Thank you for participating in last month's Barrage Ogden Day to stop the Maheshwar Dam! Because of your actions, we generated about 1500 faxes, calls and emails to Ogden! But, we still need your help. We urge you to join us in Barrage Ogden Day #2 and CALL, FAX OR EMAIL OGDEN ON MAY 23. We need to let Ogden know that we won't be satisfied until the company has withdrawn from the destructive Maheshwar Dam.
Here is a sample letter, background on the dam and some rebuttals for Ogden's claims.
On March 23, NY-based Ogden Corporation signed a Memorandum of Intent to take a 49% equity share in the controversial Maheshwar Dam on India's Narmada River. The project would be a social and economic disaster. Around 40,000 people would lose their lands or livelihoods because of the project. Independent surveys have shown that there is no available land to give to people whose lands will be flooded. Due to the project's poor economics and massive opposition, including countless demonstrations and rallies, two German utilities and one American company withdrew from the project during the last two years.
We urge you to CONTACT OGDEN ON MAY 23 and tell them to withdraw from the Maheshwar Dam. If we act together, we can stop this social and economic disaster.
Thanks for your support!
Friends of the Narmada
President and CEO, Ogden Corp.
VP, Policy & Communications, Ogden Corp.
The dam would affect more than 35,000 farmers, wage laborers, fisher and crafts people in 61 villages and submerge about 1,100 hectares of rich agricultural land. Many of these people would lose part or all of their lands. There is not enough land available to rehabilitate the dispossessed. The Madhya Pradesh (MP) State Government has admitted that it has no land to resettle people displaced by the Sardar Sarovar Project downstream of Maheshwar. People displaced by the Bargi and Tawa Dams are still fighting for resettlement 10 and 25 years, respectively, after the dams were completed.
The affected people, led by the Narmada Bachao Andolan (Save the Narmada Movement), are determined that they will never let the project be built. The NBA has spearheaded a non-violent movement for 15 years to stop dams on the river Narmada. Over the last two years, thousands of farmers whose lives and livelihoods will be destroyed by the Maheshwar Dam have occupied the dam site nine times, barricaded all roads leading to the dam for three months, and held mass demonstrations and hunger strikes opposing the dam.
Since its inception, the project has been plagued by financial problems. Electricity generated by the dam is projected to cost four to five times more than electricity currently produced by the state of Madhya Pradesh (MP). The MP Electricity Board, which is supposed to purchase power from the project, is on the verge of bankruptcy and is likely to default on its payments. Due to the project's serious financial risks and intense opposition from local people and Indian and international environmental and human rights groups, U.S. power utility PacifiCorp backed out of the project in 1998, and German utilities Bayernwerk and VEW Energie pulled out in April 1999.
In 1998, the MP Government had constituted a Task Force to review the project. As per the recommendations of the Task Force, the MP Government has decided to halt further construction of other dams on the river Narmada and look for alternatives. However, it is proceeding with the Maheshwar project, even though the Task Force report has detailed better and cheaper alternatives to the Maheshwar Project.
In December, the people of the Valley wrote to Ogden outlining the problems with the project and asked Ogden not to proceed with the investment before visiting the Valley and meeting with the people who will be affected by the project. Having not received any reply from Ogden, more than 300 newly elected representatives from the Valley passed a resolution opposing the project and sent it to Ogden. In spite of this, Ogden signed a Memorandum of Intent on March 23 to take a 49% equity share in the Maheshwar Dam Project. Despite considerable opposition, Ogden claims that ".. most families we saw [in the Narmada Valley] were pleased and appreciative of the project".
FOR MORE INFORMATION, visit www.narmada.org or www.irn.orgInternational Rivers Network