| NBA Press Release
|| 07 February 2002
DHARNA AND DEMONSTRATION OF NARMADA PEOPLE IN FRONT OF SOCIAL JUSTICE MINISTRY AGAINST DECISION TO INCREASE SSP HEIGHT
NARMADA BACHAO ANDOLAN
B-13, Shivam Flats
62, Mahatma Gandhi Road,
Madhya Pradesh - 451551
About 900 village representatives from the Narmada valley held angry demonstrations in front of the Union Social Justice Ministry in New Delhi on Thursday, February 7, protesting against the reported 'decision' by the Prime Minister and two Chief Ministers for raising the height of the controversial sardar Sarovar Project (SSP).
They made it clear that the rehabilitation and resettlement (R&R) sub-group of Narmada Control Authority (NCA), which is slated to meet on February 8 ( Friday), should not endorse the unjust decision, which defies the legal and constitutional percepts. They declared that the people in the Narmada valley will not accept such a violation of their right to life and will fight against the unjust dam and displacement.
The police and administration was caught unawares on Thursday as hundreds of rustic farmers and tribals from the Narmada valley emerged at the Ministry's office in the downtown of New Delhi. They were accompanied by the activists and prominent people in Delhi including noted writer Arundhati Roy, human rights activist Justice ( Retd.) rajunder Sachar, Swami Agnivesh, Socialist leader Surendra Mohanand others.
While the people sat on dharna, their delegation met the Secretary of the Social Justice Ministry, C. Gopal Reddy, who is also the chief of the R&R subgroup of NCA, and later the Minister For Social Justice and Empoewerment, Satyanarayan Jatiya. Both assured the delegation that no decision will be taken under undue and political pressure and the NCA will take into account the ground reality regarding the displacement and resettlement and will allow no violation of provisions of Narmada Water Dispute Tribunal (NWDT) pertaining to the rehabilitation.
Medha Patkar and colleagues, while addressing a Press Conference at the picket site, questioned the propriety of the decision by the Prime Minister and the two Chief Minister - Mr. Modi of Gujarat and Digvijay Singh of Madhya Pradesh. With the documamntary proofs and the people's testimony, thay made it clear that, " even the oustees below the present 90 meters of dam height could not be resettled. The NCA has, in fact, refused permission to take the construction beyond 90 meters, as the land for further resettlement was not available. The Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister has repeatedly clarified that there is no land available. The Maharashtra government still revising the assessment of number of oustees, land availability and resettlement through its 'Task Force'. It has already conveyed to the NCA in a letter on January 11, 2002 that there should be no further construction on the dam if it is found that the rehabilitation of the oustees below 90 meters has still to be completed".
They wondered why the Prime Minister, prodded by the Chief Ministers and the bueaucrats, made the Prime Minister such an illegal and unrealistic decision, which is a negation of the Supreme Court verdict and also the violation of basic human rights of the affected people. They demanded that the Pruime Minster must rescind such 'direction' and the NCA should not endorse any such anti-people move. They also criticised the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minster for sacrificing the interests of his own people and the state for thesake of the dam.
However, the people decided to keep a vigil on the proceedings of the NCA meeting on the 8th and were camping near the Ministry office till night, when the reports last came. A setailed Press release from dharna place is expected soon.Sanjay Sangvai