NBA Press Note

December 13, 2000

Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

B-13, Shivam Flats, Ellora Park, Baroda, Gujarat.
Telefax: 0265-382232

People of the Narmada Valley - Face to Face with the Apex Court Demanding justice and judicial accountability

About 300 representatives from the tribal and non-tribal villages in the Narmada valley have reached Delhi again! This time there is a 'Face to face' with the Apex Court. Apart from expressing a clear protest against the judgement which is based on wrong facts, unrealistic or no comprehensive assessment of the ground reality and is contradictory in itself. The farmers of the Valley want an immediate review of the Supreme Court verdict.

It is thus clear by now that the judgement on Sardar Sarovar Project by the apex court permits further construction of the Dam, which will lead to forcible eviction and destitution through flooding of houses and lands, without rehabilitation of a few thousand families. The judgement thus has paved the way for violation of right to life and livelihood of innocent toiling masses and integrated natural resource based communities. Will it not be a violation of the Constitution itself?

Since the Supreme Court verdict of 18 October, NBA has caught hold of and confronted all the concerned authorities especially the Narmada Control Authority with its rehabilitation sub-group headed by the Secretary, Ministry of Social Justice and Ministry of Water Resources itself. All of them with no exception have refused to accept that they have ever claimed that all the Project Affected Families (PAFs) at 90 mts height are rehabilitated and that they have given permission for the construction upto 90 mts. All that the rehabilitation sub-group had said in 1999 was that the 'arrangements' are made for the same! It has neither stated that people have been rehabilitated, nor given a permission for further construction in its reports.

With further discussion and field surveys, however it is proved to the sub-group and NCA by the Andolan that even arrangements are not made in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, the states with maximum submergence. This was done during eminent activists' and intellectuals meeting with the District Magistrate of Nandurbar in Maharashtra and one day occupation of the Narmada Valley Development Authority (NVDA) office with 3 hours long discussion that followed in Badwani, Madhya Pradesh Andolankaris also seized the Indore office of NCA on December 11-12 and obtained copies of the action plans submitted by the State governments which show that there is no land identified in Madhya Pradesh for even a single village. A small magnitude of land suggested is yet to be identified, purchased and made available. Government of Maharashtra has repeated the false claims of land available at R&R sites where itself there are families without land since years.

It is clear that for the 100 % tribal communities from the Jhabua district of Madhya Pradesh or Nandurbar in Maharashtra, for families returned from rehabilitation sites due to serious betrayal in villages of Gujarat, the flooding is certain in July 2001 while no land or house plots in rehabilitation sites are even planned!

The reality and the documents thus both confirm the violation of the Narmada Disputes Tribunal Award (NVDA). The judgement too stipulates measures to ensure protection of right to life. This means all those affected at the height (almost 90 mts.) should be rehabilitated by December 2000. This being impossible, the judgement has become ridiculous and irrelevant. The court's decision to produce plans for rehabilitation of all PAFs at the full dam height (138.68 mts) too could not be complied with!

The judgement on the dam is them symbolic of both, the court's supporting violation of the Constitution against the common people from disadvantaged sections of society and judgements (such as the ones in Bhopal Gas tragedy, Enron and Niyogi murder etc) based on ill information due to outdated, inadequate process and procedures to appraise the complex reality. While the judiciary is one of the four pillars of democracy, the time has come to recognise peoples' movements and civil society groups are the fifth one to take the role of changing the judiciary, its value framework, its anti-people biases bringing in not just judicial reform, but revolution.

It's towards this end that the people of the Narmada Valley has had to take the initiative and responsibility through the two days (13-14 Dec.) sit-in, in front of the Supreme Court. People will continue to know the door of judiciary till justice is attained!

Mohan Patidar
Khatri Vasave
Medha Patkar