Indian People's Tribunal on Environment and Human Rights: Recommendations

June 13, 2002

Dear Friends,

The Indian People's Tribunal on Environment and Human Rights (IPT) conducted an enquiry into rights issues concerning the Man dam project on the 17th and 18th of March 2002. The tribunal headed by Justice. GG Loney (Retd. Judge, Bombay High Court) had Dr. Nandini Sundar and Adv. Vinod Shetty as members.

The tribunal found that the situation in the villages that are going to be submerged by June 2002 is in urgent need of redressal. The scheduled tribes families of 17 villages are under immediate threat of losing their livelihood unless alternative land for cultivation and housing plots are urgently provided before submergence. Such a situation is contrary to the policy laid down by the Government of Madhya Pradesh in Narmada Project Rehabilitation Policy. It is also contrary to the spirit of the 5th Schedule of the Constitution which provides for special protection for adivasis, and the ILO convention on indigenous peoples which notes that adivasis should not be arbitrarily separated form their land and resources.

Submergence should be postponed till the oustees are properly resettled and rehabilitated. We find it shocking that the resettlement of oustees is not an integral part of the construction of the dam and that even after 17 years of construction, their situation has been ignored. We also find that the concerned government officers are not addressing the genuine grievances of the people. On the contrary whenever they make attempts to meet the government officials or CM, they are arrested and beaten up. There appears to be a feeling of gross neglect in the minds of the oustees.

In the light of our observations, since it is not possible for the government to immediately solve the difficulties enumerated above before the monsoon of 2002, the dam construction should be halted urgently until such time as resettlement and rehabilitation is complete. If immediate steps are not taken we apprehend that the situation may result in the most serious violation of human rights.

Some of the RECOMMENDATIONS of the Panel

Taking cognizance of all the above, the panel call on the MP Government to immediately,

  1. The Panel urges the government to rectify the serious violations of the conditions of the Central environmental clearance, the Rehabilitation Policy of the State, the conditions of the Planning Commission clearance, and stipulations of the UN Charter of Rights for Indigenous People as well as the Convention 169 of the ILO.
  2. Stop all work on the spillway section of the dam and consider blasting the river sluices of the dam in the manner that it had resorted to last monsoon.
  3. Identify large chunks of agricultural land for community resettlement, and buy it from private owners if need be. We note and welcome the twelve crore package announced by the MP government and recommend that it should be used to buy lands for the affected people keeping in mind the rehabilitation policy of the MP Government which recommends that every affected family has a right to a minimum of 2 hectares of irrigated land.
  4. Noting that the WCD guidelines state that the notion of the project-affected-person needs to be gender-inclusive, we recommend that women and men should be co-beneficiaries of the compensation packages awarded to households.
  5. All the sons and daughters, and other independent single women, widows, deserted women who have reached the age of 18 years or above on the 15th June, 2002 should be registered as separate families, and allowed separate entitlements, as was done in the case of the Bargi Project.
  6. Artisans, landless people must be enumerated and given their full dues as per the policy.
  7. All trees, wells and houses that have not been included, must be enumerated and compensated.
  8. Till the new resettlement colonies are fully established, al facilities in the village - school, electricity, hand pumps etc.- must be maintained, so that people's rights are not violated.
  9. We recommend to the state government that they put into place a mechanism - a Rehabilitation Committee on the lines of the Committee that was constituted by the order of the 2nd May, 1999 but allowing for greater participation by the affected people so that the people are encouraged to plan for and implement their own rehabilitation as per their needs and aspirations, as far as possible.
  10. Drop all criminal charges against the villagers and NBA activists, e.g. under the SC/ST Atrocities Act and enter into dialogue with them.
  11. We also call on the MoEF, the Planning Commission to ensure that their conditions of their clearance to the Man Project are complied with, including the conditions of land based community rehabilitation.
  12. Further, we also call upon NABARD to review the deeply flawed nature if its refinancing loans, and the ensuing violations of human rights, and to take responsibility for those to be affected by Projects financed or refinanced by the NABARD, beginning with the Man Project.

In the light of the above recommendations of the tribunal panel, the issues brought out need urgent redressal as the time is running short. Four people are on an indefinite fast seeking intervention from the part of the authorities. The fast is on the 23rd day as of today. We feel that the rights of the people in the area are grossly violated and we urge you to take prompt steps to protect the rights of the affected people. Please help the people by writing protest letters to the following persons or in any way possible by you.

The Prime Minister
Fax: +91-11-3019545/3016857
Visit: www.pmindia.nic.in

The Chief Minister
Fax: +91-755-551781/551521
Email: cm@mpchiefminister.com

National Human Rights Commission Chairperson Chairperson of the SC/ST Commission
Fax: +91-11-3340891
Fax: +91-11-4632298/4620435
Email: chairnhrc@nic.in

Chairperson
State Human Rights Commission,
Paryavas Bhavan, Arera Hills
Jail Road, Bhopal - 462 001

Sincerely,

SUNIL SCARIA
Co-Coordinator,
Indian People's Tribunal on Environment and Human Rights
MUMBAI