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

Representatives of Indian Financial institutions evade discussion
S.Kumars goons brutally assault two NBA activists
"No review of financing without participation of dam affected people"

Jail Road, Mandleshwar
District Khargone, Madhya Pradesh
Tel: 07283-33162

Yesterday, on the 27th of September, two young boys Suresh Varma and Antar Singh - residents of village Lepa (the first village to be affected by the Maheshwar dam) as well as activists of the Narmada Bachao Andolan were abducted, taken to the office of the private promoters of the Project the S.Kumars ,and beaten up black and blue by nearly twelve S.Kumars goons armed with sticks. The incident took place when these young men went to the Maheshwar dam site to look for the members of the Indian financial institutions who are seeking to fund this privatized dam. They wanted to meet the FI officers in order to share their concerns about this destructive Project that is slated to submerge their lands and livelihoods. A FIR was later registered in the Mandleshwar police station against the S.Kumars personnel and the victims were taken to the hospital.

It may be noted that after the exit of all foreign utilities from this destructive Project, a fund strapped S.Kumars is seeking to patchwork over Rs. 2000 crores out of a total proposed investment of Rs. 2254 crores for the Maheshwar Project from a number of Indian public financial institutions such as the IDBI, IFCI, SBI, UTI, LIC,etc. However as alarming questions about the high cost of power to be produced by the Maheshwar Project and other viability issues have come to the fore in the last four years because of the popular struggle, it is reliably learnt that the Indian FI's have now decided to review their financial participationin this Project. Thus, on the 27th of September, the officers of the IDBI and IFCI were visiting the dam site as part of this review.

However, while the private promoters of the Maheshwar dam Project including chief proprietor of the S.Kumars - Shri Shambhu Kumar Kasliwal and his son Mukul Kasliwal were forced to talk to the affected villagers, almost for the first time since they were given the concession for dam constructionseven years ago, the representatives of the IDBI and IFCI- Mr. Narayanan and Mr. Saluja who were visiting the dam site with the Project promoters evaded discussions with the affected villagers and left for Indore without meeting them. The Narmada Bachao Andolan condemns the assault by the S.Kumars on the affected villagers and states that despite all attempts by the S.Kumars to conceal the real issues of the Project - the complete failure of the rehabilitation process as well as the prohibitively expensive power to be produced by this dam, has now been exposed by the struggle of the affected people.

The Narmada Bachao Andolan asserts that it is only because of the sustained struggle in the Narmada valley and the systematic analysis offered by the NBA, that the consortium of Indian public financial institutions have recently been compelled to begin a review of the public financing of this private Project. However, the Narmada Bachao Andolan asserts that there is no possibility of a fair and well considered review, if the members of the Indian financial institutions continue to visit the site only with the Project promoters and refuse to visit the area with the affected people or even talk to them there. Urmila Patidar, prominent activist of the NBA and resident of dam affected village Pathrad said that there can be no review of the public financing of this Project without the participation of the affected people.

It may be recalled that the Maheshwar dam affected people had demonstrated in front of the offices of five Indian public financial institutions at the end of May, 2001. During the meeting that ensued, senior officers of the IDBI agreed to visit the affected villages along with the Narmada Bachao Andolan as well as invite them to a consortium meeting for a formal presentation. Thus, when the news that the members of the Indian public financial institutions would be visiting the dam site spread, affected people began gathering determined that they would meet, urge and persuade the FI representatives to visit the villages and listen to the people. However, the IDBI and IFCI officials were quickly shipped away to Indore by the Project promoters. Unfortunately, it is this blind dependence of the FI's on the promoters of Projects which they finance, and their disregard for early warnings about possible risks involved in bad Projects that has resulted in the conversion of over Rs. 60,000 crores of the hard earned money of the Indian public invested with these public banks and institutions into Non-Performing Assets (NPA's). For example, the Indian FI's have jeopardized over Rs. 6000 crores of public money in the controversial Enron Project and the Godbole Committee report has indicted them of having failed to perform due diligence in their appraisal of the Enron Project. The failure of the UTI US-64 scheme is also an example of this criminal negligence.

The Narmada Bachao Andolan points out that several Indian financial institutions, including the IDBI have already given crores of rupees of advances out of public funds to this Project even before the legal financial closure of the Project, in complete violation of the appraisal conditions of the IFCI, and despite their own admission that nearly a hundred crores of these public funds have been siphoned off by the S.Kumars. This is irregular and illegal and must be investigated.

The Narmada Bachao Andolan welcomes the review of the financing of the Maheshwar Project by the consortium of the Indian Financial institutions led by IFCI and demands that it be open, transparent and with the participation of the affected people. In the absence of complete transparency in the review process, the Financial institutions will lay themselves open to charges of connivance and corruption with the Project promoters. The NBA also warns the S.Kumars that to embark on a reign of terror against the local people will be futile and will not serve to save this dying and destructive Project.

Chittaroopa Palit
Jagdish Patidar