NBA Press Release
  29 December 2003
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

Increasing SSP Height to 110m: Narendra Modi for yet Another Genocide, Violation of Law and Human Rights: Why is SC Mute?

62, Mahatma Gandhi Road,
Badwani,
Madhya Pradesh - 451551
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The recent clearance by the Environmental Sub-Group of the Narmada Control Authority (NCA) to raise the height of the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) from the present 100 (+3) meters to 110 meters is the yet another atrocious step to annihilate the tribals and farmers of Narmada valley into destitution. Though the Rehabilitation & Resettlement (R&R) sub-group of the NCA has yet to approve the raising of the height, it seems mere a formality with the already arrived decision. The BJP governments in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh along with BJP led coalition government in the Center have connived to impose such a decision, at the behest of the infamous Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi, who is out to mastermind yet another holocaust of vulnerable community. The Maharashtra government chose to be a sleeping partner in the crime as its officials chose to remain absent.

Barely two days before the decision, Mr. Modi was bragging about the raising of the height upto 110.6 m., even before the meeting of the sub-groups of the NCA. He surely seems masterminding entire Narmada affair and seems to care two hoots for the legal and human considerations, as he had already done at the time of Gujarat carnage in March-April 2002. Modi is bent upon unleashing yet another genocide of yet another minority and defenseless community, with the help of the state machinery and subverting all the democratic institutions for suppressing the life and rights of fellow nationals. Every major environmental condition regarding this dam stands violated and the recent series of earthquakes has reiterated the inherent danger from this dam; yet the governments are going ahead with their cynical game.

At least 12,000 families in Madhya Pradesh – both tribals and non- tribals- will suffer the submergence and displacement without any sort of resettlement while at least 3000 tribal families in Maharashtra are in their villages and 2000 oustees are yet to be declared as oustees and resettled. Maharashtra government has to resettle all 3000 families who will be displaced with full height of 139 m., as it will be unrealistic to leave only a few families in each of 33 villages and resettle them separately. All the 3000 families will have to be resettled with village as unit, as per the NWDT provisions. It is the duty of the Indian nation to take up the resettlement of the affected people at 110 meters on war footing and not to raise the height of the dam till all the conditions are met.

There is no preparation on part of both Maharashtra and M.P. governments to resettle their own oustees. The deposed Chief Minister of M.P. Digvijay Singh had adopted a patently anti-people position while displacing the tribals and farmers in his own state for the sake of the increasing the height of the dam – in favour of Mr. Modi. Both these apparent adversaries had come together against the people in the Narmada valley. The Digvijay government resorted to repressive tactics to disburse the cash compensation in violation of NWDT provision, to displace the people.

In Maharashtra, due to Narmada Bachao Andolan’s struggle, the state government had appointed the Task Force to review the resettlement and displacement; but despite the TF report in 2002, the state government has not done anything concrete to resettle the tribal oustees. The bureaucrats have scuttled any move to bring out a revised order (GR) about implementing the TF report. It has not yet started the procedure of declaring the oustees who were not recognized as yet, it has to identify the land and get consent of the oustees and then resettle them with land allotments and record in their name. The government is deliberately going slow, to precipitate the crisis and making the Adivasi oustees to vacate the villages by force and without resettlement, at the moment of submergence. The newly appointed government of Ms. Uma Bharathi in Madhya Pradesh has not taken any cognizance of the incoming crisis.

Everyone concerned knows that, it is practically impossible even otherwise the resettle the Nimad villagers, with fertile land and large, well-settled villages bustling with agrarian, commercial and social activities. There is simply no cultivable land available to resettle them. The so called 5000 hectares land, identified by the state government, had already been rejected by the people three years back, after a joint inspection along with the officials, as it was totally uncultivable. The M.P. government was in fact resorting to the illegal means of forcibly disbursing cash compensation to the oustees – which is a clear violation of the NWDT and Supreme Court order.

The raising of the height of the dam without resettling the oustees even below that height is a grave violation of the stipulations of the Narmada water Dispute Tribunal (NWDT) and the verdicts of the Supreme Court regarding the resettlement and the height. The height of the dam can be raised only when the resettlement of all the oustees with the land of their choice has been done six moths prior to such increase. However, the government kept on increasing the height of the dam without resettling the oustees below 90 meters, and thereof. Surprisingly, even the Supreme Court declined to take any notice of such a grave violation of its own orders and relied totally on the state-government’s agencies.

We demand that 1. Before any decision to raise the height of the Sardar Sarovar dam, land-based resettlement, as per stipulations of the NWDT Award and Supreme Court verdicts, of all the oustees below that height must be completed. For that, the Maharashtra and M.P. governments must initiate actions on a war footing, with the consultation and participation of the NBA. The joint Review committee, Planning committee, Overview committee in Maharashtra should be activated and a similar procedure should be adopted in Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat. 2. The Gujarat oustees are again expressing their long-pending grievances, as hundreds of families have not been resettled even after twenty-fifteen years of uprootment. Fifteen youths, affected by rock-fill dykes, had tried to commit suicide in desperation recently. This has exposed all the tall claims of resettlement of Gujarat oustees. They should be resettled fully. 3. Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh governments must understand that even at 110 meters, their states will get nothing as far as power is concerned, but they will be sacrificing the lives of thousands of tribals and farmer families, alongwith fertile land and forest, for the sake of superficial gains to Gujarat politicians. They should initiate the internal review of the cost –benefit to their state from this project and take the position accordingly.

We call unto all the conscientious people all over India and abroad to confront the governments of these states and at central level. For last 18-19 years the Narmada Bachao Andolan has tried every possible instrument, institution and process of the non-violent, democratic polity. Even after a most rational, humane and peaceful struggle, the governments are out to crush the people and their rights. What should the people do now? Whatever happens in the Narmada valley, will have serious repercussions on all future movements of exploited and marginal people. The issue of Narmada is the future of the Democracy in this nation. The people in the Narmada valley call unto you to be with them struggle and try every democratic avenue and means to get the justice to the people.

Sanjay Sangvai