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Supreme Court's Judgment: A Statement and an Appeal

Supreme Court


Supreme Court’s Judgment

A Statement and an Appeal

We, the signatories to this of doing so. This is a reckless and major
statement, wish to record our redesigning of the geography of the
utmost concern at the Hon’ble country.
Supreme Court’s judgment of 27 Febru (ii) The related ideas of a “national wa
ary 2012 on the River Interlinking Pro ter grid” or the “networking of rivers”
ject (rip), on the following grounds: give evidence of profoundly wrong
(1) The judgment gives categorical thinking about rivers. Rivers are not
directions to the executive government pipelines.
on a matter which is clearly in the exec (iii) The grand design consisting of 30
utive domain, namely, the implementa projects involving upwards of 80 dams
tion of a particular project. is bound to have major environmental/
(2) It gives the direction to implement ecological consequences, which might
the “project”, i e, the grand design as a even be disastrous in some cases. Each
whole, at a time when none of the 30 dam will also mean the displacement of
projects that constitute that grand people to varying extents, and may
design has gone through the processes cause injustice and hardship.
of examination, evaluation and approv (iv) The project is at variance with the
al and received fi nal sanction. growing recognition that it is necessary
(3) By declaring the project to be in the to move away from the long-standing
national interest it not only anticipates engineering tradition of a supply-side
the result of the examination that is yet response to a projected or imagined
to take place, but also makes it demand, and towards restraining the
extremely difficult for the various gov growth of competitive unsustainable
ernmental agencies and ministries to demand for water in all uses.
undertake a rigorous and objective (v) Assuming that some augmentation
examination. of supply is necessary, the project fails
(4) Its reference to “the unanimous view to consider alternative possibilities, of
of all experts” that the project is “in the which there are several very good
national interest” is patently untrue, examples.
because there is a substantial body of (vi) The idea of transferring fl ood
expert opinion that is highly critical of waters to arid or drought-prone areas
the project. Such a serious error would is flawed because (a) there will be hardly
not have occurred if there had been any fl ood moderation; and (b) this pro
consultations with scholars of various ject will be of no use at all to the dry
disciplines who have given thought to lands and uplands of the country.
the matter. (vii) The idea of transferring water
(5) It fails to take note of, or treats light from surplus to deficit basins is equally
ly, the strong dissent on the part of sev flawed because the very notions of
eral state governments. “surplus” and “deficit” are highly prob
(6) The following is a succinct state lematic. The idea of a “surplus” river
ment of the case against the project: ignores the multiple purposes that it
(i) Instead of starting from the identifi serves as it fl ows and joins the sea, and
cation of the needs of water-scarce are that of a “deficit” river is based on “de
as and fi nding area-specifi c answers, mands” on its waters derived from
the project starts by looking at a map of wasteful uses of water.
India, decides a priori that the rivers of (viii) Careful, economical, confl ict-free
India can and should be linked, and and sustainable intra-basin manage ment
then proceeds to consider the modalities should come fi rst, and bringing water
54 april 21, 2012

from elsewhere should be the last recourse.

  • (ix) The project holds the potential of generating new confl icts between basins.
  • (x) There are international dimensions to this project. Both Nepal and Bangladesh have expressed serious apprehensions that need to be taken into account.
  • Having regard to the points made above, we, the undersigned, would earnestly and respectfully urge the Hon’ble Supreme Court to put the judgment on hold and undertake a careful reconsideration of the entire matter. We would also respectfully suggest a study of the available literature on the subject, and consultations with several distinguished critics of the project.

    Ramaswamy R Iyer, Prashant Bhushan, Manoj Mishra, Mahadevan Ramaswamy, Himanshu Thakkar, A Vaidyanathan, A Latha, Achyut Das, Ajit Mozoomdar, Arun Kumar, Ashis Nandy, Ashok Jaitly, Ashok Khosla, Bharat Jhunjhunwala, Biksham Gujja, Brij Gopal, Darryl D’Monte, Dinesh Kumar Mishra, Dulal Goswami, E A S Sarma, G N Kathpalia, Harsh Vardhan, Indira Khurana, Janak Daftary, K C Sivaramakrishnan, K J Joy, Kalpana Sharma, Kanchan Chopra, Kuldip Nayar, Leo Saldanha, Ligia Noronha, M K Prasad, Madhu Bhaduri, Mandar Sathe, Nitin Desai, Pandurang Hegde, Parineeta Dandekar, Pranjal Deekshit, Rajeswari Raina, Ranjan Panda, Ravi Singh, Rohini Nilekani, S G Vombatkere, S Janakarajan, S K Mishra, Sachin Warghade, Samar Singh, Sanjoy Hazarika, Seema Kakde, Shankar Sharma, Shripad Dharmadhikary, Subodh Wagle, Sudhirendar Sharma, Suhas Paranjape, Sunil Goel, T Prasad, Tejas Pol, Umamaheshwari, Umendra Dutt, V Rajamani, Vandana Shiva, Walter Fernandes.

    29 March 2012

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    vol xlviI no 16

    Economic & Political Weekly

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