Friends of River Narmada
Association for India's Development
International Rivers Network
Press Release
14 May 2003

Indian Dam Decision Threatens Indigenous People;
Supreme Court Orders Ignored

Today, May 14th 2003, the Narmada Control Authority, an Indian inter-state committee has given the go-ahead to raise the Sardar Sarovar dam on the Narmada River from a height of 95 m to 100 m. The decision permitting the five meters increase threatens tens of thousands of people with submergence in the monsoon, beginning in June and is in violation of Indian Supreme Court orders.

Earlier, on Oct 2000, the Supreme Court upheld the Narmada Tribunal Award that mandated land-for-land rehabilitation of all affected families six months prior to any increase in the dam height. Taking advantage of the fact that the Supreme Court‘s summer vacation commenced on May 12th 2003, the Narmada Control Authority met on the 13th and 14th of May to consider and approve the increase.

The Association for India’s Development (AID), Friends of River Narmada (FoRN) and International Rivers Network (IRN) condemn the NCA’s decision. AID, FoRN and IRN will continue to insist that the governments acknowledge and honor the rights of the people of the Narmada valley, and that the governments are duty bound to find alternate land for them of sufficient quantity and quality. Association for India’s Development (AID) is an organization committed to promoting sustainable, equitable and just development in India, by working with grassroots organizations and movements in India in the areas of social justice, education, livelihoods, natural resources, health and women’s empowerment. AID has more than 25 chapters and 500 volunteers across the US, Canada, Australia and India. Friends of the River Narmada (FoRN) is an international coalition of organizations and individuals (mostly of Indian descent) and is a solidarity network for the Narmada Bachao Andolan (Save the Narmada Movement) and other similar grassroots struggles in India. International Rivers Network (IRN) is a US-based organization that supports communities fighting destructive river development projects.

During the Supreme Court’s May 2002 summer vacation, the NCA permitted the dam to increase in height from 90 metres to 95 metres. The displaced people of the Narmada Bachao Andolan (Save Narmada Movement) went in front of the Court’s 2-judge vacation bench. The two judges could not come to a consensus on staying the dam construction and at the end of May referred to a new vacation bench that would sit in the month of June! Meanwhile the dam was raised to 95 metres. The submergence that ensued in the monsoon months of July, August and September 2002 swept away crops and several houses and endangered the lives and livelihoods of thousands of adivasi families (first inhabitants or indigenous people) in the remote hills of the Narmada valley. The Maharashtra Government admitted to submergence without rehabilitation and agreed to a Rs 35 lakh compensation for the immediate short-term crop loss and damage. The families in the valley are still awaiting their rightful land-for land rehabilitation. Meanwhile, the NCA’s decision to allow the dam to be raised up to 100 meters would bring several thousand more families under threat of submergence.

Clearance for raising Narmada dam height The Hindu. May 15, 2003 http://www.hinduonnet.com/thehindu/2003/05/15/stories/2003051505080100.htm Gujarat govt gets nod to increase Narmada dam height to 100 mt Zee News. May 14/15 2003 http://www.zeenews.com/links/articles.asp?aid=98383&sid=TOP Report of Maharashtra government’s Daud Committee: http://www.narmada.org/sardar-sarovar/daud.report.html Report of Habitat International Coalition’s Fact Finding mission to the Narmada valley: http://www.narmada.org/sardarsarovar.html#rehab_status Contacts:
Kirankumar Vissa, AID Rockville, Maryland kiranvissa@softhome.net Phone 240 453-2347 Manoj Saranathan, FORN Rockville, Maryland cack@u.washington.edu Phone 301 984-2306 Patrick McCully, IRN Berkeley, California patrick@irn.org Phone 510 848-1155