NBA Press Release
  03 October 2006
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

Dam Work Begins in Total Violation of People's Rights

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Madhya Pradesh - 451551
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• Gujarat begins the work at Sardar Sarovar dam …
• In total violation of the Legal and Human Rights of 35,000 families
• Without adjudication on Shunglu Committee Reports
• With no progress on rehabilitation.

The killer wave has started flowing into the river valley of Narmada again. It is to wipe out a large chunk of the oldest of the world’s civilization, the habitats of the adivasis and the first farmers of Asia, the fish workers and boatmen with rights and leases granted by the kings before centuries… the artisans, laborers and traders, who continue to reside in the original villages on the bank of the mother river. They are the living communities, populated villages even townships today, there will be none tomorrow. No rehabilitation with an alternative source of livelihood, land to fisheries, is yet ensured, nor is it in sight by the governments. All the promises made by them during the 40 days long struggle in Delhi, believed by the Apex Court, are thrown to the winds.

It is proved once again. The governments of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, the BJP ruled states are dictating the terms for Sardar Sarovar in contempt of the court, in violation of the legal rights of the dam-affected, and the Government of Maharashtra as well as the Union of India Supports without monitoring rehabilitation, with no representation of, nor protection for adivasis and farmers. The work at Sardar Sarovar dam is commenced at 119 mts to raise the height to 122mts, by December 2006, as claimed by Gujarat. This is done without the Supreme Court hearing the parties on the Shunglu Committee Report with methodological flaws, manipulation of data, some conclusions against the mandate, yet many findings and recommendations indicating incomplete rehabilitation and violation of the legal rights of the thousands of Project Affected Families.

The Prime Minister, in his letter to the Court, promised a review of rehabilitation in the first half of October before the construction would commence, which has not been carried out as yet. No monitoring agency, either R&R sub group or NCA has visited the affected areas to assess the R&R status. The court cases are not settled and the detailed data in the affidavits not replied to by the governments of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat as the parties. Can this happen? Will the Court listen to the aggrieved, the damned? Will the Prime Minister intervene, even at this hour? All the questions are in limbo.

It’s more than proved today that the Governments that promised to complete rehabilitation of all the affected families up to 122 mts by June or August 2006 have failed to do so. Whether M.P. or Maharashtra, they have not located land for allotment to the oustees where MP is all out to distribute cash in lieu of land against legal provision for land-based rehabilitation to the severely affected agriculturalists. Gujarat has been ruthlessly denying any balance number of families yet to be rehabilitated when there are hundreds suffering due to land or no land.

What is already witnessed is that the dam, stopped at 119mts, submerged the lands and houses of hundreds of adivasi families in hilly areas of each of the tribal districts- Nandurbar (Maharashtra), Jhabua and Badwani (M.P) during this monsoon. All of them are without land and entitlement as per the rehabilitation policy. They continued to stay put and supported only by the Andolan and its supporters, but the governments remained almost absent even in the worst of crisis and absence of food, health, transport and other services. The much trumpeted relief proved to be a drama. Thousands of other families in large villages and townships like Dharampuri did not face submergence although a large majority of them do reside in the 119 mts affected area zone and all together 35,000 families continue to stay in the 122 mts affected area. Their houses and fields remained threatened but got saved this year due to no highest rainfall and the heavy rains mostly occurring in parts of the valley, at different points of time.

With the floods devastating Gujarat, the government didn’t release dam-water into canal for most of the monsoon period and even today, very little water is in the canals and hence the raised height and filled reservoir hasn’t came to be used. Much water is still flowing into the sea…unused. The drinking water could be supplied to all the thirsty villages at 110 mts. But this has not happened. Nor is there any need to take distant Narmada water to areas where rivers overflowed this year and the reservoirs are still full. The Kutchis have had to go to the Supreme Court to seek justice in water distribution so there is no question of the promise to provide water for 365 days/year to Rajasthan coming true. The much promised power was not generated in the canal head power house since the waters were not released much into the canals, nor could the targets be reached since transformers in the river bed power house failed. It is, therefore, unjustifiable to take the dam ahead at this point of time at the cost of people’s lives.

On this World Habitat Day the Narmada Bachao Andolan appeals to all those concerned about the serious scale of evictions by force or flood, inhuman displacement without rehabilitation in the Narmada Valley and all over the country, may it be for SEZs, or airports, urban renewal or mining.

- To condemn the brutal decision to raise the dam height again, without rehabilitating 35,000 families i.e. 1.75 lakh people in the valley.
- To demand a complete and fair review and detailed reports by the concerned Ministries and monitoring agencies, on rehabilitation, village by village, family by family to be made public.
- To stop all work at the dam site
- To expeditiously rehabilitate all the adivasis who have lost land and/or houses from all the three states with alternative land and rehabilitation sites
- To make the comparative data on the planned and promised vis-à-vis actual benefits of Sardar Sarovar at 100 and 119 mts.

Kailash Awasya
Yogini Khanolkar
Ashish Mandloi
Medha Patkar