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

Chief Minister's letter confirms no R&R Plan for Maheshwar Project

2, Sai nagar, Mata Chowk,
Khandwa,
Madhya Pradesh
Tel/FAX: 0733-2228418, 9425394606, 9425928007
Email: nobigdams[at]sancharnet.in

Open questions to CM about viability of project

Dam work should be stopped with immediate effect

Yesterday, the letter of Chief Minister, Madhya Pradesh Shri Shivraj Singh Chauhan dated 24.11.2009 written to the Central Minister of Environment and Forests, Shri Jairam Ramesh dated 29th October 2009 with regard to the Maheshwar dam and power project being built in the Narmada valley has been circulated widely in the media. It may be noted that the letter of the Union Minister had stated that since no R&R Plan with details of requirement of land and financial resources required for the R&R of the oustees has been submitted till date, and since 80-90% of the Maheshwar dam work has been already completed, yet hardly any R&R work has been done till date, there is grave apprehension that the private company which is constructing the project will relinquish its statutory responsibility towards the oustees, and the oustees will be left in the lurch, without any rehabilitation and resettlement whatsoever. It was in these grave circumstances, that the Union Minister had proposed suspension of work on the project until a credible R&R plan detailing availability and requirement of resources is prepared and submitted to the Ministry of Environment and Forests and found to be implementable, and the R&R measures are not brought into pace with the level of construction.

The reply of the Chief Minister to the Central Minister in this regard confirms the violations of the R&R Policy and the conditions of the environmental clearance, and indicates an imminent and large-scale human tragedy lies ahead if the construction of the Maheshwar dam is not immediately stopped. The people of the Narmada valley and of Madhya Pradesh demand that the dam work should be immediately stopped and that the complete rehabilitation and resettlement should take place as per the provisions of the R&R Policy, and that the State Government explain why valuable public resources are being used to support a un-viable project.

Basic information about project wrong

Although 61 villages are affected by the Maheshwar project as per project data, the Chief Minister has wrongly referred to only 22 villages in the submergence requiring survey. It is thus clear that 39 villages are being left to be submerged without any acquisition, compensation and R&R measures.

Similarly, the back-water survey of these villages which was required to be done as per condition of the environmental clearance, and as per Orders of the Hon'ble Supreme Court has not yet been done. The charge that the villagers and the NBA are resisting the surveys is without any basis whatsoever, since it is the demand of the villagers and the NBA for the last 12 years that the back-water surveys of the area should be done, followed by household surveys, to ascertain the exact extent of submergence.

The callousness and negligence of the authorities may be seen from the grave uncertainty about the extent of submergence even at a time when the dam is almost complete. This may be seen from the fact that it is stated in the letter of the Chief Minister that only 873 ha. of land falls in the submergence of the project, whereas the Updated Detailed Project Report of 1993 of the Maheshwar Project prepared by the MPSEB and the Shree Maheshwar Hydel Power Corporation Limited, and the techno-economic clearance dated 30.12.96 for the Maheshwar Project states that 1435 ha. of private lands are in the submergence.

Similarly, although the definition of "displaced person" and "displaced family" in the R&R Policy of GOMP includes all persons who have been cultivating the lands fall in the submergence, the same has been arbitrarily excluded in the definition mentioned in the letter of the Chief Minister, thereby arbitrarily excluding thousands of families from the ambit of the R&R.

No rehabilitation and resettlement measures for 97% of the people

The Chief Minister has admitted in the annexures with the letter to the Central Minister that only 291 out of an estimated 10,000 families have been provided with R&R entitlements (though not with land). Thus only 3% of the total estimated population has been provided with R&R, yet dam construction is 80-90% complete.

No identification of agricultural land for project oustees

The Chief Minister has also admitted in his letter that only 30 ha. of land has been identified for the project oustees, whereas even by the present reckoning 2000 ha. of land would be required to be allotted to the oustees, as per the R&R Policy and the statutorily binding conditions of the clearance. It is clear that if the dam is completed, without providing the oustees agricultural land, they will become pauperized and without any livelihood. It is not clear why the Madhya Pradesh government is discriminating in providing land to the affected farmers and landless labor when there is no dearth of agricultural land in Madhya Pradesh, and thousands of acres of lands are being provided by the State Government to private industrialists and SEZs, and promised to investors at every investor's meet.

Silence on the fact that R&R measures lag far behind construction

It is thus clear from the reply of the Chief Minister Madhya Pradesh to the Central Minister that there is no R&R Plan for the project, that no cultivable and irrigable land has been identified for allotment to the oustees, and that the work on R&R has lagged far behind the work of dam construction. Thus, the conditions 3 (vi) and 3 (x) of the environmental clearance dated 1.05.2001 have been clearly and flagrantly violated.

The Chief Minister has also stated in his letter that the project must be completed without interruption in interest of the State. In this regard the Narmada Bachao Andolan and the public of Madhya Pradesh have the following questions.

Open questions to the Chief Minister

(1) Why is GOMP permitting the construction of this project which submerge 61 villages and the lands and homes of over 10,000 families when it has itself admitted in the Amendatory and Restated Agreement dated 16th September 2005 that the Maheshwar power project has become an unviable project due to its high-cost, and will be of no use to the people of Madhya Pradesh because it will generate expensive electricity. The Amendatory and Restated Agreement dated 16th September 2005 signed by GOMP and the private company building the project categorically states

"Given the accumulated interest on the part loans raised, the resultant tariff of the project was considered too high to ensure continued project viability."

(2) Is it true that the moment the dam is completed and commissioned, by dint of the power purchase agreement, GOMP will have to start paying the private company around Rs. 15,000 to Rs. 20,000 crores of public money belonging to the people of this State, over the next 35 years, for expensive electricity that is of no use to the people of this State? Then, why is GOMP permitting the construction of the project and why is it so keen for the project to be completed and commissioned ?

(3) Why has the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh concealed the publicly known fact in his letter that work on the Maheshwar project was suspended from the year 2001 to 2005 because the S.Kumars failed to return crores of rupees of money borrowed from the MPSIDC (Madhya Pradesh State Industrial Development Corporation Limited), which is a Madhya Pradesh government Company, as a consequence of which the project properties were attached by the MPSIDC for five years?

(4) Why is the Government continuing to support the company and permit construction of the project even after the cheques given by the S.Kumar's to MPSIDC amounting to crores of rupees at the time of the OTS have all bounced because the S.Kumars had closed down their account after issuing the cheques, although the settlement of this loan was the prior condition of the Common Loan Agreement dated 29th September 2006 and the Amendatory and Restated agreement signed by GOMP dated 16th September 2006?

(5) Why is the private company permitted to construct the dam without paying the Rs. 130 crores (at 2005 costs) outstanding to the MPSEB for the last 15 years?

(6) Why has the GOMP not picked up equity of Rs 18 crores in the project, which it had committed to pick up vide its Common Loan Agreement dated 29th September 2006?

The Narmada Bachao Andolan urges the State Government to answer why it is supporting the un-viable and high cost Maheshwar project and why it is placing tens of thousands of crore rupees of public money and public interest in jeopardy. The Narmada Bachao Andolan also demands the immediate stoppage of the dam, back-water surveys in the project area to ascertain the extent of submergence, the preparation and submission of a R&R Plan with all details of agricultural land and housing plots, to be given to the oustees, and the grant of rehabilitation and resettlement measures to the villagers. The NBA is resolved that it will not rest, and will struggle and strive to protect the rights of the villagers affected by the dam and the people of Madhya Pradesh which are being violated by the private company - Shree Maheshwar Hydel Power Corporation Limited and the State Government.

Alok Agarwal, Bhagwan Birle, Dinesh Kewat, Chittaroopa Palit