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Press Release, Camp - Delhi                                                 January 14 2000


STATE GOVERNMENT UNABLE TO DEFEND MAHESHWAR HYDEL POWER PROJECT
GOVERNMENT HAS NO ANSWERS TO THE QUESTIONS OF AFFECTED PEOPLE
THE PEOPLE WILL STOP THE PROJECT

The reply given by the M.P. State Government to the questions raised by the NBA with regards the Maheshwar Hydel Power Project is not only laughable but clearly shows that the Government is unable to defend the project. The over 1000 oustees of the project who have since last four days refused to leave the Maheshwar jail premises today took out a rally in the Maheshwar town and announced that the they will not let the project which will surely destroy the economy of the Nimad area and the state come up, and they will once again go and occupy the dam site.

It may be recollected that since four days these oustees are refusing to leave the Maheswar jail where they had been taken after being arrested from the occupation of the dam site on 11th Jan. 2000. They have taken a stand that they will not leave till the Government answers all the questions they have raised. The questions rasied by the people were the most basic questions about the project which it is the duty of the state Government to make public. These questions include :

  1. What will be the capital and other cost of the Maheshwar Hydel Power Project
  2. How much power, month wise will it actully generate
  3. What will be the cost of this power
  4. What will be the annual payments that will have to be made to the project owners S.Kumars as per the PPA signed by the state with them
  5. How much agricultural land has been given to the oustees so far
  6. How much land is available for the resettlement of the oustees
  7. Why have the recommendations of the Task Force set up by the State Government itself not been implemented
  8. Why is the work on the dam being allowed to proceed even though the Central Ministry of Environment and Forests has declared in its report that there is no land to resettle the oustees?

The Khargone M.P. Shri Tarachand Patel and the Badwah MLA Shri Jagdish Moranya had clearly conveyed these questions to the Chief Minister and the Indore Commissioner by personally meeting them. The district Collector has written a "reply" to these yesterday which does not address these questions, but rather, evades the key issues.

The letter written by Shri Bhupal Singh, Collector, Khargone, says that the cost per unit of the power generated will not be Rs. 10. (As NBA analysis shows). From this it can be inferred that it could even be more. But what the actual cost (rate) will be has been suprressed. It is written in the letter that agricultural land will be given to the oustees "as far as possible". This is a mockery of the resettlement policy which states explicitly that land will be given in lieu of land. The use of the words "as far as possible" indicates clearly that the Government and project authorities are preparing to evict the oustees without full resettlement. There is no reply as to how much area will become waterlogged. Similarly, the Collector has stated in the letter that the state will not have to make annual payments of Rs. 600 crores to S.Kumars but has omitted to mention how much the payments will be. There is no clear answer about the amount of generation of power also. From all this, it is clear that the state Government wants to keep the people of the state in the dark, and is delibarately avoiding giving answers to the questions.

From the letter of the Collector, it has become clear that the Government has failed miserably in establishing the "public purpose" or "public interest" of the Mahehswar project but rather, has avoided the key issues. From this, it can be seen that that the project is being pushed forward only to benefit the vested interesets including the national and international capitalists. And that the state and the country will have to pay a heavy price for this.

After this dismal reply from the State Government the people occupying the Maheshwar jail since last four days took out a rally in Mahehswar town and announced that they will now go to the people of the state and the country with this issue and the reply of the Government. They also announced that they could go and occupy the dam any day, any time to stop the work on the dam, and with the supporters from all over the state and the country continue the indefinite struggle to stop this destructive project. While the Government and project authorities are trying to downplay the struggle by trying to spread blatant lies about the number of people who occupied the dam site being only 400, the people have reasserted that their strength and determination cannot be supressed by false reports but will be seen in the coming days by all.

The NBA expresses surprise and concern that the State Government and S.Kumars have failed in establishing the public interest that would be supposedly be served by the project which is being built in the name of public interest. NBA's analysis already shows that the power from the project would cost Rs. 8-10 per unit. According to the skewed PPA signed with S.Kumars, the state will have to make annual payments of about Rs. 600 crores. From this, it is clear that the project is being pushed only to benefit certain vested intersts. The NBA calls for the project to be immediately stopped in the larger interest of Nimad, the state and the country.

Alok Agarwaal, NBA
Maheshwar, M.P.

Written in Delhi From the Communication Received From the Field By:
Shripad Dharmadhikary, NBA
Delhi Contact : c/o 642 6783 / 623 7724