| NBA Press Release
|| 18 September 2005
Narmada Waters are Rising: News from the Narmada Valley
62, Mahatma Gandhi Road,
Madhya Pradesh - 451551
Email: badwani[at]narmada.org NARMADA BACHAO ANDOLAN
Jail Road, Mandleshwar
District Khargone, Madhya Pradesh
Due to heavy rainfall in the upper reaches of the Narmada Valley, the gates of the upstream Tawa and Bargi dams have been opened, on Thursday morning. Since then the water levels downstream have been rising.
Located in Gujarat, the Sardar Sarovar Dam, which is currently built upto 110.64 metres, is the furthest downstream dam in the entire cascade of dams in the valley. The water level at the dam site is rising as of now. In the evening of September 14 (Friday) the water level was at 111.58. At 12 noon on Sep 17 (Saturday), the water level was 113.48 metres and rising further, as the gates of Tawa and Bargi dams are still open and still releasing water. The latest level at 12 noon on Sunday (Sep 18) is 113.85 m.
The situation in the valley is tense but not critical. At Rajghat, which is 4 kms from Badwani, right at the Narmada River, a truck was swept away when it had gone to the river to fill sand and was unable to get out fast enough to beat the rising waters. No one was injured though. In Badwani district, 45 villages have been put on red alert.
Earlier this year, the Supreme Court handed the people of the Valley a much-needed legal victory because of which the dam has remain stalled at 110 metres since April 2004. As a result the submergence in the valley this year due to the dam was not as severe as that which hit last year, also because of less rainfall this year. Hence the submergence situation in the valley has, thankfully, not been very grave this monsoon, unlike previous years. But the current rise in water levels show that even at this late stage of monsoon, if there is excessive rainfall, more submergence may still hit.
In all three states of Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh there are people affected under the current dam height of 110 metres who have yet not been rehabilitated. In Gadher, Antras, Turkheda villages of Gujarat, from Manibeli to Bhadal in Maharashtra and from Jalsindhi to the plains of Nimad in Madhya Pradesh, over 10,000 families still await rehabilitation in spite of already being affected by the project.
The Maharashtra government officials themselves claim that in the first 9 villages of Maharashtra (which fall in Akkalkuva tehsil) there are over 200 declared families who have not yet been rehabilitated. There are 97 villages in Madhya Pradesh where people affected under 110 metres have still not been rehabilitated. In Gujarat too, about 200 families still live in the submergence area without being rehabilitated.
On March 15, 2005, the Supreme Court of India, realizing that rehabilitation of Sardar Sarovar oustees was not proceeding as mandated, ordered that submergence must not be brought upon affected persons until they are rehabilitated. The Court also ordered that M.P. must rehabilitate both temporarily and permanently affected oustees before raising the dam height, and also that major sons of landholders are also entitled to be allotted 2 hectares of cultivable land. The state governments have still not complied with these orders, so raising the dam height at this stage, and Gujaratís insistence to do so, would be completely illegal.
The Narmada Bachao Andolan urges that the Supreme Court orders should be strictly followed, that all people already affected at the current height of this project must be rehabilitated right away with land and all other amenities, and the dam should certainly not go up any further until this is done.Chetan Salve