NBA Press Release
  13 July 2002
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

Eminent Panel Held Public Hearing in Sardar Sarovar Dam Affected Area
False Claims of Government Exposed Once Again

NARMADA BACHAO ANDOLAN
B-13, Shivam Flats
Ellora Park,
Baroda-390007
Tel: 0265-282232
Email: baroda@narmada.org

62, Mahatma Gandhi Road,
Badwani,
Madhya Pradesh - 451551
Tel: 07290-22464
Email: badwani@narmada.org

The government of Madhya Pradesh has bypassed all existing legal and human norms while pushing the dam height of Sardar Sarovar Dam ahead, and is using inhuman and undemocratic means to coerce people to vacate their houses and lands, without providing any alternative lands or houses have again proved in a public hearing held at village Chikhalda (tah Kukshi & dist Dhar, Madhya Pradesh) today (13.7.2002). Eminent human rights activist and former Chairperson of National Commission for Women, Smt. Mohini Giri, Former Chief of Navy, Shri.Vishnu Bhagavat, Senior Supreme Court advocates, Venkatramani and Usha Ramnathan were in the panel of judges who heard scores of people in a day long Public Hearing.

Where hundreds and hundreds of people from different parts of Narmada valley were present to put their case before the eminent panel, the absence of officials from Narmada Control Authority, Narmada Valley Development Authority and Grievance Redressal Authority were too obvious, inspite of being invited for the same. Chairs with their name remained unoccupied throughout the hearing.

Ambarambhai, Mahesh Patel, Kamala Yadav, Bhagirathbhai, Govidbhai included, several representatives of various villages presented their cases before the panel. In their presentations, they said that, all means - including police firing, cane beating and illegal arrests - were used to deny their basic right to live; that by distributing cash in lieu of land to be submerged, they not only violated the Tribunal Award and Supreme Court order, but also pushed the people to destitution; that all this was done was to present false affidavits and facts before the Supreme Court and the Rehabilitation sub group of Narmada Control Authority to get the permission for further dam height granted. Chikhalda village, where the public hearing was held, is one such village with is notified as 95 mts (the present height of the dam) affected, having more than 800 families, but not even one of them has been rehabilitated according to the law.

Senior activists of Narmada Bachao Andolan, Ms. Medha Patkar, in her presentation said about the magnitude of displacement, how people's rights over natural resources were snatched away and how callously the officials are dealing with the oustees and their problems.

Observers from Delhi, Bangalore, Tamilnadu, Baroda, Indore and different parts of Maharashtra were also present during the public hearing. Representatives from Maheshwar dam area presented the case of another dam on Narmada - Maheshwar dam - where the social costs of the dam is of least concern to the dam builders. Representatives of different towns of Nimad, like Badwani, Kukshi and Manvar also made short presentations, describing how the dam is affecting the interests of the towns.

Since the dam height was illegally pushed ahead by the Narmada Control Authority on May 17th 2002, the lives of 8000 families (according to govt records) have jeopardized this monsoon, who are left high and dry with no rehabilitation. As no administrative or judicial forum has intervened till now to stop this human holocaust, the people of the valley didn't have any other choice than to approach this eminent panel of judges, pleading them to see the truth.

Another pubic hearing will be held at Jalsindhi village (tribal belt of Madhya Pradesh) on 14th July and Nimgavan (Maharashtra tribal belt) on 15th July by the same panel. The report of the public hearing is expected within a month.

Jojo John
M.K.Sukumar