| NBA Press Release
|| 19 June 2006
Medha Patkar and Others Arrested While Seeking Appointment with UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi
62, Mahatma Gandhi Road,
Madhya Pradesh - 451551
Gramsabhas in the Narmada Valley expose Government claims and Oversight Group methods!
Medha Patkar and nearly 100 others were arrested today (June 19) in New Delhi while they reached UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi's residence, seeking an appointment with her and urging her to intervene in the matter of the lives and livelihood of Sardar Sarovar dam affected people. The sections under which they are held is not told by the police.
The arrested include representatives of the affected villages in the Narmada valley and their supporters, like Prof. Manoranjan Mohanty, Rakesh Rafik, Rajendra Ravi, Bhupender Rawat and Vijayan MJ. Senior activists of Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) Ahish Mandloi, Sajan Behen, Sitaram Patidar, Dipti Bhatnagar and Philip Mathew are also under arrest at the time of release of this statement.
The Oversight Group (OG) chaired by Mr.V.K Shunglu the former CAG, appointed by the Prime Minister in April 2006 to look into the ground realities of rehabilitation in the Sardar Sarovar dam affected villages in the Narmada valley, has its Terms of Reference contradictory since the dam is to reach the targeted height of 122 metres by the time OG submits its report.
It is certain now that OG can neither do anything to ensure nor even suggest ways for, just rehabilitation of the affected families even in the minimal legal framework of the Narmada Tribunal Award or the state policies. What is certain, however, is that the demonic dam will submerge anywhere up to 220 villages of adivasis, dalits, farmers, fishworkers, artisans and traders. The pakka houses, schools, dispensaries, lakhs of trees to best of horticulture will be destroyed as in a natural calamity, but with a preplanned design.
It is shocking that the National Sample Survey organization (NSSO), appointed by the OG to carry out the survey in the villages used only the official Action Taken Report (ATR), the government list of affected families, as the main basis and didn^Òt go to the left out families or deep questioning to find out the legal violations to incomplete plans or false reports continued over years.
While the research tools were mostly kept a secret, whatever information people, watching and responding to the surveyors could gather, exhibits a highly superficial ineffective data collection, and a biased, hence distorted way of investigating the state acts and reports on Resettlement and Rehabilitation (R&R).
To our greatest shock, the OG also brought in, what may be called "privatisation" in its work, expending lakhs of Rupees in contracting private company, Infrastructure Development Consultancy with Mr. P C Nigam, an ex-Engineer-in-chief of MPPWD as its chairman, that has done projects for the world bank, ADB and MP governments all through, while the OG has chosen this real democratic way to establish the truth would have been Gramsabhas resolving on the ground reality, under PESA Act, 1996 and as per the constitutional rights and privileges granted to a scheduled tribal region under threat of state violence.
In this context the 20 years long people^Òs struggle today to establish the credibility of our claims and exposing the Government^Òs when the costly exercise of OG/ NSSO Survey is not likely to do it. Our tireless efforts to establish the truth about displacement and fake campaigns against peoples^Ò movements in all river valleys must proceed and break the barriers.
Since the judiciary to unfortunately opted to subvert its own judgements, relying on the same survey, people and communities in the valley decided to accept it! Gramsabhas in the Narmada Valley have one after another, brought out through resolutions in their meetings, but according to them was the status of the resettlement and rehabilitation with A number of legal violations and their entitlements that stand vindicated even today.
The Gramsabhas were supported in recording their information, analysis, claims and expectations, by our technical support group of educated young volunteers who stayed and worked with the them to carry out a household survey community level survey, both. They also did the report writing in English. A high level technical advisory committee on this, on the other hand gave broader guidance and purpose in this regard. Committee members include Mr L C Jain, Dr. Upendra Baxi, Mr Ramaswamy Iyer and Advocate Girish Patel.
We have submitted today a report on survey by 4 gramsabhas, which bring out clear fraud in the Government claim that R&R of all the families upto 122 Metres is complete and legally fulfilled. The CM of MP has once again made a false rhetorical statement of having rehabilitated all the families and completed the work at the R&R sites while there are no R&R sites for any of the 100% adivasi villages in District Jhabua and many in Badwani District in MP, the factual data shows that in each of the fully surveyed communities
-- There are families left out with no land allotted, nor offered; with land to become marooned but not surveyed; compensation not fully paid.
The following is a gist of major flaws that exposed illegalities and falsehood
SSP : Claims of R&R at 122 metres in MP exposed
State Cultivable Agricultural Land House plots not allotted
Many more gramsabhas with locus standi and rights are ready with their own data and resolutions, which would challenge the OGs, or a private companies data. This, we believe, will be a new battle in the face of dishonesty, misinformation and defamation campaign by the state and its stooges. We will flood concerned authorities, with data before their plans to flood and finish us come true.
The OG however is to be more seriously being questioned by the people in the valley who have seen many of the surveyor teams and OG members moving with group of government employees and officials while avoiding dialogue with the people themselves the affected. The OG after having listened to NBA and supporter advocates once, have not shown any transparency and openness to make available its research tools while not just the secrecy but the methodological flaws in their work are now fully exposed
The death tolls are ringing in the Narmada Valley. While the callous state has shown the criminal arrogance to allow the worse at Sardar Sarovar Dam to go ahead, lakhs of people in the submergence zone (our estimate remain stable and reliable at 3500) can be affected at 122 meters depending on the rainfall, stay on to fight the flood and the conspiracy, both. The oversight group does not give us much hope on its methodology, transparency and accountability to the task and people at this severely critical mode, when life is at stake.Ashish Mandloi