NBA Press Release
  11 July 2006
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

SHUNGLU COMMITTEE REPORT UNTRUTHFUL; DISTORTS FINDINGS: 1 LAKH PEOPLE WILL FACE THE CHALLENGE

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

The long-standing controversy around the Sardar Sarovar dam has been further aggravated, not resolved, with the Report of the Shunglu Committee/ Oversight Group (OSG), the Prime Minister^“s decisive statement and the Supreme Court^“s interim directive issued yesterday.

While the Government of Gujarat has now decalred that the dam would not reach its targeted height of 122 mts but the work will stop at 119 mts, and the PM has presumed the same, the number of families likely to be affected will be less by few thousands, but still not small and must not be ignored or drowned out. These families continue to be in their generations-old villages since not having received all the legally due entitlements and not only because submergence has not occurred. Their plight and violation of rights can be proved by the impending monsoon if not taken cognizance of by ay democratic channel in the country.

We are appalled to read and analyze the OSG report and the NSSO findings. The overall statistics and analysis including conclusions and recommendations prove to be a weak and failed attempt to justify and vindicate the official position whether on the number of affected families (PAFs) or status of rehabilitation. The Report cannot stand the test of social science research methodology nor can it inform any objective reader of the ground level situation unless one reads in between lines or is knowledgeable of the field reality. The Report has thus bluffed the Prime Minister and the Supreme Court if they were indeed keen to know the truth. It has only approved the legal violations by the M.P. Government beyond what GRA of MP had done and proved the methodological flaws but also the political bias behind its work as much as its appointment and the Terms of Reference. The report stands exposed as can be seen by the following select points of analysis by NBA but will be further reviewed by a team of eminent persons including Upendra Baxi (Former Vice Chancellor of Delhi University), Ramaswamy Iyer (Former Secretary of MOWR), L.C. Jain (Former Member, Planning Commission), and Adv. Girish Patel (Ahmedabad High Court).

The Shunglu Committee^“s conclusions, also presented in the affidavit of the Union of India, start with:

1)"No deviation found in the GoMP's number of affected families and field survey data."

This is baseless. The surveyors didn't survey every family as claimed. This is proved from NSSO data related to adivasi villages of Alirajpur in District Jhabua. The families are affected mostly below 110 mts. in these and other villages in Badwani district were not covered fully. Moreover, Shunglu Committee has not truthfully reported the numbers where deviation is found.

a) NSSO reports 6485 families as claimants before them. This is the number reported from their partial administration of Schedule II. (We know many villages such as Semalda of Dhar District, Kukra (Rajghat) of Badwani District, and most of the 26 villages of Jhabua District where Schedule II (called ATR II by NSSO) was not administered and hence is not complete

b) OSG suggests ignoring 4000 of these 6,485 claims since they are pending before the GRA.

c) OSG also admits, as does NSSO, that the claims made during survey could not be substantiated. The fact is that OSG never planned any method of investigation into the claims either through a separate detailed questionnaire, interviews or Gramsabha consultations.

d) OSG admits that the number of major sons is not yet final and asks NVDA to fix this. Considering the fact that major sons are in thousands, even a partial underestimation would be serious and it is blatant violation of law when OSG merely recommends that "NVDA should confirm to NCA that R&R of major sons should be completed, even where it was rejected before 2005, due to different interpretation."

e) OSG's report is another game of numbers since not just the above but a clearly factually incorrect statistic and data is used by it and NSSO, probably due to their total dependence on the data provided by NVDA as the baseline data.

f) The most glaring example is of Annexures III and IV giving the number of households and population in 1991 and 2001 as also number of PAFs for certain villages, claiming 'a demographic change' which is more or less interpreted as cheating by the villagers by developing property for the purpose of claiming compensation. While there are such cases resulting out of official's corruption in lakhs (as pointed out by the Gramsabha of village Piplood in Badwani District◊34 fake names in the record and Rs. 70 lakh worth of cash compensation misappropriated!), in presenting this data, the Shunglu Committee and NSSO have been clearly misled and have misled others. To exemplify, the tables show Pichchodi (decades old village with over 800 families, all PAFS), Anwli (also decades old village with about 595 families, all PAFs), and others as having no population and no household in 1991 and suddenly human habitation developed by 2001! There are umpteen number of documents proving th is to be false. Village Khujawa and some other villages, on the other hand, are shown as having households in 1991 but no inhabitants in 2001. Anyone visiting Khujawa could find it to be a village adjacent to the SSP-affected township of Dharampuri, with a population of about 124 houses and a population of 895. 311 families are declared at FRL, while 178 are below 122 m. NSSO surveyors had visited Khujawa and recorded their findings. How then are they showing the population as zero! It is worth noting that Khujawa is an archeologically valuable site with an age-old temple.

g) In Annexure III, OSG presents tabulated data for some villages, again with mistakes which are not inadvertent but calculated, based on the misrepresentation of facts beginning with NVDA's data.

h) In Annexure III, Village Chota Barda (Dist. Badwani) is said to have 335 PAFs altogether and 599 claimants for rights as PAFs. Their land and houses are said to have been acquired in 2002 and the demographic change shown from 1991 to 2001 is: 117 households (91) to 547 households; 601 population (91) to 2761.

i) The factual scenario, derived from official documents, is as follows: Barda has as per acquisition process (for some families) begun in 2002, 495 PAFs (and 75 PAFs left out of survey) whose property was acquired (495 + 76=571 PAFs). Moreoever, 319 PAFs were issued notices in 2005 for acquisition as the left out PAFs and acquisition f their property is not even completed. These include PAFs at different levels, including those below 110 mts. and 122 mts. and hence their being thrown into submergence area due to increase in dam height is illegal. All of them are not allotted.

j) As per the Barda Grampanchayat's records and various documents available with the villages in 1991, the population of Bard was 4045 and not 601, and households being 500 and not 117; and in 2001 it was about 7000 with 870 houses (not 547).

2) The OSG's report interprets NSSO^“s findings not without distortion. In order to justify SRP (payment of cash in lieu of land) it concluded that a large number of families have taken cash willingly, not because they opted for purchasing of own choice. It thus goes against the Supreme Court judgement to say that SRP is acceptable to GRA and to PAFs and seems to be the desireable alternative to the government allotting land. This is a clear violation of the law (NWDTA) and legal provision compliance, which was to be assessed by OSG.

3) In reality, as the OSG itself accepts, the striking fact is the land bank of GOMP has land which is neither irrigable nor cultivable. And yet it says the cash was taken voluntarily, rejecting any compulsion or force used. OSG shows utter disregard for facts when it claims 407 families, the small number of families who received ex-parte land allotment papers by post, opted out for government land. There are clear rejection letters sent by PAFs, but also GoMP^“s own affidavits of 2000 before SC proving much of the allotted land is uncultivable or nonexistent. We have no words to express our anguish over such distortion.

4) The OSG in its attempt to suppress the truth also concludes that when there are about 50 R&R sites (out of 86) which are not ready (i. have uneven plots, land is hilly, stony or black cotton soil unsuitable for housing), PAFs have not moved because submergence is yet to occur. I a way, it approves drowning of houses and fields when families living on have no place to go.

5) As callous a statement as ^”Since acquisition of agriculture land up to FRL has already taken place and because SRP seems to be working, the major issue now is largely about relocation to new homesteads^‘ is simply unacceptable. Neither the PM, nor the SC seems to have realised what this means. Thousands of families with houses, pakka, concrete, one-storeyed to kachcha of wood, bamboo and mud as in rural areas, to be moved to plots, all are not yet allotted, and many sites, not yet levelled or developed, is not a joke. It must be understood before flooding occurs! The OSG and NSSO keeps mum on ^”No R&R site for any of the villages in Jhabua^‘ which are mostly below 110 mts., when they present dat on R&R sites, which is deliberate and atrocious since these hilly adivasi communities are simply left out with no good land offer in MP and no place to go, but face waters. That hundreds in these villages have their land submerged under water since 1994 finds no mention in the co nclusions with no recommendation to compensate!

6) What could one expect this report to contribute to? It doesn^“t refer to NBA^“s and supporters 3 hrs. long presentation with facts and figures, suggestions on research methods and tools when it asserts, 'no individual or group provided any specific information as to individual grievances or in respect of any of the R&R sites." This is an unjustifiable allegation. Advocates and valley representatives are witness to hundreds of petitions submitted to the surveyors by PAFs, many of which were not accepted and documents to lists presented to the OSG by NBA.

It is obvious that the overall exercise of the OSG and the PM^“s decision based on it to allow the dam to go ahead and to damn 1.5 lakh people with submergence was a concocted move to justify the GOMP and MOWR^“s unjustifiable act of furthering the dam height. The people in the valley will face all this before and during the monsoon. It is not just the thousands of families in M.P. but hundreds of adivasis in Maharashtra and Gujarat, as also those at R&R sites with incomplete rehabilitation, bad lands, or no lands. They will continue to challenge the impact of such untruthful reports, and callous decisions violating the law and justice.

The Gujarat tribals living around the dam site in Kevadia, being forcibly evicted for tourism, without rehabilitation, have said the truth: the dam is not the life-line of adivasis, but a death noose.

The apex Court is still being looked at by millions in this country for protection of their right to life and livelihood has avoided its responsibility once again. It has allowed its own verdicts to be flouted. Let the governments openly amend laws and subvert the Constitution, to sacrifice the farmers and tribals as oustees, instead of playing dirty games.

Dipti Bhatnagar
Medha Patkar