Monsoon Satyagraha 2001

Why Have We Chosen the Path of Struggle ...


Table of Contents


Narmada Bachao Andolan
July 2001

President of India concerned over Large River Valley Projects

President K R Narayanan on Wednesday voiced serious concern over large river valley projects uprooting tribals and causing them untold miseries.

In an apparent reference to the Narmada Valley project, he said in his address to the nation on the Republic Day eve that only through enlightened development policies the country could resolve dilemmas of development.

"But the development path that we have adopted is hurting them (the tribals) and threatening their very existence," he said.

"Let it not be said by future generations that the Indian Republic has been built on the destruction of the green earth and the innocent tribals who have been living there for centuries."

PTI

Source: Rediff News, January 26, 2001





Big Dams are to a nation's 'development' what nuclear bombs are to its military arsenal.
They're both weapons of mass destruction.
They're both weapons governments use to control their own people.
Both 20th century emblems that mark a point in time when human intelligence
has outstripped its own instinct for survival.
They're both malignant indications of civilisation turning upon itself.
They represent the severing of the link,
not just the link – the understanding – between human beings and the planet [we] live on.
They scramble the intelligence that connects eggs to hens,
milk to cows, food to forests, water to rivers, air to life and the
earth to human existence.

Can we unscramble it?
Maybe. Inch by inch. Bomb by bomb.
Dam by dam.
We could begin in the Narmada valley.

--Arundhati Roy


Contacts


Narmada Bachao Andolan
B-13, Shivam Flats, Ellora Park, Baroda, Gujarat - 390 007
Telefax: +91 265 282232
Email: baroda@barmada.org, medha@barmada.org

Narmada Bachao Andolan
62, Mahatma Gandhi Road, Badwani, Madhya Pradesh - 451 551
Tel: +91 7290 22464 Email: badwani@barmada.org

Narmada Bachao Andolan
Jail Road, Mandaleshwar, Dist.Khargone, Madhya Pradesh
Telefax: +91 7283 33162
Email: nobigdam@vsnl.com

For more information on NBA, visit www.narmada.org


I. Narmada Valley Development Project At a Glance


Water Yield of River Fixed at 28 Million Acre Feet (MAF)


Allocation of Water (From all dams)


Madhya Pradesh 18.25 MAF

Gujarat 9.00 MAF

Maharashtra 0.25 MAF

Rajasthan 0.50 MAF


Sharing of Power Benefits (from Sardar Sarovar Project)


Madhya Pradesh 57 %

Gujarat 27 %

Maharashtra 16 %



II. Sardar Sarovar Project : Salient Features

(As per Official Documents)


Length of Main Concrete Gravity Dam - 1210 m

Maximum Height above deepest foundation - 163 m

Catchment Area of the river above the dam site - 88,000 sq.km

Live Storage Capacity - 4.7 Million Acre Feet

Length of Reservoir - 214 km

Maximum Width Reservoir - 16.1 km

Average Width - 1.77 km

Full Reservoir Level - 138 m (455 Feet) MSL

Riverbed Level - 18 m MSL

Spillway Gates - 23 Nos. 65' x 60'

7 Nos. 60' x 55'

Full Supply Level (FSL) of Main Canal - 91.44m (300 feet)

Length of Lined Canal - 460 km

Base width of Main Canal - 73.1 m

Full supply Depth in Head reach - 7.6m

Design discharge capacity - 40,000 cusecs

Number of Branches - 42

Length of Distribution Network - 75,000 km

Annual Irrigation - 17.92 lakh Ha in Gujarat

73,000 ha in Rajasthan

Power Generation(Installed capacity):

Riverbed Power House - 1200 MW

Canal Head Power House - 250 MW

Drinking water

8215 Villages, 135 Urban Centers

30,000 ha, 210 Villages including Bharuch city

Benefits to

Dhumkhal Sloth Bear Sanctuary Wild Ass Sanctuary, Kutch Black Buck Sanctuary, Velavader Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary, Nal Sarovar Sanctuary.


III. Narmada Water Dispute Tribunal Award (NWDTA)

Provisions on Rehabilitation


Regarding linkages between submergence, displacement and rehabilitation the NWDTA ruled that:


Firstly irrigable lands must be made available for the rehabilitation one year in advance. [NWDTA XI IV (2)(iv)], and


Secondly that “in no event should any areas of M.P. and Maharashtra be submerged unless all arrangements are made for the rehabilitation of the oustees and intimated to them”. [NWDTA XI IV (6)(ii)].



IV. The Complex Case of Sardar Sarovar Project

The Cost:


DISPLACEMENT: Between 250,000 (an official figure- only including, and almost certainly underestimating, those displaced by submergence) and 1 million (NBA figure, including those displaced by all aspects of the project - colony, canal, sanctuary, down-stream, catchment area treatment, compensatory afforestation etc.) will lose their homes and livelihoods to Sardar Sarovar.


OFFICIAL FIGURES are a shambles and resettlement plans have as a result been based on mistaken estimates of the number of people to be displaced. In many villages some people have received submergence notices, whilst others in houses below theirs have not!


RESETTLEMENT has been totally inadequate so far, with many oustees not receiving the ‘land for land’, which they are entitled to under the NWDT award. Some tribal people are receiving nothing because they do not have legal ownership of the lands which they have cultivated for centuries. Many more have received stony, uncultivable land and as a result have been forced to work as wage labourers (Rs 15-20 per day), or migrate to the slums of cities. Despite official claims, there is barely any decent land available for future oustees, and the land which the state governments propose to give to them is rocky and uncultivable. (One official was heard saying: ‘We can put them here- if we do they’ll manage somehow, people always do manage somehow!’). No


NO MASTER PLAN for rehabilitation till date. This was required by the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal Award to be prepared. Even the Supreme Court in its final verdict in the case directed the Governments to prepare the same by 18th November 2000.


CONSULTATION with those affected by the dam, concerning resettlement plans, has been almost entirely absent.


COMMUNITIES have been split up and dispersed to many different resettlement sites, in contravention of the NWDT award.


TRIBAL LIFE depends heavily on the forests and the river. Their daily life, nutrition, religion and whole culture are closely interwoven with these resources. They are almost entirely self-sufficient, and are not used to the ways of the market economy. Resettlement sites have neither forest nor river, and will lead to the destruction of their culture.


NO RESETTLEMENT was given to the 950 families whose land (much of it remains unused) was taken for the construction of Kevedia Colony, or those whose land was taken for the main irrigation canal (23,000 families will be seriously affected if this is completed). They now live as impoverished squatters on their own land, and could be evicted at any time. Plans are afoot to use the extra lands of the Kewadia Colony for shopping malls, golf courses, etc!


SHOOLPANESHWAR SANCTUARY- The presence of 38,000 villagers in 104 villages in the area designated for the enlarged Shoolpaneshwar Wildlife Sanctuary (where all the animals who will be drowned by the reservoir are supposed to flee to!) is regarded as a “Limiting Factor and Threat”. Their activities will therefore be severely restricted (eg. No goats, almost no use of forest, etc..), such that they will be ‘persuaded’ to leave, without resettlement. Tourists will be encouraged to visit the sanctuary! The tribals who have here too organized under the aegis of Narmada Bachao Andolan are facing repression by the State for fighting for their rights.


VILLAGES slated for submergence have had no government funded development. The only schools that are run are by the NBA. These Jeevanshalas have been running from 1991.


FOREST SUBMERGENCE- Around 14,000 ha of prime forest land, along with all the complex and delicate ecosystems which it contains, will be submerged. This is being compensated for by planting a few saplings (often on land belonging to farmers and tribals, as in Akrani and Akkalkua tehsils of Maharashtra, Shoolpaneshwar!). Over 4000 ha. of forest is already chopped down to rehabilitate the oustees.


ENVIRONMENT - SSP never received clearance from the Ministry of Environment and Forests, as it was supposed to, yet it went ahead.


DOWNSTREAM EFFECTS- The dam will have severe impacts on the downstream ecology of the river (although Gujarat State has not bothered to conduct a survey to find out what they might be). One effect will be a severe depletion in the population of Hilsa fish, on which 10,000 fisher families depend for a living.


HEALTH- Water borne diseases incidence will continue to increase near the reservoir. Malaria has increased six fold already.


ANCIENT AND HISTORIC SITES have been, and will continue to be, submerged (eg. Shoolpaneshwar Temple; Maheshwar Ghats). The site of the oldest found civilisation on earth - over 40,000 years old will be submerged at Navdatoli.


SEISMIC RISKS- There is good evidence from independent experts that the presence of the Sardar Sarovar reservoir will increase seismic activity in an already seismically unstable area.


The Claimed ‘Benefits’:


THE RIVER has 17% less water than was originally estimated by project planners which, along with other considerations such as the likely non-existence of the Narmada Sagar dam upstream, will lead to a serious reduction in any benefits of the project.


DRINKING WATER- The government of Gujarat claims that Sardar Sarovar is the “lifeline of Western India”, and that it will permanently solve drought problems in the drought prone regions of Kutch and Saurashtra. This is complete and utter nonsense. Even the people of Kutch have now filed a court case against the project authorities for making this false claim. The truth is that Kutch and Saurashtra are not, as the government itself says, supposed to get water until 2025, and that even then only a tiny percentage of the villages there will get water. According to the dam authorities: 9% of Saurashtra and 1.97% of Kutch. But even this won’t happen because: (A) The Narmada has less water than they thought; (B) They have ignored basic considerations like evaporation from the canal; (C) They will run out of money a long time before the water gets anywhere near Kutch and Saurashtra; (D) In contravention of original plans and the NWDT award, water is now going to be diverted to major cities (esp. Baroda and Ahmedabad), to water guzzling sugarcane estates, and to tourist developments like 5-star hotels, golf courses, industries and even water parks! (Did somebody say something about ‘development’?!). Kutch and Saurashtra are at the far end of the canal system, beyond this immense obstacle course; (E) There will be no water in the canal beyond Mahi from March - May: leaving the people who are to rely on this ‘solution’ to their drought problem to find some other means to quench their thirst during the driest part of the year before the monsoon!


IRRIGATION- It seems very unlikely that the money will be found to complete the irrigation plans of the Sardar Sarovar project, which in any case will be monopolized by rich farmers. Even if the money is found much of the land will become useless as a result of waterlogging and salinisation within the space of a few years. The report of the Gujarat Ecology Commission has found that excessive irrigation in command areas of irrigation projects of Ukai and Kakrapar has led to water logging and consequent salinity in 52.18% of the command area. In the Mahi command area as much as 65.19% of the command is salinity affected. Furthermore, irrigation efficiency (amount of water reaching its destination divided by the amount released from the reservoir) is only 40%, not 60% as assumed. This means that a third of the command area won’t get any water.


ALTERNATIVES which really could solve the drought problem in Gujarat do exist and have been demonstrated in many villages of Saurashtra (eg. Local water harvesting, groundwater developments programs and water management-locally based initiatives). But the Gujarat government is busily pouring 80% of the state’s entire irrigation budget into Sardar Sarovar. As a result these alternatives are being ignored, and the people of Kutch and Saurashtra are left with their thirst.


ELECTRICITY HYDROGENERATION- It is often claimed that Sardar Sarovar will produce 1450 MW of electricity, but in fact this is only the total installed capacity. It will actually produce only 439 MW of firm power in the early stages, dropping to 50 MW once all upstream development is completed. On balance Sardar Sarovar will consume more power than it will produce for Gujarat!


FLOOD CONTROL- In Bihar state the flood prone area increased from 2.8 million ha (in 1952) to 6.82 million ha (in 1998), after its dam building program. What more can be said?


LIFE EXPECTANCY of Sardar Sarovar is only 70 years. After that the reservoir will become silted up and the generating equipment etc. will start to deteriorate.


THE WORLD BANK withdrew funding from Sardar Sarovar, after the Independent Review which is commissioned (The Morse Report, 1992) heavily criticized all aspects of the project after conducting extensive research in the valley. This was the first time the World Bank had ever been persuaded to pull out of a project.


FINANCIAL - The total cost of the Project is expected to be more than Rs.44,000 crores .


IN THE WEST big dams are becoming increasingly unpopular- many are being decommissioned and no new ones built. Truly sustainable alternatives such as Wind and Solar power; Local water harvesting; and ‘Demand Side Adjustments’, hold out much greater promise for the future of Gujarat, India and the World. It is true today that the various state Governments have voiced the need for local watersheds and other alternatives to solve the water crisis.


It's not too late to stop the dam rising any further and destroying thousands more lives. Detailed plans have been prepared by experts for how the water can be used even at the current height of 93m. The dam must not be built.


V. Overall Displacement

In Gujarat :


Colony affected 950 PAFs in 6 villages

Submergence affected 4600 PAFs in 19 villages

Canal affected 1,69,493 PAFs owning land titles out of these 24,000 will lose either whole or major chunk of their land holding and become landless or marginal farmers.

Shoolpaneshwar Sanctuary affected 38,000 PAPs in 104 villages

Downstream affected 10,000 PAFs making their livelihood fishing in the 150 kms stretch of river downstream of the Sardar Sarovar dam

Drainage affected Large areas will be required for drainage. Just for the main drains in Zones 4-13 it is estimated that 18,000 hectares of land will have to be acquired and those losing land will have to be compensated. (Estimates for other areas not available)

Compensatory afforestation / Catchment area treatment There is no estimate for the number of families being affected by these environmental protective measures. (approximately 3000-5000 tribal families)

Secondary displacement due to loss of lands to resettlement sites There is no estimate for the number of families being affected due to this.

(Note: PAF: Project Affected Family. PAP: Project Affected Person.)


In Madhya Pradesh:


Submergence affected 35,716 PAFs in 193 villages (Balance as on today – 30,000 +)

Compensatory afforestation / Catchment area treatment There is no estimate for the number of families being affected by these environmental protective measures. (approximately 3000-5000 tribal families)

Secondary displacement due to loss of lands to resettlement sites There is no estimate for the number of families being affected due to this. In a number of cases it has been seen that land is being acquired from adivasi / dalit families.


In Maharashtra


Submergence affected 3300+ PAFs in 33 villages (balance as on today approximately 2000)

Compensatory afforestation / Catchment area treatment There is no estimate for the number of families being affected by these environmental protective measures. It is being carried out in atleast 49 adivasi villages in Akrani tehsil and tens of villages in Akkalkua tehsil of Nandurbar district over adivasi lands. (approximately 3000-5000 tribal families)

Secondary displacement due to loss of lands to resettlement sites This is a serious issue here. The PAFs are being relocated in adivasi lands where the rights of the original adivasis who have been living there have not been recognized. This has led to serious conflict and even the death of two original inhabitants at one of the R&R sites.


VI. Rehabilitation at 93 mts: The Ground Reality

The number of families falling in the 90 m affected zone who are far from rehabilitated, for whom the master plan for rehabilitation is still not ready, as surveyed by us, is 1912 in Madhya Pradesh, 1061 in Maharashtra and 195 in Gujarat.


The purpose of the surveys conducted by the NBA is to review the situation persisting in the villages affected at 90m, as also the situation of the project affected families residing in the original villages. Contrary to official reports, such as the Action Plan prepared in November 2000, the clear picture that has emerged from the surveys, as one will see, is that there are atleast 3168 families, who face an uncertain future in the long run, and likely submergence at 90 mts in the coming two months at 1:100 year rainfall. The surveys have forced us to raise several vibrant questions again, which we raised before, regarding the rehabilitation process and most importantly, the very purpose of rehabilitation. We fear, as is proven now quite evidently, now that the rehabilitation of families has been reduced to an exercise on paper, the main aim being, reaching zero in the balance column. This farce, being paraded as complete rehabilitation has reached further ludicrous extent with one sided, ‘ex-parte allotment’ being resorted to, with the sanction of the NCA. The people in the valley have firmly rejected this ad hoc and violative way of allotting land: land that has not been seen, let alone selected by the project affected person. NBA believes, now, that a point has been reached where the three states and every concerned authorities, especially the NCA, need to review the entire rehabilitation process and the feasibility of providing fair and complete rehabilitation as per NWDTA, state government policies and the Apex Court judgment to the PAFs. This is something that emerges from the findings of the survey, which may seem startling revelations inspite of the fact that NBA has repeatedly pointed out this ground reality to every single authority, the State and even to the Supreme Court. This survey proves beyond doubt without such a comprehensive review exercise one can’t presume that the governments concerned would ensure the rights and entitlements to the affected families, on the brink of illegal and inhuman displacement.


The Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal Award has explicitly stated, among other detailed provisions for the resettlement that under no circumstances can submergence precede rehabilitation. The NWDTA also enshrines the essence of community rehabilitation to safeguard the social fabric and prevent the fragmentation of these close knit communities. Sadly the states have made a mockery of these stringent provisions that serve to safeguard the present assets and properties of the affected people until the time when the state, fulfilling its legally bound responsibility, provides total rehabilitation including alternate land, civic amenities, community resettlement, etc. The surveys conducted by the NBA clearly prove the numerous blatant violations of the rights of the project affected families and non compliance with the NWDTA.


Some Special features of the survey-data collected are given below:


i. Gujarat:


It may be noted at this point of time, that there are hundreds of families at the sites who too are 80 or 90 meters affected, who are relocated but no rehabilitated. This is clear from the thousands of complaints received by the Grievance Redressal Authority (GRA), majority of which were related to land allotted for resettlement. GRA has not been able to take care of serious land problems, unlike the problems with civic amenities, in most of the cases, till date.


Mokhdi, the site of construction of the Sardar Sarovar dam, the first affected village in Gujarat on the Southern bank of Narmada is a glaring example of the failure of the state. Faced with submergence year after year 42 declared families (alongwith 35 non-declared eligible project affected persons) are still residing in this village. These families have either returned from or never gone to Ambavadi, Chikda, Chikda2 and Piparvati resettlement sites in Dediapada taluka of Gujarat. These families have been supposedly rehabilitated in these R&R sites. However, a visit to Mukhdi will bring one face to face with these families totally unwilling to return to these sites. Similarly in Gadher there are 7 families that have returned from R&R site within Gujarat. Similarly there are also families in Vadgam, Antras and other villages in Gujarat, all of which we haven’t surveyed as yet. The government of Gujarat has maintained that they have rehabilitated every single family upto 110 meters. This is a blatant lie and they should be forced to acknowledge the fact that there still remain families affected at 90 meters who are yet to be rehabilitated. This is important because the government also ignores various other falias of villages that may come under submergence of this monsoon, like the Budni falia of Turkheda.


One can't but mention here the inhuman treatment to the thousands of families affected by project - related works such as canal and project colony as even sanctuary. We have written to NCA and concerned authorities earlier on this and need not say that the families from whom land is acquired for the purpose of the dam (although not reservoir) but with no other rehabilitation provision but cash-compensation, are the victims of unjust policy. With or without the readiness of the authorities and intervention of the Court, the Minister of Social Welfare and Justice cannot ignore them, mostly the tribal and other backward castes and classes, but ensure justice through a well defined just policy and plan for rehabilitation to be finalised with them, as they too are organised under the banner of NBA. A few hundred of rock-fill-dykes affected families displaced since 1979-80, for whom alternative land allotment is officially provided for since 1985, are also not yet fully rehabilitated.


ii. Maharashtra:


In Maharashtra too repeated violations of the NWDTA and now the Supreme Court order are seen from the fact that lands have been repeatedly submerged without any rehabilitation of the affected families. Lands of Manibeli, the first affected village in Maharashtra, has been repeatedly submerged year after year from 1993 onwards. Thirteen houses in Manibeli had flown away with all the belongings, with floods in 1993 itself. Even today the families affected at 69 meters remain to be resettled. There remain 41 declared families besides 39 undeclared ones in Manibeli who will be affected by the submergence this year. Their rehabilitation, obviously does not seem likely even in the near future. This is the case with all the villages in Akkalkua and few of the villages in Akrani. Today there are atleast 1016 families in Maharashtra that will be affected by the 90 meters submergence. The government continues to show a less number of families affected in Maharashtra. This is grossly untrue as shown by the surveys, and can be further proven by an independent un-biased assessment of this grim situation. Included in these affected families are those aged between 18-31 years, most of whom are married and have their own houses. Since their houses are to be affected they too are, obviously, affected and will lose property in submergence hence entitling them to be declared as project affected. Further the cut-off date that is being adopted, that is 1987 is, to put it very lightly, un-realistic and needs to be changed to the actual date of displacement. This issue and many others including the serious legal violation in non-granting of land rights, to the tribals have been repeatedly pointed out by the NBA. Without settling all those, there can be no just rehabilitation possible. It is in this situation that major tribal villages in Maharashtra will face floods this monsoon.


The serving of notices to 90m affected families is such that PAFs at a higher level get served notices and not houses at lower levels. In fact this ad hoc nature of serving notices is clear evidence of the faulty level surveys of the government. This has been in every single village. In fact, the villages of Maal and Savaria where the lower lands have submerged every year have not been served a single notice indicating 90 meters affect! This is further seen in the village Bhadal where families whose lands were submerged in 1994 are not being served notices.


As in Gujarat, there are a few hundred families at Maharashtra resettlement sites too, who are relocated but can't be called rehabilitated as they have not yet received all the entitlements especially agricultural land and houses-plots.


iii. Madhya Pradesh:


This state has the largest submergence to face while the tribals PAFs to face submergence this monsoon and thousands of families (above 30000 as per official figure) yet to displaced at the higher dam-heights have no place to go. As the Chief Minister himself has openly declared 'No land' situation on resettlement in the state while almost all the remaining families have decided not to shift to Gujarat but to stay in their own state, and are entitled to, under the NWDTA. A small amount of land identified by GoMP, out of grazing land and government waste land over years, is proved through joint panchanamas (with official's signatures on the reports) to be uncultivable.


It is amazing that the Government of Madhya Pradesh has the audacity to actually claim total resettlement of families affected at 90 meters. This is so since even today there still is not a single square foot of land available and the fact is that the government of Madhya Pradesh has not rehabilitated a single family to date. The government has forced the PAFs to choose from the choices of either accepting land in Gujarat or cash compensation in lieu of land for land. The adivasi families are being forced to accept cash when they are unwilling to go to Gujarat since the option of receiving land in Madhya Pradesh does not realistically exist. Several PAFs complained to the Grievance Redressal Authority about this. The government has now served notices to several such PAFs demanding them to deposit 50% of the cash compensation received and thereafter avail of the land option.


It is important to note that when this issue was brought before them the direction order issued by Retd Justice Shri. G.G. Sohani, chairperson GRA (Madhya Pradesh) implicitly states that cash compensation is in violation of the NWDTA. Referring to the grievance of Shri. Kuwarsingh Bhangda of village Kikarwas that he was given cash compensation in lieu of land for land he directed:


"During the pendency of this case, a copy of the letter dated 19.1.2001 sent by the Rehabilitation Officer to the complainant has been filed. That letter does not indicate that any parcel of land as provided by the Award has been allotted to the complainant. He has been directed by that letter to deposit 50% of the amount of compensation paid to him for acquisition of his holding, within a week from the date of receipt of that letter, so that further action as regards allotment of land could be taken. The manner in which the State has proceeded to discharge its obligation under the provision of the Award is not that which is contemplated by the Award. Sub clause (iv)(7) of Clause XI of the Award lays down that an oustee family entitled to land according to that clause shall be allotted irrigable land as provided by that clause and the same shall be transferred to the oustee family if it agrees to take it."


Further, the GRA directs the State to allot land to the PAF immediately. The GRA very unambiguously states that the present policy of the State is not in compliance of the NWDTA. The obvious inference that can be drawn, then, is that this is in violation of the NWDTA. For this, the State should be strictly prohibited from continuing with this violative policy. This should be done by the NCA.


There are 1912 PAFs affected at 90 mts iself who still remain to be resettled in Madhya Pradesh. They include 108 PAFs who have returned from / or have not been shifted to the Gujarat R&R sites. At 90m, there are about 290 families in all who have been forced into receiving cash compensation as a compromise. Their resettlement is still due with no land having been allotted to even one PAF.


In Alirajpur tehsil, District Jhabua, atleast 913 families will be affected by submergence if there is a good monsoon. However, only 370 of these families are officially declared as project affected families. The remaining non declared families are so due to irregular baseline surveys. These families have submitted their claims to the Narmada Valley Development Authority (NVDA) in March 2000 by way of a process that was mutually agreed upon. Due to the absence of any documented data indicating their age, the NVDA agreed to accept resolutions passed by the respective Panchayats verifying and certifying the ages of each of these claimants. The NVDA it seems has not indicated any further movement in this process of granting declared status eligible families. Therefore, these families having their own houses and agricultural lands will be forced to comprehend with impending unpredictable submergence. Still the outstanding issues such as updating the land records which is pending for years as remains to be done further becoming a cause alienating the rights of these affected adivasi families.


It is still difficult to assess the complete situation and statistics related to 90mts affected and to compare our surveys with the official surveys.


The difficulties are as follows:


  1. There is no complete and correct survey of the hamlets and villages to become tapu (island) at 90 mts or higher level, who too are entitled for rehabilitation benefits as per the R&R policies. NBA surveys too haven’t covered all tapu lands/villages.

  2. NBA’s checking of the government survey marking of submergence levels through engineers has concluded that there is 3 mts difference in the benchmarks now used in Madhya Pradesh amount to wrong calculation / estimation of PAFs at any level.

  3. Madhya Pradesh govt has over last few years, acquired PAFs’ lands and properties upto 436 feet only and the same are being cancelled and fresh notices under section 4 of Land Acquisition Act are being issued 455 feet. The official picture of each PAF’s (including the 90 mts affected) total property to be affected by the project is thus not yet final.

  4. There are enormous obvious mistakes found in the official lists and surveys of PAFs. Eg. In certain villages, the marking stones in the midst of thickly populated village, have houses on both side, at the same level and yet one side houses are shown as ‘affected’ and not the other.


To conclude, the grim situation, to say the least, of the PAFs at 80 and 90 meters SSP-affected area with no rehabilitation of balance families now possible to attain before the coming monsoon, is obvious. The illegality and violation of the NWDTA involved in the dam construction pushed to this stage and displacement without rehabilitation having been made inevitable, is obvious. The atrocity that would occur through inhuman flooding would again amount to nothing less than atrocity against scheduled tribes, which is a cognizable act. Not only the people but the governments concerned and the NCA will also have to face the disaster this year itself.


It is imperative that the R&R sub-group and the NCA as a whole to take truthful cognizance of the whole situation and fulfil its duty under NWDTA and the Apex Court judgment. The precondition for permission to be granted, after such a clear history of violation and injustice, must be :


(i) Preparation of a master plan with the total amount of land -suitable and cultivable, required for resettling all the PAFs at the full dam-height level, to be approved by all concerned state and interstate authorities and the organisations of people to be affected, i.e. Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) and Punarvasan Sangharsh Samiti (PSS) before finalisation.


(ii) Completion of R&R of all PAFs affected or to be affected at 93 mts.



VII. Jst.Daud Committee Finds Serious Lapses in Rehabilitation

Indicting the Government of Maharashtra’s position on the rehabilitation of Sardar Sarovar Project oustees and the Supreme Court judgment of October 2000, Jst.Daud Committee has stated emphatically that the resettlement of those affected at 90 m. is yet to be completed due to the non-availability of land.


The findings of the Committee thus expose the failings of the Supreme Court judgment in allowing the Govt. of Gujarat to further add 5 meters (2 + 3 mts humps) to the then existing dam height. NBA time and again warned that the rehabilitation of those tribals who are affected up to the already built height of the dam is far from complete, and any further construction with jeopardize the lives of thousands of more families.


We demand that the report of the Committee be published and made available for public consumption by the Government immediately. It is imperative that the Government accepts the recommendations of the Committee in toto and act on them immediately. Unless all those already affected by the project till date are rehabilitated, no further construction of the dam should be approved.



Report of the Committee to Assist the Resettlement and Rehabilitation of the Sardar Sarovar Project-Affected Persons (Government of Maharashtra) – A Note


Background


The history of rehabilitation of Sardar Sarovar Dam oustees has been a story of gross violation of the NWDTA and other state policies. Year after year the land and houses of the adivasis have been progressively submerged without them having been fully resettled. The submergence threat was used to oust the people without rehabilitation. Despite the fact that the people below 80 and 85 meters were not fully resettled and hundreds of families did not get land, state government claimed of resettling the people up to 90 meters and land availability up to 110 meters in the Supreme Court and in Narmada Control Authority (NCA). Thereby it facilitated the increase in the height of the dam bringing more submergence and forced eviction.


Even after the Supreme Court’s direction to follow the NWDTA, the situation remained abysmal. Hence, NBA demanded that the government of Maharashtra undertake an independent review of the present status of rehabilitation, the plight of those already relocated to the Resettlement & Rehabilitation sites and those in the original villages, all within the framework of the Award, rehabilitation policy of the state and the order of the Supreme Court.


Village representatives from the valley held a three-day dharna in Mumbai, on January 2-4, 2001, demanding the review of the situation of displacement and the cost-benefit of this project for Maharashtra. The Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Mr. Vilasrao Deshmukh declared the formation of the two independent committees, one for reviewing the rehabilitation status of Maharashtra oustees and other for the cost-benefit of the SSP for Maharashtra.


'Committee to Assist the Resettlement and Rehabilitation of the Sardar Sarovar Project-Affected Persons', was formed under the chairmanship of Justice S.M. Daud (Retired) and consisting of Shri Manikrao Gavit, Member of Parliament, Barrister Sharad Palav, Shri R.V. Bhuskute, Shri Nandalal, Principal Secretary (Revenue and Forest Department, Government of Maharashtra) and Shri K.S. Parab, Section Officer (Revenue and Forest Department, Government of Maharashtra). The Committee also consisted of Special Invitees, Smt Pratibha Shinde of Punarwasan Sangharsh Samiti (PSS), Shri D.M. More, Joint Secretary, Irrigation Department, Government of Maharashtra and Shri D.R. Mali, Joint Secretary, Revenue and Forest Department, Government of Maharashtra.


One of the main tasks assigned to the Committee was to assess the availability of land for the resettlement of the yet-to-be-relocated adivasis. Also, to review the process of rehabilitation of the affected adivasis and ascertain whether it has been in accordance with the NWDTA and the Government policies. The Committee also had the option of making recommendations for better resettlement in the resettlement colonies among other issues.


The Committee has finalized its Report and submitted it to the government on 29th of June for further action.


The Process


The Committee visited four submergence villages and met adivasis from almost every affected village. They also visited all the five resettlement colonies established by the government of Maharashtra in Taloda and two resettlement sites in Gujarat where PAFs from Maharashtra affected villages have been resettled. As stated in the report,


"To enable us to make appropriate recommendations, we have made extensive visits to the villages in the submergence areas as also the lands / sites / villages proposed or actually found functioning as resettlement villages. The meetings held there for the tribal villagers were in the nature of "gramsabhas" (village meetings), which came to be attended in large numbers by tribals from the affected villages situated near and far."


The Committee has also prepared a record of the various depositions made before it by the affected adivasis and the Government officials, which forms an intrinsic part of the report. Commenting on this the Committee states that,


"The ‘Transcripts’ of the depositions made by the aggrieved PAPs speak of several complaints about mismanagement of the R&R (Resettlement and Rehabilitation) programme at the hands of the government officials. There being no evidence to the contrary, we see no reason to disbelieve the accounts of the tribals particularly as the narrations were made in the presence of the Government representatives…"


The Committee undertook the scrutiny of all the various documents submitted by the tribals and the Government officials. It also undertook field-level investigations to arrive at conclusions in regard to issues of conflict. This included a sample physical verification of the actual number of PAFs against the Government list, in the village Nimgavan. The findings confirmed the gross omissions and underestimation of PAFs. It also scrutinized the documents pertaining to land rights in original villages and resettlement colonies with the respective Tahsildars to reveal the blatant abuse of law and consequent denial of rights to the tribals. The Committee also verified the claim of availability of land for resettlement and arrived at the conclusion that land was not available in the existing resettlement colonies.

The Findings


The report brings out the inherent inadequacies of the resettlement process that range from non-availability of land to the incorrect enumeration of the project-affected adivasis, non-granting of land rights, unequal resettlement policy, definition of project-affected persons, corruption practices of officials, among others.


The report places most of the blame for such deficiencies on the absence of master plan for rehabilitation. It also suggests that submergence has preceded rehabilitation in the cases of many adivasis and their villages. In a nutshell, the report clearly shows that the stipulations and provisions of rehabilitation in the NWDT Award, State Resettlement policy and the judgment of the Supreme Court have been violated.


The Committee has reported that there is no land presently available. It is stated in the report that,


"…from what has been ascertained by us, it does not appear that land is available for the resettlement of the PAPs (Project Affected Persons) in conformity with the Award of the Tribunal, the policy of the Government and the verdict of the Supreme Court, especially in view of the fact that all those who have been shifted in the past or those presently affected at 90 mt height of the dam have not been provided suitable land."


It pointed out that the non-availability of land has resulted in displaced adivasis still languishing without land allotment in the resettlement colonies. There are several serious shortcomings especially with regard to land quality and availability and provision of civic amenities too. It has acknowledged the effort of the government in resettling PAFs but has added that it is just not enough and will require more application of mind, resources and effort.


The Committee is emphatic in stating that the resettlement of those affected at 90 m. is yet to be completed due to the non-availability of land.


"In fact the attempted rehabilitation is substantially less and at times in breach of what has been required by the Tribunal Award, the Government resettlement policy and the verdict of the Supreme Court. Those affected at 90m were to be resettled by 31st December 2000, even that has not been accomplished. Moreover, NWDTA had insisted on rehabilitation preceding submergence. Obviously, this has not been complied with."


The Committee points to the absence of a Master Plan as being one of the instrumental determinants to the inadequate rehabilitation process.


"One of the contributory factors is the absence of a Master Plan which ought to have been formulated by the Maharashtra Government to ascertain the precise number of PAFs (Project Affected Families) and the land requirements for their resettlement, its failure to ascertain from the PAFs their option as to the resettlement in Maharashtra and/or Gujarat and the piecemeal measures taken by the Government whenever a clamour arose either for expediting the SSP (Sardar Sarovar Project) or for doing justice to the displaced tribals. A failure to prepare a Master Plan which was even found desirable as a pre-requisite by NWDTA and the Supreme Court, is clearly a serious lapse giving rise to numerous problems including omission and underestimation of PAFs, vitiating the very process of resettlement and rehabilitation."


In the course of the report the Committee has stated that,


"Our conclusions and recommendations are based upon our personal observations and a careful study of the various submissions made to us by the tribals and their spokespersons, including the NBA and PSS and the concerned Government officials. The contributions of all these people enabled us to gain an objective view and understanding of the myriad issues confronting the tribals and the Government. All those who are now engaged in search of a solution to these aggravating problems need take cognizance of what is being said by the people who have experienced hardships… "


Main Recommendations












The prevailing situation in Madhya Pradesh, where 35,716 families in 193 villages will be affected (at 90m 33 villages are affected) is such that the Government has openly declared that it has no land for resettlement. There are depositions of adivasis in the report that prove that there is a scarcity of land in Gujarat too. On one hand, in Gujarat, while the lands allotted to 'resettled' families are plagued with serious problems like dabh grass, water logging, etc on the other the actual families displaced has been deliberately underestimated. While the governments have no land for those affected by submergence it has also ignored thousands others affected by dam related works. Those adivasis from whom lands have been already been snatched way back in 1961 for the Kewadia Colony (950 families in 6 villages), those affected by the canal network (1,69,493 families out of whom at least 25,000 families to be rendered as landless/ marginal farmers), Shoolpaneshwar Sanctuary (38,000 adivasis in 104 villages), Downstream impacts affected (10,000 families) in Gujarat and thousands affected by compensatory afforestation, catchment area treatment and secondary displacement in all three States are being denied any resettlement at all.


On the basis of the shocking conclusions of the report and the sorry state of affairs in Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat too, there clearly is a need for an independent review of the entire rehabilitation process in the Sardar Sarovar Project before any more displacement is caused.


Until such a comprehensive review is carried out the progress of the project should be suspended and no further displacement be forced.


VIII. Satyagraha 2001 :

A Challenge To The People And The Government Both.
Ban NBA – Move of Unholy Alliance Against Democracy


A fiery fight with the rising waters is what thousands of tribal families in the Vindhya-Satpudas and farming communities in the West Nimad are prepared for, this monsoon. The impending submergence being absolutely illegal and immoral, against every human right and constitutional guarantee of life and livelihood, the struggle is not only inevitable but totally justifiable as a people's movement against the destruction and destitution of farmer communities let lose by the State and allied forces. Sixteen years long battle by the people in the Sardar Sarovar affected region, now spread to other big dams – Man, Maheshwar Bargi, Veda, Goi, supporting those affected by Narmada Sagar in the Narmada – and all over the country allied with similar thinking people's movements across the world feels proud to announce 'Satyagraha to Nyayagraha' at Jalsindhi (Jhabua), Domkhedi (Nandurbar-Maharashtra) beginning from July 5th and Chhoti Kasaravad (Baba Amte's residence) to be inaugurated on July 9th with thousands of people participating. Baba himself has taken a pledge 'not to move' and be the first Satyagrahi.


Amidst State repression, taking away not just the market space for local agricultural produce or land and other resources or livelihoods, but even life, as witnessed in Kashipur (Orissa), Koel-Karo (Jharkhand) and Dewas (M.P.), the perseverant struggle challenges the concerned state and the central government to dare flood the homes and farms of 5000 + families. The same is being imposed without even land for rehabilitation, with skewed distribution of benefits to the Ahmedabad-Baroda at the cost of the drought affected in Kutch, Saurashtra or even the Narmada Valley and with an unjustifiable social, environmental costs as also economic extravaganza.


A colossal waste with a human cost: the game of 'power'


The politico-economic vested interests, in India least bothered about a permanent solution to drought and deprivation of the large majority of natural resource-based communities, continue to neglect 162 major dams and 74 extension schemes left incomplete since 2nd five year plan onwards requiring a colossal sum of 79,000 + crores. They are bent upon stating New gigantic projects with old vices which are sources of huge corruption - much more serious than tehelka – and misappropriation of water and power by the elite population as evidence in Enron. Sardar Sarovar, that will cost not less than 2.5 lakh rupees per hectare of irrigation and 3 to 4 crores per MW of power is 'another Enron', to be exposed and admitted sooner or later. Madhya Pradesh state is not fulfilling its duty, neither towards the citizens in the bountiful Valley of Narmada nor the population at large. The costliest electricity (much of which SSP will produce for less than 10 to 15 years and much less than estimated) 56% of which is the only benefit for MP to be obtained at the cost of life of the Valley.


No land, No dam


On the displacement front, while it's more than proved that there is no agricultural land and no adequate & appropriate sites for resettlement of 32 to 35000 families residing in the affected zone of SSP, as there is no land even for the 3000 + tribal families to be affected by Man (another of 30 big dams in Narmada), the SSP dam construction has had to be stopped again, in spite of the Supreme Court's verdict at 90 metres. As Jayanarayan Vyas, Sanat Mehta, Urmilaben Patel and other ex-ministers of Gujarat has now admitted, the Supreme Court Judgement has not been the final word as they expected. NBA never expected it to be one since the judgement has exhibited ignorance of the ground reality and deliberately concealed the facts well presented before it.


NBA, the people in the Valley, inspite of the politicians – bureaucrat's tactics to vacate the villages have stayed put and fought the untruth, proving that the submergence at 90 mts + 3 mts level (full height 138.68 mts not reached) yet will come and come with a fatal impact on the thickly populated to vast stretched communities both, which will be faced as a movement does, with the onslaught on life of the living populations. Large rainfall this year would certainly prove the truth, even if through a likely sacrifice for the same. No land, no dam is the only just and reasonable position. We demand an immediate announcement towards indefinite suspension of a dam-work and a decisive dialogue and master plan for rehabilitation of those already affected.

Ban NBA – move of an unholy alliance against democracy


The exposure of the misdeeds and falsehood in the big dam propaganda and strength of the people's struggle has, however, disturbed the peace of the political and economic interests who appear to be at their worst, leading to a malafide and vicious campaign against not the vision and values, facts and issues posed by NBA but NBA itself. The commercial means of advertisement, used by one Mr.V.K.Saxena, sponsored apparently by some industrialists, is only such move. Who is behind this waste of lakhs of rupees on ads. All the allegations in those are either fake, distorting the facts or deliberate concoction of linkages between NBA and its supporters. NBA can't be proved to be violent, based on a long list of false cases clamped upon it by the State during its agitational programs. Our alliance with international people's organizations and NGOs and submissions to the multinational companies, lenders or export credit guarantee agencies is perfectly justifiable in the present context of global power's encroachment on people's life and resources, hand in gloves with the State, misusing our laws and indigenous agencies. We are unregistered people's movement, as was the first freedom movement of India. Our actions to accounts are not only legal but constitutional. We have therefore filed a criminal complaint against V.K.Saxena and Indian Express in the Delhi Magistrate's Court. We are issuing notices to other dailies too.


Jamunadevi's public campaign trying to incite people against NBA is non-sensical and motivated with petty political gains. She seems to have given a commitment to Gujarat to sacrifice the interests of the people of MP and especially Nimad which she will have to pay a heavy political cost for, if not today, tomorrow.


The latest move by ex-chief ministers of Gujarat and Jamunadevi with her stooges in MP is nothing else but a nexus symbolic of the unholy alliance politics dominant in the country. It's also an expression of the State's attempt, in the privatization era to take away the space for people's protest and be intolerant to any democratic dissent. The special area Securities Act of MP and moves by some other states as also the easy resort to repression indicates this. NBA will expose the attempt to do away with non-violent but strong people's organizations while the corrupt communal and criminal political outfits are let lose. Digvijay Singh must make his arms and the party's position on this clear or will be proved to be a party to this!


At one level, such politics and its accusations such as NBA is responsible for human rights violation is to be ignored as immature and a game they always play, it's also simultaneously a warning and an appeal to all democratic forces, especially working with the downtrodden, to come together and fight to protect the space for protest against valueless politics. We can't even be trapped under the Unlawful Activities Act, except through lawlessness by the rulers. What is more dangerous and to be challenged, however, is valuelessness. While the Summit comes closer, when it’s a great statesmanship and openness, love for peace with the neighbourhood and non-violence is what the Prime Minister is posed with, NBA would like the people to also judge this government from their attitudes and actions towards the inside protesters, its own people.


IX. Maan Project - A Valley Rises

The Man Project is one of the 30 large dams being constructed in the Narmada valley. This dam will inundate the homes and lands of over 5000 adivasis in 17 villages in District Dhar in Western Madhya Pradesh. It is being constructed on the river Man (that drains into the Narmada River) as an irrigation project in the Dhar district of Madhya Pradesh This year these thousands of adivasis and the lands they live on are slated for submergence without any arrangements for the restoration of livelihoods or provision of alternative agricultural land..


The Man Project received the legally binding environmental clearance from the Central Environment Ministry in 1984. The condition of the clearance was that the affected tribals must be resettled with non-forest agricultural land. The state government policy for the oustees of the Narmada Projects that was made in 1987 and firmed in 1992 also required that the affected people must be resettled with land for land. Despite this from 1991 to 1994, the state government completely violated the conditions of the environmental clearance and the provisions of its

own policy and finished the rights of the people with paltry amounts of cash compensation.

As a result, in 1994, the Appraisal Committee of the Central Environment Ministry blacklisted the Man Project for complete violation of the conditions of the environmental clearance. In 1997, when the oustees were given eviction notices, they organized themselves under the aegis of the Narmada Bachao Andolan and raised their voices. After a long struggle, in April­May 1999, the Madhya Pradesh government agreed to constitute a committee for the rehabilitation of the affected people. This committee which was constituted under the chairmanship of the Narmada Minister of Madhya Pradesh comprised of the affected people, elected representatives, government officials and two members of the Narmada Bachao Andolan. The government order of 2nd May, 1999 that constituted this committee clearly stated that no construction work on the dam would be allowed to be carried out that would endanger any affected person whose rehabilitation had not been completed. But despite this clear order, from October 2000 onwards, the state government began work on the spillway section of the dam, thus creating a situation of imminent submergence of hundreds of tribal families who are yet to be rehabilitated.


On the 24th of January this year, the Man-affected tribals then took out a protest rally in Dhar demanding immediate stoppage of work and rehabilitation of the affected people. Subsequently after representations to the NVDA, a government order of 30th January stopped the work on the spillway section of the dam. The actual physical work had to be stopped by demonstrating people at the dam site demanding that the order be carried out.


The Madhya Pradesh government did not rehabilitate any adivasi family by providing it with agricultural land. On the contrary, the Madhya Pradesh government began rapid work on the spillway section of the Man dam since November, 2000, thus increasing the dam wall. Since the past six months, we, the hundreds of Bhils and Bhilalas affected by this dam have moved in to a new and intense phase of struggle where we have been on the streets incessantly trying to stop the destruction that threatens to engulf us this monsoon. We have demonstrated in Dhar, Indore and Bhopal, captured the Man dam site and met officials at all levels. In fact in February this year, more than 200 adivasis had to stay in jail for around 15 days, because we had dared to ask for rehabilitation and our legal entitlements. This is a sad commentary on the state of our troubled democracy.


In the monsoon that is almost upon us, 5000 adivasis affected by the Man Project will have to face the rising waters of the Man reservoir which will inundate hundreds of houses and most of the lands of these 17 villages. We have decided that we will face this unjust and illegal submergence with courage and determination. We will fight the attempts of the government to flood us out like rats and will struggle for our right to resources for life as well as the right to live a life of dignity. The Satyagraha in the first village to be affected by the Man dam - Khedi- Balwadi, District Dhar has started from the 2nd of July, 2001.


xxxx


X. Directions to get to the Satyagraha Centres

To reach the Satyagraha place, you can go via Baroda (Gujarat), or Badwani (Madhya Pradesh) and contact the NBA offices there or you may go directly to the Satyagraha site from these places.

To Baroda NBA Office: From the Railway station catch an auto to Ellora Park. Once in Ellora Park, two landmarks are Kalpataru shopping complex and Raj Castle. These are on both sides of the road, though not diametrically opposite. Turn right from the Kalpataru and turn again towards the first right - the lane which goes by the side of Raj Castle (to confirm, on the left, at the beginning of the road, you will find Sainath Xerox) Straight down the road you will find the New Shivam Flats first and the next building, Shivam Flats is where we stay. We are on the first floor.

From Baroda to Domkhedi/Jalsindhi: For those of you who prefer to go straight from the bus stand / railway station, you need to catch the bus towards Kadipani or Kavat (or can go to Chotta Udaipur - Kavat - Kadipani). Kadipani is 11 kms from Kavat. At Kadipani, NBA jeep will be available from 10 am - 1 pm. Kadipani to Hapeshwar, the last point to reach by road, distance of 7 kms will be by the NBA jeep. Hapeshwar to Domkhedi/Jalsindhi is another half-an-hour journey by boat. NBA boats will be available for that stretch. Baroda to Kadipani is 4 hours, Kadipani to Hapeshwar is 30 minutes (because the road is bad) and Hapeshwar to Domkhedi/Jalsindhi is half-an-hour by boat.

From Baroda to Kasaravad: For Kasaravad, you need to catch a bus to Badwani, and Kasaravad is only 7 kms from Badwani. Baroda to Badwani buses are available at 9 am, 10 am and 1.15 pm. Or you can catch the 5 am Ujjain bus, get down at Alirajpur and change for Badwani. Baroda to Badwani is 5 hours and 30 minutes.

To Badwani NBA Office: Badwani is accessible by road from Indore, Khandwa, Dhule (all 4-4.5 hours journey by bus)and Baroda (6 hours). Once at Badwani, ask for the shop of Kalu Lohar. The NBA office is opposite to his shop.

From Badwani to Domkhedi/Jalsindhi: For Badwani to Kavat, you need to go the Chotta Udaipur, or Alirajpur to change for Kavat. Rest of the directions are exactly as mentioned earlier. Badwani to Kavat takes about 4 hours.

From Badwani to Kasaravad: To reach Kasaravad from Badwani, regular public transport is available at Badwani bus stand.

From Dhadgaon to Domkhedi/Jalsindhi: Dhadgaon is accessible from Dhule. Catch a bus to Shahada and from there to Dhadgaon (altogether from Dhule, Dhadgaon will take around 4 hours. At Dhadgaon, you can meet Dr.Sali (Tel.02595-20227). From Dhadgaon you will get jeeps to Roshmal. Roshmal to Domkhedi is a walk of 4 hours. Or if you inform the NBA offices well in advance, they can send a boat to Bhilgaon and for Dhadgaon to Bhilgaon, you will get jeeps. Bhilgaon – Domkhedi & Jalsindhi is 1 hour by boat.

To reach Maan Satyagraha, catch a bus from Dhar to Manawar and get off on the road at a bus stop that is called Chuna Bhati Naka.There is a handpump, a small bus station and an old banyan tree at the bus stop so you cannot miss it. This is Khedi village, where Satyagraha is. From Badwani, catch a bus to Manawar and change for Dhar. Get down at Chuna Bhati Naka.

The most convenient way will be to get in touch with the NBA Baroda or Badwani offices, either by letter, phone or email and they will help you. The detailed directions are for you to get an idea about the route and to use, incase for any reason, you fail to get in touch with the offices.

As it would be rainy season, come with the required protection - strong shoes/chappals, rain coats/umbrella, and lighter baggage. If needed, bring mosquito repellents and with some necessary medicines, torch etc.


XI. Nehru on Gigantism

Extracts from the Address to the 29th Annual Meeting of the Central Board of Irrigation and Power on 17th November 1958 by India's first Prime Minister Shri Jawaharlal Nehru

"For some time past, however, I have been beginning to think that we are suffering from what we may call "disease of gigantism". We want to show that we can build big dams and do big things. This is a dangerous outlook developing in India. I want our engineers to undertake big schemes in the country, but the idea of having big undertakings and doing big tasks for the sake of showing that we can do big things is not a good outlook at all.

"I think that while, inevitably, we shall have to undertake big schemes or tasks in this country, we should always remember that it is the ten thousand small tasks that count ultimately much more than a few big ones. It is, as you also referred to it, Mr.President, the small irrigation projects, the small industires and the small plants for electric power, which will change the face of the country far more than half a dozen big projects in half a dozen places.

"You have said just now in your address that the cost of production of power in a small project is great. I am not at all sure if that is so, because the cost of small project has to be judged after taking into account all the social upsets connected with the enormous concentration of national energy, all the national upsets, upsets of the people moving out and their rehabilitation and many other things, associated with a big project. The small projects however, does not bring about these upsets nor does it involve such a large endeavor….

"Thus the social value of a vast number of small projects is much greater than that of one, two, three, four or five big projects….

"I merely wish, if I can, to replace the balance in our thinking, which has shifted too much towards gigantic schemes. State Governments are constantly pressing our Government, our Planning Commission, for various schemes - all huge schemes - …… But this is all the relic of gigantism to which we have fallen a prey. We have to realise that we can also meet our problems much more rapidly and efficiently by taking up a large number of small schemes, especially when the time involved in a small scheme is much less and the results obtained are rapid."