The multinational company Siemens has withdrawn its application for a Hermes export guarantee for the Maheshwar project from the German government. Claiming this, a senior leader of the Narmada Bachao Andolan, Ms Chittaroopa Palit, has described it to be a
victory for the struggling people of Narmada Valley.
She claimed that simultaneously private Hypo Vereinsbank of Germany has stated that it will now no longer be in a position to honour its commitment to give a Rs 530 crores loan for the project.
Ms Palit in a statement said: The decisions by the Siemens and Hypo Vereinsbank will mean that now there will be no German money for the Maheshwar project. It is clear that the decision Siemens was compelled to take is a direct consequence of the mass
struggle in the valley in the last four years by the affected farmers, workers, boatmen and fishermen besides the international solidarity and understanding that has supported it.
She added, Without doubt the withdrawal of the Hermes guarantee is yet another nail in the coffin of Maheshwar project. According to the NBA activists the Maheshwar Hydro Electric Project will submerge the lands, homes and livelihoods of over 40,000
people in 61 villages and inundate thousands of acres of rich deep black cotton soil, scores of extremely profitable sand quarries that support thousands of landless people and a rich composite culture.
The NBA activists assert that the people of this area have been struggling against this destruction and displacement as well as raising the issue of the prohibitively expensive power to be produced by this project that will bring darkness rather than
light to the people of Madhya Pradesh.
Ms Palit disclosed that it was on January 23, 1997 that Siemens had applied to the German government for a Hermes guarantee for the tied loan to be given by the Hypo Vereinsbank to the project for the purchase of hydroelectric equipment from Siemens.
In response to the mass struggle in the valley and in order to take a well considered decision, in May 2000 the development ministry of Germany commissioned a team of international experts to investigate the status of rehabilitation and resettlement in
the project, she said. She added that the team gave its report on June 15 sharply indicting the project.
Siemens told the German government that it would submit a report that would present substantially different findings about the status of rehabilitation in the valley. The fact that it then chose to withdraw the application itself instead of substantiating
its differences demonstrates that the Siemens has no answer to the basic finding of the report - that the rehabilitation of the affected communities is impossible, said Ms Palit.