NBA Press Release
  16 August 2001
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

MAHARASHTRA GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS AGREE THAT 90M AFFECTED FAMILIES RESETTLEMENT IS STILL DUE IN FRONT OF NARMADA CONTROL AUTHORITY OFFICIALS

NARMADA BACHAO ANDOLAN
B-13, Shivam Flats
Ellora Park,
Baroda-390007
Tel: 0265-282232
Email: baroda@narmada.org

62, Mahatma Gandhi Road,
Badwani,
Madhya Pradesh - 451551
Tel: 07290-22464
Email: badwani@narmada.org

In the NCA commissioned field verification of resettlement of families from submergence villages held at Domkhedi on 14th August 2001, the Maharashtra Government officials agreed that the resettlement of hundreds of families affected at the present height of the dam still remains to be done. That there is no land at the established resettlement sites was also stated forcing the Government to acquire private lands for the resettlement of those already affected. The officials accepted that the lands that were allotted to the families ex-parte (which the families have already rejected) was uncultivable. In fact the officials stated that they knew that the land was uncultivable even when the allotment was made.

More than 1000 people including representatives from all submergence affected villages in Maharashtra from Manibeli to Bhadal, Gujarat villages from Vadgam to Hapeshwar, M.P. villages from Jalsindhi to Kakrana and Sondul Patti villages and Nimad. Representatives of those affected by the Kewadia colony and those adivasis from Maharashtra affected by compensatory afforestation and catchment area works. The public hearing was held in the presence of senior advocates of Gujarat High Court, Shri Girishbhai Patel and Shri Haroobhai Mehta (also Ex-Member of Parliament), seinor scientist Dr.Jasbhai, Smt. Neela Ardikar, Shri. Alauddhin from Mandlik Trust, Mumbai, Smt Indavi Tulpule from Shramik Sanghatana, Mumbai and over hundred supporters from Delhi, Bangalore, Kerala, Pune, Mumbai and other parts of the country.

In the day-long held public hearing representatives from all the submergence villages presented the issue before the NCA and Maharashtra Government officials. Most of those present in the hearing were 90m affected adivasis and the truth was there for all to see that their resettlement was yet to be done. While on one hand the Government claims, on paper, that the resettlement is over on the other hand the Maharashtra Government is calling the PAFs to inspect other private lands the Government plans to acquire. This is evidence enough to prove that their resettlement is due and also that the Government is using ex-parte as an exercise to push the project forward irrespective of the people and denying them their legally required resettlement.

The Government officials accepted that while there is no cultivable land available in the 5 R&R sites established by Maharashtra in Taloda district, the uncultivable land in the sites has been allotted ex-parte ! NBA strongly condemned these violations and the agitated adivasis insisted that the NCA take strong action against the Maharashtra Government. The officials even accepted that the Government is now in the process of acquiring private lands, which are now being offered to those PAFs who have been claimed resettled on paper! However, even this land is yet to be acquired and under such circumstances it is clearly proved that the Government of Maharashtra has no land today. The issue of underestimation of families have discussed and proven by the Narmada Bachao Andolan.

The hearing was initially scheduled to be held on the 13th in Bhitada, M.P. and Domkhedi, Maharashtra. However on the 13th, the officials reached Kakrana late due to various reasons. The NVDA were to make all arrangements including travel by boat from Kakrana to Bhitada. This they didn't do. What they did was to arrive late with about 60 policemen armed with automatic rifles and the SDM Alirajpur Shri Mukesh Gupta and Resettlement Officer Shri Bramhe. Here they said that the boat was under repair and hence the NCA officials could not be taken ahead. They even refused to use the other boats available there. NBA activists were forced to prevent the NVDA from sabotaging the field visit and yet again hiding the true reality of resettlement. Even today there are atleast 900 families in the 12 affected villages of Alirajpur who are yet to be rehabilitated. The NVDA obviously does not want the NCA To see this reality. NBA strongly condemns the irresponsible attitude of the NVDA and the local administration, which too can only be seen as a reflection of the State Government's callous approach to resettlement.

On the 6th of August around 600-700 affected adivasis, farmers and peasants from the Sardar Sarovar affected villages in the Narmada Valley gheraoed the NCA officials in Indore. In the ensuing discussion over the next 7 hours the situation with regard to resettlement of those affected at the present height of the dam and above was closely examined. At the end of the discussion held on the road in front of the office before the people, the NCA agreed to hold public meetings in the submergence villages to verify the reality of resettlement. It is known that the three Governments have stated that the resettlement of all PAFs upto 90m height of the dam has been completed. NBA has submitted village-wise surveys to the Governments and NCA showing atleast 3500 families, affected at 90m and still liivng in the original villages without being resettled.

This field visit clearly proved the claims of the NBA that the resettlement of families affected at 90m is still incomplete and the Governments have no land to accommodate them. It also establishes that the Narmada Control Authority needs to continue with this form of independent assessment of the resettlement process, since the Governments seem to have reduced the entire resettlement os affected families to a paper exercise through.

Clifton D'Rozario