NBA Press Release
  21 August 2002
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

Major Submergence in Sardar Sarovar: Dam Water Enters Satyagraha Places in Domkhedi and Jalsindhi and in Other Villages. Police Arrest Many while People Facing Unjust Submergence Refuse to Move

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The Narmada valley is now facing devastation due to rising waters of the Sardar Sarovar dam, as was planned by the government. Incessant rains in and around the Narmada valley for last couple of weeks accompanied by the illegal increase in the height of the Sardar Sarovar (SSP) has resulted in this major submergence. The water has crossed the mark of 99 metres at the dam site by the night of August 20. It will go to 102 metres by the morning of August 21 and will reach 105 metres by the night. Presently the water is rapidly rising at the rate of 1 feet per hour. As a result, the Satyagraha places in Domkhedi (Maharashtra) and Jalsindhi (Madhya Pradesh) are facing the increasing water. The activists and villagers present there are standing in the increasing water and more people are joining them, as the news of the water entering in the Satyagraha places reached in the valley. The information we have right now is that the hundreds of adivasis in the Maharashtra villages of Domkhedi, Sikka, Bharad, Pipalchaup, Surung, Nimgavhan, Bhadal, Udadya, Manibeli and others are already engulfed by water. It is the same situation in Jalsindhi, Doobkheda, Anjanwada, Bhitada, Sugat, Jhandana, Kakrana, Karya Bhadal and many other villages of Madhya Pradesh and the Gujarat villages of Hapeshwar, Turkheda, Budni and others.

In Maharashtra the police have begun forcibly evicting people from village Domkhedi and others and placed them under arrest in Dhadgaon (tehsil Akrani, district Nandurbar). It is learnt that by the morning of August 21, the Maharashtra police has arrested, detained number of activists and villagers in Domkhedi and other villages. Dadla Karbari, Hulya Vasave, Khatri Vasave and many other adivasis alongwith activists Pratibha Shinde, Pravin, Jayantibhai, Shobha and others were arrested in Domkhedi. Dam water has entered Jalsindhi, in Madhya Pradesh. Medha and others might be there. The people in Manibeli too are facing the submergence. More news is awaited.

The Gujarat government has increased the height of the dam upto 95 meters (+ 3 meters of humps), violating all the laws, rules and normal human considerations. The Madhya Pradesh government has supported this atrocious step and Central government colluded with this design. This was in violation of the provisions of even that Supreme Court order which allowed construction of the dam to resume. Surprisingly, the Supreme Court did not act against this illegal act, even when the Narmada Bachao Andolan had approached the Court in May 2002. The Court could not decide on this illegal act as yet while the construction was going on and the submergence was sure to occur as it did now. The Narmada Control Authority (NCA), the inter-state monitoring body for rehabilitation and environment, on 17 May 2002, gave the go-ahead to raise the height of the controversial Sardar Sarovar from 90 to 95 meters, despite serious lapses in the rehabilitation, non-fulfillment of environmental and other conditions. At least 10,000 tribal and non-tribal families will face submergence and displacement, alongwith the pristine forest land.

The submergence in the SSP comes on the heels of the submergence of the villages in the Maan dam area and the forcible displacement of the people without any resettlement. The Madhya Pradesh government has acted in a most callous way regarding the entire displacement and resettlement. It is now the turn of the Gujarat and Central governments. The decision to raise the height of the SSP comes at a time of political and social crisis in Gujarat, where Modi government is accused of engineering the worst communal carnage. The Sardar Sarovar and Narmada issue has been a handy issue for Gujarat politicians to wriggle out of any political crisis. The Digvijay Singh government of Madhya Pradesh, which has unleashed repression against the popular, movements opposing the Maan and Maheshwar dams in the state, also supported Modi government's acts. The government of Maharashtra has not overtly supported the increase though it has not opposed it with conviction, despite its commitment to the NBA that it would oppose an increase in height pending the report of its Task Force on submergence and rehabilitation. The powerholders in India have flaunted all the norms of the democratic governance, justice, constitutional and human rights of the people and the rule of law. They are deliberately ignoring the crass illegalities all the people believing in the democracy, people's rights and justice should compel the Indian government to behave. First and foremost, the intensity of the submergence must be reduced by opening the gates of the upper sluices. The Gujarat and other state governments, instead of enacting the drama of saving the people by police action, should initiate dialogue on the basic issues that led to the Satyagraha against submergence by the people in the valley. These issues include the displacement, people's rights, environmental aspects, violation of conditions, cost-benefit of the dam and others.

As a starting point, the recommendations of Justice Daud Committee report, the recent report on Public hearing in the valley (July, 2002) and the Task Force report on rehabilitation and rights of people by the Maharashtra government must be implemented. A committee similar to the Daud committee must be formed in Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat to review the status of displacement and rehabilitation in these States. There should be no further attempts to increase the height of the dam, when the problems created by the present heights and below that still remain unresolved.

Ashish Mandloi
Sukumar M.K.
Vinod Patwa