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


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We are puzzled as to how and why the Prime Minister of India has set up a three-member panel of Sardar Sarovar Project relief and rehabilitation oversight committee. It is unbecoming of the Prime Minister to unilaterally appoint such committee without consulting the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), that too after the indefinite fast of 20 days by the main activists, which triggered off the subsequent developments regarding the dam. It is also curious that the Prime Minister has refused to intervene to protect the lives of the people when the Review Committee of Narmada Control Authority (RCNCA) recommended the suspension of the dam work. At that time he left the matter for the Supreme Court and when the Court has warned about the possibility of staying the dam work, if the resettlement is not satisfactory, Prime Ministers office springs into action.

The Committee is supposed to assess the resettlement work and give suggestions in accordance with the provisions of the Narmada Water Dispute Tribunal (NWDT) has stipulated and subsequently the Supreme Court verdicts, within three months, till July 2006.

However, by this action, he only reaffirmed the failure of the resettlement. The terms of references (TOR), of this Oversight Group, as was published by the PIB, is contrary to what the Narmada Water Dispute Tribunal (NWDT) has stipulated and subsequently the Supreme Court had endorsed in October 2000 and March 2005.

Accordingly, the resettlement and rehabilitation be completed at least 6 months before the submergence and the raising of the corresponding dam height. So the Resettlement and Rehabilitation (R&R) of those affected by the height of 122 meters of dam height should have been given the cultivable land and house plot one year before the submergence and the entire resettlement should have been completed 6 months before the submergence, that is by December 2005. The Special Oversight Committee is expected to assess the situation, give suggestions regarding the proper ways of resettlement within three months, that is till July 2006. This is directly contrary to and violation of the NWDT provisions and Court rulings. It admits that the work of resettlement below the height of 122 meters is not complete. The first thing, before constitution of any such committee, would have been to stop the work on the dam, before such committee starts working to give suggestions etc.

The Committee has been asked to the see whether the oustess were offered the alternative land or not and whether those who have rejected the land have done so voluntarily or not. We are not sure what is the measure of such 'voluntary' rejection and what the government wants to drive at.

Moreover the Special Committee has to give suggestions regarding Madhya Pradesh resettlement on the basis of the NWDT provisions, Supreme Court rulings and on the basis of the decisions of the of the Madhya Pradesh Grievance Redressal Authority (GRA). It must be remembered that the GRA has to give decisions regarding the resettlement only according to the NWDT provisions and this is the jurisdiction of its work. In its ruling in March 2005, the Supreme Court has rejected with adverse comments the decisions taken by the Madhya Pradesh GRA regarding discrimination between the oustees affected by temporary and permanent submergence. The Madhya Pradesh GRA also accepted the sate government's policy of giving cash compensation in lieu of the land-based rehabilitation, which was termed as illegal in the meetings of the Narmada Control Authority (NCA) till September 2005. However, it is curious that the Prime Minister's announcement does not mention the GRAs of Maharashtra and Gujarat, but reefers specifically to the GRA of Madhya Pradesh.

The Narmada Bachao Andolan demands the clarification on these and other relevant issues from the Prime Minister. We still insist that the Prime Minister or any Court of justice his duty-bound by law and Constitution that the work on the dam could not be irreversibly pushed ahead, which would submerge the homes, farms and rights of thousands and thousands of tribals and farmers. The work on the dam must be immediately stopped and the all the affected families must be ensured full and just rehabilitation in a time bound manner.

Medha Patkar