NBA Press Note

December 10, 2000

Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

B-13, Shivam Flats, Ellora Park, Baroda, Gujarat.
Telefax: 0265-382232
58, M.G.Road, Badwani, M.P.
Tel: 07290-22464

Reality Faces the Supreme Court Order Again

The Madhya Pradesh officials of Narmada valley Development Authority (NVDA), responsible for the resettlement of the oustees did not come to the office in Badwani on the working day on December 4, when they heard that hundreds of the people would be coming in the office to question them about the rehabilitation land. The men and women from the villages in the plains of Nimad in M.P. held a daylong siege on the office of NVDA exposing the non-availability of the land for the oustees even for those who are affected by the 90 meters of the height of the dam. Later the Collector also conceded that there was no land available in the district.

The Badwani incident has exposed the untenability of the presumptions in the order of the Supreme Court of India to let the construction of the Sardar Sarovar dam to go ahead. The Court has, in its order on October 18, ordered that the work on the dam should go ahead 'expeditiously' and the work upto 90 meters from present 85 meters be undertaken immediately. However, the court has ignored the plea by the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) that, according to the law- the Narmada Water Dispute Tribunal (NWDT), the work on the dam could not go ahead since the people even under 80 meters of the dam were not resettled and the government has no land to resettle. The Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh had declared that the state has no land to resettle for the oustees from M.P. who want to resettle within the state. The court asked the Narmada Control Authority (NCA) to prepare a schedule of the construction of the dam upto its full height ( 138+ meters) and the resettlement within four weeks. The fact that the NCA could not produce a master plan of the resettlement and resettle even a fraction of the oustees for last 20 years did not deter the Supreme Court from passing such an incredible task on NCA.

Now that the four weeks' time has been completed, the people went to the resettlement office of NVDA in Badwani , the Madhya Pradesh outfit for the dam planning and resettlement, to ask for the availability of the land. However, the officer chose to abstain from the work on December 4, despite the daylong wait by the people. At last, the District Collector of Badwani arrived on the scene in the late evening and assured them to hold talks on December 7. It was revealed in the discussions on 7th that the government has no land in Badwani district, while the state government is still searching for the land to resettle the people.

According to the NWDT- which the Indian Supreme Court cites as inviolable- the oustees must be fully resettled a year before that area could be submerged, thus linking the construction of the dam with the full resettlement of the oustees under that height a year before. However, in its own order, the Court has violated the NWDT by giving the go ahead to the construction upto 90 mts without ascertaining whether the ustees below 80 meters also have been resettled or not. In fact, the Grievance redressal Authority (GRA), under Justice ( retd.) Sohoni, appointed by M.P. government at the behest of the Supreme Court, has submitted the report that there has been no resettlement in M.P. and yet the court gave the go ahead. The implications of the court order were exposed again on December 4, when the officials of NVDA to run away from people.

Similar incidents have taken place in Maharashtra, when senior social activists confronted Nandurbar Collector on December 6th. The Collector merely repeated that the government has the required land for the people below 90 mts. But refused to show the delegation the same. The delegation included Mrs. Pratibha Matkari, Namdeo Mali, former bureaucrat, A.D. Vasave and journalists.

The people in the valley are preparing to confront the NCA in Indore on December 11 and later in Delhi.

M.K. Sukumar
Clifton Razario
Sanjay Sangvai