NBA Press Release
  13 March 2009
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

Lower Goi Project in the Narmada Valley: Repression instead of Rehabilitation

2, Sai nagar, Mata Chowk,
Khandwa,
Madhya Pradesh
Tel/FAX: 0733-2228418, 9425394606, 9425928007
Email: nobigdams[at]sancharnet.in

The Government of Madhya Pradesh (GoMP) and the Narmada Valley Development Authority (NVDA) have resorted to brutal repression for eviction of adivasis in yet another dam project in the Narmada valley. The Lower Goi Project in Badwani district has been controversial for many years since the people didn't want to sacrifice their prime agricultural lands and generations old habitat; when the benefits of the dam would mainly go to the township and industries. The irrigation command area is mostly irrigated and can be further irrigated with alternatives. Yet, the Project is being pushed with massive police force, brutal lathi charge, firing and unlawful commencement of work with corporate investment from IVCRL, an infrastructure company of Andhra Pradesh.

The lathi charge on February 27, 2009 and the events following, makes it clear that the NVDA is not committed to any law or policy, including the Resettlement and Rehabilitation Policy for the Narmada Projects, let alone the Constitution. It has no concern nor any priority for development nor democracy but can stoop down to any level and resort to any measures; be it massive corruption (as proved in the Sardar Sarovar project where rehabilitation grants worth hundreds of crores of rupees are manipulated and misappropriated) or criminal repressive action to make people give up up their lands, rivers, forests as well as their right to rehabilitation, livelihood, and all other fundamental rights.

With more than a hundred adivasi women and men, Rulsingh, Ranchhod Maharaj and others ruthlessly beaten up, the whole of the dam site area turned into a terror zone with the deployment of a large contingent of the police and continuous intimidating announcements through moving vehicles. Section 144 Cr.P.C has been indefinitely clamped on the entire area since the 27th of February in a most unlawful and unjustifiable manner. The people are threatened against moving out of their home and filing FIRs or even seeking medical treatment! No FIR on the incident has been registered till date! The state is intact indulging in specious tactics of intimidating the adivasis of Goi by creating false propaganda of the arrest of activists.

Kindly go through the detailed note below, describing the incidents of repression in the past few weeks. We appeal to your conscience and commitment to write to the following to condemn the repressive way of 'development' and demand a complete review of the Project - its social, environmental and economic outputs with the involvement of the local community and the Narmada Bachao Andolan.

Demand the following of the authorities: - No to displacement without rehabilitation and consent of the adivasis (to be sought through consultation with them as per the PESA Act) must be followed. - Immediate withdrawal of urgency clause in land acquisition, unlawful imposition of Sec 144 to ensure freedom and transparency guaranteeing the rights of the adivasis.

DETAILED NOTE ON THE LOWER GOI PROJECT: REPRESSION INSTEAD OF REHABILITATION

The Lower Goi, one of the 30 large dams in the Narmada valley, has been a bed of conflict over the past many years. The affected people, almost 100% adivasis, belonging to Barela, Naik, Banjara and other communities raised the issues first and invited Narmada Bachao Andolan to support their cause. Their cry was to save their best of agricultural land, houses, tree and forest communities which they have long cherished and also their indispensable socio-cultural relationships. There are a few hundred wells in the affected area which is almost fully irrigated. The adivasis are self-reliant and economically well settled due to the rich natural resources and they didn't have to resort to migration ever.

According to them, the river ecology and water flows are such that lift irrigation, as they themselves are using, can be used extensively but that too with upgradation of catchment to ensure perennial flows, but otherwise the irrigation benefits are not to come true. The drinking water supply to the Rajpur township and industries may be attained but there are no primary productive industries in the area, right now.

The Lower Goi Project was taken up in the late 1990s, but was covered in the review and exercise undertaken through a Task Force appointed by the Government of Madhya Pradesh in 1998-99. The Task Force with the representatives of the GoMP/ NVDA, representatives of NBA and the independent experts being members, undertook a through investigation into all social, environmental and economic aspects of the dam, analyzing the secondary and some primary data and concluded that the costs and benefits of the Project were such that an alternative plan for water management should and could be prepared and implemented. The Review and Alternative framework Plan was thus prepared by Late Shri K.R. Datye, Water Resources Expert and Member of various official Committees which established the feasibility of the alternative plan.

A letter concluding the Task Force Report by the additional Chief Secretary, Madhya Pradesh brings out the decision by the GoMP. However, thereafter no process of detailing the alternative or even modifying or canceling the Project was carried forward. The people continue to raise their voice, asked the Government to provide full information and all the studies, reports etc. The Project remained in abeyance for a few years and suddenly the authorities initiated the process of public hearings.

One Public Hearing was organized in Badwani, the district place which is about 25 kms away from the Badwani and yet hundreds of people attended and raised their doubts. Also, no basic documents were made available to the affected people.

However, hundreds of people from the affected villages reached and questioned the Project. The second time again, the hearing arranged at the same place, the NVDA rest house, Badwani and the affected people were not even informed. On the other hand, a few hundred people from the beneficiary area came in vehicles organized by some politicians and a few representatives of the affected could only reach and express their views. They demanded a rehabilitation plan while the people from the command area adhocly claimed that they would give their land to the affected!

The MoEF's clearance to the Project came through, suddenly and with conditions in January 2008. Since then, the people have been raising their voice against the forcible land acquisition from every forum, along with those already affected by other large dams in the Narmada Valley, but there was no response even from the authorities

The Latest Repression

A new series of events began in February 2009 which shocked the adivasis to the greatest extent. A notice was issued to the villagers under Section 4 and Section 17 of the Land Acquisition Act on February 6th, wherein the urgency clause was applied so as to refuse the affected people an opportunity of raising any objections and being heard. There is absolutely no justification for applying the undue urgency clause and use of discretionary powers granted to the authorities , which were added in the British law for special situations. The Supreme Court's latest Judgement in 2009 by Justice C.K. Thakkar and D.K. Jain in the case by Panipat Teachers Housing Co-operative Society and Essco Fabs Pvt. Ltd. clearly indicates that urgency needs to be justified which certainly is not in the case of Lower Goi land acquisition, since the dam project is being furthered at least since the early 1990's.

The notice under Section 6 was issued on February 6th ,and yet land acquisition including declaring the compensation is not yet completed. Offering of agricultural land to the affected families is far from a reality. The people, therefore, were shocked to see Government moving ahead with literal force and tried to question them, only to face brutal physical violence inflicted on women, children, men and disabled as well who were driven into their homes and beat black and blue. They are still kept under enormous pressure and terror and are not even being permitted to attend medical check-ups and treatment for the wounded. No FIR has been filed till date.

About the Goi dam Project:

The dam is planned to be 58.50 metres high and 2.226 mts wide across the river Goi. The original documents produced before us in 1998-99 showed the dam height to be 43 metres and hence there is no information as yet as to how and when and by whom was the height raised further.

The Project is claimed now to be irrigating 13,760 ha of cumulative command area (CCA) and providing drinking water to the Rajpur town (4,25,000 cumecs) and to industries (55,75,000 cusmecs). The available water flow and storage capacity is not provided in the clearance letter, but the river is known to be dry for almost months every year and the water flow statistics surely is changed over the last two decades when the Project was only talked about.

The original Project documents showed the area to be irrigated as 17,888 hectares, which is reduced later to 13,760 ha, possibly either for serving the needs/interests of the industries or due to reduction of water availability. There is a need to review all the basic statistics. The total land requirement for the Project is estimated to be 1907.698 ha (1.083 ha forest land and 1304.997 ha agricultural land). The rest is not shown, but should be Government waste land).

The submergence area was initially shown to be 1279 ha with 726 ha agricultural land to be submerged and 553 ha other land. It is claimed that 904 families are to be affected. However, there is no knowledge of any bench mark survey having been carried out and the number of PAFs is not changed even after 2-3 decades, which is unbelievable and hence this data of the 1990's is unreliable data. how can the number of affected families be the same even in January 2008? When the officials had come on the 25th of February, the people had confronted them with such tough questions.

The environmental clearance given on 17th January, 2008 is conditional and subject to strict compliance of the terms and conditions, which include the following:

1. CAT measures to be completed over 5 years 2. Compensatory afforestation measures should be implemented in 43 acres in village Sustikheda, which is yet to be monitored. 3. As per our knowledge, no multi-disciplinary Committee is formed as yet.

We yet have to check on other conditions in the environmental clearance.

No sign or sight of R&R:

It is however certain that there is no meaningful Rehabilitation plan and the Govt. of Madhya Pradesh says that has no land is available in its land pool. This is the case similar to the fate of thousands displaced due to other large dams in the Narmada valley such as Sardar Sarovar, Jobat, Indira Sagar, Omkareswar, Maheshwar, Man etc. where the land bank is empty and state is offering cash in lieu of land, violating the NWDTA, which is resulting in massive corruption and hence has now been stayed by the Jabalpur High Court in the case of Sardar Sarovar and is being investigated by a Judicial Commission of Inquiry.

The earlier Policy of rehabilitation, which the GoMP had presented to the MoEF during the time of obtaining clearance was much more comprehensive and was based on the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal Award (NWDTA) guaranteeing 2 ha of cultivable irrigable land to every PAF losing 25% or more land.

The GoMP claims that the present Rehabilitation Policy, 2008 is modelled on the lines of the National Resettlement and Rehabilitation Policy, 2007, which as per our reading and assessment is a very weak policy and does not ensure the basic guarantee of land based rehabilitation. It says that only 1 ha of irrigated land can be provided and that too if Government land is available.

This change in the Policy has been made in a specious manner, without taking the people into confidence nor even has the MoEF been informed of this change. This must be reviewed and the GoMP must be compelled to stick to its original Rehabilitation Policy which it had submitted during the time of clearance.

Write to:

1. Shri Saifuddin Soz, Union Water Resources Minister, Ph: 011-23782032, 23782034, 9868181333(M), Fax:23710804, E-mail: minister-mowr@nic.in, ssaif@sansad.nic.in

2. Ms. Meira Kumar, Union Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment, Ph: 011-26910618, 26910639, Fax:11- 26910618, E-mail: msje@nic.in

3. Shri Shivraj Singh Chauhan, Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, (Off) 0755-2441581, 2441033, 2441096, Fax: 2441781, (Res) 2440241, 2440242, E-mail: cm@mp.nic.in

4. Hon'ble Dr. Balram Jakhar, Governor of Madhya Pradesh, Ph: 0755-2551300-2551303, (Res) 0755-2551946, 2557680, Fax: 0755-2554711

5. IVRCL Infrastructure Ltd (the company contracted to build the dam) Ph: 040- 23356613 / 15 / 18 / 21 / 51 to 55 Fax: +91(40) 23356693 / 23356695, E-mail:info@ivrinfra.com, sudhirreddy@ivrinfra.com, ashokreddy@ivrinfra.com

You can send your letters to us by fax/post/e-mail as well, if you want us to forward it to the concerned. It would however be better if you send it yourself and mark a copy to us. Do spare your valuable time to do this at the earliest.

Medha Patkar, Kailash Awasya, Kamla Yadav, Bheeluram Yadav