NBA Press Note

January 4, 2001

Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

B-13, Shivam Flats,
Ellora Park, Baroda

Government of Maharashtra appoints independent committees to review Sardar Sarovar Project

The Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Shri.Vilasrao Deshmukh has agreed to constitute an independent committee (Satyashodan Samiti) to look into the Government claims and ground reality of the rehabilitation of Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) oustees and a Review Committee (Samiksha Samuha) to look into the costs-benefits of the projects. This was given to a delegation that met him today at Mantralaya.

The 30-member delegation consisted of Medha Patkar, Vestabhai, Keshuv Vasave, Gita Vasave, Noorji Padvi, Vesta Pavra, Harilal Pavra, Ranya Daya and others of Narmada Bachao Andolan and Bopshetty, Anil Ghag, Vidya Patil, Anita Patil, Kashinath Kulkarni, Barrister Palav, Bhau Buskute, Lata P.M., N.D.Kohli etc. as independent observers. The delegation met the chief minister Shri Vilasrao Deshmukh where the Deputy Chief Minister Shri Chhagan Bhujpal, Minister of Rural Development Shri R.R.Patil, Minister of Rehabilitation Shri Vilasrao Patil and Employment Guarantee Minister Shri Ganpathrao Deshmukh were also present.

The 'Review Committee' will assess the environmental and social costs besides the economics of the Sardar Sarovar project. In this context, the committee will look into the magnitude and cost of power that Maharashtra is entitled to from this project. Further, and most importantly, the committee will assess the justifiability of this project by weighing the benefits and costs of this project. The committee will consist of representatives of the Government and Narmada Bachao Andolan besides few experts.

The Satyashodan Committee would be a fact-finding group looking into the details of displacement and rehabilitation of the people affected by the project. It will assess the compliance or otherwise with the Narmada Water Dispute Tribunal Award and the State R&R policy and give its opinion on the status and implementability of rehabilitation. The group will look into the availability of agricultural land for rehabilitation.

Both the committees that would have recommendatory status would submit their reports by the end of February. The Government of Maharashtra, the Chief Minister and other ministers present including the Deputy Chief Minister responded positively to NBA's plea that the State Government should not approve any construction beyond 90 metres till the reports of the two committees are taken into consideration. In any case, it has been proven by latest reports of various concerned authorities including the R&R Sub-group, Narmada Control Authority and the Field Visit reports that the rehabilitation of the affected families is far from complete. Even the Master Plan for the rehabilitation of thousands of affected families is not yet ready. This is not just a violation of the Award but also of the Supreme Court order! The Andolan continues to hold its position on Sardar Sarovar that it is one of the big dams wherein social and environmental costs are neglected and the economics is always proven bad with the realized benefits being much less than planned. NBA will present and prove its stand through detailed submissions and statistics before these groups and expects the Government of Maharashtra, atleast at this stage, to take a pro-people stance in the case of Sardar Sarovar.

In the morning, the PAFs gheraoed the Grievance Redressal Authority office and had a face to face confrontation with the chairperson Jst. S.P.Kurdukar regarding the status of rehabilitation. He categorically stated his position that the rehabilitation of PAFs affected at 90 metres is still not complete and the agricultural land required for the same is yet to be identified by the State Government.

It may be recalled that over 100 representatives from the tribal villages of the Narmada Valley were on a dharna in Mumbai since 2nd January 2001, demanding the Government of Maharashtra to take serious cognizance of the ground reality regarding enormous magnitude of displacement and failure in rehabilitation in Sardar Sarovar Project. People's demand for appointment of an independent committees to assess the situation were agreed by the Chief Minister. People returned to the valley with renewed resolve to fight to save the Narmada Valley and life itself!

Clifton Rosario