Sunday, 1 January 2012

Supreme Court: Tehri Dam case 22-9-2011

Project Name: Tehri Dam HEP (1000 MW)

Rivers: Bhagirathi & Bhilangna

Agency: Tehri Hydro Development Corporation (THDC)

Environmental Clearance granted on 19-7-1990

Dam Commission-2006

Tehri Dam case in Supreme Court:- N. D. Jayal & another vs. Union of India & Others (SLP (c) No. 22894 of 2005)

State should take decision on filling the Tehri Dam Reservoir

Supreme Court of India says

The case pertaining to Rehabilitation & Resettlement (R/R) of persons affected due to Tehri Dam and also on rise in water level above 830 Mts. in the reservoir was heard by a Bench of the Supreme Court, consisting of Justice R.V. Raveendran, Justice H.L. Gokhale & Justice A.K. Patnaik. The Expert Committee constituted by State of Uttarakhand, pursuant to SC direction has pointed out that due to raise in water level in the reservoir up to 830 Mts. 27 villages were affected. These affected villages are required to be considered for R/R. The petitioners N.D. Jayal and Shekhar Singh, represented by Counsel Mr. Sanjay Parikh had argued on the last date of hearing that villages affected due to landslide caused because of raise in water level in the reservoir, are required to rehabilitated as per the Tehri dam project rehabilitation policy, and not according to “Collateral damage policy”.

It may be stated that Rehabilitation has not been done according to environment clearance dated 19/07/1990 and according to Hon’ble Supreme Court judgment dated 1st September 2003. He said that 45 villages were affected due to change in Rim Demarcation line are also in need of rehabilitation according to R/R policy of the Tehri Dam. The work of the rehabilitation sites is still incomplete even according to the Sub Committee of the State of Uttarakhand. Land Rights have still not been given to the oustees. There are 3 incomplete bridges in the Cut-off areas. Adv. Colin Gonsalves counsel for the other petition for the R/R only also said that rehabilitation has not been completed up to the mark.

Mr Rawal, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) appearing for THDC started arguing on raising the water level of Tehri Dam reservoir up to 830 Mts. The Court pointed out that R/R of those affected up to 830 Mts, has still not been done. When the ASG insisted on his prayer to raise the water level, Justice Raveendran remarked that it can consider such prayer only on hearing the entire case to satisfy themselves that R/R has

been done. When ASG continued pressing his argument, then Justice Patnaik saidYou want to produce electricity to run the ACs in Delhi but do not consider R/R of the affected person important. We are here to protect the Art 21 of the Constitution of India i.e. the Right to Life of the persons.

The Court referred to the previous orders by the SC, in which it was said that THDC and State Government should sit together and finalise the R/R issues, and he felt bad that even on recording of the parties differ.

The ASG told the Court that Tehri Hydro Electric Project & generation of electricity is in the public interest, on that the Counsel of the Petitioners, Mr. Sanjay Parikh countered it by saying that the R/R should have been done much earlier than raising water level in reservoir, the Public Interest is to protect the People’s Life and ensuring them R/R & not the generation of electricity.

The Court remarked that, the court is meant to protect Art 21 and State should take care of Power (Generation of electricity). The Court directed that the matter will be heard finally on a nonmisc. day in November 2011 and meanwhile the State of Uttarkhand can decide on the THDCs demand to raise the water level.

Counsel for the UKD Rachna Srivastava pointed out that when the required money for R/R has not been given by THDC, then where is the question of actual R/R of the people?

So now, the ball is in the court of the State of Uttarakhand. The State government has to decide whether they want to submerge their own people without R/R or to protect their life. Hence, the SC has put the burden of decision making of this issue on both the State and Central Government.

We hope the tussle going on between the State and Central Governments should be stopped. The Central Government through its counsel ASG Rawal, has declared that they have completed the R/R time to time. So now total responsibility of protecting people’s lives is on the shoulders of State Government.

We, Matu Jansangathan, demand from State Government of Uttarkhand under the view of the SC, that

  • they should not give permission to THDC for filling the reservoir according to demand which is just for the hunger of more power.

  • State Government should go for rehabilitation of the people up to 840 mts. and above, affected due to the filling of the reservoir by one rehabilitation policy which is Tehri Dam Rehabilitation Policy.



(Was in the Supreme Court of India at the time of hearing)

Puran Singh

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