Supreme Court refuses to revoke stay on Narmada canals projects

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New Delhi, Dec 18 (ANI): The Supreme Court on Friday declined to grant a stay on the indefinite status quo order of the Jabalpur High Court on land acquisition and canal excavation for the Indira Sagar and Omkareshwar canals in Madhya Pradesh.

The three judge bench of the apex court comprising Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, Justice Sathasivam and Justice Sudarshan Reddy gave the order while hearing a special leave petition filed by the Madhya Pradesh Government and Narmada Valley Development Authority (NVDA).

The apex court issued notices to both M P Government and Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) to file replies and posted the matter to January 19, 2010.

The NVDA and M P Government termed the High Court judgement as baseless and unlawful and asserted that the two projects being intra-state projects, there is no role for Central intervention or monitoring.

In November, the Jabalpur High Court had put the canal work in abeyance until the environment and rehabilitation plans of the two projects are fully planned and approved by Central authorities.

In its order the High Court had noted the fact that even after 15-20 years after the projects were granted clearance, final environment and resettlement and rehabilitation plans for the canal-affected are not in place.

The villagers led by the Narmada Bachao Andolan argued that the MP Government and NVDA have been trying to impose and justify the acquisition of thousands of acres of fertile irrigated agricultural by applying the urgency clause, and without land assessing the options for irrigation in these already irrigated villages on the banks of Narmada.

Arguing that the Rehabilitation Policy cannot be made applicable to the canal-affected senior counsel Harish Salve made a statement that "Rehabilitation cannot be a fundamental right".

It was also argued on behalf of the State that the Central Ministries' intervention in this case is unlawful, which is further justified by the High Court's Order and have prayed, through their petition that the same be quashed. (ANI)

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