NBA Press Release
  04 January 2006
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

‘Corruption’ is rehabilitation in the Narmada Valley – the Andolan exposes the scam

62, Mahatma Gandhi Road,
Badwani,
Madhya Pradesh - 451551
Tel: 07290-222464
Email: badwani[at]narmada.org

If the Sardar Sarovar dam goes ahead now, it will drown about 200 villages

For the last 20 years, the people organized as the Narmada Bachao Andolan have been raising questions both about the inflated stated benefits of the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP), and the falsity of the so-called “ideal” rehabilitation policy. Now, 20 years later, the movement is at a new turn in the road, which is to challenge the corruption eating into our society and country. An undercover sting operation is needed to expose the crores of rupees corruption that is slowly being uncovered by the Andolan. Madhya Pradesh government, in complete violation of the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal award and multiple Supreme Court verdicts, is trying to lure the oustees with illegal cash compensation. This is being done because the land that is being offered by Madhya Pradesh by one-sided ex-parte notices is completely uncultivable, as admitted in the Madhya Pradesh government’s own affidavits in the honourable Supreme Court. Meanwhile Maharashtra government is claiming complete rehabilitation despite nearly 2000 families remaining without any or proper rehabilitation. The government’s are sending these ex-parte notices, and claiming rehabilitation is complete, in order to push the dam ahead to 121 metres from the current height of 110 metres.

This is a conspiracy to submerge people without rehabilitation – to expose and oppose this, hundred of people from the Narmada Valley are here in Delhi today. The freezing cold cannot dampen their spirits or their quest for justice. They challenge the false ATRs (Action Taken Reports) of the State governments and urge the Secretary of the Social Justice Ministry, who is also a chairperson of the Rehabilitation and Resettlement Subgroup of Narmada Control Authority (NCA), to investigate the ATRs thoroughly. The permission to raise the dam height must not be given at a time when rehabilitation is lagging behind severely and the rights of people are being trampled upon. Sitting in front of the Shastri Bhawan, which houses the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, the people demand the dam be stopped at 110 metres and reviewed, and that Madhya Pradesh must be stopped from distributing cash instead of land. There must be criminal proceedings against the officials and dalals who are involved in this large-scale corruption.

In Maharashtra, the government had claimed that there were 450 declared families, 1000 undeclared families and about 1500 families affected by ‘tapu’. Even in the rehabilitation sites, there are families who have been shifted but not rehabilitated. Despite this, we hear that Maharashtra has sent their ATRs saying that rehabilitation has been completed.

Gujarat for years has been claiming that everyone in the State has been rehabilitated already and that the balance is zero. However the reality is that even today there are families living in the original villages of Gujarat who are not rehabilitated. In addition, thousands of families in the rehabilitation sites are facing severe problems and crisis. Thousands have been allotted bad land, or less land than their original landholdings and many eligible families have been allotted no land at all. The Greivance Redressal Authority (GRA) of Gujarat, instead of looking into the grievances of oustees, forwards them to the same rehabilitation officials who have presided over the grievances, asking them to look into the grievances and giving them 70 days to do so. Many years have passed while people’s grievances have remained unaddressed and the GRA has kept silent.

This cannot be called rehabilitation.

In Madhya Pradesh, large thickly populated villages are all affected under the current dam height. The government has no land to rehabilitate them, hence it has no right or legal standing build the dam any further at this stage.

The central Government has maintained legal control over the Narmada Control Authority but neither the Ministry of Environment and Forests nor the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment have acted to immediately stop disbursement of cash compensation and corruption involving crores of rupees. They expressed their opinions in the Narmada Control Authority meetings but did not take any of the necessary steps for effective intervention nor have they visited the valley in the last few years to observe the ground reality. The Central and State governments are only able to produce an Action Taken Report based on false information in order to try and raise the dam beyond its current height of 110.64 metres.

We have consistently struggled against these injustices and raised our voices but the leaders and the bureaucracy, especially in Gujarat, for their vested political interests, are raising the height of the dam and thus sacrificing the interests of the rural folk and tribals of the Valley … today, even violating the 2005 Supreme Court Order, and distributing some land titles for rocky, uncultivable lands, even without completely developing the residential sites, trying to evict the villages by forcing through the submergence (submergence without rehabilitation). Those families already suffering the effects of submergence should be immediately allotted irrigated and cultivable land. The Union water resource Ministry was to tour the Valley as per the instruction of the Prime Minster in November 2005 – this is still to be done. The Andolan wants to say clearly that:

1. The time has come . . . is it possible to raise the height of Sardar Sarovar? This decision has to be taken after reviewing the status (and success or otherwise) of rehabilitation, ensuring that rehabilitation has been completed and that appropriate land has been made available. Otherwise the Central and State Governments will be responsible for the inhuman suffering of the people of the Narmada Valley and their untimely deaths;

2. The tribals of the Satpura and Vindhya ranges will be killed, like in Orissa, though by water not guns. If the administration wants otherwise it must ensure the immediate rehabilitation of the tribals by purchasing good private land in Madhya Pradesh and degraded forest land in Maharashtra;

3. Cash compensation and corruption must be stopped immediately and legal action should be taken against the corrupt officials.

Medha Patkar, Kamla Yadav,
Noorji Padvi, Kailash Avaria, Ashish Mandloi