NBA Press Release
  11 November 2009
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

Union Environment Minister proposes stoppage of work on Maheshwar dam

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Madhya Pradesh
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Email: nobigdams[at]sancharnet.in

Grave violations of environmental and rehabilitation conditions

Recently, on the 29th of October 2009, the Union Minister for Environment and Forests, Shri Jairam Ramesh has written a letter to the Chief Minister, Madhya Pradesh Shri Shivraj Singh Chauhan and informed him that there has been grave violations of the conditions of the environmental clearance. As a consequence, the Ministry has proposed to stop the construction work on the dam until a comprehensive R&R Plan with all details of agricultural land, house-plots, etc is submitted to the Ministry and found to be implementable, and until the R&R works are brought up to pace with the construction work on the dam. The Union Minister has said in his letter that since the R&R works are still at a preliminary stage, but the work on the dam is 80-90% complete, the Ministry is deeply apprehensive that the private company Shree Maheshwar Hydel Power Corporation Limited will relinquish its responsibility, leaving the oustees in the lurch.

In the light of this clear stand of the Union Environment Ministry that the legally binding conditions of the environmental clearance issued to the Maheshwar Project under the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, the Narmada Bachao Andolan demands that the work on the dam should be immediately stopped and a comprehensive R&R Plan with details of lands for landholders and landless families, and adult sons and all the other benefits of the R&R Policy and the conditions of the clearance be submitted to the Ministry. The Narmada Bachao Andolan also demands a comprehensive survey of the back-water submergence which will result from the Maheshwar dam, and that all houses and lands falling in the submergence area should be acquired, and the concerned families rehabilitated and resettled.

Violation of conditions of clearance accorded by Environment Ministry

The letter written by the Environment Minister stated that the environmental clearance was given to the private company Shree Maheshwar Hydel Power Corporation Limited on 1st May 2001, under the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. As per the condition 3(vi) of this clearance, the extent of submergence, the requirement and availability of agricultural land and other resources was to be ascertained, and a comprehensive R&R Plan with all details of agricultural land, house-plots, etc was to be submitted to the Ministry by December 2001. However, the Union Minister stated that such a R&R Plan has not been submitted by December 2001, or even till date. Thus the condition 3 (vi) of the clearance has been clearly violated.

Monitoring Committee finds dam work at advanced stage, rehabilitation measures behind schedule

Shri Jairam Ramesh has pointed out in the letter that it is clear from the Tour Reports of the Monitoring Committee for the years 2002, 2006 and 2009 that the oustees have not been provided agricultural land, resettlement and other R&R benefits as per the provisions of the R&R Policy and the conditions of the clearances. It is also pointed out in the letter that the Hon'ble High Court Madhya Pradesh has stopped the direct purchase of agricultural lands in the submergence from the project oustees by the private company.

Violation of conditions of clearance : Proposal to stop construction work

The letter of the Union Minister states that the work on the dam was to proceed at the same pace with the implementation of the R&R measures for the oustees. However, the work on the dam is 80-90% complete, and the R&R measures have hardly been implemented. Thus condition 3(x) of the environmental clearance has been clearly violated. Even a credible R&R plan is not in place. It is on this basis that the Union Ministry has proposed stoppage of the construction work on the dam until a comprehensive R&R Plan with all details of agricultural land, house-plots, etc is submitted to the Ministry and found to be implementable, and until the R&R works are brought up to pace with the construction work on the dam. The Minister has expressed the deep apprehension that the Company will relinquish its responsibility and the oustees will be left in the lurch, without rehabilitation and resettlement.

It may be noted that 50,000 to 60,000 persons living in 61 villages are affected by the dam. For the last 13 years the oustees of the area have united together under the aegis of the Narmada Bachao Andolan to raise their voice against the Maheshwar project. But the factual situation is that 97% of the oustees are yet to be provided their rehabilitation benefits, and not even a single oustee has been provided agricultural land till date.

The Narmada Bachao Andolan demands that the after the Union Environment Ministry has clearly accepted that the conditions of the clearances have been violated, the work on the dam must be immediately stopped and a comprehensive R&R Plan with details of lands for landholders and landless families, and adult sons and all the other benefits of the R&R Policy and the conditions of the clearance be submitted to the Ministry. The Narmada Bachao Andolan also demands a comprehensive survey of the back-water submergence which will result from the Maheshwar dam, and that all houses and lands falling in the submergence area should be acquired, and the concerned families rehabilitated and resettled. The Narmada Bachao Andolan cautions the State and Central Governments and the project authorities that if the same is not done a great tragedy would ensue and the Maheshwar dam affected villagers are will wage a long and determined struggle against the same.

Alok Agarwal Chittaroopa Palit Yogendra Chouhan Radheshyam Patidar
Dinesh Kewat Kadvibai Gajananbhai Bhagwan Birla