| NBA Press Release
|| 10 September 2002
Massive Devastation By Submergence; Narmada People Demand Compensation,
62, Mahatma Gandhi Road,
Madhya Pradesh - 451551
The Supreme Court has once again missed the opportunity to look into the violations of the law and human rights in the Narmada valley and the submergence caused by the raising of the height of the Sardar Sarovar dam has left a trail of large-scale devastation in the villages. Hundreds of houses and fields were destroyed and the families were rendered destitute to the submergence during August 21-23 and September 2-4 2002. It seems that people themselves will have to defend their lives.
The people in the Narmada valley confronted the rising submergence in the neck-deep swirling dam water for over 45-50 hours in Domkhedi and Jalsindhi. In a meeting of the village representatives in Domkhedi on September 10, the people concluded that the submergence was a government-made catastrophe, and therefore the Maharashtra and M.P. governments must compensate the affected people, as they are now providing relief for the people affected by even the natural floods. They have also demanded that the Maharashtra government to complete the Task Force report, on the displacement-resettlement status of Maharashtra oustees, expeditiously and make it public.
Even now, there is no action on the part of the governments to provide relief. Some Maharashtra officials arrived on barge in Domkhedi on September 5, to conduct the 'panchnama' (recording) of the destruction, but they did not bring any relevant papers and appeared callous. They had no answers to the questions by the villagers.
The Governments of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh are either ignoring the struggle or trivializing it, simply to avoid their responsibility for resettling the people who have been displaced hitherto or will be displaced due to the increased height of 95 meters (+3 m. humps). Hundreds of farms and houses were washed out in the swirling Narmada waters in the villages of Akkalkua and Akrani tehsils (Dist. Nandurbar), in Maharashtra. There was large-scale destruction in Domkhedi, Surung, Sikka, Bharad, Pipalchop, Pavla, Mukhdi, Sindhuri, Dhankhedi and Chimalkhedi villages. In Chimalkhedi 10 houses, hundreds of goats, bullocks and cows were washed away. This also means massive loss of standing crops and threat of lurking famine.
In Madhya Pradesh number of Adivasi villages from Jalsindhi, Bada Amba, to Kakrana and Katarkheda suffered heavy submergence related losses and devastation. More than 1000 more Adivasi families were became destitute by this submergence caused by the height 95 meters (+3 m. humps). Hundreds of cattle were washed According to the estimates, the present dam height with the full floods, would displace over 8000 families and extend upto the plains of Nimad.
In Gujarat, rising waters have affected large tracts of standing crop in Mokhadi, Turkheda and Hafeshwar. The ancient temple in Hafeshwar almost fully submerged, except its top. Land with standing lush green crop in every tribal village in Alirajpur and Maharashtra is affected, mostly 10-15 acres per affected family in these villages.
The submergence has occurred under the scandalous indifference of the Madhya Pradesh government to the fate of the tribals. Mr. Singh has gone to the ridiculous extent of claiming that the affected Adivasis are 'squatting on the government land'! Maharashtra also did not oppose the increase in the height of the dam by the Gujarat Chief Minister, Narendra Modi.
However, the people faced the submergence waters with fortitude and resolve. Medha Patkar and Kamla Yadav have been protesting in the submergence water from the morning of September 2. In the afternoon of September 3, when the water reached upto their lips, the village elders of Domkhedi and women decided to drag them away from the fatal submergence. However, they all have been in the Khutavani pada (hamlet) for all these days, and once visited Jalsindhi Satyagraha place. But Maharashtra government officials spread false rumours regarding Medha Patkar and the Andolan which were unwittingly carried by the many Marathi newspapers. This was a clear game of spreading the misinformation about the Andolan.
All this was caused by the illegal and unjust increase in the dam height upto 95 meters, violating the resettlement norms, conditions and even the Supreme Court order of 2000. And now Modi is aiming for the increase in the height upto 110 meters. When the affected people below 90 meters could not be resettled properly till this time, how can anyone think of increasing the height of the dam beyond the present 95 (+ 3 meters humps)? We demand that the governments of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh should not fall prey to the cynical game of Narendra Modi.
Instead, the Maharashtra government should complete the Task force report on the resettlement and displacement in the state and publicize its findings. They should also complete the report and hold the meetings of the joint Task Force, the Planning committee and the Overview Committees in Domkhedi, the people resolved.Geetanjali