NBA Press Release
  08 February 2002
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

NBA Continues To Watch the Decision on Sardar Sarovar Dam Height
Former Prime Minister Warns Against Further Construction

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While hundreds of people from the Narmada Valley continues the dharna (sit in) in front of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment in New Delhi, watching the decision of the Rehabilitation and Environment Sub Groups of Narmada Control Authority, former Prime Minister Shri. V.P.Singh has expressed the hope that people's lives will not be sacrificed in the pursuit of development. In a statement issued today (8.2.2002) he noted that, "unless they are properly rehabilitated according to the law, the dam height should not be raised". He warned that, "any further construction of dam at this stage will be in isolation of human rights and fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution. That also will be in violation of Supreme Court orders".

A few dozens of representatives from the valley stormed the Ministry of Environment asking for an audience with the Environment Sub Group (ESG), which was being held in the Ministry. While in a meeting with them, the Chairman of ESG Shri.Jayakrishnan, was told that the environmental mitigatory measures are not done beyond papers. He was reminded that the conditional environmental clearance for Sardar Sarovar Project has lapsed years back.

In an official meeting with a delegation of Narmada Bachao Andolan, led by Medha Patkar, Minster for Environment Shri.T.R.Balu, assured that he will not allow to take any decision without reviewing the situation of environmental conditions. He also promised that some field level verifications and studies would be carried out in the Sardar Sarovar submergence area. He expressed concern about the "human element" and supported the land based rehabilitation package (and not cash based).

Noted human rights activist and former Supreme Court judge, Jst (Retd) V.R.Krishna Iyer, in a letter to Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister, Shri.Digvijay Singh, expressed surprise that "your Government is party to raising the dam height from 90 m to 100 m. This will be inhumanity in the absence of alternative provision for land. This would be injustice, violative of the order of Supreme Court which may entail serious consequences. He urged Shri. Singh to "stop construction beyond 90 m, a misadventure absent rehabilitatory provision".

Late last evening, Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment, Shri.Satyanarayan Jatiya met Medha Patkar and a few others to discuss the situation of rehabilitation. After a patient hearing of the delegation, he agreed that land for land should be mandatory for rehabilitation. He assured that he will keep in mind the ground reality while taking any decision.

One may remember that hundreds of representatives of Narmada Valley stormed the gates of Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment yesterday (7.2.2002), asking for an audience with the concerned Sub Groups of Narmada Control Authority, which were meeting today, under political pressure. They also have come to watch the Sub Groups' decisions, which is very crucial to the lives and livelihood of thousands of families in the valley. Braving the winter, people stayed in open, in front of the Ministry. Any further construction would script doom to over 6000 families.

Several prominent citizens and representatives of people's movements and other NGOs have expressed solidarity with the people, with their active participation in the agitation.

Joe Athialy