| NBA Press Release
|| 16 February 2004
150 SSP Affected Adivasis in Gujarat Arrested During Mass Action for Just Rehabilitation at Kevadia Colony
62, Mahatma Gandhi Road,
Madhya Pradesh - 451551
Angered and agitated after years of not having received legal and fair rehabilitation, Sardar Sarovar Project-affected adivasis in Gujarat began an indefinite sit-in on Monday, Feb.16, outside of the SSPA office in Kevadia Colony near the dam site. They were quickly met with police repression, and over 150 people have been arrested and are being held in the Rajpipla Jail. Currently, no other information is available on their status and the charges being filed against them.Many main activists, including Medha Patkar, Kamla Yavav were dragged by the police and many received lathi injury.
The affected people in Gujarat's villages on the banks of Narmada, now thrown in the resettlement sites without proper land, houses or other entitlements, along with those affected by the canals, colony and otherwise resorted to a sit -in and a Public Hearing from Monday. However, this proved to be inconvenient to the Narendra Modi government and they were arrested at first instance. Prohibitory orders were clamped in entire region.
While Gujarat, the main beneficiary of the dam, lists the number of balance PAFs to be rehabilitated as "0," the facts on the ground show a different story. The dismal reality in many Gujarat resettlement sites sharply contradicts GoG's claims, and shows rehabilitation of reservoir-affected families to be far short of the legally mandated standards. Moreover, families affected by the canal network, project colony, and sanctuary have not even had their basic rights to rehabilitation and compensation respected.
Against the letter and spirit of the NWDTA, the 19 villages in Gujarat affected by the SSP reservoir have been broken up and scattered across more than 200 resettlement sites. Within these sites, a recent sample survey by the NBA revealed that even many people affected at 80-90m and displaced years ago have yet to receive all their rehabilitation entitlements as per the policy. The problems faced by PAFs in these sites include:
Many declared PAFs have not received the minimum 2 ha. of cultivable land.
Some PAFs who received land are yet to get land titles.
Out of those who received land deeds for 2 ha., a number of families have found the actual land to be less. Many have been given land that is partially uncultivable.
Among the declared major sons, a few have yet to receive land. In addition, there are many major sons who are yet to be declared as PAFs as per the NWDTA.
Many PAFs have been resettled without irrigation in violation of the NWDTA.
The absence of grazing lands in most R&R sites has forced many families to sell their cattle, depriving them of an essential farm asset and an important source of nutrition.
In many sites, good drinking water, and other civic amenities are absent.
Finally, there are 300-400 families affected by the dam still living in their original villages. In the Gujarat villages of Mukhedi, Gadher, Hateshwar, Turkheda, and Andras, scores have still not been declared as projected-affected. Others who have been resettled have gone back to their original villages because of the poor conditions in the R&R sites.
Thus, the ground reality of resettlement in Gujarat is abysmal and anything but complete. Without adequate land and irrigation, many relocated families are struggling to support and feed themselves while their communities lack basic facilities. These problems, which have been communicated to the Grievance Redressal Authority through thousands of individual petitions, attest to the blatant violation of the NWDTA as well as the Supreme Court Order (October 2000) and state resettlement policies.
And while reservoir-affected families are at least legally entitled to certain minimum standards of rehabilitation under the NWDTA, the canal, sanctuary, and colony-affected families have not even been granted this much. Thus even though their lives and livelihoods are also threatened by the SSP, most have either received meager cash compensation or none at all.
Given these conditions, the project-affected adivasis of Gujarat are placing the following demands before the Government:
That all affected families be given adequate cultivable land;
That all major sons and widows of landholders be declared as project affected;
That people still living in the original villages also be declared;
That all sites be provided with the required civic amenities;
That all people be compensated for houses and trees lost during land acquisition if not already paid.
That it re-survey land wherever there is a complaint about its size;
That extra land acquired from six villages for the Kevadia Colony be returned to the original villages, as per the recommendations of the Minister for Social Justice, India;
That it implement the Government Resolution that a half hectare of land be given to every canal affected family;
That there should be no eviction from the sanctuary-affected villages;
That it grant land rights to forest cultivators in the sanctuary prior to 1993 (the cut off date lately declared by the Union of India).
That canal and colony affected people be justly compensated.
That it accept that there are PAFs at levels 80-110 m. yet to be rehabilitated.
That it comply with NWDTA, Supreme Court Decision, and State policies for rehabilitation of all SSP-affected people.
The SSP-affected adivasis of Gujarat are thus demanding that the Government meet the above conditions, and commit to the fair and legal rehabilitation of those paying the heavy human price of the SSP. No amount of state repression will deter them from fighting for these basic human and legal rights.
According to the latest information some people were released near Devalia village in the evening, but some main activists like Medhha Patkar, Girishbhai Patel and others are still detained.Narmada Bachao Andolan