PRESIDENT ASSURES TIMELY ACTION ON NARMADA DAM ISSUE;
INDEPENDENT JURY OF IPT CALLS FOR A IMMEDIATE REVIEW OF THE SUPREME
Representatives of the Narmada Valley, who met the President today
(Wednesday, November 15) at the Rashtrapati Bhawan, were assured by him
that the matter of Narmada will be immediately referred to the Prime
Minister for his timely action. He also promised that he will take all
necessary legal advise to use his Constitutional powers to save the
tribal area from destruction.
A delegation of narmada Bachao Andolan, comprising of Deldibai,
Mangalya, Vaniya, Baliben, Kamala Yadav, Mansaram bhai, Mahesh Patel,
Bablu Patwa, Jordar Pawra, Chittarupa Palit and Medha Patkar met the
President this afternoon, representing tribal, Nimad and other regions
of the Valley.
The President, along with Mrs. Usha Narayanan, welcomed the delegation
warmly and gave a patient hearing to the delegation. During the 45
minutes meeting, the tribals and peasants of Narmada valley have put forth
the whole case related to the Sardar Sarovar Project - its environmental
destruction and social devastation. The presentation was in the context
of the destruction done by big dams all over. The delegation urged the
President to use the special power him by the Constitution of India,
under Schedule V, which empowers him to save the tribal population from
any kind of developmental works. He assured the delegation that he will
study the issue in depth and will do whatever in his authority.
The President and Mrs. Usha Narayanan were invited by the delegation to
the Narmada Valley to see for themselves the reality. He was also told
by the delegation that a few thousands of people are in Delhi, awaiting
for his response.
Interim Findings of Public Hearing on Narmada
Meanwhile, the Interim Findings of the Public Hearing on Narmada, organised
by the Indian People's Tribunal held on 14th November 2000 at Parade Ground,
Delhi in front of 3000 people were released by Prof. U R. Ananathamaurthy,
Jst (Rtd) Tewatia (former Chief Justice, High Courts of Calcutta and
Chandigarh), Harubhai Mehta (Former Member of Parliament and senior advocate,
Gujarat government), Mohini Giri (Former Chairperson, National Commission
for Women) on 15th November. Dr. Ashish Nandy (Social psychologist,
Former Director, CSDS) and Justice (retd). Jaspal Singh (former judge,
Delhi High Court) were the other members on the Jury. Detailed report will
be released soon.
The Jury noted that: "At no stage the affected people were given a hearing
by the state authorities or the Narmada Tribunal." They also noted that
the government has only "thought of getting mandatory clearances which
should have been done before start of the execution of construction work..
Benefits fall far short of projected benefits and costs had escalated to
many times of the initially estimated costs. ... No effort is made to
consider alternative schemes involving small money."
Among other observations, the interim conclusions the Jury has noted
"The project according to the evidence adduced, cannot and does not
intend to meet the need of people of Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya
" The state governments, particularly the Gujarat government has persisted
with the project for reasons that have more to do with the vested interests
of the enthusiasts than with the needs of the people."
" The callous attitude with rehabilitation is an indication of the amoral
nature of the project. An even better indicator is the way all dissent against
the dam has been throttled. Even the small meetings of the protesters and
even discussions of the issues have been systematically disrupted and the
protesters physically assaulted by the hoodlums of the supporters of the
dam or the law enforcing agencies."
" The Narmada Project is the ultimate symbol of the pathology of
developmental process in India. It reveals the psychopathic dimensions
of our public life better than any other political or economic scam in
last 50 years".
The Jury has also unanimously stated that "... People already affected
by the construction completed at 88 mts have not been fully rehabilitated
and resettled. R&R (rehabilitation and resettlement) is utterly
neglected by the authorities concerned."
" The permission to raise the height of the dam above 88 mts should not
have been given until all environmental and social impact surveys were
Not recognizing the people affected by the canal, colony, afforestation
and others as 'Project Affected Persons' was termed by the Jury as
On the recent Supreme Court judgement the jury has observed that the
verdict has to be "reviewed". "An appeal should be made to the President
of India for same", they concluded.
The dharna, which has entered the 5th day, is progressing with much
vigor and enthusiasm. Hundreds of people from different walks of life are
extending their full support to the cause by visiting the dharna,
and carrying out different programs.