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

SUPREME COURT TO HEAR NARMADA MATTER ON MAY 30, AMIDST STATE TERROR, ILLEGALITIES AND PEOPLE'S RESISTANCE

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

Mumbai and Indore Dharna Insist on Placing Reality of Resettlement before the Court

As the writ petition against the increase in the height of the Sardar Sarovar dam (SSP), from 90 to 95 meters, is slated for the hearing on May 30, hundreds of people are camping in Mumbai and Indore demanding that the Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh governments must put forth the truth about displacement and resettlement before the Court.

More than hundred tribal representatives from 33 SSP-affected villages in Maharashtra have been picketing in Mumbai from May 27, demanding that the state government must place the findings of the Task Force, appointed by the government to assess the resettlement situation. Over 400 people from M.P. are continuing the dharna at the Narmada Control Authority (NCA) office in Indore. The NCA has reportedly allowed the increase in the height of the dam.

At the same time, the Madhya Pradesh government has unleashed terror in the adivasi villages in Alirajpur area to oust the people, with hundreds of police beating and arresting the resisting tribals. The police and the government staff has indulged into wanton tree-cutting and burning them, so that the people cannot live there and evacuate the villages.

It is obvious that, Narendra Modi^s government pressurized the Central government and the Narmada Control Authority (NCA) and violated almost all the laws and regulations. The Supreme Court has admitted the writ petition by the Narmada Bachao Andolan, challenging the construction and issued notices to the state governments, returnable on May 30. It seems that the M.P. Chief Minister, Mr Digvijay Singh has come to the rescue of the beleaguered Modi government, while the Maharashtra government h the designs of Central and Modi governments.

Pending Resettlement

It is inexplicable how Government of Maharashtra endorsed the decision to raise the height of the dam. The state government has officially declared that, it would not agree to the increase in the dam height pending the report of the Task Force, which it has formed to assess the status of displacement and rehabilitation. It was very clear from the surveys by the Task Force, that there are innumerable problems regarding the number of the oustees, the land rights and their rehabilitation. The work of the Task Force is not yet complete and the Maharashtra government has not given the clearance for further work.

The NCA, the monitoring agency itself is indulging in the illegal acts. More than 3,500 families below the height of 90 meters, in all the three states- Gujarat, M.P. and Maharashtra- are still to be resettled as per the provisions of the Narmada Water Dispute Tribunal (NWDT). In such a situation, the present height of the dam itself becomes a serious violation of the NWDT. In Maharashtra alone, 1350 adivasi families below the 95 meters still remained to be resettled, including those from 33 affected villages and those 730 families who were already shifted to the resettlement sites. These resettlement site families alone would need additional 400 hectares agricultural land. There are about 8000 families below 95 meters from al the threee states- Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, who are yet to be resettled. The number of the families below 100 meters, yet to be resettled, goes beyond 10,000.

In such situation, it is illegal and unjust to raise the height of the dam. Maharashtra government must protect the rights and life of its own Adivasis than the interests of Modi government. The state government must place the facts regarding resettlement and displacement, and the findings of the Task Force before the Supreme Court and prevent any further construction on the dam.

Modi's and Singh Alliance

The Madhya Pradesh government has no land available for oustees, the fact, which was declared time and again by the Chief Minister Mr. Digvijay Singh and the officials of the state. Yet the government is indulging in the patently illegal and unjust acts of disbursing the cash compensation to oust the people. The government is bent upon suppressing the people by brute police force and heinous acts of tree cutting in the villages like Jalsindhi. Mr. Digvijay Singh, despite his media-savvy image and grandiloquent rhetoric, has been indulging in the repressive anti-tribal and anti-farmer policy. The state government has also unleashed terror in the villages affected by the controversial Man dam and has been squandering the financial resources of nation for the sake of S. Kumars company in the Maheshwar Project.

Meanwhile, the drama by the Gujarat government of getting "Narmada" waters to Rajkot stands completely exposed through media. As was revealed, the Mahi river water was flown in the canals of Narmada project and the water from Machu dam was hailed as "Narmada water" by the Chief Minister, Narendra Modi at the "inauguration". Modi government wants to wriggle out the tight situation it finds itself after the ghastly Gujarat carnage against Muslims, by resorting to chauvinistic sloganeering, at the cost of yet another vulnerable section of the population.

It is a time for all those who value democratic rights of the people and the depressed classes to oppose the imposition of the increase in the height of the Sardar Sarovar dam and the added submergence. It is important to save the people's rights and Constitutional values than the political lust of a chief minister.

OUTRAGE BY MADHYA PRADESH GOVT.

The Madhya Pradesh government is readying itself to empty large Nimad villages, not just by flooding during the monsoons but by using police force, guns, lathi charges and bulldozers to forcibly evacuate people from their villages.

The government has already begun to cut and destroy the forests in the villages of Jalsindhi, Bada Amba among others in Jhabua and Village Khar n there are hundreds of families in these villages who have not been rehabilitated to date. This is being done by silencing the protesting voices of the adivasis using brutal police lathi charges on them, as was done in Kharya Bhadal where family members of Mangliyabhai, Gokuru including some women were beaten up. Thereafter the officials went about clearing the forest of trees. Bava Mahariya and Luhariya Shankar of Jalsindhi and Gokuru from Kharya Bhadal, expressed the resolve of the adivasis in saying that "Before rehabilitating us instead of destroying the forest you should cut us!" What is equally atrocious is that the thousands of trees clear felled are being burnt there and then itself on the ground that transport costs are high and cannot be borne by the government.

It is obvious that with no cultivable land to be offered in rehabilitation to the thousands of affected families and when there aren't rehabilitation sites ready with amenities for a number of villages to be affected this year at 95m dam height the Madhya Pradesh government is avoiding its legal and moral responsibility to rehabilitate people who have chosen to resettle in their own state, Madhya Pradesh. Some of them, a few hundred in number, have been allotted land on paper in Gujarat which is uncultivable and also not yet purchased from the original land owners who are yet to be paid the full price for the same. The people in any case have refused to shift to Gujarat and have made their legal claim to resettle in Madhya Pradesh.

All that the Digvijay Singh government seems to be doing is illegal, inhuman violence, which is comparable only to the communal violence in Gujarat, unleashed by Narendra Modi.

Medha Patkar
Pratibha Shinde
Geetanjali Chavan
Clifton D' Rozario
Himanshu Upadhyaya
Sanjay Sangvai