFs are left undeclared where as a few fraudulent persons got declared, the nexus between officials, agents and advocates leading to huge corruption and swindling of Public money meant for rehabilitation were pertinent issues raised by NBA.
The Madhya Pradesh government policy has twisted and subverted the land and house based rehabilitation directives of the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal Award (NWDTA) and made room for huge corruption. While there is no formal approval from Narmada Control Authority for the so called SRP, the NVDA proceeded with absolute neglect and contempt for legal and constitutional norms and rights of the PAFs.
The case was filed through Senior Adv. N S Kale, who is the same person who pleaded the case of the illegal arrest of the Taloon Satyagrahis, where on 25th September 2007, the Jabalpur High court ordered the Govt. of M.P. to pay compensation of Rs.10,000/each to all the 91 activists arrested. Till date the government has not obeyed that order. In the current case, Medha Patkar herself is standing, pleading for Justice.
The SRP-induced fake registries, where PAFs who were given cash for buying lands actually ended up giving commission to officials and dalals (middlemen), signing fake registries, facilitated a process where crores of rupees were amassed by officials and agents as commission, depriving PAFs of basic resource security and a better living condition after resettlement. The alarming fact is that all this money is from public exchequer and hence this illegal enrichment of government officials is not just a matter of routine corruption, but crime against the People and State both.
While FIRs were filed against PAFs and about 35 of them were arrested and later bailed out, except one, no action was taken against officials and their stooges, though notices were issued to 30 NVDA officials early on, but no action taken till date.
Out of a total of 2600 land registries claimed by NVDA as part of SRP, 758 are already officially accepted by the government as fake registries, after preliminary enquiry by special departmental officers. NBA has demanded a CBI enquiry into the same.
However both NCA and NVDA have not yet understood the gravity of the situation as hundreds of fake registries are yet to see light. Out of the 2600 plus claims of land registries by NVDA only a few hundred are factually correct and legally valid ones. This means that SRP was an absolute failure with only a few hundred PAFs actually purchasing land with SRP. This is the reason why NBA always opposed SRP and demand land for land rehabilitation.
There are more stories of corruption in House Plot distribution as well as in the procedure of declaring PAFs. Thousands of genuine PAFs are still not declared while some illegal and fraud persons were declared and got PAF benefits.
This huge and unprecedented corruption is deplorable and is in utter violation of the Article 21 of the Constitution as also the NWDTA and Supreme Court orders. We pledge to continue to expose and tackle any form of corruption or misappropriation of public funds earmarked for rehabilitation of the PAFs.
Ashish Mandloi, Clifton Rozario, Kamla Yadav