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

Fast by Medha, Bhawatiben and Jamsinghbai continues; NBA criticizes attack on Vadodara office; reaction to Prof. Soz's statement

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

The NBA severely criticizes the direct and brutal attack of its office/residence in Baroda in Gujarat. Over 50 hooligans broke into the office this evening and ransacked the place. The office was locked and luckily there was no activist in the office, but the target certainly seems to be the papers and files, which are the only weapon used by the NBA against unjust displacement! NBA persons immediately informed Commissioner of Police Deepak Swarup and Collector Rajiv Topno. Swarup responded nastily saying that we should phone 100 instead of bothering him. Topno was non-committal. The police who were present at the location did nothing and just allowed the goondas to ransack the office and throw files down from the first-floor office. We do not, as of now, know who the perpetrators are but we certainly suspect the goondas of the BJP and the Yuva Congress who are opposed to democracy and can only be expected to resort to mindless violence. We know that this incident has happened with the clear knowledge and guidance of Narendra Modi! As of this writing, the NBA's files and papers still lay strewn around on the road, while the police just look on!

The Review Committee of the Narmada Control Authority (RCNCA) has in its statement to the press (attached below), declared that there was "no consensus" on whether to suspend construction of the dam, "...in view of the fact that Rehabilitation and Resettlement of the Project Affected Families in Madhya Pradesh has not been to the satisfaction of the requirements laid down by the Hon'ble Supreme Court." If the RCNCA recognises and acknowledges the fact that rehabilitation and resettlement have not been to the satisfaction of the Supreme Court's orders, it begs the question why they did not order to stop construction of the dam, which is continuing in violation of the Supreme Court's orders. After all, the duty of the RCNCA is to implement the NWDT Award and the Supreme Court judgements. Clearly, political compulsions have affected the RCNCA and the rule of law as well as reason has been thrown aside.

The Supreme Court has itself, in its verdict of 18th October 2000, empowered the Prime Minister to intervene and take a decision in case of the deadlock in the RCNCA. Hence, one wonders why the RCNCA has chosen to invoke the Supreme Court rather than the Prime Minister to resolve the issue. It is the Prime Minister's duty to intervene and stop construction of the dam, in view of the RCNCA's admission that rehabilitation and resettlement of the project-affected families in Madhya Pradesh is not according to the Supreme Court requirements. The Prime Minister cannot abdicate his responsibility and pass the buck onto the Supreme Court.

Official Press Statement of Water Resources Minister:

"The meeting of the Review Committee of the Narmada Control Authority fully recognized that the Sardar Sarovar Dam needs to be constructed as it will provide several benefits to the people in the States of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Gujarat. However, at the meeting, there was no consensus on the issue whether construction of the Dam should be suspended in view of the fact that Rehabilitation and Resettlement of the Project Affected Families in Madhya Pradesh has not been to the satisfaction of the requirements laid down by the Hon'ble Supreme Court. Hence, it is open to the Hon'ble Supreme Court to consider whether construction of the dam should be temporarily suspended till such time as Rehabitation and Resettlement of the Project Affected Families is done in consonance with its directions. Minister of Water Resources has not ordered suspension of the construction work of the dam.

At the same time, the Minister of Water Resources in his capacity as the Chairman of the Review Committee of the Narmada Control Authority will submit a report to the Hon'ble Prime Minister reflecting the points of view expressed at the meeting including the views of the Hon'ble Chief Ministers."

STATEMENT RELEASED BY MEDHA PATKAR

The Review Committee of the Narmada Control Authority (RCNCA) has finally met and discussed the issue of raising the height of Sardar Sarovar Dam to 121.92m. In any case, the utterly illegal and false basis of the NCA's decision was more than proved, not only through NBA's analysis and submission of field level reports, but also from the Ministerial Team's visit to the Valley on 7th April 2006, where they heard hundreds of oustees. Indeed there was no need to refer the decision to the RCNCA. In fact the official bodies could have reviewed NCA's decision, which is in total contempt of Court and in violation of laws and policies, if they were interested in the welfare of the oustees or if they were compelled to do so by the Ministries.

However, it is Modi's politics, now hand in glove with Ahmad Patel, leader of Gujarat Congress, that gave the process a turn by making the matter referred to RCNCA. A tie and no conclusive decision from the RCNCA is not at all unexpected. Thanks to BJP's politics, not only Modi, but the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh also has, with full knowledge of the ground reality, decided to support Modi at the cost of farmers and their fertile lands, populated villages and the world's most ancient civilization. Without fulfilling the minimum conditions of rehabilitation, the government of Madhya Pradesh wants to sacrifice its people and interests, at the altar of not development but politics.

The tie indeed is between truth and untruth and between vulgar and selfish party politics and democratic values and processes.

As per the Tribunal in the case of urgency and disputes the Minister of Water Resources as Chairman of the RCNCA can stay any decision of the NCA, and as per the judgement of the Supreme Court in 2000; " If for any reason serious differences in implementation of the Award arise and the same cannot be resolved in the Review Committee, the Committee may refer the same to the Prime Minister whose decision, in respect thereof, shall be final and binding on all concerned."

We wait and watch for the Prime Minister's decision, hoping that it would not breach the trust that the Supreme Court has placed in his position and stature.

We know that this is not a question related to one dam but to the future of democracy and peoples rights. It poses a challenge before us the nation and the State. If after years of struggle, multitude of officials, laws and polices in black and white, and the Supreme Court judgments, nothing but politics stand to dominate and win, it would be a big blow to civil society's and especially the victimized populations faith in approaching and relying on democratic channels. The alternative they would resort to would obviously be not just non cooperation but even violence in self-defence. No one would be able to question the same on any grounds.

Modi and BJP politics, known to the whole world, to have won electoral politics in the name of religion and through communal massacre are now moving ahead to kill the riverine populations of the Narmada Valley, unfortunately taking Gujarat Congress and other parties, claiming to be secular along with them. This is one of the most condemnable examples of regionalism that is trying to make the democratic fora and even the Constitution, especially principles of democracy, justice and the right to life, subservient to itself. There is no doubt that Modi and BJP have succeeded in making the Congress ally with them on the agenda of winning the next elections, even when Gujarat's rehabilitation is a sham and Madhya Pradesh's is only on paper.

The three BJP states have thus committed contempt of court and moreover the contempt of their own people, especially adivasis and farmers.

It is in this context that the Prime Minister's vision and commitment is to be tested. His decision would give a message to the country whether or not there is any concern for not only the Common Minimum Programme but for the human face of development.

We three Jamsingh bhai Nargave, Bhagwatibai and myself decide to continue our fast, which is committed to reversal of the NCA decision and stoppage of dam construction that will bring death to the Narmada Valley. Our lives are to be put at stake, not for any perverse cause or stubbornness but for the lives of lakhs of people which are more precious that our own lives.

Dipti Bhatnagar
S.P. Biniwale
Clifton Rozario
Bawa Mahariya
Bhanabhai
Noorji Padvi
Siyaram Padvi