NBA Press Release
  20 November 2002
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

Government Misleads Parliament Again On Narmada Issue and Suppresses Information; Oustees Below 90 m. Not Yet Resettled

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

The recent statement by the Union Minister of Water Resources in the Lok Sabha, regarding the resettlement of the affected people by the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) is yet another attempt to mislead the Parliament and the nation, and to camouflage the serious human rights violation in the project. The Union Government suppressed the fact that the governments of Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh could not resettle their oustees, even of those below 90 meters of the dam, as per the provisions of the Narmada Water Dispute Award (NWDTA). And yet the height of the dam has been raised to 95 meters.

Responding to a question on November 18, in the Lower House of the Parliament, Lok Sabha, the Union Water Resources Minister claimed that there is no problem in the resettlement of the SSP oustees. This is a patently false statement and the Minister can be hauled up for breach of privilege of the Parliament and misleading it. While the height of the SSP dam has been raised to 95 meters (+3 meters of humps), the oustees even below 80 meters are yet to be resettled according to NWDT provisions and the Supreme Court order (October 2000).

Maharashtra Task Force Report

We want to draw the attention of the members of the Parliament and the nation at large to the fact that the recent report by the joint Task Force appointed by the Maharashtra government, has exposed the reality regarding the rehabilitation upto 90 meters. Accordingly, in Maharashtra alone there are over 1300 families not rehabilitated, but affected at 95 m. (present height of the dam). Also, at least 500 families already shifted to resettlement sites since 1993/95 are yet to be given due land entitlements and 267 of them are yet to be resettled. Further, no Project affected family (PAF) at the resettlement site has yet to be given land titles to the allotted land since marking etc was incomplete. At least 3500 families are claimants for the status of "declared" PAFs out of which more than 1500 will have to be declared as PAFs below 90mts. Land allotted ex-parte needs to be withdrawn since much of it is either uncultivable or already allotted.

More serious is the problem that the land rights of hundreds of PAFs are yet to be settled which would change their very status and may increase the land entitlement. Many hamlets and a few villages are to be resurveyed to assess whether they will be islands/physically uninhabitable and this may add to the total number of oustees. Lastly, no land is available at the present resettlement sites for accommodating the balance PAFs, not even from one village. The Government is yet to find suitable land for resettlement.

Overall Displacement

Overall, more than 35 to 40,000 families are in the 245 affected villages in the three states and are yet to be rehabilitated. At least 18,000 families out of 33,000 in Madhya Pradesh need to be given land as per criteria. The Digvijay Singh Government of M.P. has already declared that it has no land for resettlement. Yet it is bent on displacing the people with the illegal means of disbursing cash-compensation. Not a single PAF is rehabilitated with agricultural land in M.P and less than 1000 from M.P. have shifted to Gujarat while others continue to stay back in spite of having being allotted land in Gujarat. It is using the police repression to intimidate the people. The Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister calls the tribal oustee families in Alirajpur area as encroachers on government land.

The rehabilitation sites being established in M.P. have no agricultural land adjacent to the habitation (abaadi) and hence they are useless for resettling farmers with land for land. Thousands of families have not accepted cash and those who did, have not moved out, and are yet to receive all entitl of GoMP regarding payment of cash in lieu of land is not approved by NCA as is informed by the officials and yet the government is going ahead with this illegal way.

Enormous corruption is the characteristic of such cash payments. Hundreds of new houses are built (which are built even by the city dwellers) in the affected villages in the plains (Nimad region) of M.P. and compensation is being illegally devoured with the connivance of the officials.

Of the "resettled" people in Gujarat, many have received stony, uncultivable land and as a result have been forced to work as wage labourers, or migrate to the slums of cities. Communities have been split up and dispersed to many different sites, in contravention of the NWDT award.

From 2000 to 2002, the Narmada Control Authority (NCA) has many times admitted that the rehabilitation of the people falling under 90 meters (90 m + 3 m humps) was not over. It also made clear that NCA has never given any permission to construct the dam above 88 meters, something that the Supreme Court had claimed when it allowed the dam to go upto 90 meters.

GRAs Ineffective

The Grievance Redressal Authorities (GRAs) were appointed by the state governments with the approval of the Supreme Court. GRA of Gujarat has never taken any initiative to solve land related problems although the GRA's (ex-chairman, PD Desai) report showed that at least 5000 PAFs had filed complaints related to land. The GRA of Maharashtra reported to the Supreme Court in June 2002 that it was not satisfied with R&R up to 90 & 95 mts and that government of Maharashtra had no land for the balance PAFs. GRA of Madhya Pradesh has failed to take measures/actions on thousands of complaints lodged regarding no land, ex-parte and allotment of uncultivable land, compulsory.

The government has recognised only the Reservoir affected families as dam affected ones in the 245 villages (193 in Madhya Pradesh, 33 in Maharashtra and 19 from Gujarat). Their number has been constantly increasing, even in the government records, from only -1980s to over 45,000 families Still their number and submergence area are on the increase. There was never and there is no master plan for their rehabilitation although the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal Award (NWDTA) stipulated that a complete plan with the details of alternative land to be allotted to the PAFs should be ready by 1981. Even the Supreme Court direction to prepare the same by November 2000 was not adhered to.

The Justice Daud Committee report on Maharashtra oustees (June 2001) concluded that the resettlement of those affected at 90 m. was still to be completed due to the non-availability of land. There have been violations of NWDT, state policy and Supreme Court order. There was no master plan of rehabilitation. There are inherent inadequacies of the resettlement process like non-availability of land to the incorrect enumeration of the project-affected adivasis, non-granting of land rights, unequal resettlement policy, definition of project-affected persons, corruption practices of officials. It recommended for a fresh survey to ascertain the number of families to be affected by the project.

There is no cognizance of the ones affected by the a) dam colony in 1960-61 (300 families then/900 families today) b) Canal affected, since 1978-79 More than 2000 families to lose total landholding; and more than 23,500 families to lose more than 25% of total landholding), d) afforestation affected- yet unaccounted, but number in thousands), e) Sanctuary (project related) affected- at least 10,000 families, f) those affected by the downstream impacts (about 10,000 fish worker families and the villages on the downstream banks).

All these serious issues are being suppressed with false information and fraudulent politics, by the Union and Gujarat governments. The purpose is to raise the height of the dam further, to help the election prospects in Gujarat. The Parliament, political parties and the Election Commission must take a serious note of and prevent the serious violations of human rights and laws of he Parliament even about the financial aspects of the project, which we will expose soon.

Sanjai Sangvai