NBA Press Release
  30 June 2003
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

NBA faces Betrayal : A distorted Official Resolution Rejected : ‘Warn and Watch Centres’ will lead to Satyagraha unless dispute is resolved.

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With heavy rain fall in the Narmada Valley and waters rising inspite of Gujarat’s efforts to release water and maintain the level, flooding of the adivasi houses, hamlets, farms and forest can commence any day. The flood itself will prove the falsehood in the official claims that all the families to be affected at the dam height of 100 plus 3 mts – are either already rehabilitated or would be rehabilitated before submergence. Submergence without rehabilitation is to be faced by about 1,500 families in Maharashtra including the villages of Manibeli, Dhankhedi, Bamani, Mukhdi, Domkhedi, Chimalkhedi, Nimgavhan and others. Similarly, more than 10,000 families in M.P. with ‘pukka’ houses, shopping centres, best of orchards and standing crop are in the threatened zone, with families not willing to run away but ready to face submergence.

The New Government Resolution: A deliberate distortion

It was in this context that a 12 day long agitation including a 7 day fast took place in Nasik, Maharashtra. On June 4th, whilst the fast was on, The Chief Minister of Maharashtra agreed to the major demands of the agitators including - settlement of dispute over number of affected families and list of Project Affected Persons. Thereafter, the Cabinet which met on June 11th 2003, debated the issues related to the basis on which the permission to increase the dam height was given and other demands. It was announced and agreed to meet all the demands of the NBA. In reality, the Government Resolution dated June 23rd, which is supposed to reflect the Cabinet decision, has brought out the fact that every single decision has been distorted – including delay and uncertainty in the process of rehabilitation planning. While the Rehabilitation Ministry is responsible for the GR that is based not on the promises made by the Chief Minister and CS as per the demands of the NBA, the note placed by the Ministry before the Cabinet totally negates the decisions made. It is not yet known whether the GR is a truthful reflection of the Cabinet’s decision or the Cabinet too has been cheated in the game by a few bureaucrats and political allies.

As per the GR dated June 23rd, resolution decisions on every issue including finalization of the list of Project Affected Families left out of the records despite their having lived there since years – but identified by the Task Force, surveyed and found to be in the villages / hamlets to be marooned is transferred to Justice Kurdukar, Chairman of the Grievance Redressal Authority. The decision on rehabilitation of those Maharashtra oustess who were shifted to Gujarat but had to return – having been betrayed – allotted uncultivable lands, possession of land not given, names left out – is also to be referred to the Grievance Redressal Authority in Gujarat. The Resolution does not record the Cabinet’s decision publicized in the Press that whether or not the GRA and the Narmada Control Authority approves the correction of records and inclusion of the newly identified families, the state government would take responsibility to rehabilitate them.

The Resolution, the only written commitment since the increase in the dam height was permitted, is a clear betrayal. NBA has therefore warned the Government of Maharashtra that unless the government brings in a new GR, resolves all the disputes related to the records of affected families and shows substantial progress on estimating the land requirements and identifying land by July end, it will begin a fiery Satyagraha – agitation again, amidst monsoon and submergence which is imminent.

The adivasis in the valley are facing crocodile attacks on humans and cattle as also , the cattle and individuals are losing their lives sinking into the 20 to 30 feet deep silt, the people are determined to continue facing the odds and fighting on. The first phase opens with the “Warn and Watch Centres” in the villages.

NBA has invited the National and International Human Rights Commissions as also individuals and organizations of high repute to visit the Valley and raise the issue of criminal injustice and legal violations. We believe that this struggle is crucial, since there is enormous escalation in the number of families and communities displaced due to projects pushed through in this era of globalization and privatization -these are seen to be treated with utter callousness, violating the constitutional rights of all sectors.

The Overview Committee Meeting called on July 2nd., to be chaired by the Rehabilitation Minister will be crucial and decisive.

Medha Patkar