NBA Press Release
  23 February 2004
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

Undercounting of PAFs and Lack of SSP Rehabilitation in M.P.:
A Game of Numbers

62, Mahatma Gandhi Road,
Badwani,
Madhya Pradesh - 451551
Tel: 07290-22464
Email: badwani@narmada.org

In the Narmada Control Authority meetings of January 29th and February 12th, Chief Minister Uma Bharti expressed her willingness to allow for further construction of the SSP dam height up to 110m. While Maharashtra-- which has only a tenth of the oustees of Madhya Pradesh--has acknwoledged that rehabilitation is incomplete at the 110m level and refused to consent to a height increase, the Government of Madhya Pradesh has joined Gujarat in claiming that all Project Affected Families (PAFs) up to 110 m have been rehabilitated. Last week, protests by adivasi oustees in Gujarat outside of the Kevadia Colony dam offices exposed the falsity of Gujarat's claims that no PAFs remain to be rehabilitated. Furthermore, it is abundantly clear that rehabilitation according to the Narmada Waters Dispute Tribunal Award (NWDTA) and Supreme Court decisions is even farther from complete in Madhya Pradesh. In the upcoming NCA decision--most likely to take palce on March 4th--Madhya Pradesh will again be tested as to whether it is willing to violate the law and rights of oustees by allowing for further construction.

Unjustifiably, GoMP has been deleting people from its PAF list with the stroke of a pen. Amazingly, the government has reduced the number of families it claims to be affected at 110m by 4,000 over the period of a year. It appears that GoMP is justifying this reduction by making an artificial distinction between “permanently” and “temporarily” affected persons. The latter are denied rehabilitation even though their crops will be totally destroyed whether flooded temporarily or permanently. This distinction has no basis in the NWDTA or subsequent Supreme Court decisions and callously violates the rights of oustees.

GoMP has furthermore excluded hundreds of families of major sons, which under the NWDTA are to be given land compensation. It has also failed to update land titles, which are extremely out of date in tribal areas, leaving many more people off its PAF list. Moreover, it has failed to recognize the rights of untitled tribal lands--which have been cultivated for generations--thus treating thousands of small farmers as landless. Faulty level surveys have further excluded entire hamlets of people whose lands and homes are affected by the dam's floodwaters.

Meanwhile, GoMP has failed to provide the PAFs it does recognize with a single acre of adequate cultivable land in the state. Whether unwilling or unable to properly rehabilitate PAFs, the government is forcing them to accept land in Gujarat (which in many cases is uncultivable) or take inadequate and illegal cash compensation. In many cases, as shown, it is simply deleting them on paper.

As a result, it is estimated that in the event of a high rainfall at the 110m dam height, at least 10,000 families who are habitating in the submergence area to date could be affected, having their houses and fields submerged. Under these conditions, it is thus essential that political incentives to increase the dam height not be allowed to override the legal and human rights of those who are paying the large human costs of the SSP. To make such a decision would also violate the promise given in writing by elected BJP MLA's that no consent would be given until rehabilitation is incomplete. Moreoever, we call upon Chief Minister Uma Bharti to make good on her pledge given to an NBA delegation that Medha Patkar be allowed to attend the Chief Minister's meeting to represent the affected people. We call upon the government to uphold its promises and the rights of its citizens living along the Narmada. It is clear, given the current situation of rehabilitation in M.P., that any authorization for further construction at this time would be both illegal and morally unjustifiable.

Narmada Bachao Andolan