Polavaram project in Andhra: Delhi HC sets aside NHRC order

File photo of Polavaram dam. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The Delhi High Court has set aside a NHRC order which had terminated proceedings initiated on a complaint alleging human rights violation and forced evictions in connection with a multi-purpose irrigation project at Polavaram, in west Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh.

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) had dismissed the proceedings after it was informed that the Supreme Court was also dealing with the subject matter of the complaint. The petition, filed by a person affected by the project, had sought implementation of government orders on rehabilitation and resettlement of the displaced people.

Justice Vibhu Bakhru agreed with the submission of the petitioner that he was not provided sufficient opportunity to be heard. “In view of the above, the impugned order dated June 28, 2017 is set aside and the matter is remanded to the NHRC to take an informed view after affording the petitioner an opportunity to be heard,” the high court said and requested NHRC to take up the matter as expeditiously within a period of three months.

Advocate Sravana Kumar, appearing for the petitioner, submitted that NHRCs assumption was incorrect and petitions filed before the top court relate to certain environmental clearances and compliance with certain other enactments which are not the subject matter of the proceedings before NHRC. He contended that there is no overlap with the subject matter of proceeding before the apex court and the petitioners complaint before NHRC.


The lawyer also said that the petitioner was not provided sufficient opportunity to counter the assumption that the subject matter of the proceedings before the apex court was common to the subject matter before NHRC. The petitioner, Pentapati Pullarao, had challenged the decision of the NHRC to close the proceedings in the matter based on a news report that similar matters were pending in the Supreme Court.

Pullarao, in his plea, said he had initially challenged the NHRC order of June 2017 in the apex court, which on February 9, 2018 asked him to move the high court against the commissions decision. The petition has alleged that the project authorities acquired the land between 2006-09 and took possession of it without giving adequate compensation to the people being displaced.

According to the petitioner, the commission, during the proceedings before it, had asked the state of Andhra Pradesh to follow the government orders on rehabilitation and resettlement. It had also asked the state to prepare and circulate the procedure to be followed before, during and after the eviction, the plea said. However, the interim directions of the NHRC have not been complied with, the petition added.

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