Submergence update
  03 September 2002

SSP Dam waters Rise Alarmingly ;Tribals Face Untold
Submergence ; Satyagrahis Standing In Neck Deep Narmada Waters

The unthinkable is happening in the Narmada valley as the waters have risen to an all time high of 107 m at the dam site and have entered several tribal fields and homes in Maharshtra and Madhya Pradesh. Dadla Karbari, Khatri Kaki, Kamla Yadav, Juggi, Hulya Patil,Dedlibai, Medha Patkar, Sitaram Kaka , Khiyali are among a hundred others now standing in tribal houses in Domkhedi, Mah. with the invading waters upto their neck. Kailash, Luharia, Bawa, Pervi, Janki,and others at Jalsindhi , in M.P.are also facing the waters. Night and day the Satyagrahis have been standing in the waters for the past two days and today the waters are dangerously high. The waters are still rising alarmingly and are entering the Nimghavan boarding school where hunderds of tribal children are studying. Not only are the crops and houses washed away but the fate of the Satyagrahis standing in the fast rising waters is still unknown.

While the government of Madhya Pradesh is doing nothing and is in total denial, the Maharashtra government (though it started late ), is trying to reach the affected areas. The submergence comes in the face of the cruel and criminal decision of The Narmada Control Authority (NCA) this summer , allowing the increase in the height of the SSP dam from 90 m to 95 metres plus 3 metre humps,despite being fully cognisant of the fact that there was no land for prior rehabilitation of the displaced families as mandated by the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal Award. Thus the people were left to fend for themselves.

NCA's permission to increase the dam height came due to pressure from Gujarat despite Jst Kurdukar of Maharshtra Grievance Redressal Authority not giving permission for the increase due to his dissatisfaction with the state of rehabilitation. Both in Madhya Pradesh and Maharshtra, thousands of families have not been duly rehabilitated. The NBA approached the Supreme Court for a stay on dam construction. The Maharashtra government undertook to jointly look at the status of rehabilitation with NBA and submitted an affidavit stating that the rehabilitation was not complete. With this information the Review Committe of NCA (RCNCA) had suo-motto powers as well as the responsibility to review the decision on the dam construction but did not do so.

The vacation bench of the Supreme Court could not make a decision either - and the pencase is still pending - the next hearing being slated for the 9th September 2002. Meanwhile, the dam was constructed from 90 to 95 m. The NCA is responsible for grossly violating the Tribunal Award and going ahead with the construction from 90 m to 95 m plus 3 m humps (98 m) in flagrant violation of the rehabilitation laws.

In the Supreme Court, the Maharshtra government should not succumb to pressure from the Gujarat government and should take a truthful stand that it is attempting to take, based on the facts on the field and the Task Force Report. The Task Force set up by the Govt. of Maharashtra has revealed that atleast 1000 families in Maharashtra are yet to be rehabilitated below 95 meters height - and the number may still increase.

The situation in Madhya Pradesh is worse, as the submergence zone is much larger In Jalsindhi several fields were washed away and houses faced submergence. The MP government is trying to settle people with cash compensation while the Tribunal Award explicitly demands land-for- land compensation for the project affected families. The MP government has always admitted that the displacement in MP is too big to handle and the displaced cannot be rehabilitated as per the Tribunal Award.

Now it is openly violating the rehabilitation clauses of the Tribunal Award. This not only makes a mockery of the Oct 2000 Supreme Court judgement which does not permit construction without rehabilitation but spells disaster for lakhs of people who will be displaced in MP if the SSP reservoir is allowed to be constructed to its full height. Meanwhile, the Gujarat government is making a desperate effort to gain votes out of people's misery by flexing its muscles and putting pressure on the other States as also the NCA, to further increase the dam height to 110 mts. by this October, with no concern for the affected families, the environment or of the gross violation of law! As per information available to us --

Pervin Jehangir
Ravi Kuchimanchi
Shashi Mehta
-Mumbai Supporters