NBA Press Release
  24 January 2004
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

Medha Patkar, three activists launch 4-day fast;
appeal to CM not to raise height of SSP until R&R is complete

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Four activists of Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) have decided to launch a four-day fast from January 23 to 27 from the evening of Friday, near Mantralaya (state secretariat) in Mumbai. , to appeal to the conscience of the Chief Minister to follow the path of justice by not succumbing to the pressures to raise the height of the controversial Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) and not to allow the lives and rights of tribals from his state to be crushed.

Though the Government of Maharashtra has issued a revised note on cabinet decisions regarding the resettlement of the tribal oustees of the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP), on Friday (January 23), it has not made clear whether it would agree to the raising of the height of the dam from 100 meters to 110 m. before the resettlement till that height is complete.

On the 27th , there will be a meeting of the Rehabilitation Planning Committee with the NBA representatives, which will review the current status of rehabilitation, as Kalusingh Padvi (village Danel), Bhikam Singh Vasave (Dhankhedi), Kamala Yadav (Chhota Badada) and Medha Patkar have launched the four-day fast. Many organizations and common citizens are extending their support to the cause. Noted anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare and former upright administrator Arun Bhatia extended unequivocal support for the Andolan’s current phase of struggle.

The Decisions

According to the new decisions, the Maharashtra government has agreed to resettle all categories of the tribal oustees affected by the controversial Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) and has assured to complete the ‘scrutiny’ and the process of ‘declaring’ all categories of ‘undeclared’ oustees – major sons, tapu affected, those without land-title and others before March 30, 2004.

It has agreed to procure additional 1500 hectares of degraded forest land for resettlement from the central Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) within 2 months. As far as private land procurement for resettlement, the details of lands would be conveyed to the Land Purchase Committees to start the procurement procedure by showing that land to the affected people.

It has agreed to cancel earlier ex-parte land allotment and will replace uncultivable lands with lands with the concurrence of the oustees, as per the recommendations of the Task Force. Those who had returned from Gujarat resettlement sites or were not resettled, these families will be entitled to resettle in Maharashtra. It has agreed to provide for the fodder-land and schools in the resettlement sites among other things.

The state government had agreed to pay compensation to the oustees for the damages due to unwarranted submergence in the monsoon 2003, and will be providing compensation for the affected people in the submergence from 1993-98.

The Action Taken Report (ATR) will be put before the joint Resettlement Planning and Overviews committees and appropriate decision will be taken after the discussion. The meeting of the meeting of Joint Rehabilitation Planning Committee with Andolan representatives, will be held in Mumbai on January 27.

The state government has agreed to revive the process of the Review of Cost-benefit of the dam to Maharashtra, while rejecting the resignation of two independent experts.

The state government has agreed on these and other issues, after a meeting with the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) on January 20 and with the delegation of prominent persons and the NBA on January 21. The delegation included senior jurists and leader of human rights campaign, PUCL, Justice (Rtd) Rajinder Sachar, Justice (Rtd) Suresh Hosbet, Justice (Rtd) Daud, renowned stage and film personality and social worker Sadashiv Amrapurkar, Sharad Palav, Mr. PD Kaul, and Pratibha Shinde and Medha Patkar of NBA. But, what the government gave in writing on that evening was a watered down and distorted version was what was agreed upon. The people were also waiting for the decision by the state government whether it would agree to raise the height of the dam from 100 meters to 110 meters. Therefore the dharna by the Narmada valley tribals and farmers continued.

The government had given a revised version of the official note to the Andolan next day (Friday, January 23). However, the Chief Minister did not meet the Andolan representatives despite the insistence by the Home Minister. Therefore the Andolan has to wait and see whether the government of Maharashtra is serious to protect the rights and lives of the affected people or cares for the dam and interests of the Gujarat’s Chief Minister.

Even when the people below 80 m. height of the dam are still left without resettlement, the governments have gone ahead with increasing the height of the dam up to 100 m. violating all laws, regulations and even the decisions by the Supreme Court (1991 and 2000). For that we still are ready to have discussions with the Chief Minister and his government.

Narmada Bachao Andolan has been holding a dharna near the Mantralaya (state secretariat) since January 19, with a demand to take concrete steps on war footing to resettle 3000 tribal Adivasis in 33 villages in the Satpuda ranges, affected by Sardar Sarovar dam. There are over 45,000 families in the three states who are going to be affected by the full 138.68 m. height of the dam.

If the height of the dam is increased up to 110 meters, as the Gujarat government has been pressing for long, over 12000 families from Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat are likely to be hit by submergence during monsoon of 2004 in case of the highest flood scenario.

Ranya Padvi