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

M.P. Govt Continues the Game of Falsehood : Calling Affected People as "Outsiders" Amounts to Contempt of the

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The Supreme Court in India, on 17th of April 2006, gave an interim judgment in the urgent application filed by the 48 project affected families of Sardar Sarovar Project. To quote from the Judgment,

"Having heard the learned counsel, we feel that before we consider in depth the prayer strenuously made today for stopping the on-going work, it is necessary to give opportunities to the State Governments and others to file replies to all the applications having regard also to the fact that as of today, we have on record the permission granted on 9th March, 2006, and at the same time, the matter does not brook any delay as it may become fait accompli. It has been made clear to the State Governments that if the relief and rehabilitation to the unfortunate oustees are not granted in letter and spirit, this Court will have no option but to stop the on-going construction. Under these circumstances, we direct that the replies by all concerned shall be filed within a period of one week. Rejoinder affidavit thereto can be filed within one week thereafter. The matter shall be listed on 1st May, 2006."

It is in this context that Narmada Valley and its supporters have to get ready to prove the ground reality before the Supreme Court, once the affidavits are filed by the state governments through the oustee-petitioners rejoinder to be filed before May 1st, the next date for hearing.

The people of the Narmada, back to the Sardar Sarovar affected areas after a month long battle in Delhi have begun "Pol-khol Abhiyan" - "the Expose Campaign." On their way back in Bhopal, during just a 4 hours long sit-in they had to face and challenge the first outbreak of untruth that came from none other than Shivrajsingh Chauhan, CM-Madhya Pradesh, himself.

Shri Chauhan, CM, held an urgent press conference while we were in Bhopal countering the GoM's Report, questioning the statistics therein, and once again claiming that all the families, whether they are allotted agricultural land as per eligibility or not, whether they have accepted cash or not, whether the families in thousands, have shifted to the ready sites and the land to be flooded is vacated or not. The governments own definition of 'who is rehabilitated' in the official Action Plans is ignored and Tribunal Award to every official policy and plan stand violated. We would counter their claims in the Supreme Court, filing our assessment and data on the situation in all the 3 states including Maharashtra and Gujarat.

The CM has, stooping down to a new level, expectedly, criticized the visit by the 3 Minister's team from Central Government, calling it NBA-managed. He has, in his letter to the Prime Minister, alleged that the Ministers decided on the places to be visited with NBA, heard only NBA activists and could not judge the situation of rehabilitation, within a day. He has, following the steps of Narendra Modi, raised the issue of the Centre not just ignoring the state government but conspiring against it.

The GoMP also organized in haste, without informing us in Bhopal or announcing it to the Valley, a visit by the Chief Secretary. The Chief Secretary, who came in a helicopter, probably by spending about Rs 5 Lakh to 10 lakhs, didn't spend adequate time nor did he hear oustees gathered in hundreds and thousands at different places. At Nisarpur, for instance, the Chief Secretary was requested earnestly by the people to visit not just the R&R site but also the village to be ousted where there are at least 5000 PAPs in more than 2000 houses in a town-like village, with shops and markets, temples and mosques, schools, hospitals, and all amenities. The Chief Secretary, who was accompanied by Mr. PK Lahiri, Chief Secretary of Gujarat, however didn't enter the village and the caravan of vehicles turned back midway and left in the helicopter. They didn't even address about two or three thousand people gathered in the hospital building where officials had planned a meeting. On the other hand, he addressed a press conference in Indore only to declare that R&R is fine, and as per the official reports as also to make a shocking statement that the crowd assembled was of "the outsiders". Neither the CS nor any official is indeed interested in hearing the woes of the oustees, nor are they for reviewing their own agency reports or assessing the truth. It is therefore, only a political move preceding the Supreme Court hearing, to question the credibility of the GoM's report as dishonest.

It is unfortunate that the CM, who has himself never stepped into the SSP affected region in the Valley, never viewed the adivasi villages, never been to the populated farmer communities with the best agriculture and horticulture, is resorting to raising non-issues instead of the real ones. He has once again claimed the officials' reports showing R&R to be complete, as truthful. It is indeed a fact that the Group of Minister's (GoM) visit report, irrespective of some minor mistakes, in noting during their well attended meetings, is correct in its findings and conclusions. Every official knows that the GoM visited 3 sites of Dharampuri, Lakhangaan, and Borlai R&R sites suggested by the Government of Madhya Pradesh and 3 others by NBA. They totally rejected NBA's plea to visit the hilly adivasi communities, already affected with homes and farms drowned in Jhabua district of M.P. and Nandurbar district of Maharashtra as well as at least one R&R site. They did hear both, the officials and the project-affected families.

The game is thus on . . .

With a renewed yet old charge of foreign funding to the NBA, made through an active corporate who is said to be an ally of both Urmilaben Patel and BJP-Gujarat, the governments lobbying with Modi, are no doubt expressing their desperation to gain victory - - to push the dam ahead with an illegal decision and a great human tragedy. We will fight. Do join us in the "Pol-khol Yatra" "Expose Campaign" (April 25-29, 2006) and beyond.

Kailash Awasya Umesh Patidar Dipti Bhatnager Ashish Mandloi