| NBA Press Release
|| 12 May 2006
Maheshwar dam affected farmers and fisherpeople demonstrate at Power Finance Corporation
NARMADA BACHAO ANDOLAN
Jail Road, Mandleshwar
District Khargone, Madhya Pradesh
"We will not let this dam be built, even if we have to give up our lives"
Hundreds of people affected by the Maheshwar Project being built on the river Narmada in Madhya Pradesh demonstrated today for several hours at the Office of the Power Finance Corporation at Janpath, New Delhi. The affected people challenged the Power Finance Corporation to demonstrate that the power project is in national interest, has a viable tariff, and will produce cheap and affordable power to the people of Madhya Pradesh. The oustees asked the PFC senior management for a meeting with some representatives at a later date but were refused. The oustees and the NBA activists filed a request for file inspection under the Right to Information Act. The women from Maheshwar said that they had not come to Delhi to ask for a better rehabilitation or compensation package. In fact, they were determined not to let the destructive Maheshwar Project be built at any cost, even if it meant that they would have to sacrifice their lives in the process.
The oustees had demonstrated on 11th May at the Offices of the Ministry of Environment and Forests and at the Rural Electrification Corporation in Delhi. They questioned the MOEF about the fudged land availability figures on which the Environmental clearance is based, and urged the MOEF to immediately revoke the clearance. They also questioned the MOEF as to why it excluded Dalits, Kewats and Kahars and other landless families who earn by sand quarrying, cultivating river-bed draw down, and fishing in the rich river economy in the Maheshwar area by arbitrarily changing the definition of Project displaced families. When the MOEF was asked to show the files to clarify the above questions, the ministry gave a written reply that none of the Maheshwar dam main files could be located.
The oustees and NBA activists also met the senior officers of Rural Electrification Corporation and HUDCO who have been asked by the PFC to put in Rs. 250 crores each into the Project, and apprised them of the issues related to the Project regarding financial, social and technical issues. The officials assured the oustees and the NBA activists that they would look at and respond to all the concerned issues. The senior officials of REC, IFCI and HUDCO also asked the NBA to contact the Power Finance Corporation since it is the lead institution among the lenders to the Maheshwar Project.
However the PFC has refused any meeting with the Maheshwar dam oustees and the NBA.
Speaking at the protest, Alok Agarwal, senior activist of the NBA said that the secretive behavior of the Power Finance Corporation made it clear that there was more to it than meets the eye. He said that it was incomprehensible that the Power Finance Corporation that has already been censured once by the CAG of India for disbursing Rs. 100 crores to the Maheshwar Project in violation of the necessary conditions, was preparing to put another Rs. 800 crores into the Maheshwar Project along with a guarantee to the Project. The PFC and the Ministry of Power had also asked the other FI's to put their money into the Project. HUDCO had been asked to put Rs. 250 crores into the Project and REC had also been asked to lend Rs. 250 crores to the Project.
The Maheshwar dam is one of the 30 large dams being built in the Narmadavalley. It will affect nearly 20,000 families or one lakh people. Although the installed capacity of this Project is 400 MW, it will produce firm power of only 49 MW. Most of the power will be produced in the monsoon months when there is surplus power in the state. The power is also likely to be very expensive and the Maheshwar dam threatens to be worthless when built because of its high cost like the Enron Project. The Project promoters S.Kumarshave criminal proceedings against them on grounds of criminal conspiracy,cheating, fraud, etc. The Project is encumbered by the liability to return the loans of two other S.Kumars companies and the equity of the Project has been re-pledged to a Govt. financial institution in Madhya Pradesh for the deferred pay-back of those loans. By RBI rules, no public money may be given to such a company.
Sushilabai, Sarpanch, Village Mardana said it is clear that the Financial institutions must stop putting any further money into this disastrous Project and the MOEF must immediately revoke the environmental clearance given to the Project.Chittaroopa Palit Kalabai Radheshyam Patidar