NBA Press Note

December 11, 2000

Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

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Hundreds capture the NCA office in Indore
People affected at 90 mts not rehabilitated: NCA concedes

Hundreds of people affected by Sardar Sarovar Project from the mountains and plains of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat are once again on the streets, this time in Indore. Women and men peasants from Western Nimad and adivasis from the Vindya and Satpura are fighting to protect their right to life, with determination to stop the work of Sardar Sarovar dam.

Today morning, hundreds of people from the Narmada valley captured the office of Narmada Control Authority (NCA) in Indore. People's slogans expressed both their rage over the unjust verdict and resolve to not leave their homes and villages. People were determined to expose the irresponsibility and contradictions in the verdict, for making judiciary accountable and sensitive towards the ordinary people.

The final order of the Supreme Court of October 18, had clearly directed the NCA to prepare a comprehensive plan for rehabilitation within 4 weeks. " Is that plan ready? If there is no agricultural land for the affected people, can they be 'rehabilitated' just with concrete structures of schools and Panchayat office, without a source of livelihood? Where is the land to rehabilitate all the people affected by the Project? If there is no agricultural land, even for people affected by 90 mts., is it not illegal and unjust to raise the height of the dam?", asked the people. As in the meeting with officials of Maharashtra government and NVDA officials in Badwani on 7th December 2000, even the NCA officials accepted, on December 11, that there is no land for rehabilitation in Madhya Pradesh..

Rehabilitation Chief of NCA, Dr. Afroz Ahmad had a discussion with the people from 11 am till 9 pm. Other officials were not available. He accepted that according to their own reports, people affected at 90 mts have not been rehabilitated till now. Devram bhai, Dedlibai and Clifton Rosario pointed out that NCA and government's figures about the number of families left to be rehabilitated, grossly underestimate the situation on the ground. Government surveys and lists are incomplete and leave out mainy claimants. Actual number of people who might be affected by 90 mts dam is likely to be at least 3 times more than the official figure of 1000 families. Dr. Ahmad accepted that raising the dam without rehabilitating people will mean violation of the Narmada Tribunal and the Supreme Court verdict itself. People are camping inside the NCA office, till they get satisfactory answers to their questions.

When asked about the plan that NCA was suppose to produce as per the Supreme Court directions, Dr Ahmed said that NCA had prepared and approved a time table (actions plan) for rehabilitation and construction of the dam. According to that the dam is expected to be completed by year 2005. The plan is to rehabilitate people affected by 100 mts of dam by 2001 December. But NCA's 'time table' is not based on any details about the availability of land in the three states. People asked, how can NCA prepare and approve a arbitrary time table without verifying State government's claims about availability of land and ensuring agricultural land for every affected family? It was pointed out that if government required 20 years to resettle 25 % of people affected by the reservoir of Sardar Sarovar, it will need another 60 years to take care of the remaining 75 % PAFs.

According to the Narmada Tribunal, people should get possession of alternative land, one year before their original land is submerged. The dam is being raised upto 90 mts without ensuring rehabilitation for people affected even at 85 mts. This means that the present construction is illegal. Is it known, despite the action plan of NCA, the Gujarat government wants to raise the height of the dam to 110 mts. But that will mean that even several thickly populated villages from Nimad will go under water. NBA would like to admonish the concerned Ministries, Chief Ministers and the Prime Minister, who is suppose to take the final decision as per, the court order, to not allow such colossal destruction and inflict human tragedy on lakhs of people. At this juncture people have no choice but to take on the challenge of questioning such destruction and injustice by taking the struggle to its peak!

Devram Kanera
Geeta bahen
Dalsukh kaka
Suklala Pavra
Dedli bai Vasave