NBA Press Release
  21 July 2003
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

Visit by Eminent Persons Exposes Reality of Displacement and Rehabilitation; CM Singh Promises Larger Meeting on July 27

62, Mahatma Gandhi Road,
Madhya Pradesh - 451551
Tel: 07290-22464

An independent team of three people, Smt. Shabana Azmi (Member of Parliament), Shri. L.C. Jain (Ex-Member of Planning Commission) and Swami Agnivesh visited the Narmada Valley on 9th and 10th July 2003. On the 9th, they met the affected people in Pipri, Pichodi, Chikhalda, Kadmal, Nissarpur and Bhavaria (all villages in the Nimad region.) and on the 10th, Jalsindhi (a village in the adivasi belt of Madhya Pradesh). ďAfter listening at length to peopleís voices, we realized that there are many issues that need to be resolved in order to ensure justice for the people displaced by the Sardar Sarovar Project", they said. On July 11, the team put forward the situation regarding the displacement and rehabilitation before the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Mr. Digvijay Singh with their suggestions and recommendations about the displacement and rehabilitation process of the Sardar Sarovar dam affected people in Madhya Pradesh. They emphasised that improvement especially with the functioning of the Grievance Redressal Authority (GRA), accurate assessment of families affected, preparation of "developed" lands for rehabilitation 6 months before submergence etc were found wanting, considering the clear stipulations stated in the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal Award (NWDTA) and the October 2000 Judgement of the Supreme Court. They also strongly recommended strengthening the Gram Sabhas to facilitate the assessment and rehabilitation process. They asserted that the M.P. government should not have agreed to the increasing of the height of the dam without just resettlement and should not agree for such an increase in future.

In reply to the Teamís suggestions, the CM Digvijay Singh has called for a larger meeting on July 27th to look into the rehabilitation process to which Ms Medha Patkar along with the 3-member independent team and bureaucrats of Narmada Valley Development Authority (NVDA) and related Government departments have been invited. Earlier, hundreds of people have attended the public meetings held in various villages and representatives from each area spoke in those meetings and submitted a memorandum to the team. With the dam height already reaching 100 metres without rehabilitation of thousands of families in M.P., the people are hoping for a crucial breakthrough in the approach of the M.P. government regarding the dam, its height and the entire process of rehabilitation.

The NBA has welcomed and appreciated the efforts taken by the team of eminent persons and hoped that M.P. Government will respect the life and livelihood rights of the affected people. We welcome more such initiatives from other eminent persons so that the world may know what is happening in the valley in the name of development. The people once again reiterated that without complete rehabilitation, the height of the dam should not be further increased especially when thousands of families are yet to be resettled and doubts about the dam have further deepened. They condemned the fact that the Madhya Pradesh government has chosen to endorse Gujaratís interests as against the rights of its own people. They wanted the state government to take an independent stand and stop any further increase in the dam height and displacement until the cost-benefit of the dam can be assessed, as was agreed to by the state government some years back. They also reiterated that the displacement and rehabilitation process and ultimately the decision to increase the height of the dam should be monitored by the Joint Committee of the NBA and the Government, the proposal for which was given to the state government.

The people have already warned the government that mass agitation and satyagraha will begin from August, if the people affected during this year's monsoon submergence are not given their rightful due.

Sanjay Sangvi
Philip Mathew