NBA Press Release
  25 April 2002
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

People Continue Dharna in Bhopal on 25th And ask -
What will Madhya Pradesh Gain and Lose from Sardar Sarovar?

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As the Dharna by the village representatives from the Narmada valley continued on Thursday (25th April), with five project affected persons from the valley observing a 24 hour fast. As the people are demanding the answer from the Madhya Pradesh government about the illegal and fraudulent acts of displacing the people, they were wondering why the M.P. government is pursuing the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP), sacrificing its own people, natural and financial resources.

No Proper Estimate

Even though more than 90% of Narmada river's length is in Madhya Pradesh making it the lifeline of the region, the state government today in the name of harnessing the river is out to destroy the river, the culture of the valley and the environment. Till date no correct estimate of the land, forest and several villages which are going to get submerged under the various being constructed on the river has been made. Neither have they estimated the final cost by taking into consideration all the factors involved.

The final cost, of Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) alone, as proved by the Andolan in the Supreme Court, is going to be Rs 44,000 crores. The share of Madhya Pradesh, which is going to be several crores, has not been estimated till now. As of today, hundreds of crores of rupees, which are due from Madhya Pradesh, have to be paid immediately to Gujarat.

No Water or Power

Beyond all the economic cost-benefit, more than 40,000 ha of agriculture land and forest land is going to be lost forever. Now, twenty two years after the Narmada Water Dispute Tribunal (NWDT) Award, the submergence area has increased by 13%. The number of oustees has also increased by thousands.

The most important issue is that, the land outside the submergence area will be denied irrigation benefits, in addition to the loss of land slated to submerge. An area, which is almost equal to the land that is getting submerged, is also going to lose its greenery and affect thousands of families other than oustees. There is no account of thousands of farmer families, who are going to lose their land for the purpose of settling the oustees, when they themselves are not being counted as project affected. What will Madhya Pradesh gain from Sardar Sarovar Project after losing centuries old archeological heritage, living culture, well settled villages and prime agricultural land?

Madhya Pradesh is not going to get even a drop of water from Sardar Sarovar. The basic plan is to supply water from the reservoir to Gujarat and Rajasthan. The drought affected Kutch and Rajasthan will receive minimal water from Project, be it for drinking water or for irrigation purposes. The farmers and the other small towns and villages which are outside the submergence area will not get the water, as it will not be possible for them to lift a drop of water from the reservoir. This will be possible only on the basis of some agreement between Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. But as of today, Madhya Pradesh does not have any right over the waters of Sardar Sarovar reservoir, which is clear from a letter of Sardar Sarovar Nigam Ltd.

Madhya Pradesh is supposed to get 56% of the electricity generated from SSP. In a petition filed in the Supreme Court, the state government had said that the electricity generation is going to be 13% less than the initial estimate, because there was a 10 year delay in the approval. The as the canal work went ahead, the construction of the dam is lagging behind, which would have adverse impact on the electricity generation capacity.

In the present situation, while the cost is going up, the power generation is going to be quite less than the initial estimate. The actual water flow in Narmada being 15% less than estimated and Narmada Sagar also lagging behind like Sardar Sarovar. Also, the head reaches of canal are being used for growing cash crops like sugarcane, cotton and for meeting the water demands of big cities, how much water will be available for electricity generation? For how many days in a year, and in what quantity? These questions are as important both from the point of vieww of the Madhya Pradesh government and the people. Whether the SSP will turn into another Enron or Maheshwar, while the grim situation of rehabilitation also needs to be probed?

True, affordable and sustainable alternative for water and electricity lies in decentralized management, planning and equal distribution of the resources available, and not blindly engaging in political expediency and financial jugglery.

Medha Patkar
Jagadish Patel
Komlu Yadav
Kailash Awasiya
Himanshu Upadyay