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The Hindu on indiaserver.com : NBA volunteers gherao Narmada Valley official

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Thursday, March 23, 2000


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NBA volunteers gherao Narmada Valley official

By Our Staff Correspondent

BHOPAL, MARCH 22. The Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) leader, Ms. Medha Patkar, today gheraoed the Member (Rehabilitation) of the Narmada Valley Development Authority, demanding a feedback on the Madhya Pradesh Government's reply to the Supreme Court on March 28 during the final hearing on the height of the Sardar Sarovar dam and the rehabilitation of the displaced.

In her arguments with the NVDA Member, Mr. S.C. Majumdar, she said 33,000 families were being affected due to submergence and the Government had no land for their rehabilitation. The Narmada Award stipulated that alternative land be given in all the cases where 25 per cent or more landholding would be submerged, she said, adding that it was wrong on the part of the Government to presume that the affected people would shift to Gujarat. This was amply demonstrated by the return of those who had shifted there.

The State Government, she said, had already told the Apex Court through an affidavit that land was not available for rehabilitation of the oustees. She made this observation, referring to the Court's query whether or not land was available for rehabilitation if the dam's height was raised to 455 feet.

Ms. Patkar informed newsmen covering her dharna at the NVDA headquarters here that the proposal of compensation, which had figured during her meeting with the Chief Minister, Mr. Digvijay Singh, on January 5 this year, was unacceptable to the oustees.

Sixty-six thousand hectares of land was needed for 33,000 families affected by the project, but since alternative land was to be given to only those whose 25 per cent landholding was getting submerged, at least 20,000 hectares of land would still be required for rehabilitation, she pointed out, while asserting that the Government should identify this land in its reply to the Supreme Court.

She said in his recent address on water management at The Hague, Mr. Singh had stated that people should be responsible for managing water resources. But they were being displaced in the State on the pretext of water management.

Ms. Patkar said Mr. Singh had told her at The Hague that his Government was trying to identify land reserved for grazing and forest land and permission would be sought from the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest (MOEF) for diverting forest land as compensation to the oustees.


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