Uttar Pradesh govt constructing Kanhar dam despite pending HC petition

Reported by

Riddhi Pandey

Legal Data by

Edited by

Updated by

Published on

September 20, 2016

September 20, 2016

Updated on

September 20, 2016

Location of Conflict

Sugawan

Sundari village

Sonbhadra

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Irrigation Dam

(

)

People Affected by Conflict

Households Affected by Conflict

10000

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

4132

ha

Starting Year

2014

State

Uttar Pradesh

Sector

Power

The Kanhar dam was originally approved by the Central water commission in September, 1976 with an initial budget of INR 27.75 crores. Initially, the foundation work was undertaken but the project was put on hold due to inter-state issues, lack of funds and strong protests from tribal communities of the region. The construction work was completely abandoned by1989-90.
Since then, there were numerous times when the project was re-inaugurated in 2011 and 2012. However, no work was taken up. In 2014, after a span of 25 years the project was commenced without a fresh cost benefit analysis (CBA), any environment impact assessment (EIA) or the Social Impact Assessment (SIA) for the project. The Environmental clearance for the project was undertaken in 1980 and a fresh clearance under the EIA Notification 2006 wasn't undertaken. The matter was taken to the National Green Tribunal in December 2014, the tribunal directed an inquiry and restraint in the construction. In May 2015, the tribunal gave its go-ahead to the project because a lot of investment had already gone into the project, and much of the construction work had already been done. "Any direction for stoppage of work or demolition of the project will not serve the ends of justice or the environment", NGT stated (See the attached fact-finding report).
The inauguration of the project held on 5th December 2014 was marked by presence of heavy police force and paramilitary forces which were deployed to guard the construction site on the river bed. Few roads have been blocked by Police and the entry to the project site is stopped ahead of the construction site. CCTV cameras are also reported to be installed at the site to keep a regular check on the activities.
The dam construction work began without consulting the villagers or the local gram panchayats. When villagers were first told about the project in the year 1976, then Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Shri N D Tiwari promised them 5 acres of land, one job in each family and a house measuring 40 x 60 feet, apart from full facilities of education, health, electricity and water to the affected villages of the region. Later in 1983, compensation payments were made to a certain number of villagers and only to the heads of households at the rate of Rs. 2700 per acre. But the process got stalled again (See the attached fact-finding report).
If constructed, the dam will submerge more than 4,000 Hectares of land in which not only the forest be affected, but nearly 10,000 families (many of which are tribal) will be displaced. The forest cover will also be put at risk; the Renukoot Forest Division is in fact one of the most dense forests of Sonebhadra with tree density of 652 per hectare.
Gram Sabhas (village councils) in the area of the project affected villages has already passed resolutions against the project and submitted the same to the UP government.
A local committee, Kanhar Bachao Andolan, started mobilization against the project in 2002.
In 2014, the Sub Divisional Magistrate along with the UP- Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) came to the protest site and intimidated the protestors. It caused a chaos in which the Sub Divisional Magistrate was injured. A series of arrests, allegedly in retaliation, were made by the police with cases filed against 16 named and 500 unnamed locals (See the attached fact-finding report). In April 2015, the protesters again held a dharna opposing the project when the UP-  Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) open fired and Aklu Chero – an adivasi resident from Sundari village was hit by a bullet. 39 persons were injured out of which 12 of them are seriously wounded. After this incident the deployment was increased to about 500-1000 officials of the PAC. A few days later, the PAC entered the Bhisur village and vandalized houses, damaged people’s properties, beat up the residents of village. They also filed criminal cases  against 956 villagers _(See the attached fact-finding report). _The fact finding report states that such acts of violence were conducted to terrorize communities protesting against the project.
Debadityo Sinha from Vindhyan Ecology and Natural History Foundation informed Land Conflict Watch that the protests ended in the year 2015 soon after the firing incident. No ground level agitation has been going since then. A High Court court case challenging the acquisition proceedings is pending. In 2020-21, the UP government sanctioned Rs 180 crore to expedite construction of the dam.

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Refusal to give up land for the project

Demand for rehabilitation

Other Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Region Classification

Rural

Type of Land

Both

Type of Common Land

Forest and Non-Forest, Non-Forest (Other than Grazing Land)

Total investment involved (in Crores):

28

Type of investment:

Investment Made

Year of Estimation

2014

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

Environmental Impact Assessment Notification, 2006
Section 3; Sections 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 [Since no Environmental Impact Assessment was undertaken]
Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013
Section 24(2) [since the land acquisition proceedings have lapsed]
Ministry of Tribal Affairs Guidelines for conversion of forest villages into revenue villages under the Recognition of Forest Rights Act, 2006 dated November 8, 2013
Section 3(1) [Forest rights of Forest dwelling Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest dwellers]; Section 4(1) [Recognition of, and vesting of, forest rights in forest dwelling Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest dwellers]; Section 6(1) [Gram Sabha is the authority to vest forest rights in forest dwelling Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest dwellers and procedure thereof]
Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980
Section 2 [Restriction on the de-reservation of forests or use of forest land for nonforest purpose]
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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

Non-payment of compensation/promised compensation

Forced evictions/dispossession of land

Non-implementation/violation of LARR Act

Legal Status:

In Court

Status of Case In Court

Pending

Whether any adjudicatory body was approached

Name of the adjudicatory body

Name(s) of the Court(s)

National Green Tribunal; Allahabad High Court

Case Number

CIVIL APPEAL NOS. 3264- 3268, 3262-3263 OF 1998; Writ C – 58444/2014 with Writ C – 67043/2011

Main Reasoning/Decision of court

NGT, Order dated 07.05.2015: The petitioners’ prayer was that the project work on Kanhar dam must be stopped till the Project Proponent seeks fresh Environmental Clearance. The National Green Tribunal acknowledged that no Forest Clearance had been obtained or EIA undertaken for the project. It also referred to the Ministry of Environment and Forest Circular dated January 15, 2008 which stated that projects listed prior to EIA Notifications 1994 and 2006 must seek prior environment clearance under the EIA Notification, 2006 if no activity has commenced. Based on this, the NGT held that there was a legal obligation upon the Project Proponent to seek Environmental Clearance. However, it did not stop the construction entirely and passed an "equitable order" as huge amount of public funds had already been spent on the project. The NGT set up a Committee that will report to the Tribunal after undertaking a detailed study. It allowed the ongoing construction on the Kanhar dam to the extent that there are any pending construction activities but no new activity could commence till the Committee constituted by NGT recommends it. Allahabad High Court, Order dated 25.10.2018: The petitioners contended that under Section 24(2) of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Re-settlement Act, 2013, the land acquisition proceedings have lapsed and the petitioners must not be dispossessed now. However, the Court adjourned these proceedings as per the order dated 21.02.2018 passed by the Supreme Court in State of Haryana and others vs. M/S G.D. Goenka Tourism Corporation Limited and Anr stating that all proceedings concerning or relating to interpretation of Section 24(2) of the LARR Act have been stayed pending adjudication of the matter by the Larger Bench of the Apex Court. However, even though the Supeme Court has passed the judgement in Indore Development Authority v. Manoharlal on March 06, 2020, no order has been passed by the High Court since 2018.

Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:

Lathicharge/teargas/pellets

Blackmail/threats/intimidation

Whether criminal law was used against protestors:

Reported Details of the Violation:

The protests in April 2015 at the Kanhar Dam construction site were met with violent repression from the Uttar Pradesh Police. In an incident of firing by the Police on 14th April 2015 on the protesters, one person was killed and at least 8 more were injured. The fact-finding report of the Chhattisgarh Bachao Andolan (CBA) claimed that at least 39 people were injured in the incident of firing by the police, of which at least 12 were grievously injured.

Date of Violation

Location of Violation

Sugawan

Nature of Protest

Advocacy (for inclusion in courts)

Blockades

Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh State Governments, Ministry of Water Resources, GoI

PSUs Involved in the Conflict:

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:

Community members of affected villages

Resources Related to Conflict

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

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