NBA Press Note

January 9, 2001

Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

B-13, Shivam Flats,
Ellora Park, Baroda

Representatives of Narmada Valley Storm into Chief Minister's Residence Demands for a just and pro-people stand in the Review Committee

Over 100 representatives of farmers and peasants from the Nimad and Alirajpur villages of Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat, affected by the gigantic Sardar Sarovar project, stormed into the residence of the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Shri. Digvijay Singh at Bhopal today morning. They were demanding that the Chief Minister meet them and clarify the position that the Government of Madhya Pradesh was going to take on the immediate future of SSP in the Interstate Review Committee meeting of the Chief Ministers of all concerned states (Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Rajasthan) at Delhi on the 10th of January, 2001. They were, however, arrested and moved out of the premises.

The Chief Minister later met a delegation led by Medha Patkar at the state Guest House. In the meeting, NBA briefed the Chief Minister on the present ground status of rehabilitation in the State. The October 18th majority decision of the Supreme Court had ordered construction of the dam upto 90m along with the complete resettlement of those affected upto this dam height and also ordered for the preparation of a Master plan within a month's time. For this, the project affected families were to be resettled by 31st December 2000. NBA brought to light most recent documents of the Narmada Control Authority, which clearly prove that, in blatant violation of the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal Award and the Supreme Court order, 960 families were yet to be resettled as of January. In Madhya Pradesh alone, atleast 740 families were still to be resettled. In reality, the number of oustees who are affected at 90 mts and yet to be resettled is in excess of 2000 families.

After giving a patient hearing, Shri Digvijay Singh told the delegation that the position of the Madhya Pradesh Government in tomorrow's meeting would be decided today evening after his meeting with the concerned officials.

This situation in Madhya Pradesh is due to the fact that the Government of Madhya Pradesh does not have a single acre of agricultural land to facilitate resettlement for any project affected family in Madhya Pradesh. Instead of making available cultivable agricultural land, the Government of Madhya Pradesh is trying to force the people to accept cash compensation. The people have rejected this offer as being illegal and detrimental to their future and to the future of the coming generations. In fact, such an offer is violative of the land-for-land policy clearly stipulated in the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal Award. NBA asked for an immediate stoppage to such an anti-people proposal of the Government.

NBA further pointed out that the required Master Plan was still not ready. The Narmada Control Authority had prepared a time frame for the construction of the dam and resettlement processes. NBA urged that the Government of Madhya Pradesh NOT approve this since it contains no details of the final number of project affected families nor does it carry any details whatsoever of the availability of agricultural land for resettlement. Shri Digvijay Singh clarified that they had not yet approved that proposed time frame.

NBA also added that there were several outstanding issues regarding resettlement in Madhya Pradesh that needed to be resolved immediately. The facts that the number of PAFs in the State has officially increased from 33014 to 35716 families, as per NVDA and NCA, and will increase by 'few thousands more' according to them. Till the final number of PAFs to be affected is not arrived at, there can be no estimation of the amount of agricultural land required for them in resettlement. Coupled with this is that the land records are in shambles in the submergence villages which needs to be resolved immediately. NBA also reiterated its finding that the level surveys for demarcating the submergence zone, is erroneous by atleast 3m which if not looked into immediately would lead to a Bargi-like situation where 162 villages were actually submerged instead of the slated 101 villages!

The people raised the important question that "Why is the Government of Madhya Pradesh taking such a compromising position at the cost of tens of thousands of its people?" They insisted that the Chief Minister should not adopt this kind of a position when faced with the bullying tactics of the Government of Gujarat. Andolan made it clear that it would decide and take its next step depending on the position taken and the outcome of the Interstate Review Committee meeting.

Clifton Rozario