NBA Press Release
  08 April 2006
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

Reality of Displacement without Rehabilitation Is Clear: Need to Stop Work on Sardar Sarovar Dam Immediately

62, Mahatma Gandhi Road,
Badwani,
Madhya Pradesh - 451551
Tel: 07290-222464
Email: badwani[at]narmada.org

Ministerial Fact Finding Team's Visit To The Narmada Submergence And R&R Sites

A team of three ministers headed by the central water resources minister Shri Saifuddin Soz made a hurried one day visit to a few Resettlement and Rehabilitation (R&R) sites and submergence villages of the Sardar Sarovar project yesterday. In the short time they had allocated, the team was able to visit only a few R & R sites and two submergence villages. They were unable to visit the submergence villages in the adivasi areas such as Kakrana and Khariya Bhadal where adivasis whose homes & lands were submerged long ago are still residing in very difficult circumstances in the absence of any rehabilitation.

The team saw that the various R & R sites such as Dharampuri, Lakhangaon. & Borlai had no infrastructure such as water, water pipelines, sanitation, sewage, etc. The sites were far from ready, and lacked other basic amenities. Even plots were not demarcated at the R&R site in Dharampuri. Consequently there were very few people, houses of oustees in any of these sites. There were none at Dharampuri. These are the sites where thousands of oustees have been shown on paper as having been resettled by the NVDA authorities.

The team also visited Piplud & Awalda submergence villages where a number of oustees narrated their tale of woes to the team. They pointed out that none of them had been offered any cultivable agricultural land anywhere in MP as per the NWDT Award. They pointed out that even Land Acquisition has not been completed in many of these villages. Many had not been offered compensation for their houses. Even those who had been forced to accept cash compensation had been given amounts which were not adequate for even buying 2 acres of land, let alone 5 acres which they were entitled to. Kailash from Bhilkheda said that several people from Bhilkheda and more than 300 oustees from Manavar Tehsil had been shown on paper to have been offered the same plot of land measuring 7 hectares in Borgaon village, which was also uncultivable.

A large number of oustees pointed out that none of the R & R sites were developed and that the NVDA and the Grievance Redressal authority have been disregarding their complaints and keeping them pending. Hardly any complaints get redressed by the GRA whose chairman Justice Sohani has not visited any R & R site or submergence village in the last 5 years since he says he has no infrastructure.

The team finally visited the R & R site at Nisarpur where more than 5,000 oustees from various villages in the area were present. Representative oustees from various villages in the area including Nisarpur pointed out that the R & R site at Nisarpur which is supposed to house over 700 families of oustees did not have any infrastructure and that the house plots were on depressed land which gets waterlogged and the roads were at several feet above the house plots with no drainage for the house plots. The NVDA officials claimed that as per their plan the R & R sites would be fully ready by 31st May or 30th June. The oustees pointed out that these claims have been repeatedly found to be false and that in any case, that would leave no time for oustees to construct new houses before their houses in the submergence villages get submerged.

The team was also told that the NVDA has been giving false action taken reports, the correctness of which has not been tested by any independent authority or the R & R Subgroup or the GRA. The R & R subgroup had not come to the Narmada valley in MP in the last 6 years. Sanovar Bi from Chikhalda village emotionally asked the team to spend more time in the valley, so that they could see the appalling state of affairs. Many people pointed out that so far there had been no violence in the valley, but if this state of affairs continues, this situation may not last long. All in all it became clear to the team that thousands of oustees who are already affected or those who would be affected by the submergence at 121.92 metres (the height which has now been permitted) would be displaced without rehabilitation.

Mr. Soz told the oustees at Nisarpur that they had seen and heard the tale of woes of the oustees and would convey the situation immediately to the Prime Minister and the Cabinet. He said that there was grave concern in the government about the situation which was clear from the government^s decision to send three ministers to the valley.

We hope, now that that it has become crystal clear that the decision to raise the height of the dam would submerge thousands of oustee families without rehabilitation, the government would take immediate steps to stop the construction of the dam.

Prashant Bhushan (Advocate)
Dr. Bramha Dev Sharma