NBA Press Release
  27 October 2001
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

THE WCD REPORT SHOWS A WAY OUT OF CRISIS
EXPLOIT EXISTING & INCOMPLETE BIG DAMS && ADOPT ALTERNATIVES

NARMADA BACHAO ANDOLAN
B-13, Shivam Flats
Ellora Park,
Baroda-390007
Tel: 0265-282232
Email: baroda@narmada.org

62, Mahatma Gandhi Road,
Badwani,
Madhya Pradesh - 451551
Tel: 07290-22464
Email: badwani@narmada.org

The Report of the World Commission on Dams, a uniquely composed global body with representation from all stakeholders ( builders, lenders & opponents of big dams), has become an instrument for a review of water , energy, rehabilitation & development policies, across the world. The Asia Development Bank & the World Bank, the Governments of Brazil, Germany, Pakistan, Philippines, USA, Sweden & others where , the reports is under not just scrutiny but thorough debate to discussion on changing basic policies , it has received recognition, cognizance and much attention. There is no doubt that with the unanimous report being based on verified facts, concrete studies & obviously emerging findings from hundreds of consultants, presentations & public consultations with officials to activists as participants can't be ruled out as either flawed or fiction. A lobby of hydro power contractors & profiteers & other traditional bureaucrats & vested interests in India & at few other places, no doubt, are working hard to negate the achievements but they need to be countered by not just the victims of large dams but all those concerned about the appropriate water & energy management. While this seems to be one-sided, biased information & analysis of the report, spread by some interest groups holding conference & addressing the media, NGOs have always invited them to a face to face dialogue on the report. We once again appeal to the various organisations & all rational people o hold an open debate on the issue as a response to the first ever experiment in popular global policy making.

The WCD's recommendations go beyond the controversy of large or small dams. It brings out a process of decision making in the water & power sector. No project can be conceived, planned & sanctioned without either a complete analysis of its impacts, all costs & benefits, a comparative assessment of various alternatives or without consent of the project affected people, the report concludes. It puts forth a stricter condition of 'prior informed consent' by the affected when they are adivasis or indigenous people & of demonstrable public acceptance in the case of not so homogenous communities. The report discusses & proposes all options in the two sectors & asserts a value framework of equity, efficiency, participatory-decision making, sustainability, for selection of the appropriate. The report recommences priority to mitigating injustice &compensating losses occurred by the past projects in a river valley before building a new one.

This comes with the thoroughly analysed facts, figures, experiences of the big dams till date. They have failed in bringing about equity, haven't solved the sectoral crisis, have left irreparable environmental (river eco-system) damages & social/economic losses due to displacement in both upstream & downstream & these human costs paid is mostly unjustifiable compared to the benefits & resources created, the report states.

WCD Report, although said to be rejected by the Central Water Resource Ministry of Government. of India, is yet to be even discussed at the inter ministerial level in our less democratic more bureaucratic setup. Indian Government's attitude seems to be no different than that of the Chinese. The dominance of the ministry of power & water resources, over the one for environment or social justice in India is obvious but even the farmer, it appears are ignoring the formidable realty of enormous cost. The Big supporters of big dams will & have, however, to face the millions of directly affected & crores of indirectly affected by the worsening water & energy crisis, flawed projects whether Enron or Sardar Sarovar, Jaikwadi Ukai & the deprived 'beneficiaries' of ' the Irrigation revolution' in Vidarbha.

Whether Ichampalli or any other, if the country governments & ourselves, people of India don't stop & interrogate before we build the new devastative & genocidal ventures, unsustainable & unequitable, neither can we ever complete about two hundred large projects left half way requiring 75000 crores & more nor to complete can we ever ensure optimum water & power and even justice to all.

Medha Patkar