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

SUPREME COURT ISSUES NOTICES TO UNION AND STATE GOVERNMENTS AND NARMADA CONTROL AUTHORITY TO FILE REPLIES BY 30TH MAY IN THE WRIT PETITION FILED BY NARMADA BACHAO ANDOLAN

RAISING SARDAR SAROVAR HEIGHT TO 95 (+3 MTS. HUMPS) CHALLENGED! ILLEGAL SCANDALOUS STATE VIOLENCE AGAINST 10,000 FAMILIES OF ADIVASIS AND FARMERS!

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

Today (22.05.2002) the Supreme Court bench comprising Jst Variava and Jst Santosh Hegde heard the Writ Petition filed by NBA challenging the decision of Narmada Control Authority to permit construction of the Sardar Sarovar dam from its present height of 90m to 95m. The Supreme Court issued notices to the Union and State Governments and the NCA and its Sub-groups to file replies by the 30th of May. NBA will continue to challenge this illegal decision of the NCA and dares the government to try and empty the villages without rehabilitating the affected families as per the norms and laws.

On 17th of May the Narmada Control Authority based on the clearance by the Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra Governments joining hands through secretive moves, took the decision to raise the height of Sardar Sarovar Project from 90mts to 95mts +3 metres (humps) by June 2002. This decision will lead to the flooding of houses and fields of thousands of Adivasis and farmers, fishworkers and labourers, in the Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat villages on the bank of Narmada in the coming monsoon.

Not less than 10,000 families will face total devastation at the proposed height, which would be as genocidal and criminal as the violence in Gujarat. While the present powers of BJP and the allied parties create a bogey of the war by Pakistan, it has already resorted to aggression against its own people, violating all rules of social justice. This act of State violence, in violation of the rehabilitation policy, as well as the Supreme Court Judgment of October 2000, can lead to unprecedented atrocities against the people belonging to the oldest river valley civilization. It will also lead to the submergence of ancient forests, prime agricultural land and hundreds of temples, ghats, mosques, jain mandirs and other monuments. All this is no doubt an attempt to save Narendra Modi from the political loss, due to the inhuman communal violence in Gujarat. Unfortunately Digvijay Singh and the Congress government of Madhya Pradesh too has compromised on the basic positions of his! own party as well as all claims of justice and power to the people, decentralized water management, land to dalits and non-violence! The Congress government seems to have joined the Save Narendra Modi campaign at the cost of their own people and credibility.

The human problem of displacement and rehabilitation of thousands of families (by official estimate, 45,000+ affected by the reservoir alone) for whom land for land was promised, but only 25 [per cent could be re-settled over last 22 years, as there was no land available in the worst affected states of Maharashtra -( 33 villages and Madhya Pradesh -193 villages) is of unique magnitude. Even today, there are as per field-based estimates, not less than 40,000 families yet to be rehabilitated and there is neither plan, nor preparedness on the part of the governments.

While the Government of Maharashtra accepted this and engaged itself in a down to earth planning process with the Narmada Bachao Andolan, it also took a formal written position against pushing the project (raising the height) ahead beyond 90 mts since September 2001.The joint survey by officials and Andolan of the original villages and resettlement sites is almost complete, vindicating our position that surveys are flawed, hundred's of those shifted out are still to receive their full entitlement, land rights are to be granted, land records need to be corrected and no land is available for them as yet! While the process towards rehabilitation was on, the government appears to have been in connivance with Gujarat and the Centre and approved the raising of the height, through its irrigation ministry,.

Madhya Pradesh with not less than 30 thousand families to be rehabilitated, declared that no land is available and only cash compensation would be resorted to. Here too the records are flawed and submergence area as well as number of families is on the rise. This is absolutely illegal and would lead to utter destitution., as has happened in the case of hundreds of large dams and other projects in India. This is unacceptable to thousands of Adivasis and other farmers who are now being forced to face flooding and forcible eviction without just and fair rehabilitation.

All this is not in compliance with any law, rehabilitation policy or even the Supreme Court Judgement. The Judgement too directs "no further construction, beyond 90mts without complete rehabilitation as per the norms and provisions in the Narmada Water Dispute Tribunal Award which in turn means with agricultural land to be allotted to the severely affected farmers". It was due to this that the work at the dam had to be stopped since January 2001 at 90 mts. It is only through enormous political pressure, callous and corrupt bureaucratic manipulations and betrayal of people that the decision to push the dam ahead has been imposed repeating the same story of victimization of the monetarily poor but natural resource rich communities in the name of development.

The struggle in the valley of the Narmada has been on since last 17 years. Adivasis and farmers could raise the issues not only related to their own displacement but development planning itself. The flaws in the plans of the Sardar Sarovar Project - in the assessment of social and environmental impacts, in the financial planning and economic viability measures - became obvious through the independent reviews and investigations . The Project, we realized could neither rehabilitate all the project affected families when half of them affected by the canals, colony, sanctuary and other works are not even recognized as project affected, but it can't even solve the water crisis of Kutch and Saurashtra region of Gujarat, as established through a careful review of the water availability and allocation of the benefits.

The waters that is claimed to be flowing in Rajkot, The political constituency of Narendra Modi, is indeed mainly from the Vankaner tube well and Mahi dam, routed through Sardar Sarovar canals, The case of Sardar Sarovar is such that even after the colossal expenditure of 44,000 crores, the water crisis of Saurashtra and Kutch will hardly be resolved !!! It will be years before the final height of 139 mts will be attained and will require the rehabilitation of 40,000 families, at least half of them with alternative agricultural land.,if law is complied with It's the enormous task which the governments have tried to avoid through utterly inhuman decision to flush people out.

Narmada Bachao Andolan is determined to fight by facing the rising waters, come what may! With the serious erosion of democratic institutions and valueless political alliances, the State violence will have to be challenged, we believe, only through extreme non-violent actions., and that is what we will take to. Satyagraha in the areas to be flooded in Jalsindhi (Jhabuva M.P.) and Domkhedi (Nandurbar, Maharashtra) will commence from June 30th and will prove to be the ultimate challenge to the brutal powers.

Medha Patkar
Jojo John