NBA Press Release
  11 May 2006
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

Displaced rural families of Maheshwar dam on Narmada river arrive in Delhi to seek justice

NARMADA BACHAO ANDOLAN
Jail Road, Mandleshwar
District Khargone, Madhya Pradesh
Tel: 07283-233162
Email: nobigdam[at]sancharnet.in

"MOEF clearance to Maheshwar Project based on fictitious land availability and exclusion of thousands of river-worker families, Must be revoked"

MOEF states that all main Maheshwar files missing from Ministry

FIs must not invest any further public money in Maheshwar Project

More than 300 farmers and fisherpeople, including women from the 61 villages affected by the Maheshwar dam in the Narmada valley in Madhya Pradesh today demonstrated before the Ministry of Environment and Forests and later at the Office of the REC (Rural Electrification Corporation) demanding immediate withdrawal of environmental clearance to this project which has been privatized and handed over to S,Kumars by the Govt. of Madhya Pradesh. In their meeting with the Additional Secretary, the representatives said that the environmental clearance to the Project was illegal because the land availability details are false and more than 8000 families working on sand quarries, draw-down and fishing etc have been deliberately and willfully excluded. They told the Government representatives that the Promoters and the MOEF ignoring the just claims of the affected families. The affected people who have been struggling for the last 10 years under the aegis of the Narmada Bachao Andolan a lso called on HUDCO, REC, BHEL, PFC and other financial institutions not to jeopardize public money in the Maheshwar Project on social, technical and financial grounds.

It may be noted that the Maheshwar Project is privatized, the Promoters of the Project - the S.Kumars group have increased the Project outlay 5 times in the last 15 years, and thus the electricity will be prohibitively high cost and destroy the Madhya Pradesh economy. They said that although the MoEF was very much aware that the agricultural lands shown to be available for R&R are imaginary and non-existent, they have not revoked the Environmental clearance. Now that Project work had been resumed at the behest of the Ministry of Power, after a gap of 5 years, this fraud would lead to the non-replacement of lands and livelihoods envisaged in the policy and a great human disaster. The oustees also stated that the MOEF had willfully and deliberately excluded around 8000 river-worker families from the list of the Project affected families by arbitrarily misquoting the Rehabilitation Policy. When the NBA asked MOEF for details of these lands and for the official definition of Displaced Families, the MOEF responded saying that all the main Maheshwar files are missing from the Ministry. !!!

The MOEF officials assured the people^s representatives that they would locate the files as soon as possible, and form a Committee to investigate the veracity of the land claims and that of the river workers. They also stated that if the Promoters have not submitted the Master Plan for R&R, they would ask the Project work to be stopped.

The displaced people also had meetings at REC and HUDCO where they apprised the senior management that no further public money should be given to the Maheshwar Project because there are criminal proceedings against the Promoters- S.Kumars on grounds of criminal conspiracy and cheating and becaue the Maheshwar Project equity has been pledged by the Promoters against the return of loan taken by two other companies of the S. Kumar group.

In the context of all the above, and several other issues such as low infusion of equity by promoters, bar to financing for more than 40% if the total Project outlay, by the public FIs, high cost power, absurd PPA (Power Purchase Agreement ) that favors the Promoters, the oustees and the NBA call on the FI^s not to put any further money into the Project. They also express their determination to take the struggle against this destructive Project to its conclusion. As a first step, they have asked the MOEF to revoke the environmental clearance to the Project and the FI^s to refrain from financing the Project. The dharna will continue tomorrow at Jantar Mantar.

Alok Agarwal Sushila bai Radhesyam Patidar