In 2002, the NBA filed a writ petition before the Supreme Court of India raising several issues including relief and rehabilitation.

One of the grievance was related to the practise of the State of Madhya Pradesh consisting of offering oustees cash instead of providing them rehabilitation facilities.

On 15th March, 2005, the SC rendered its decision. It clearly stated that:

(1) every major son of a landholder losing more than 25% of his/her landholding should be considered as a separate family and, in accordance with the Tribunal’s Award, they are entitled to two hectares of land each ;

(2) there can be no distinction between the temporarily and permanently affected families at intermediate stages of the dam height ;

(3) no submergence should occur without rehabilitating every person affected, whether temporarily or permanently ;

The SC also :

(4) made it clear that ‘pari passu’ means that “In no event shall any areas in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra be submerged under the Sardar Sarovar unless … arrangements are made for the rehabilitation of oustees”.

(5) underlined the Tribunal’s provision regarding cultivable and irrigable land that shall be offered, almost indicating that anything else is not acceptable and can be rejected by oustees.

(6) made clear that a Project Affected Family shall receive alternative land for agriculture at least one year before submergence while full resettlement is to be completed at least six months before.

Regarding false records and manipulation, the judgment furthermore demands that the governments correct records, estimate the correct number of PAFs and the land required, identify land, etc.

For more explanation, see Medha Patkar, “Latest judgment proves it all”, in India Together, 28 avril 2005.