NBA Press Release
  27 December 2005
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

MP officials' coerce Narmada villagers to take cash instead of land; Day 10 of Badwani dharna: PM must intervene

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Madhya Pradesh - 451551
Tel: 07290-22464
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As hundreds of men and women from the Narmada valley, affected by the Sardar Sarovar dam, are holding the dharna and relay fast in front of Collector's office in Badwani on tenth day on Monday (December 26), several villages foiled yet another attempt by the Madhya Pradesh government to forcibly disburse illegal cash compensation.

The dharna in Badwani continues with almost zero degrees temperature accompanied by zero response from the Madhya Pradesh government. The new Chief Minister of M.P. and the CM of Gujarat have come to an understanding that all the affected families below the present dam height of 110 meters are to be declared as rehabilitated in M.P. by 31st December 2005, so that the Sardar Sarovar Dam height can be increased further.

In its haste to prepare a false record of resettlement to facilitate the increase of the height of the dam, the M.P. government has increased pressure on the people. With dozens of jeeps and buses threateningly descending down upon the villages with the cash compensation forms, and officials and police camping for four to six hours, it is trying hard to browbeat the people to agree to abandon the demand for land based rehabilitation. However, for last three days, in villages after villages like Bagud, Piplud, Kundia, Avalda, Picchodi, Gatbaida, Rajghat, Kasaravad, Bijasen, nobody turned up for the cash compensation. Instead people challenged the officials. Ramsinghbhai, Pema bhai of Avalda, Gendyabhai of Gatbaida and other tribals warned the teams that they would accept nothing illegal, and would consider nothing short of the offer for the land.

The state has no cultivable land for resettlement. There are over 8000 affected families in Madhya Pradesh alone below the present height, who need to be resettled before any raising of the height. Out of them, at least half the number, that is 4000 families are entitled for land-based resettlement. But, the Madhya Pradesh has been trying to dole out cash compensation to them, ion violation of the provisions of the Narmada Water Dispute Tribunal (NWDT) and Supreme Court orders in October 2000 and March 2005.

Meanwhile, the Revenue Commissioner of Indore , Mr. Das, toured some of the affected villages on Monday (December 26) and tried to interact with people individually. However, the people refused to talk separately and Mr. Das had to hear the villagers collectively in Picchhodi. When people unitedly put forth the demand of land for land he and other officials had nothing to say.

Fraudulent Offers

After the nine days of the indefinite dharna and relay fast launched by the Narmada villagers, against the cash compensation, the state government has sent the 'pattas' (titles) of the land to some of the Avalda villagers by post, when almost all the village is sitting on front of the Collector's office. But even this land offer is fraudulent, as these lands are uncultivable, encumbered and was rejected far back after the joint inspection of the oustees and government. Most of the lands are in the affected area by the Maheshwar dam! Now, the Sardar Sarovar affected farmers, with the help of Maheshwar affected farmers are checking the government offers.

It is clear that the Gujarat government is pressurizing the Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh government for preparing the false ATRs, regarding 'completion of the resettlement below the 110 meters', when the reality is far from the government claims. At least 4000 families from the Madhya Pradesh need to be resettled with land, while the state government claims to have given land titles to mere 230 families. In Gujarat itself, despite the claim of 'resettling ' over 8000 tribal families, a few thousands of 'resettled' families have been demanding the alternative lands, as their lands are uncultivable and insufficient. But the Gujarat government has not been able to do so for last 20 years.

While in Maharashtra, of the 33 affected villages, thousands remain to be 'declared' as the oustees, entitled for resettlement. Even, out of the declared oustees so far, 400 'declared' families are yet to be resettled and are in the original villages. There are over 1000 families in the villages and 2000 families in the 'islands' (tapu), who need to be 'declared' as oustees and be resettled on land. The Tapu families are to be resettled according to the government also.

Center Must Stand Up

It is clear, therefore, that thousands of the families below present 110 meters of the Sardar Sarovar dam are yet to be resettled according to the law, NWDTR and Supreme Court orders. Yet the concerned state governments are out to conjure up the false ATR report on the 'satisfactory resettlement upto 110 meters', through the means like the Madhya Pradesh government has been adopting. People are resisting these illegal and oppressive tactics. But the Central Government must step in to prevent the disaster for the people.

The Prime Minister has assured, in November 2004, to protect the lives and rights of the Narmada valley people. Accordingly, the Union Water Resources Minister is to visit the Narmada valley and make assessment of the displacement and resettlement scenario and convey it to the Prime Minister. It is imperative that the Water Resources Minister visits immediately. We appeal to the Prime Minister to stop any illegalities and injustice and take a comprehensive, serious view of the displacement, resettlement situation and assess the dam in financial and environmental aspects in the context of the rights of the peasants and tribals.

Kailash Awasiya
Kamla Yadav
Medha Patkar