NBA Press Release
  21 February 2003
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

Dharna at Alirajpur Begins

62, Mahatma Gandhi Road,
Madhya Pradesh - 451551
Tel: 07290-22464

150 adivasis from the villages of Alirajpur tehsil, the first to be affected by the Sardar Sarovar Project in Madhya Pradesh are sitting on indefinite dharna at the tehsil headquarters. These people have been facing submergence since 1994, this year's having been especially severe due to increase in the height of the dam to 95m just before the monsoon. Any further increase in height of the dam, which is now under consideration, would mean a total wipe out of this stretch of villages along the Narmada. Even a stronger monsoon at the present height itself could do the same. These villagers are also demanding a proper wholesome rehabilitation in compliance with NWDTA, so that despite being forcefully uprooted from their economic and social milieu they would still lead a dignified life. But they are faced with a totally indifferent and repressive government. When question about the illegal submergence of the first adivasi villages in his own state this monsoon, the Dalit Agenda spouting CM Digvijay Singh unflinchingly dismissed these adivasis as 'encroachers' on government land. A number of basic issues need to be addressed if people are to be properly rehabilitated in accordance with the NWDTA

1. Family PAP (Project Affected Person) lists

The surveys conducted by the Narmada Valley Development Authority were largely deskwork surveys & hence a large number of entitled persons are either missing from the list or have been underaged. People have time and again approached the government on this matter. But the Narmada Valley Development Authority & Grievance Redressal Authority have placed the onus of proof on claimants & are demanding documentary proofs such as school certificates knowing very well that such proofs don't exist since basic facilities such as schools and hospitals are absent in these areas. Age & residency certificates issued by the Panchayats have been rejected. Two years ago the CM promised a ground level verification of claims but no such process has actually been carried out. There is an urgent need to carry out an honest, transparent and participatory process of verification of these claims. Along with this the cut-off date for adult sons should be the date of rehabilitation & not the date of land acquisition, as the latter unfairly impinges on the rights of those who come of age after land acquisition but have not been rehabilitated for years due to no fault of their own but the slackness of the government. Apart from adult sons the claims of a substantial number of forest encroachers need to be addressed. These people have been left out of the lists simply because they have no titled land holding but were cultivating forestland which had been in their possession since a number of generations. Here again the lack of documentary proof, as a result of the corruption of the forest department officials, is being held against the claimants. The promise of the CM for a ground level verification exercise has remained a mere pipe dream.

Demand: Ground level verification of claims through a joint committee with representation from the NBA & and an implementation of the findings of the committee.

2. Updating of Land Records

Because the land records in these villages were never updated prior to or after acquisition, a number of grave anomalies prevail. The NVDA's Action Plan of 1993 acknowledges the need of such updating which was never carried out. The result - a large number of oustees are classified as major sons even when they are registered as land holders in the revenue records. People who have been dead for 15-20 years are still registered as landholders while their children and grandchildren who have divided the lands between themselves and own land are classified as major sons. One such man is Dediya Jhetriya (80 years old) of village Anjanwara who is classified as a major son as are his grandsons while his father Jhetriya Kotwal who died more than 20 years ago is still recorded as a landholder! When oustees submitted applications to the Tehsildar, Alirajpur, they were told that since the land had been acquired, modifying the records was the responsibility of the NVDA. The NVDA in turn has not responded to numerous complaints in this regard. In a meeting with the Chief Minister two years ago, it was decided that Special Camps would be organised in the submergence villages for the process of rectifying these anomalies but this promise too was not kept.

Demand: An immediate process of updating land records in consultation with the oustees so that they reflect the actual situation on the ground must be carried out.

3. Cancellation of Ex-parte Allotments

The Madhya Pradesh government have used the tool of ex-parte allotments to deny people every entitlements enshrined in the NWDTA. All ex-parte allotments have been made on lands of very poor quality, totally denying people the right to choose their land. They primary reason why the award dealt in detail about rehabilitation was to ensure that people would atleast regain their previous standards of living. This purpose would be defeated if ex-parte allotments are not cancelled immediately. People on their own have identified private lands in chunks in both Madhya Pradesh & Gujarat, which the landowners are ready to sell. There is an urgent need that the government buys these lands after consultation with the people and rehabilitate people village wise according to the entitlements of each person after the updating of Project Affected Person lists and land records. Here it needs to be pointed out that the Madhya Pradesh government till date holds that it will give land only to landholders and not adult sons. This is a violation of the majority Supreme Court judgement, which clearly states that as per NWDTA every adult son should be allotted a minimum of 2 ha of land. Thus be it in Gujarat or MP every declared Project Affected Person should be allotted minimum of 2 ha cultivable, irrigable land.

Demand: The government should cancel all ex-parte allotments. The process of land selection should be participatory & every person as per Supreme Court order (incl. Adult sons) whether in Madhya Pradesh or Gujarat should be provided with a minimum of 2 ha of land along with other entitlements as per NWDTA.

Write to:

Shri APJ Abdul Kalam President of India Fax: 011-23017290/23017824

Atal Behari Vajpayee Prime Minister of India Fax: 91-11-3016857, 91-11-3019545 (PM Office) 91-11-3019334 (PM residence)

Smt Sonia Gandhi Leader of Opposition 10,Janpath fax 011-23017470

Shri Digvijay Singh, Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh Vallabh Bhavan Madhya Pradesh Fax: 91-755-244181; 91-755-540501

Afroze Ahmad, Director(Rehabilitation) Narmada Control Authority ,Indore

C. Gopal Reddy, Chairman, R&R Sub-Group of NCA, Secretary, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Shastri Bhavan, New Delhi-1 Phone:91-11-3382683; 91-11-3385180