NBA Press Release
  28 May 2003
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

Treat All Declared, Undeclared Oustees as Affected
Tribals Start Dharna in Nashik

62, Mahatma Gandhi Road,
Madhya Pradesh - 451551
Tel: 07290-22464

"Over 1600 tribal families in Maharashtra will be facing the submergence during the current monsoon due to the Sardar Sarovar Project while the state government has been sitting on its own Task Force Report. Now all the declared and undeclared oustee families must be deemed as affected ones and the Maharashtra government must rehabilitate all of them on a war footing, with cultivable land and other amenities according to the Narmada Water Dispute tribunal (NWDT) provisions", demanded over 300 tribal men and women who have launched indefinite sit-in in Nashik on Sunday (May 25) in front of the office of the Divisional Commissioner in charge of the Narmada valley.

"The Maharashtra government officials have been dragging their feet from the responsibility. First the government should not have given the consent for raising the dam height to 100 meters. It had lied when it claimed that the people have been resettled, while in effect, the oustees were given ex-parte land which was uncultivable and which the they had rejected long back", contended Medha Patkar from the Narmada Bachao Andolan. "Then the officials did not fulfill the process of converting the ‘undeclared’ oustees to ‘declared’ oustees as the government had literally put the Task Force report in cold storage. The officials must provide the lists of the families and hamlets which will become islands after the submergence as the survey in some of the places was complete. As the 2003 monsoon will practically submerge almost all the 33 SSP affected villages from Maharashtra, all these villages must be resettled, irrespective of when their houses will be submerged" demanded Medha Patkar, along with Pratibha Shinde, Dadlia Karbhari, Keshav Vasave.

More than 1600 tribal families from Maharashtra and over 12,000 families from Madhya Pradesh will be affected by the submergence as the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) will go up to 100 meters, as was decided by the Narmada Control Authority (NCA) in the second week of May, 2003. At present there is simply no provision for their land-based rehabilitation, either in Maharashtra or M.P. In fact, the Task Force, appointed by the Maharashtra government, has clearly stated that there are over 568 ‘declared’ and 1008 ‘undeclared’ oustee families below 95 meters, which need to be resettled. Moreover there are about 1200 more families which need to be declared as oustees as they fulfil all the criterion for tat entitlement.

"Unless and until the government resettles fully these families, we will not allow them to be displaced and dislocated. The state government must see that their villages aree not submerged", they declared.

They demanded that

  • the state government must start the process to resettle with land all the families and the process must start here itself on war footing.
  • Now all the declared and undeclared oustees must be counted as affected persons and thus resettled.
  • The full village must be resettled as one unit, at one location.
  • There should not be submergence until then.

The Commissioner, Mr. Vijay Mathankar discussed these issues with a delegation of the NBA on Tuesday (May 26). He pleaded his inability to do anything substantial. However, if the government has a real will, even now the process can be expedited.

While the Nashik dharna will be continuing indefinitely, the NBA activists appealed all the supporters and democratic minded people, organizations to compel the Maharashtra government for facing the situation with concrete action and allow no submergence in case of the failure to do so.

Meanwhile, number of prominent people, including R.P. Nene of PUCL, Ms. Vidya Bal, renowned feminist writer, Vilas Wagh, a Dalit intellectual participated in the dharna and extended their solidarity.

Sanjay Sangvai