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

Madhya Pradesh Government announces new financial package for Maan dam affected adivasis

Oustees acknowledge that this is a first step but insufficient, insist on land, prepare for satyagraha

NARMADA BACHAO ANDOLAN
Jail Road, Mandleshwar
District Khargone, Madhya Pradesh
Tel: 07283-33162
Email: nobigdam@sancharnet.in

Responding to the recent announcement by the Madhya Pradesh government for a fresh financial package of Rs. 12 crores for the oustees of the Maan Project being built in District Dhar in Madhya Pradesh, hundreds of adivasis affected by the Project marched in Dhar yesterday demanding agricultural land rather than cash compensation for the purposes of rehabilitation. The affected people stated that no doubt this government decision in response to the people's struggle was a first significant step towards the rehabilitation of the affected people but it is far from adequate. The affected adivasis demanded that the oustees must be rehabilitated as a community on large chunks of fertile and irrigated agricultural land and provided with all community facilities. They met Shri Baghela, Land Acquisition Officer and Shri Mathur, Rehabilitation Officer at Dhar and exposed the contradictions in the rehabilitation package. The affected people also demanded an immediate stop to tree felling in all villages in the area.

It may be noted that the rehabilitation policy for the oustees of the Narmada Projects that apply to the people affected by the Maan Project as well stipulates that the oustee must regain if not improve on his/her standard of living in the new site. The policy also makes a special provision for the adivasis and Dalits to be affected by these Projects. Section 3.2 of the policy states that all those losing more than 25 % of their lands will be entitled to a minimum of 2 hectares of agricultural land and that the responsibility of providing irrigation belongs to the state. This will have to be read along with section 5.4 of the Rehabilitation policy that a grant will be given to meet the difference between the compensation amount and the amount required for the purchase of equal land in a new place, and that for members of Scheduled Castes and Tribes, this grant will equal the full difference. It is thus clear that the physical and financial responsibility to ensure the rehabilitation of the dam affected adivasi families with at least 2 hectares of irrigated land belongs to the Madhya Pradesh government.

Section 10.1 states that rehabilitation sites with minimum facilities of electricity, drinking water, school, etc. would be provided to the oustees. It may be noted that although submergence and filling of the reservoir is only two months away, even rehabilitation sites for the majority of the affected people are yet to be developed.

The affected people also pointed out that although the government order stipulates that the new rates of fixing compensation for the oustees will be at the rates prevalent in "Sakalda command", the truth was that though the rates in the Sakalda command were about Rs.1,00,000 per acre, the rate at which the new compensations had been calculated was at Rs. 44,000 per acre. The government officials acknowledged that the lower rates were because the rates used were of unirrigated lands in the Sakalda command. Clearly, since the Rehabilitaion policy stipulates that the affected people be compensated with irrigated land, it was completely illogical and unacceptable to declare the special rehabilitation grant at the rates of unirrigated lands. In fact there, it ended all possibilities of the affected people actually being able to buy any land in lieu of the land they were losing.

The affected people also pointed out that the authorities were subtracting the compensation amounts for wells and trees from the amount under the special rehabilitation grant, for which there was no justification whatsoever. The affected people demanded that the special rehabilitation grant must be reassessed at the rates of irrigated land in the Sakalda command and the compensation for trees and wells must not be subtracted from the same. It may also be noted that the determination of the special rehabilitation grant in the Sardar Sarovar and other dams in the Narmada valley was at the rates for irrigated land, therefore it was not clear why there should be discrimination with the oustees of the Maan dam ?

The adivasis also protested against the large scale felling of trees in the submergence area in the last one week by the government. The people said that tree felling when they the people were yet to be rehabilitated and were living in their villages was an act of extreme violence. The affected people asked for an immediate stop to tree felling in the submergence area and challenged the government that they would stop the contractor 's men if they were sent for tree felling in to these villages.

The oustees stated that they have time and again raised the issue of the underestimation of submerging resources and properties with the government but there has been no response to identify and include the missing houses, trees and wells in the new lists as well as the lands that have not been identified as such by the government but which will certainly be submerged. The affected people insisted that the government must immediately take cognizance of these issues and include all people who are adults at the time of submergence on 30th June 2002 in the category of adult sons and daughters, as was done in the Bargi dam.

The affected people stated that cash in any form was not acceptable to them, and if the government did not provide them agricultural land and community relocation immediately, when submergence was merely two months away, there was no possibility that the people would just accept cash compensation and move out of their villages. Asserting their Right to natural resources, the adivasis said that either they would have to be rehabilitated with agricultural land that would sustain their generations, and be resettled as a community without which survival would not be possible or they would face the rising waters of the dam without fear and in a plea for the truth in the satyagraha this monsoon.

Vestibai, Village Khedi Balwadi
Bhondribai, Village Khanpura
Alok Agarwal