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

MP Govt. assures to hold discussions before May 10: Villagers end Bhopal dharna. Will MP help Gujarat design by violating law, human rights?

B-13, Shivam Flats
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Madhya Pradesh - 451551
Tel: 07290-22464

The Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister has agreed to hold discussions with the Narmada Bachao Andolan about state government’s actions and policies regarding displacement and resettlement, along with the environmental issues, before May 10. After the specific assurance, over 250 villagers from the Narmada valley ended their six-day dharna in Bhopal on April 28.

The people are demanding a full stop to the unjust and illegal practices in rehabilitation and the threat of submergence. The people are worried over the Madhya Pradesh government’s stance vis-à-vis Gujarat government’s pressure tactics for raising the height of the Sardar Sarovar dam beyond the present height of 90 meters. Despite the fact that the rehabilitation of the oustees below 90 meters is yet to be completed, the M.P. government has been indulging illegal acts of ex-parte land allotment and disbursing cash compensation to the oustees for displacing them. To oppose these tactics by the M.P. government, over 250 village representatives had launched a dharna in Bhopal, in front of the office of the Narmada Valley Development Authority (NVDA) from April 22. The people started the relay fast and women undertook indefinite fast on April 26 onwards.

The NBA has conducted detailed surveys regarding displacement and resettlement below the present 90 meters of height. It was found that more than 3,500 families below that height in all the three states- Gujarat, M.P. and Maharashtra- are still to be resettled as per the Narmada Water Dispute Tribunal Award (NWDT). In M.P., in Kukshi and Alirajpur tehsils, about 2000 families remained to be resettled while in Maharashtra more than 1061 families below the present 90 meters are still to be resettled. In such a situation, the present height of the dam also becomes a serious violation of provisions of the NWDT.

The Gujarat government is pressing for the increase in the height of the dam upto 95 or 100 meters. There are about 7,000-8000 families below 95 meters—including those below present 90 m., but not resettled. The number of the families below 100 meters, yet to be resettled, goes beyond 10,000. And the number of oustee families between 90 and 95 meters from M.P. alone, to be resettled, is more than 2,500. During the dharna, the people discussed these matters with the Madhya Pradesh officials. It was found that the government records are not up-to-date and meticulous; nor the officials were serious towards the grave situation and violations of the law and regulations. The Government has made ex-parte land allotment for the oustees of both in tribal villages in Alirajpur tehsil or in the Nimad area.. The records regarding the submergence areas of area contained totally false information. For example, though the government has been claiming that all the oustees below 90 meters in Alirajpur area have been resettled, there are number of families, who have not accepted rehabilitation in every half-marooned villages also. In one such instance, in village Anjanwara in Alirajpur tehsil, the 80 years old Dediya Chhetriya is not considered as the landholder, as the land is still considered in the name of his father, Chhetriya Kotwal, who was dead thirty years back. The official record has Chhetriya’s name as oustee and the land was ‘allotted’ ex-parte in his name! And eighty years’ Dediya is still considered as ‘landless’.

There are umpteen number instances of such ex-parte land allotments in Gujarat villages. The Gujarat oustees have been allotted the lands, which are stony, uncultivable due to water-logging, salinization or grass. All these are serious lapses in the basic records of oustees’ families, displacement and resettlement.

As the things stand, the governments of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra have no cultivable land for resettlement, as per the NWDT provisions. However, to appease Gujarat, the Madhya Pradesh government has been trying to displace its own oustees with illegal means like cash compensation and ex-parte land allotment. Cash compensation cannot be an alternative to the land-based rehabilitation, both for the oustees in tribal areas who are dependent on the natural resources like forest, water, common land of from the fertile and relatively prosperous area of Nimad. The M.P. administration has been facilitating the raising the height, by the fake, illegal means and repression on the oustees.

The Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister has succumbed to the pressure and decided to help Gujarat, as per the agreement arrived at in the presence of the Prime Minister, in January 2002. The recent violence and ethnic cleansing in Gujarat has put another macabre dimension to the entire matter. The Gujarat Chief Minister is now trying to raise the issue of the SSP as a matter to deflect the nationwide criticism of his government. In such circumstances, where anti-people and illegal means are accompanied with most sinister designs, we are awaiting what stance the M.P. government takes finally to prevent the destitution of its own farmers and Adivasis.

We are also worried about the move by some Members of Parliament from Gujarat asking the Prime Minister to order the Narmada Control Authority (NCA) to push ahead work on the dam. Are we to suffer another unjust displacement to deflect attention from the gruesome genocide and displacement in Gujarat? The Prime Minister now must put a halt to all the illegalities by the bigots and chauvinistic elements.

Medha Patkar and colleagues