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Sunday 26 March 2000

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Ahmedabad
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Govt making all efforts to rebuff NBA in court

By Rajiv Shah

GANDHINAGAR: The Gujarat government is making frantic attempts to finalise arguments for the Supreme Court case on the Sardar Sarovar dam to rebuff the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) and Madhya Pradesh view that the state has "virtually no land" for the thousands that would be uprooted due to likely submergence.

Arguments are also being worked out to counter the view that community-based resettlement of the Madhya Pradesh villages was not being allowed, and that those resettled were not being given the land and site of their choice.

The apex court is to resume hearing the case on Tuesday. "Not more than 8,000 families from MP can be said to be wanting to resettle in Gujarat. The rest want to be settled in MP," said a well-placed source here. MP argues that the figure of its oustees is three times as much with no land available in the neighbouring state. "Of the identified oustees wanting to come to Gujarat, 1,800 have been already resettled, with most of their problems related to amenities and quick delivery of requirements has already been taken care of."

An official note on Narmada prepared ahead of the hearing says of the 193 MP villages to be affected because of submergence, merely one village would be fully uprooted, with the farmers' land and the village getting submerged. In the case of four villages, 76 to 90 per cent of the farmers' land would be submerged. In the case of 14 villages, 51 to 75 per cent of land would be affected. As for 30 villages, 26 to 50 per cent of the land would be affected. In another 32 villages, 11 to 25 per cent of land would be affected And in a majority of the cases, 82 villages, less than 10 per cent of land would be affected.

In case of nine villages, only government wasteland would be submerged. And in case of 21 villages, residential sites would be submerged, but not farmers' lands. In 67 per cent of cases, there would be no need to uproot villages, from their original place.

As for the view that MP oustees are not being given the land and site of their choice in Gujarat, officials here point out that of 5,919 grievances received from oustees till March 15, only 134 grievances related to requests for change in land.

Says Prof Sudershan Iyenger, director, Gujarat Institute of Development Research, currently involved in a sociological survey on MP oustees, "In 70 per cent of cases, the problem can be solved with active participation of grassroots organisations."

And finally, the view that community-based resettlement was not being carried out would be officially countered by pointing out that oustees would need to be involved in the overall economic development and should not be left in their traditional underdeveloped status as before. Of the 180 resettlement sites offered, it is suggested, in 35 cases the choice is that of the oustees, and in six cases it is not. As for the rest, the choice has been "accepted" after being offered to them.

All these are modern sites, and it may take time for the oustees, mostly tribals, to be used to the new place, official sources said.



The Economic Times


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