NBA Press Note

January 8, 2001

Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

NARMADA BACHAO ANDOLAN
B-13, Shivam Flats,
Ellora Park, Baroda
Phone: 0265-282232
Email:baroda@narmada.org, medhapatkar@vsnl.com"

Maharashtra Govt. should not succumb to pressure by Gujarat; No work on SSP before assessments by independent committees

It is reprehensible that the Gujarat government is pressurizing the Maharashtra government to agree to Gujarat's demand for construction on the controversial Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) beyond the 90 meters height, in view of the meeting of the concerned Chief Ministers on January 10. It is also reported that the Gujarat government is pressurizing to do away with the two committees that the Maharashtra government has announced to assess the status of rehabilitation and to assess the cost-benefit of the SSP for the state.

We appeal to the Government of Maharashtra and Chief Minister not to succumb to the pressures by the Gujarat government and the pro-dam vested interests. Instead, it should protect the fundamental rights and resources of its own tribal people in the Narmada valley. It should stand firm and should not allow the construction beyond the present 90 meters height of the SSP, when the minimum rehabilitation below this height is not been done.

It is now known that the Supreme Court has ordered the construction on the dam upto 90 meters without any consideration of the ground reality of the rehabilitation and resettlement of those affected below that height. The Narmada Control Authority had to admit, in front of the hundreds of people in Indore on December 9-10, 2000 that the rehabilitation below 90 meters was not complete. While over 500 tribal families are still languishing in the rehabilitation sites in Maharashtra for the last 4-6 years, the Madhya Pradesh government has announced that it had no land for rehabilitation. In such situation, it would be a serious violation of the Narmada Water Dispute Tribunal (NWDT), if the work on the dam is allowed beyond 90 meters. Even the Supreme Court itself has vouchsafed for the sanctity of the Tribunal.

We welcomed the appointment of the two Independent committees by the Government of Maharashtra on January 4, 2001. These are, firstly, to assess the reality and possibility of rehabilitation and land availability for the same; the second, to assess the benefits and losses to Maharashtra from the SSP. No sooner was the formation of these committees announced, Gujarat government started pressurizing the Maharashtra government, even before the announcement of the composition and working started. This is the kind of cowardice and scare haunting Gujarat government, as it wants to continue to raise the height of the dam without resettling the people. It wants to displace people with the threat of submergence.

We appeal that the Maharashtra government should not fall prey to the pressure tactics by the powerholders and dam-lobbyists in Gujarat and Maharashtra. It should not sacrifice the fundamental rights and lives of Adivasis from Maharashtra to please the vested interests in Gujarat. Government of Maharashtra should be accountable to the people, that too the depressed classes in Maharashtra. We call unto the Chief Minister Mr. Vilasrao Deshmukh and Deputy Chief Minister Mr. Chhagan Bhujbal not to succumb to these pressures by Gujarat and not allow the work on the SSP to go beyond 90 meters.

Keshav Vasave
Noorji Padvi
Medha Patkar