NBA Press Release
  26 September 2001
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

MAHARASHTRA GOVT. ACCEPTS SLIPS: TALKS OF VERIFICATION OF OUSTEES, LINKAGE
WITH CONSTRUCTION OF DAM: NBA NEEDS MORE EXPLANATION, DECISION ON 27TH

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 announcement by the Maharashtra government on Wednesday (September 26) regarding the demands of the Narmada Bachao Andolan is a mixed baggage with many a slips and escape routes, but it also is an admission of the lapses and grey areas regarding the displacement and resettlement issues and some new commitments. The NBA needs further explanation from the state government before arriving at any decision about the continuance of indefinite dharna and fast by our six comrades. The decision will be taken only after the NBA receives explanations on vital points, by the afternoon on 27th.

As the indefinite fast by Medha Patkar, Seetarambhai Patidar, Himmat Pawra, Dakhla Singh, Ganyabhai and others entered in 10th day, the Maharashtra government announced to set up a committee under the chairmanship of district collector of Nandurbar to verify the number of project affected families who have not been given the status of PAFs and have been left out in the previous surveys. The state government would communicate to the Narmada Control Authority (NCA) and the Supreme Court the facts about the non-resettlement of the PAFs. In such case, the state government letter to NBA said, " the Government of Maharashtra will also write to the NCA not to construct the dam beyond 90 meters till the newly added PAF's, if any, are resettled as per the orders of the Supreme Court".

The Government also agreed to give land rights to the 24 'forest villages' in Akrani tehsils. The Chief Minister declared in the Press Conference that this would happen if the NBA's case regarding this in Mumbai High Court is amicably settled. A master plan of resettlement will also prepared, the government communiqué announced.

The Maharashtra Government has seems to be agree that the work on the dam can be stopped if the PAFs are not resettled. However, the mechanism suggested for the verification purpose is doubtful, as the District Collector is made the head of the committee and the people's organizations like NBA has no representation in it. If this is the signal by the state government, then obviously NBA does not agree with it.

Also, the CM said in the Press Conference that the government had decided to accept the recommendations of the Justice Daud Committee, which will have no significant financial implications. NBA needs an explanation from the government about what it does mean by the financial implications. Even the increase in the number of PAFs could be considered as having the financial implications.

It was also announced that the government will distribute only that much land, of which it is in the possession. It is an admission that hitherto the government had 'resettled' the people even when the land was not available. It also announced that , it will give Rs. 3000 per oustee per acre per year as grant, who has not received land for years on the resettlement site. Again this is an admission of the presence of such oustees, who were displaced to the sites without rehabilitation land.

Lastly, the Maharashtra government has only talked about the resettlement aspect. The NBA has been insist ing that the cost-benefit and the 'public purpose' of the dam for the state also should be assessed. Accordingly, the government has also appointed a committee recently which will be submitting its report within three months. So what is the linkage of the cost-benefit of the dam to the displacement and the work o the dam?

The NBA is seeking the explanation with the Maharashtra government and only after getting the government response, any decision regarding the dharna and fast will be announced on Thursday, September 28.

Meanwhile, all the Left and progressive parties in the ruling coalition and people's organizations are holding a solidarity dharna at Azad Maidan in Mumbai on 27th. The Peasants and Workers' Party, CPI, CPM, Republican Party, Janata Dal, Samajwadi Party, Samajwadi Jan Parishad, Shoshit Jan Andolan and various other organizations are participating in it.

Joe Athialy
Sanjay Sangvai