NBA Press Release
  03 March 2002
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

The Finance Minister of Gujarat misguides the house and elected representatives

NARMADA BACHAO ANDOLAN
B-13, Shivam Flats
Ellora Park,
Baroda-390007
Tel: 0265-282232
Email: baroda@narmada.org

62, Mahatma Gandhi Road,
Badwani,
Madhya Pradesh - 451551
Tel: 07290-22464
Email: badwani@narmada.org

For past some time there appears to be a strong political expediency to push Sardar Sarovar Project ahead flouting all norms and violating the NWDTA provision of 'land for land' and Supreme Court judgement that further construction would be permitted by Rehabilitation and Environment sub-groups of Narmada Control Authority only after completing the R&R and Environmental measures in consultation with Grievance Redressal Authorities of three Affected states. In total disregard of human rights of the people affected by this high dam on Narmada, politicians have again indulged in vicious misinformation campaign, not realizing that the same does also betray people of Gujarat if that implies pushing ahead the financially non-viable project and increasing the regional imbalance due to depriving Saurashtra and Kutch for allocation of water in favour of urban metropolis.

On February, 28th while replying to queries by members, the finance minister Nitin patel has reportedly informed the house, that "the work has progressed upto 95 metres that the work is on full swing and the work of raising the height of Narmada dam from 95 to 100 metres would be completed before the onset of monsoon" (Refer: Dam height to be raised before rains, The Times of India, Ahmedabad, dated 28th February). The alleged information to house amounts to not merely contempt of court, but contempt of democracy. It is an attempt to flout the oath taken as an elected representative, by not telling the truth to other elected representatives of the people, not in power. The true story is that on the 8th February the date on which Environment and R&R sub groups of NCA met in Delhi to take the decision looking at the dismal state of resettlement reality, and not daring to undermine the determined people's resolve to fight, the decision to raise the height to 95 metres couldn't be taken. Environment Sub Group seems to have concluded that it would permit further construction subject to the clearance by the R&R sub group. The work at the dam site thus remains stayed at 90+3 (humps) metres.

Immediately after this event, however, the authorities in Gujarat initiated a misinformation campaign. First came the distorted statement by Bhupendrasingh Chudasma, chairman, SSNNL that "ESG granted clearance and the R&R sub-group said that resettlement process in Madhya Pradesh was 'satisfactory'", while holding from speaking the truth that R&R sub-group has not given the clearance. Then comes this misguiding statement by minister in the house, where referring to the meeting convened by Prime Minister in the presence of Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijay Singh, and high level officials the minister reportedly said "the dam height would be raised to 100 metres and the work was in full swing to meet the deadline by the onset of monsoon".

We condemn such misinformation campaign and expect the sensitive and knowledgeable of people^'s representatives, not in power positions will function as watch dog in democracy and hope that they will question such attempts of vested interest politics and irresponsible rhetoric. They may demand answers an account of costs incurred on the project with the final costs being 44000 crores. It may be noted that huge amounts were allocated to SSP :

Rs. 1330 crores allocated for SSP in the annual plan for the year 2000-2001 (Source: Gujarat Samachar, dated 30th May 2000).

Rs. 1267 crores allocated for SSP in the annual plan for the year 2001-2002 (Source: Economic Times, dated 26th July 2001).

It is obvious that the PM's dictate was a sheer political act - in wake of election where Narendra Modi was to seek votes from Rajkot electorate - by putting petty political interests before people's constitutional rights and was an attempt to subvert the judicial directive, actually by doing so he expressed cold blooded disregard for the law of the land and constitutional rights of it's people with a vulgar show of jingoistic politics ignoring the illegality and injustice involved in such a 'decision'.

Medha Patkar
Himanshu Upadhyaya