NBA Press Release
  01 March 2006
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

Has the Construction Advisory Committee Cleared Sardar Sarovar Dam Height Raise to 121 metres ?

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It appears that the Sardar Sarovar Construction Advisory Committee (SSCAC) has cleared the construction aspect of the Sardar Sarovar dam upto the height of 121.92 metres, from the present height of 110.64 metres. If this is true, it is indeed shocking as this just points to the fact that the governments are indeed determined to raise the dam height, even if it means violation of the Supreme Court^s orders and destitution and homelessness of thousands and thousands of families in the submergence area.

The Resettlement & Rehabilitation (R&R) Sub-Group of the Narmada Control Authority (NCA) is still to give clearance for the height raise. Even though the three states of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat are all claiming that rehabilitation has been completed, this is far from the truth. The Action Taken Reports (ATRs) apparently have been submitted to the Centre by the three states in order to ask for clearance. However, these ATR^s have not been made public. They have not been verified by the NCA or by the Gram Sabhas (village bodies). Yet, they are being used to try and push the project ahead.

In M.P., the government has resorted to doling out cash compensation instead of land, which is a violation of the Narmada Tribunal Award and Supreme Court^s orders. In addition, the Centre has clearly taken a position that giving cash instead of land will not be considered as rehabilitation. In the meeting of the R&R Sub-Group of the NCA held on 12th September, 2005 in New Delhi, the Centre took a clear position against the cash compensation.

Another Application in this regard has again been filed in the Supreme Court of India by the affected families of the valley. However, before this case can come up for hearing, the governments seem to be rushing the process to get clearance before the truth is revealed before the Court.

The Centre also took a clear stand that the Maharashtra government must allot 2 hectares of agricultural land to major sons, as per the Court^s order, as opposed to the 1 hectare land that they have been giving until now. However, the Maharashtra officials have issued a clear statement that they WILL NOT give 2 hectares to major sons. It seems that they are willing to openly flout the Court's orders.

The Prime Minister had directed on November 22, 2004 that the Minister of Water Resources must visit the Narmada Valley and check on the claims of rehabilitation before the height is raised any further. This visit, while must awaited by us, has still not taken place. The state leaders have cheated and bluffed the Water Resources Minister by giving him incorrect briefing about the completion of rehabilitation works in the valley. Hence, we really urge the Minister, Shri Soz, to visit the region and see the situation for himself.

In addition, it is startling to note that the R&R Sub-Group, which is charged with the monitoring of rehabilitation measures, has not visited the submergence area since November 2000! Hence, clearances have been given to raise the dam height merely by paperwork, most of it FALSE, done sitting in Bhopal, Mumbai, Gandhinagar and Delhi, without any checking being done on the ground. It is no wonder then that grave injustice is being done to the people of the valley.

This is all due to the morally bankrupt politics of Narendra Modi (CM of Gujarat) and Shivrajsingh Chauhan (CM of MP) who have never visited the valley and do not understand the massive scale of displacement and human tragedy they are causing. Modi, of course, is used to genocide even in his own state! Why then will he care about displacement of tribals and other poor families? But it is upto the Centre to take a strong stand in keeping with their promise not to allow displacement without rehabilitation in their election manifesto, the Common Minimum Program (CMP).

It has taken the last 25 years to resettle 11,000 families. How then will 35,000 families just in Madhya Pradesh be resettled within even the next 5 to 10 years, especially when M.P. has no cultivable land to offer to people nor the political will to follow through on its promises?

The Gujarat Congress too must take a position on this. They must not allow rampant trampling of peoples' rights, especially at a time when the cost of the project to Gujarat is very very high and the benefits are not coming through. The canal network is still not ready; as a result the water at 110 metres is also not being used fully. The canals have been breaking, as happened in monsoon of 2004 and 2005, causing tremendous loss of crops and homes in areas that were inundated. The reports of organisations in Gujarat who are monitoring the Narmada Drinking Water Pipeline Project clearly show that the drinking water is going to only a fraction of the villages that was claimed. In addition, M.P. and Maharashtra have not received any significant amount of power from the project either.

At this stage, Rupees 20,000 crores are still remaining to be spent on the Project. Over 40,000 families are still to be resettled. The task is a Herculean one, and will only be completed by doing grave injustice to the people affected.

Hence, this is the time to review this project before it goes any further. Let the waters at 110 metres be used properly and all affected people rehabilitated justly. Let the balance money be used for small decentralized water projects in Gujarat, which would bring far more benefit to the people of Gujarat. We are afraid the Centre will regret if it gives in to Gujarat right now and grants any further clearance without thoroughly investigating the ground situation.

Ashish Mandloi,Yogini Khanolkar, Kamal Awasya,
Noorji Padvi, Jamalbhai,
Dipti Bhatnagar, Umesh Patidar, Medha Patkar