| NBA Press Release
|| 21 August 2001
Announcement on SSP and Decision by Chief Ministers is Farcical
NARMADA BACHAO ANDOLAN
B-13, Shivam Flats
62, Mahatma Gandhi Road,
Madhya Pradesh - 451551
The unending controversy over Sardar Sarovar is uniquely reflected into every decision and news on the Project. The news related to the meeting of the interstate Review Committee is the latest indicator of the baseless and farcical decision-making and execution that is on, by the shrewd politicians with sheer vested interests and not public interest in mind.
Has the Review Committee approved construction beyond 90mts? The answer is NO. Some Gujarathi and other language newspapers report this as failure of Gujarat Government while others, basing their reports or the official public relation notes, has declared 10 mts rise as sanctioned. The fact is, with thousands of families in the three states, to be affected at 100 mts but not rehabilitated, there is no way the bureaucrats, hands in gloves with the politicians, sanction any further construction at this stage, if not never. The adivasi villages in the difficult terrain to those in the plains as also the thickly populated farmer villages can't be rehabilitated without alternative agricultural land, which is not available.
The Committee consisting of all concerned Chief Ministers know the reality. The Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, however, has come to compromise the interests of his state and thousands of adivasis, farmers, fishworkers, small traders, artisans and labourers. Maharashtra is known to be submitting to pressures against Enron. Whom are these so called elected representatives bluffing? That there are hundreds of families affected at 80 mts and a few thousand (35,000 and more) families at 90 mts, not yet rehabilitated is not only the ground reality but the reality undoubtedly accepted by the NCA officials during their hours long dialogue with hundreds of representatives on Aug. 6th (Indore) and Aug 14th (Domkhedi, Maharashtra). Both the Chairman, Rehabilitation Sub Group of NCA and the Member (Rehabilitation and Environment) NCA had time and again denied having given any permission even for raise upto 90 mts. The Court, however, either inadvertently or deliberately, wrongly referred to the Rehabilitation Sub Group's sanction and permitted 90 mts height.
Decision of humps: NBA vindicated again
The latest agreement in the Review Committee, reached among the states is important since by admitting that with 3 mts humps, the height reached is 93 and not 90 mts, is a vindicative of NBA's view point. As per the judgment, therefore, all the project affected families at 93 mts (not less than 5000 families in 3 states) should have been rehabilitated by December 2000 ie, 6 months before the submergence to be faced this monsoon. This hasn't and couldn't happen since there is basically no land for rehabilitation as per the policy. What else but a serious violation of the judgment and contempt of Court is this? The Chief Ministers and the state governments will have to answer this before any forum for justice, as a corollary to their decision on 'humps and its impacts'.
Impossibility of Rehabilitation
The public announcement that the high level Review Committee met and decided to have rehabilitation of all affected upto 100 mts by December 2001 is more than laughable. This kind of unrealistic schedules are declared by the governments time and again, with no other intention but to intimidate the organised tribal and peasants in the valley and to bluff the voter population in Gujarat. When the Governments in spite of all pressures and persuasion, withdrawal of the World Bank and stay on dam construction by the Court couldn't relocate more than 25% of 45,000 and more families (as per Government) over 22 years and 40,000 remain in the reservoir affected area of SSP still, when all those relocated (about 8000 families) are not yet rehabilitated as many were cheated in the process and thousands of other, mostly tribal families, are affected by colony, canal, sanctuary, afforestation and other project related works; there is no way that thousands of families could be rehabilitated within next 3 months. A joke that SSP and its issues have become can entertain all but kill the people to whom even basic right to life and livelihood is not granted.
All the issues including one of 'bypass tunnel' and 'privatisation of SSP' no doubt were debated in the meeting but no clue to the interstate conflict is given to the common people. The veil of secrecy however is ruptured when one reads the message that comes through various, even contradictory, reports. That there is no money to build the power project and hence either the distant needy regions of Kutch Saurashtra will not get the benefits as the financial viability is bound to affect other works on water supply side as well or the undue escalation of prices of privatised power would be unbearable to consumers and unacceptable even to Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh states who are to even otherwise pay enormous social, environmental and financial cost for unreliable, ever decreasing power generation. While such an incomplete, ill-conceived project will be a burden even on Gujarat, killing the alternatives cheap, short term and participatory, the lives of all those to be sacrificed are at stake. It's this and not the fake decisions and announcements of the meeting of Chief Ministers that NBA is fighting against. The fight will continue and SSP will remain stalled at 90 mts, even beyond 2001.