Lower Penganga Dam Project: People Refuse to part With Their Land

Reported by

Pravin Mote

Legal Data by

Edited by

Updated by

Published on

March 14, 2017

March 14, 2017

Updated on

March 14, 2017

Location of Conflict

Datodi

Arni village, Wardha and Nanded districts

Yavatmal

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Multipurpose Dam

(

)

People Affected by Conflict

35388

Households Affected by Conflict

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

17186

ha

Starting Year

1997

State

Maharashtra

Sector

Infrastructure

The Lower Penganga project is a joint inter-state project between Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh (now Telangana) to build a multipurpose dam on River Penganga (a tributary of Godavari). An MoU was signed in 1978, which proposed to build a dam near Tadsaoli village in Ghatanji Tehsil of Yavatmal District to irrigate a massive 2,18,129 ha of land. It has failed to take off even after two decades of its inception. The Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation (VIDC), managing the project, has been in limelight for corruption and controversies due to an increase in the project cost by over 7-fold in just 10 years. The project will submerge 14,657 ha of land from 95 villages from Yavatmal and Nanded district. The number of Project Affected villages is 46 out of which 32 villages will be fully affected and 14 villages will be partially affected.
There has been a decade-long struggle of the affected people, mostly the Kolam tribals, who have refused to part with both the private and the forestland that they use as commons. They argue that their land is very fertile and they have community rights over the forests. The residents had even filed Forest Rights claims under the Forest Rights Act but the authorities have not accepted them. The government has given an affidavit in the court that people don't have any forest rights claims in the area.
In 2013, the Lower Penganga Dharan Virodhi Samiti filed a case in the National Green Tribunal. The Environment Clearance for the project was given in 2007. However, work could not commence within the stated period of five years as per Environmental clearance. Earlier, the competent authority had refused the Forest Clearance, yet the MoEF in 2009 granted permission to divert forest land to the extent of 1089.06 ha for non-forest purpose. The case challenged the Environmental Clearance and Forest Clearance, on various grounds, including procedural irregularities, viability of the project, absence of proper rehabilitation and resettlement plan, threat to environment due to large number of trees cutting, etc.
In 2014, the Tribunal issued a judgement stating that the project was based on Sustainable development, as required under the Environmental norms. The petition lacked the substance to oppose the project. However, the NGT asked the responding authority to follow SC guidelines set in the Narmada Bachao Andolan Case to ensure compliance with certain conditions like implementation of rehabilitation package.
In 2018, it was reported that even after 2 decades, the work on the Lower Penganga project is at the primary stage. The VIDC has stated that the work will take another 25 years to complete, once it begins. Land for the project could not be acquired due to stiff opposition from the locals. In 2019, the VIDC extended the deadline for completion of project to 2044 due to fund crunch.

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Complaint against procedural violations

Demand for legal recognition of land rights

Refusal to give up land for the project

Other Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Region Classification

Rural

Type of Land

Both

Type of Common Land

Forest

Total investment involved (in Crores):

10500

Type of investment:

Cost of Project

Year of Estimation

2015

Page Number In Investment Document:

Has the Conflict Ended?

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

Categories of Legislations Involved in the Conflict

Legislations/Policies Involved

Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013
Section 15 
Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006
Section 4 
Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996
Sections 4(e), 4(i)
Environmental Impact Assessment Notification, 1994
Clause 3.1 and Schedule IV
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    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

Whether claims/objections were made as per procedure in the relevant statute

What was the claim(s)/objection(s) raised by the community?

What was the Decision of the Concerned Government Department?

Legal Processes and Loopholes Enabling the Conflict:

Non-implementation/violation of FRA

Controversial land acquisition by the government

Non-implmentation/violation of PESA

Lack of legal protection over land rights

Legal Status:

In Court

Status of Case In Court

Disposed

Whether any adjudicatory body was approached

Name of the adjudicatory body

Name(s) of the Court(s)

National Green Tribunal Western Bench (Pune)

Case Number

Application No. 13/2013

Main Reasoning/Decision of court

In 1975, a dispute between Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh as to the right to draw water from the Godawari River was settled by an Award of the Godawari Water Dispute Tribunal. The Lower Penganga Project was declared to be an Inter-State Project. Environment Clearance was granted in 2007, but Forest Clearance was rejected in 2003 and only granted in 2009. This was challenged before the Bombay HC vide a writ petition filed in 2007, and the case was transferred to the NGT in 2013. The NGT held that the public hearing regarding this matter had gone on for 7 hours, and to that extent, the Notification had been complied with. Nor had the Applicants raised any serious objections before the authority. However, the NGT did hold that the environmental impact of such a large project must be constantly reevaluated, including the conditions of the EC and FC. Finally, the NGT justified the clearance of the project under the principle of 'Sustainable Development', and emphasised that the irrigation project would be required for the larger benefit of society.

Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:

No items found.

Whether criminal law was used against protestors:

Reported Details of the Violation:

Date of Violation

Location of Violation

Nature of Protest

Advocacy (for inclusion in courts)

Development of a network or collective

Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

Irrigation Department, Revenue Department, Forest Department

PSUs Involved in the Conflict:

Vidharbha Irrigation development Corporation

Did LCW Approach Government Authorities for Comments?

Name, Designation and Comment of the Government Authorities Approached

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Corporate Parties for Comments?

Communities/Local Organisations in the Conflict:

Kolam, Andh, Gond tribal communities

Resources Related to Conflict

  • News Articles Related to the Conflict:
  • Documents Related to the Conflict:
  • Links Related to the Conflict:

Image Credit:  

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