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Narmada Bachao Andolan Vs. Union Of India A.I.R 2000 S. C. 3751 - A Study
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The Bhopal Agreement 3. In November 1963. the Union Minister of Irrigation and Power held a meeting with the Chief Ministers of Gujarat arid Madhya Pradesh at Bhopal. As a result of the discussions and exchange of views, an agreement (Bhopal Agreement) was arrived. Stating that the Navagam Dam be built to FRL 425 by the Government of c Gujarat and enjoy its entire benefits. Secondly the Punasa Dam (Madhya Pradesh) should be built to FRL 850 such that the costs and benefits are shared in the ratio 1:2 between the Government of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. However, out of the power available to Madhya Pradesh half of the quantum was to be given to the State of Maharashtra for a period of 25 years for which the State of Maharashtra was to provide a loan to the extent of one-third the cost ofPunasa Dam. The loan to be given by the State of Maharashtra was to be returned within a period of 25 years. Thirdly 104 CENTRAL INOlA LAW Q.y. 2004

development of the Narmada Basin 4. In order to fulfil the requirements of the Bhopal Agreement, a brief report was formulated by the Government of Gujarat envisaging the Navagam Dam FRL 425 1'1. and submitted the same to the Central Water and Power Commission under Gijarat Government's letter dated 14th February, )984. Madhya Pradesh. however, did not ratify the Bhopal Agreement. In order to overcome the statement following the rejection of the Bhopal Agreement by Madhya Pradesh. a High Level Committee of eminent engineers headed by Dr. A. N. Khosla. the then Governor of Orissa. was constituted on 51h September. 1964 by the Government. of India. The Government of India after consulting the related state' s referred the following points to the committee. i) Drawing up of a Master plan for the optimum and integrated development of the Narmada water resources. ii) Phasing of its implementation for maximum development of the resources and other benefits. iii) The examination. in particular of Navagam and alternative projects. if any and determining the optimum reservoir revel or levels. iv) Making recommendations of any other ancillary matters.

of Gujarat and its inhabitants. The State of Gujarat objected to the proposal of the State of Madhya Pradesh to construct Maheshwar and Harinphal Dams over the river Narmada in its lower reach and also to the agreement reached between the States of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra to jointly construct the Jalsindhi Dam over Narmada in its course between the two States. The main reason for the objection was that if these projects were implemented, the same would prejudicially affect the rights and interests of Gujarat State by compelling it to restrict the height of the dam at Navagam to FRL 210ft.or less. Reducing the height of . the dam would mean the permanent detriment of irrigation and power benefits that would be available to the inhabitants of Gujarat and. this would also make it impossible for Gujarat to re-claim the desert area in the Ranns of Kutch. According to the State of Gujarat, the principal matters in disputes were as under; (i) The right of the State of Gujarat to control and use the waters of the Narmada river on weIl-accepted principles applicable to the use of waters of inter-State rivers; (ii) The right of the State of Gujarat to object to the arrangeement between the State of Madhya Pradesh and the State of Maharashtra for the development of Jalsindhi Dam; . (iii) The right of the State of Gujarat to raise the Navagam dam to an optimum height commensurate with the efficient use of Narmada waters including its control for providing requisite cushion for flood control; and (iv) The consequential right of submergence of area in the States of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra and areas in the Gujamt State. Vol. XVII NARMADA BACHAO ANDOLAN 107

State of Madhya Pradesh filed a Demurrer before the Tribunal stating that the constitution of the Tribunal and reference to it were ultra vires of Act. The Tribunal framed 24 issues which included the issues relating to the Gujrat having a right to construct a high dam with FRL 530 feet and a canal with FSL 300 feet or thereabouts. Issues 1 (a), 1 (b), I(A}, 2,3, and 19 were tried as preliminary issues of law and by its decision dated 23rd February, 1972, the said issues were decided against the respondents herein. It was held that the Notification of the Central Government dated 16th October,1969 referring the matters raised by the State of Rajasthan by its complaint was ultra of the Act but constitution of Tribunal and making a reference of the water dispute regarding the Inter-State river Narmada was not ultra vires of the Act 'and the Tribunal had jurisdiction to decide the dispute referred to it at the instance of State of Gujarat. It further held that the proposed construction of Navagam project involving consequent submergence of portions of territories of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh could form the subject matter of a "water dispute" within the meaning of Section 2(c) of the 1956 Act. It also held that it had the jurisdiction to give appropriate direction to Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra to take steps by way of acquisition or otherwise for making submerged land available to Gujarat in order to enable 108 CEYfRAL INDIA LAW Qtll. 2004

6. The Tribunal based its award on the basis of the following points: (a) Height of the Sardar Sarovar Dam: The Tribunal decided that the FRL of the Sardar Sarovar Dam should be + 455 ft. providing a gross storage of 7.70 MAF required for the irrigation and power generation programs. (b) Geological and seismological conditions of the dam site : Depending on the expert advice of the Standing Committee under Central Water and Power Commission the Tribunal decided that there should bea seismic coefficient of 0.10 g for the dam. (c) Relief and Rehabilitation: The Award of the Tribunal also contained certain directions regarding the relief and rehabilitation of the displaced persons due to the compulsory acquisition of the land for the dam. It defined the displaced person, outee, family etc for the proper distribution of the relief funds. The government of Gujarat was to pay to the states of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra all costs including compensation, charges and expenses incurred by them for and in respect of the compulsory acquisition of land. It further made the provisions that if the State of Gujarat was unable to resettle the oustees or the oustees were unwilling to occupy the area offered by the States, then the oustees will be re-settled byhome state and all expenses for this would be borne by Gujarat. The 110 C£NTRAL INDIA LAW Qfy. 2004