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Legal Notice Issued By The Narmada Bachao Andolan
To the Ministry Of Environment And Forests

NARMADA BACHAO ANDOLAN

• 62 M.G Marg, Badwani, Madhya Pradesh - 451551
Telefax: 07290-222464; E-mail: nba.medha@gmail.com
•Maitri Niwas, Tembewadi, Behind Kakawadi, Dhadgav, Dist. Nandurbar,
Maharashtra - 425414 – Telefax: 02595-202145

Please find attached herewith the Legal Notice issued by the Narmada Bachao
Andolan to the Ministry of Environment and Forests on the issue of continued
land acquisition and excavation for the large canals of Indira Sagar and
Omkareshwar, which is causing an irreversible damage to the best of
agricultural land in the region.

Despite the MoEF-appointed Expert Committee having given its categorical
recommendation and Report that the canal work should not continue, since there
are no final and approved command area development plans for the two projects,
the MoEF has not yet taken a decision on same, despite being directed by the
Supreme Court to do so.

Attached is the Order of the Supreme Court that clearly stipulated a maximum
period of 10 weeks within which MoEF had to take a decision on the command area
plans of the Govt. of Madhya Pradesh.

In this context, we appeal to you to write to the Ministry to take a logical
and scientific decision, within the framework of law to sop the work, at least
until the full command area plans area ready and approved and until
comprehensive rehabilitation plans for all the affected families are in place.
The Ministry must also take a decision on the issue of excluding the river-bank
villages from the canal network to minimize displacement and save the best of
land

With regards
NBA team
Ph: 07290-222464 / 9179148973
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
LEGAL NOTICE
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: 17-06-2010
To,
Secretary,
Ministry of Environment and Forests

Paryavaran Bhavan, CGO Complex,

Lodhi Road, New Delhi

Sir,
I, the undersigned, on behalf of and under instructions from Medha Patkar, R/o
Narmada Bachao Andolan, 62, Mahatma Gandhi Marg, Badwani, Madhya Pradesh –
451551 and Respondent No. 1 in SLP No. 34065/2009 pertaining to the Indira
Sagar and Omkareshwar Canals (hereinafter referred to as my client) do hereby
serve you the following legal notice:

1. That, your Ministry is a party before the Hon’ble Supreme Court of
India in the aforementioned SLP pertaining to the canals of Indira Sagar and
Omkareshwar and as the Secretary of the Ministry, you are well-conversant with
the facts and proceedings of the entire case, legal issues involved therein and
the interim orders passed thus far.

2. That the Hon’ble Supreme Court passed an interim Order on 25-02-2010,
of which the relevant part reads as follows:

“In the above circumstances, excavation or construction of the Canal work and
acquisition of land may go on for the time being; however, it would be subject
to approval of the MoEF of the revised plans submitted on 16th October, 2009.
The State would be at liberty to file further details regarding the Command
Area Development Plans to the MoEF and if such details regarding
the Command Area Development Plans are filed, the same may be referred to
the Expert Committee for consideration. The Expert Committee to take a decision
within a period of six weeks and as soon as the Report is available to
MoEF, the MoEF to take decision within a further period of four weeks
thereafter”.

3. That it is clear from the above Order that:

(i) The excavation or construction of canal work and acquisition of land
was allowed to continue for the time being and was subject to the approval of
MoEF;
(ii) The MoEF was to take a decision within four weeks of submission of the
Expert Committee’s Report. The said four weeks expired on 23.5.2010. After
expiry of four weeks, it was incumbent upon the MoEF to take a decision
concerning excavation /construction of the Canal work and acquisition of the
land. If there was any further delay (i.e. beyond 23.5.2010) in deciding on
“approval” by the MoEF, the Canal excavation/construction work and land
acquisition proceedings should have been stopped.

4. You may kindly recall that the Dr. Devender Pandey Committee of
Experts, to whom the task of scrutinizing the CAD Plans of GoMP was entrusted,
both by the Hon’ble High Court of Madhya Pradesh by its final judgment dated
11-11-2009 (in W.P. No. 6056/2009) and again by the Hon’ble Supreme Court by
way of its aforementioned interim order, duly submitted its Appraisal Report to
the Secretary, MoEF i.e. yourself on 05-04-2010.

5. That the Report of Dr. Pandey Committee titled ‘Appraisal of the
Command Area Development (CAD) Plans of Omkareshwar and Indira Sagar Irrigation
Projects in Madhya Pradesh’ categorically concluded that, for the reasons
mentioned in its Report, the CAD Plans submitted by the GoMP for the Indira
Sagar and Omkareshwar Canals are only an “ex-pression of Interest” and are
not final and complete. To quote from the Committee’s conclusion:

“……The Committee does not consider the draft command area development
plans for Omkareshwar and ISP, submitted to the MoEF by MP in October 2009,
as adequate in terms of the conditions laid down as part of the environment
clearance, and the subsequent stipulations by the MoEF and the NCA ESG. These
plans detail only some of the engineering aspects of the command area
development activity and the environmental safeguard measures essential for
sustainable irrigation development has not been dealt with. Similarly the
impact of construction of canal is not provided in the plan and therefore the
committee could not assess the impacts of construction on environment such as
loss of biodiversity, noise, water and air pollution etc. Therefore, these
plans are incomplete and cannot be approved”.

6. That despite such scientific findings and unambiguous conclusion, your
Ministry did not take any early decisive action to save the prime agricultural
land in the interest of the environment. Instead, you chose to provide a
further period of four weeks time to the Madhya Pradesh Government to submit
its comments on the Appraisal Report of the Pandey Committee (through your
letter dated 23-04-2010).

7. That, since the date of this Interim Order, acquisition and excavation
of the fertile agricultural lands, which is mainly in the Sardar Sarovar and
Maheshwar affected areas has been going on in the already irrigated river-bank
villages causing irreversible damage to the agriculture and environment.
Adequate and approved CAD Plans, in terms of the MoEF’s and Planning
Commission’s clearance and other stipulations are a pre-requisite for any
canal work in order to optimize the stated benefits and mitigate permanent
impacts such as water logging, salinization, degradation of the soil and loss
of bio-diversity. You may also kindly note that the High Court of Madhya
Pradesh has already stated that the canal-network must be reviewed so as
exclude the already irrigated areas, minimize displacement and save best
agricultural land and also the state exchequer. That is role your Ministry is
expected and mandated to play under the Environment Protection Act, 1986.

8. That the said time of four weeks provided by you to the GoMP has also
expired on 23-05-2010. You may kindly note that the Interim Order of the
Supreme Court dated 25-02-2010 clearly recognizes the role of the Environment
Ministry and the Pandey Committee to appraise the Command Area Plans for the
ongoing canal works as a pre-requisite and take a decision within the maximum
stipulated period of 10 weeks, (six weeks and four weeks as mentioned in the
Supreme Court Order dated 25-02-2010) purely on the basis of enviro-scientific
considerations. In the light of the Pandey Committee’s well-reasoned Report,
it is necessary, reasonable and justifiable that your Ministry immediately
issues stop-work orders, halting the land acquisition and canal excavation,
invoking your Ministry’s powers under Section 3 & 5 of the Environment
Protection Act, 1986.

9. That the environmental clearance issued by your Ministry to Omkareshwar
Project casts a clear responsibility on you to ensure the time-bound and
effective compliance with the environmental safeguard measures and even
empowers you to revoke the clearance, if such time-bound planning and effective
implementation is lacking. The clearance to the Indira Sagar Project by your
Ministry also prominently mandates that the command area development studies
and planning must necessarily be pari passu with the progress of work on the
project.

10. That this Legal Notice is a final reminder to your Ministry to take an
immediate decision on the CAD Plans of GoMP based on the Pandey Committee’s
appraisal, considering the various clearances, guidelines and stipulations
issued by various authorities, including the Planning Commission and your own
Ministry. That such action would be in compliance with the orders of the High
Court, as well as the Supreme Court, both.

11. That since land acquisition and canal excavation work has been
progressing on a war-footing in the agro-rich black-cotton soil areas of the
Nimad region and your Ministry alone shall be responsible and bear the
consequence for any irreversible impacts on or damage to the agriculture,
environment and livelihoods and such delay will also be in violation of the
Order of the Hon’ble Supreme Court.

12. You are therefore, requested to take an immediate decision/action in
compliance with the Supreme Court Order dated 25-02-10 with regard to approval
of the revised plans submitted on 16-10-09 with further details by the State of
Madhya Pradesh. The decision, in the circumstances, ought to be taken within a
period of one week. Meanwhile, the ongoing work of excavation/ construction of
canals and acquisition of land should be stopped. My client has issued this
legal notice after making all requests for immediate action and even through
this legal notice my client is emphasizing on compliance of the Supreme Court
Order and the law in order to avoid any action in the Court which my client
will be constrained to take, if non-action at your end continues.

Yours sincerely
Medha Patkar

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
RECORD OF PROCEEDINGS

(From the judgement and order dated 11/11/2009 in WP No. 6056/2009
of The HIGH COURT OF M.P AT JABALPUR)

STATE OF M.P. & ANR Petitioner(s)

VERSUS

MEDHA PATKAR & ORS Respondent(s)

(With appln(s) for permission to file rejoinder affidavit and prayer
for interim relief and office report )

Date: 25/02/2010 This Petition was called on for hearing today.

CORAM :
HON'BLE THE CHIEF JUSTICE
HON'BLE MR. JUSTICE J.M. PANCHAL
HON'BLE DR. JUSTICE B.S. CHAUHAN

UPON hearing counsel the Court made the following

O R D E R

Heard learned senior counsel appearing for the petitioner,
respondent appearing in-person, learned counsel for the respondent and learned
senior counsel appearing for MoEF.

By the impugned Judgment, the Division Bench of the High Court
passed the following order, regarding the Indira Sagar Project and Omkareshwar
Project:

"No further acquisition of land, excavation or construction of
the canal network for the Command Area of the Indira Sagar and Omkareshwar
projects will be undertaken, until the Command Area Development Plans
submitted to the Government of India, Ministry of
Environment and Forests, are scrutinised by the
Committee of Experts constituted for the Sardar
Sarovar,
Indira Sagar and Omkareshwar Projects by the Notifications dated 2.9.2008 and
17.9.2009 and until this Committee of Experts communicates its clearance in
respect of the particular work to the respondent nos.1 and 2."

Learned senior counsel appearing for the State submitted that in
1992 a comprehensive Command Area Development Plan/Scheme was submitted to the
MoEF, but the learned counsel appearing for the MoEF stated that this scheme
was not approved. The State has submitted that a comprehensive revised Command
Area Development Plan was submitted to MoEF on 16th October, 2009 and the same
has been referred to the Expert Committee for its opinion.

Learned counsel appearing for the State submits that since last so
many years excavation and construction of the canal work and acquisition of
land had been done to a great extent, but by the impugned order these work have
come to a stand still.

In the above circumstances, excavation or construction of the canal
work and acquisition of land may go on for the time being, however, it would be
subject to approval of the MoEF of the revised plans submitted on 16th October,
2009. The State would be at liberty to file further details regarding the
Command Area Development Plans to the MoEF and if such details
regarding the Command Area Development Plans are filed, the same may be
referred to the Expert Committee for consideration. The Expert Committee to
take a decision within a period of six weeks and as soon as the Report is
available to MoEF, the MoEF to take decision within a further period of four
weeks thereafter.

For further directions contained in the impugned Judgment and for
rehabilitation, list the matter on 25.3.2010.

(R.K. Dhawan) (Veera Verma)
Court Master Court Master