NBA Press Release
  14 June 2005
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

Indira Sagar’s Gates Will Endanger the Lives of 1 Lakh People

NARMADA BACHAO ANDOLAN
2 Sai Nagar, Mata Chowk
Khandwa, Madhya Pradesh
Tel: 94250-56802, 94250-87827
Email: nobigdam@sancharnet.in

Cities like Handia and Nemawar are also in submergence. Preparations to repeat the tragedies like Harsud and Dharaji

If the gates of Indira Sagar Project are closed this year, the lives of around 1 lakh people will come into danger. On the one hand thousands of families affected by full submergence have not yet been rehabilitated, and on the other, thousand of families affected by the Back Water Levels (BWL) have not even been surveyed. Information from government sources itself indicates that not only will many villages in partial submergence currently become fully submerged because of the backwaters, but also the cities of Handia and Nemawar may also be drowned at the BWL. It is also surprising to note that only a few days before the monsoons, resurveying is going on in all three districts and many errors have been found in the previous surveys. The Narmada Bachao Andolan strongly criticizes the National Hydro Development Corporation (NHDC) for endangering thousands of lives due to inaccurate surveying and ignoring those affected by the BWL, and demands that the gates be kept open this year, the reservoir level be maintained at 245 m or lower, and the gates only be closed one year after each and every oustee has been fully rehabilitated as per the guidelines of the Narmada Award.

Legal Requirements:

According to the Narmada Waters Dispute Authority’s Order, all lands up till the Full Reservoir Level (FRL of 262.13 m) should have been acquired, and all houses should have been acquired at the Back Water Level (BWL) arising out of the Maximum Water Level (MWL of 263.35 m). All affected families should have been rehabilitated one year prior to the stipulated date of submergence, and full rehabilitation and resettlement of all oustees should have been completed six months before the authorities submerge a given area. This principle has been reiterated by the Supreme Court many times, and more recently in the Order given on 15th March 2005.

Thousands have not been rehabilitated:

However, the reality is that thousands of families in the 91 villages that will be submerged this year have yet to be rehabilitated. Firstly, figures released by the government themselves show that 3000-4000 families have not been rehabilitated and have not received their compensations. Additionally, thousands of families, which have received some part of their compensation awards have only received them in the months of April and May, making it impossible for them to move out during the onset of the monsoons. The villages of Bijoramafi, Junapani, Dang, Nandana, Karanpura, Lotiya, Pachola, Khardana, Kutchbedi, Dagarkhedi, Badgaon Raiyat, Kankarda etc had not received any compensation for their lands as late as June 2005. Dang, Dantha, Nandana, Pamakhedi, Fatehgarh, Bijoramafi, Dagarkhedi, Badgaon Raiyat, Kankarda, Hanifabad and many other large villages and thousands of families face the prospects of submergence this year without rehabilitation.

Thousands will be submerged in the Back Water: Project Authorities have hidden this fact According to the Detailed Project Reports of the Indira Sagar Project, the back water level at Handia, which is on the farthest edge of the reservoir, will be 274.20 m during the monsoons, i.e. 12 m above the Full Reservoir Level (FRL) of 262 m. The Narmada Control Authority, which monitors the various Narmada valley projects, has stated in its February 2005 report that the back water level at an intermediate distance from the dam, in village Joga Kala, will be 267 m, and it will be 273.3 at the Riddheshwar Temple in Handia. It is evident from these government reports that many “partially submerged” villages will be fully submerged due to the backwater levels in monsoons, and many new villages will be affected as well. If the waters reach 274.20 in Handia and Nemawar, then both towns with populations of around 18,000 may be fully submerged. Rough estimates gathered by the Andolan show that at the minimum 7886 houses in 46 villages will be submerged in the backwater.

Major inaccuracies in the survey, New areas found to be in submergence: With less than a month to go before the arrival of monsoons, the Project Authorities have discovered major flaws in the surveys of the submergence affected areas, and resurveys are being conducted in all three districts of Khandwa, Harda and Dewas. The Collector of Harda has written to the state authorities admitting the faults of the survey and today surveys are being conducted again in all of Harda. In Dewas, resurveys show that the entire village of Tipras is in submergence, while earlier not a single house in Tipras had been taken in submergence. Similarly, entire villages of Fatehgarh and Bhamar have also been taken in full submergence. In Khandwa district, errors in the surveys were found in Bediyaav, Dabri, Mohanya khurd, Somgaon etc. and hundreds of affected families in the villages of Pamakhedi, Dang, Dantha, Nandana, Sivar have only recently been taken in submergence. The re-surveys are proceeding in many other villages as well.

Approximately 1 lakh people endangered; People will be submerged without rehabilitation, acquisition If the gates at the Indira Sagar Project are closed this year, then around 5000 families i.e. 25000 people will be submerged at the Full Reservoir Level without having received any rehabilitation. At the same time, around 75,000 people in more than 7886 houses could be submerged in the backwater without even having their properties acquired. It is evident that the tragedies of Harsud and Dharaji in the past year are being deliberately repeated this year also.

Massive destruction anticipated at 258 m also

The Chief Executive Director of NHDC told reporters yesterday that this year, Indira Sagar reservoir will only be filled to the level of 256 m, and there are only 500 families remaining to be rehabilitated at this level. But Mr. Dodeja is forgetting that last year when the reservoir was filled to the level of 245 m with average monsoon rainfall, water levels reached 252 m at several places. It is clear that this year, 258 m at the dam will result in water levels of 265 to 270 m, and not only all those lands which have been indicated as coming under submergence will drown, but the back water levels will also submerge thousands of other families without acquisition and without rehabilitation.

90% electricity production even without closing the gates

According to the figures released by NHDC on 13th June, 1361 million units of electricity were produced in the year 2004-2005 at the reservoir level of 245 m, while it is projected that 1577 million units will be produced in 2005-2006 after the closure of the gates. This means that the additional electricity generated this year is only 216 million units, i.e. if the gates are not closed in 2005, then also 90% or more than 1361 million units will be generated this year. It should be noted that this additional amount of electricity is not even 1% of the consumption of electricity in Madhya Pradesh (30,000 million unit), while the transmission and distribution losses are more than 40%. What this means is that keeping the gates open will result in minimal losses of electricity production, while closing the gates will endanger the lives of thousands.

Stop the Human Tragedy

The Narmada Bachao Andolan demands that the terrible human tragedy that will occur if the ISP gates are closed this year be avoided. This year the gates should be kept open; the entire area affected by direct submergence and by the back water should be fully resurveyed, and the reservoir should only be filled one year after all the project affected people have been fully rehabilitated according to the Narmada Award and the Rehabilitation policy of the state. The Grievance Redressal Authority (GRA) is currently conducting an enquiry into the status of rehabilitation, as per the instructions of the Honourable High Court in the Writ Petition filed by the Narmada Bachao Andolan, and the Andolan has made all of its information available to the GRA and will also be submitting it in the Honorable High Court. The next hearing at the High Court is on the 20th of June, 2005.

Alok Agrawal
Chittaroopa Palit
Nandalal(Village Hathnora)
Gaurishankar Upadhyaya(Village Dagarkhedi)