NBA Press Note

January 11, 2001

Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

B-13, Shivam Flats,
Ellora Park, Baroda

Sardar Sarovar Review by the Chief Ministers Conceals Ground Reality; No Master Plan for Rehabilitation of 40,000 Reservoir Affected Families as yet; No Land: Supreme Court Judgment Stands Violated: Struggle Continues

The Deliberations held among the Chief Ministers of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra and the Water Resources Minister of the Union of India who form the Interstate Review Committee on Sardar Sarovar Project on January 10th, are indicative of the ground realities. While the majority judgment of the Apex Court permitted the dam-construction upto 90 mts, it has been established that no authority has ever claimed completion of rehabilitation of thousands of families affected at that level. As the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh is known to have stated in the said review meeting, the state of Madhya Pradesh which is to face the largest submergence due to SSP, has no land ready for rehabilitation while the number of PAFs from Madhya Pradesh residing on the river banks even today, is about 33,000 families out of 40,000 from all three states.

The vague decision made in the meeting, obviously under the pressure from Gujarat and the Centre with the same party in power, is that the state governments will try and complete the long pending rehabilitation work towards compliance with the action plan prepared by Narmada Control Authority (NCA) by 2005. This is baseless as till date, there is no master plan prepared by any of the three states with the thousands of hectares of agricultural land, required for the purpose. When a few thousand tribal families will have their land and / or houses affected in the coming monsoon without rehabilitation at the present height of the dam, 90 mts, there is no possibility of legal and just rehabilitation of all the 40,000 families residing in the villages on the bank of Narmada.

The judgment of Supreme Court directs compliance with the Narmada Water Dispute Tribunal Award (NWDTA) which stipulates land for land and community resettlement with all amenities atleast 6 months prior to submergence. The same stands violated and may never by followed, making it redundant and ridiculous. It may be noted that during last 20+ years since 1979, the year of declaration of the NWDTA, not more than 25% of the reservoir / submergence affected families (numbering, as per official estimate, 43,500, while as per NBA, between 45 and 50 thousand), out of whom, thousands are suffering from lapses and inadequacies including no land allotment and other problems, since years. Beyond the reservoir-affected, there are about 40,000 other families who are affected / to be affected due to SSP related works such as colony, canal and sanctuary but with no rehabilitation policy and plan. The NCA's claim that all project-affected, numbering in lakhs, would be rehabilitated and dam would be constructed to its full height (138.68 mts) by 2005, is thus unrealistic and baseless.

Narmada Bachao Andolan has already challenged all the state governments and the concerned authorities to produce master plans for rehabilitation with details of agriculture land which could be jointly inspected to establish cultivability and adequacy for village-wise resettlement. The authorites and governments have failed to do so, even for a comparatively smaller number of 90 mts affected families (ie., 3500 as per NBA and 1000, as per officials). NBA has also warned that the Government of Madhya Pradesh against illegal attempts to give cash-compensation, avoiding allotment of agricultural land as it would be gross violation of both, NWDTA and the Supreme Court's judgment. While Andolan continues to hold that this Rs.44,000 crores project is neither economically nor financially viable and certainly not beneficial to the drought-affected people in Gujarat it has shown that Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh states would pay an unwarranted social, environmental and financial cost for meagre share in power to be generated, which is both short term and uncertain as the premises for estimation of benefits are proved to be baseless.

The project, which is also a part of Narmada Valley Development Plan, composed of 30 big and 135 medium dams altogether, affecting more than one million population, is socially unjust and unjustifiable. The tribal and peasant communities in the Valley continue to fight the war against destitution.

Medha Patkar