Sunday, 1 January 2012

{DUU-63} Supreme Court Tehri Dam Case 30-3-2011

Supreme Court directs the State of Uttarakhand and THDC to sit together and resolve the issue of R& R.

Today in the Supreme Court heard the application of THDC wherein they have stated that land-slides which have occurred on account of raising the water level in the Reservoir and as a result thereof, rehabilitation of the affected families, is not covered by R&R. The THDC have also prayed for raising the water level upto 830 RL from the sea level. The Additional Solicitor General, Mr. Rawal pleaded for the THDC that the THDC has complied with all its obligations with regard to R&R and the Counsel for the State of Uttarakhand refuted the submissions made on behalf of the THDC and contended that the rehabilitation is not complete, the THDC has not provided funds and that the water level was raised to 832 RL during last monsoon September 2010 which was not only in violation of the guideline of Central Water Commission, but that the Court was also misled by the THDC in stating that if water is not stored in the reservoir, Haridwar and Rishikesh will be washed away. The State said that they are committed to complete the R&R at the earliest.

Counsel for the Petitioners submitted that the statement of THDC that persons affected by the land-slide are not covered by the R& R is not only contrary to their earlier affidavits and stand taken in 2007 and 2008 but comparing the land slide affected persons with those affected by road building is extremely shocking, which shows not only insensitivity of THDC towards the people but is also in contempt of earlier directions of the Supreme Court. He emphasized that the Order dated 9.11.2010 should be complied with strictly.

The Honb’le Supreme Court observed that fight between the State Government and THDC, at the cost of affected persons, is unfortunate. They must know that any delay in rehabilitation will be affecting the life and properties of the people. The Hon’ble Court asserted that this blame game should stop and both THDC & State should meet at the earliest to resolve the differences. With the concurrence of the State and THDC, the Supreme Court has asked both to sit for discussion on 4th April in the Office of Rehabilitation Directorate, New Tehri. The Court has also asked the State of Uttarakhand and THDC to inform the result of discussion on the following Monday, ie. 11.04.2011. The case will be listed for further hearing on 11th April, 2011.

Matu Jansanghatan has always been keen that both the State and THDC instead of blaming each other and shifting the obligations should take affirmative actions in favour of the oustees. The stand of the THDC and the State that the land slides which occurred to the construction of the dam could not be foreseen is completely baseless, as the same was apprehended and was put in GSI Reports.

It is urged that if THDC wants to fill the reservoir, it needs to first take up the issue of R& R of all the affected people whether they are affected because of submergence or due to the land slides.

There are many issues related to Tehri Hyro-electic Project which are crucial, such as, stability of the green belt, Command Area Development Plan, water quality of Bhagirathi River after the construction of the Reservoir, Catchments Area Treatment plan, drinking water for the villages around the reservoir and in New Tehri.

Problem of Rural R& R sites are many which are to be taken into consideration, such as, land rights, other basic civic amenities including health facilities, education, roads, markets, electricity, transport facility, drinking water, irrigation etc. These issues also need to be discussed in this meeting.

The direction of the Hon’ble Supreme Court should be taken as an opportunity by both the State and THDC to take a positive action to resolve the R& R issue rather than lingering it for the up-coming election.

Vimal Bhai

(Presented before the Hon'ble Supreme Court dated 30-3-2011}

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