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Indian Case Summary

Narmada Bachao Andolan vs Union Of India And Others on 18 October, 2000 – Case Summary

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In the case of Narmada Bachao Andolan vs Union Of India And Others on 18 October, 2000, the Supreme Court of India was called upon to adjudicate on a dispute that had been ongoing for several decades. The case revolved around the Narmada river, the fifth largest river in India, and the largest west flowing river of the Indian Peninsula. The river originates from the Maikala ranges at Amarkantak in Madhya Pradesh and flows westwards over a length of about 1312 km before draining into the Gulf of Cambay, 50 km west of Bharuch City.

The Narmada Bachao Andolan (Save Narmada Movement) was a social movement consisting of adivasis, farmers, environmentalists, and human rights activists against a number of large dams being built across the Narmada river. The movement was spearheaded by notable social activists including Medha Patkar. The main opponents in the case were the Union of India and the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Madhya Pradesh.

The case was heard by a bench consisting of B. N. Kirpal and Dr. A. S. Anand. The main issues in the case revolved around the construction of the Sardar Sarovar Dam, one of the largest dams to be built on the Narmada river. The petitioners argued that the dam would displace a large number of adivasis (tribal people) and farmers without adequate compensation or rehabilitation.

The case was marked by a number of significant observations and rulings by the court. The court noted that the Narmada river had a huge potential for development, which had not been fully utilized. The court also noted that the construction of the dam had been approved by the central government and the concerned state governments.

The court also addressed the issue of rehabilitation of the displaced people. It was observed that the state of Gujarat was responsible for compensating and rehabilitating the displaced people. The court also noted that no submergence of any area would take place unless the oustees were rehabilitated.

The court also made a significant observation regarding the allocation of the Narmada waters. The Tribunal determined the utilizable quantum of water of the Narmada at Sardar Sarovar Dam site on the basis of 75% dependability at 28 MAF. It further ordered that out of the utilizable quantum of Narmada water, the allocation between the States should be as under:

  • Madhya Pradesh: 18.25 MAF
  • Gujarat: 9.00 MAF
  • Rajasthan: 0.50 MAF
  • Maharashtra: 0.25 MAF

The court also directed for the constitution of an inter-State Administrative Authority i.e. Narmada Control Authority for the purpose of securing compliance with and implementation of the decision and directions of the Tribunal.

The case of Narmada Bachao Andolan vs Union Of India And Others is a landmark case in the field of environmental law and human rights in India. It highlighted the conflict between development and environmental protection, and raised important questions about the rights of indigenous people and the responsibility of the state in ensuring their welfare.