Indian People's Tribunal Press Release
  18 March 2002
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

Interim report on the rehabilitation and resettlement situation of the Maan project oustees

Indian People's Tribunal on Environment and Human Rights
4th floor, CVOD Jain school
84, Samuel St
Mumabai-9
Tel: 0265-282232

A three member tribunal was appointed by the Indian People's Tribunal on Environment and Human Rights to investigate the situation of the oustees under the Maan irrigation project, in view of the impending submergence in June 2002. The IPT was set up in 1993 by a large assembly of lawyers, judges, human rights activust and NGOs across the country. Its mandate is to investigate gross human rights violations and cases of environmental degradation. The IPT is a four part body consisting o a panel of retired judges and academics, an advisory board of eminent people across the country, a network of supporters of grassroots organizations, lawyers and others, and secretariats in various parts of India, including the national secretariat in Mumbai.

The panel for the Maan project hearing consisted of Justice GG Loney (Retd, Bombay High Court), Mr. Vinod Shetty, Human Rights Advocate, Mumbai, and Dr. Nandini Sundar, Associate Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

The Maan dam is at Jeerabad, in Dhar district on the river Maan. The maximum height of the dam is 52.4 m and according to official estimates, it will submerge 17 villages. According to the government gazette notification of 29 December 2001, submergence will be complete by June 2002.

A public hearing was held at village Khedi Balwari on 17th March, which was attended by about 600 people from all the affected villages. The panel received a number of submissions in writing and heard oral depositions from 23 people. The findings are as follows:

1.Misleading and incomplete information provided to oustees: When people were first informed about the dam, they were told that only some of their land was going to be submerged. They were not told that their entire land would go under submergence.

2.No information on entitlements as per policy: The oustees who have land (whether title or encroached land of long standing) were not told that under the Narmada Project Resettlement and Rehabilitation policy of 1992, they were entitled to cultivable irrigated land in exchange, with a minimum of 2 ha for each project affected family.

3.Inadequate cash compensation given 8-10 years ago: The oustees were given cash compensation which was not adequate even to buy the same amount of land at the prices prevailing then, leave alone in 2002.

4.Cash compensation for houses: Many people have been given cash compensation for their houses , trees and wells but not everyone has received this.

5.Alternative house plots not attached to cultivable land: In a few cases, people have been given alternative house plots in resettlement colonies, namely Kesur, Aamkheda, and Junapani. But these plots do not have any cultivable land attached to them, which is why people are reluctant to move to these plots.

6.Improperly planned resettlement colonies: People who had been resttled at Kesur told us that they were resented by the host village since they had been resettled on the grazing lands of Kesur village. Moreover, some of the lands that they have been given were already encroached and so they have not received possession for these lands. Also some of these lands that have been given to 22 families - the only families to be rehabilitated with land, submerge routinely every monsoon being next to a stream bed.

7.Loss of natural resources on displacement: In addition to losing their cultivable lands, people are losing their access to water from the Maan river for irrigation, and natural resources from which they derived additional income and subsistence, e.g. minor forest produce, fish, fuelwood, fodder and graqzing for their cattle. Artisans stand to lose raw material and markets

Conclusions:

We find that the situation in the villages which are going to be submerged by June 2002 is in urgent need of redressal. The families of 17 villages are under immediate threat of losing their livelihood unless alternative land for cultivation and housing plots are urgently provided before submergence.

Clearly, it is difficult for the affected people to leave their traditional villages with their cattle, agricultural implements and other belongings unless they have somewhere concrete to go. They will be on the streets like beggars. Such a situation is contrary to the policy laid down by the government of Madhya Pradesh in Naramada Project Rehabilitation Policy.

Such a situation is also contrary to the spirit of the Vth Schedule of the Constitution which provides for special protection for adivasis.

Submergence should be postponed till the oustees are properly resettled and rehabilitated. We find it shocking that the resettlement of oustees is not an integral part of the construction of the dam and that even after 17 years of construction, their situation has been ignored.

We also find that the genuine grievances of the people are not being addressed by the concerned government officers. On the contrary whenever they make attempts to meet the government officials or CM, they are arrested and beaten up. There appears to be a feeling of gross neglect in the minds of the oustees.

In conclusion, we call upon the Government of Madhya Pradesh to take immediate cognizance of the genuine grievances of the affected families in the 17 villages and adhere to the government policy for purposes of resettlement and rehabilitation in the spirit of the Rehabilitation policy of the Madhya Pradesh government for the oustees of Narmada projects.

We were told by the oustees and the media persons gathered at the public hearing that the Madhya Pradesh government have recently declared a new cash package for the oustees. We recommend that the Madhya Pradesh government use these financial resources available to them to identlfy and then allot large chunks of irrigable land where the oustees can be resettled as communities. Cognizance also needs to be taken of special groups such as artisans, land less labor and also adult sons and daughters.

In the light of our observations, since it is not possible for the government to immediately solve the difficulties enumerated above before the monsoon of 2002, the dam construction should be halted urgently until such time as resettlement and rehabilitation is complete. If immediate steps are not taken we apprehend that the situation may result in the most serious violation of human rights.

Dr Nandini Sundar, Associate Professor, JNU
Vinod Shetty, Advocate, Mumbai High Court
Justice Loney (Retd), Mumbai High Court


More information on the interim report