NBA Press Release
  01 December 2001
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

Public Hearing at Kevadia colony by the SSP  oustees and the distortion by Media and Government of Gujarat

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

The flawed and distorted report on the Public Hearing in Kevadia Colony held on 23.11.2001 are not shocking but rather revealing. The criticism leveled against NBA by media and ruling party shows the well known callousness and lack of sincerity in the oustees issue while claiming ideal rehabilitation. While Ex-justice of Gujarat High Court, Ex-Chief Justice of Rajasthan alongwith Haroobhai Mehta, one of the senior advocate, Kiritbhai Bhatt, senior journalist cum editor, and Sohan Singh of PUCL where the judges who thought it their duty to hear the oustees of Sardar Sarovar reservoir, Colony, Canal, they were unjustifiably attacked and defamed by media and a handful of politicians, who are indeed working against the interest of the affected people and the project itself.

The oustees of six villages and others under Narmada Bachao Andolan decided to hold a Public Hearing only since their genuine grievances are not being addressed over years and decades. What was organised in Kevadia colony on 23rd November, was a simple Public Hearing. What we saw was a totally distorted and biased media reports through pro-dam reporters. Eventhough hundreds of oustees were arrested and prevented by police from attending and expressing their grievances in the public hearing, many hundreds succeeded in attending the hearing. Colony affected ousted in 1961, Canal affected ousted since 1979, rockfill-dyke affected ousted in 1985, and reservoir affected ousted since 1980s deprived of their life supporting systems who are relocated and not resettled. The first 3 groups left out of the scope of R&R policy, the reservoir affected entitled for land for land, community resettlement, etc. alongwith other amenities but large number of them already evicted are yet to get their due entitlements. Public hearing became necessary, as the Grievance Redressal Authority (Gujarat) have not shown the capacity to solve the main problems of land. GRA even refused to give an appointment to the organised oustees.

The arrest of adivasis at 3 am on the previous night, later arrest of Medha Patkar inspite of release within 10 minutes due to the presence ad intervention of sensible senior police officer and not taking any action against the handful of politicians who tried to sabotage the public hearing clearly shows the callousness of the state government towards the oustees and state's desperation to scuttle the people's voice and its incapacity to deal with non-violent people's movement.

In fact, even the Supreme Court has said in its order that complete resettlement and rehabilitation is a must and non-fulfillment will lead to stop the dam construction inspite of approval of authorities and governments.

The Public Hearing was successful inspite of all the efforts to sabotage it and the years old grievances of adivasis were heard by all the judges with sensitivity and understanding.

The state, various political parties and media need to understand that with no possibility of greening Kutch and Saurashtra and extreme inadequacies as well as non-implementation in the case of resettlement policies, the monstrous Sardar Sarovar Project can not be pushed ahead. The political expediency will only boomerang as it has been the case. The adivasis and others of Gujarat, already affected and to be affected in the Sanctuary in Dadiapada, in Narmada district, canal, colony, reservoir are determined to raise their voice against injustice.

M.K.Sukumar
Geetanjali