Narmada Samachar: 26 February 2001


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News related to the Man project in the Narmada Valley

M.P. government officials refuse to rehabilitate Man affected tribals;
Lands and homes of 5000 tribals to be submerged this monsoon;
Tribals vow to fight Project till death
NBA Press Release - Feb 22, 2001
An Urgent Appeal to Intervene
Dear friends, 

Since the last few weeks you may have received some information about the
grim situation building up in the Man Project submergence zone. The Man
Project is one of the 30 large dams being built in the Narmada valley and
is situated in the Dhar district of Madhya Pradesh. This Project will
submerge over 1000 Bhil and Bhilala tribal families in 17 villages
affected by the Project and their rich and fertile lands, deep black
cotton soils irrigated with water from wells and the river.

It may be noted that the Man Project received the legally binding
environmental clearance from the Central Environment Ministry in 1994. 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. The Man-affected tribals then
took out a protest rally in Dhar on the 24th of January this year
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 stopped by demonstrating people at the dam
site demanding that the order be carried out.

But on the initiative of the Chief Minister Shri Digvijay Singh, as per
public statement given by local Congress MLA Shri Karan Singh Pawar, the
work was again restarted on the 9th of February, 2001. On the 9th, police
people from two police stations came to the villages of Khedi­Balwadi and
Khanpura to threaten the people and tell them to leave their villages.
However the people of these two villages, especially the women confronted
the police and finally speechless, the police had to flee.

Subsequently, on the 11th of February, fifty trucks of police came to the
dam site presumably to stop any take over of the dam by the local people,
but actually to let the affected people know that their struggle would be
met by state repression.

The representatives of the 17 villages along with the NBA activists met
and petitioned Menaka Gandhi, Minister of Social Welfare, Secretary,
Ministry of Environment and Forests and the Chairman, Commission for
Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes on the 12th and 13th of February.

As a result, the state government was forced to hold a meeting today, on
the 20th of February, 2001.The officials conceded during the meeting and
that through a written document that:

   "If the dam construction proceeds as per plan, the crest level 286.10m
   will be achieved by the monsoon of 2001. At this height, at the maximum
   water flow of 10.00 cumecs along with backwater effect, 993 families will
   be affected. Of this 283 families have already vacated the submergence
   area and 710 families are yet to vacate the submergence area.

   Of this, the houses of 522 families are likely to be submerged. It is
   possible that another 222 families will vacate the submergence area before
   the monsoons and it is being proposed that an emergency plan be prepared
   for the rest of the families.

   As per the proposed Emergency plan two temporary camps are proposed to be
   set up. The location of this will be decided under the guidance of the
   people's representatives and the District administration. Arrangements
   will be made for the residence, health, security and food. It is estimated
   that as per the length of the monsoon season , the camp will need to be
   held for two months. The affected people who will come to these camps will
   be given half the amount of daily wages that accrue to a unskilled
   labourer (as per the District administration's rates) for meeting his
   daily needs, in addition to food." (Government document , February, 2001)

Thus, although the lands and homes around 5000 tribals will be drowned
permanently this monsoon itself, the government has no plan for them
except a temporary camp where they will be offered food and half the
minimum wages for unskilled laborers for two months!

At today's meeting, the 12 villagers and the four NBA activists who
attended argued for the work on the spillway section of the dam to be
immediately stopped and for the distribution of agricultural lands, the
NVDA officials argued that the dam must be completed by June, 2001.They
said that the NABARD (National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development)
credit for this dam require that the dam be constructed by June, 2001.
Callously enough, they argued that the livelihoods of the affected people
do not need to be restored and that cash compensation was enough.

Thus at the end of today's meeting, the Committee did not agree to stop
the work on the dam nor give the affected people agricultural lands. In
fact, the Narmada Minister Shri Subhash Yadav stated that they would amend
the provision of the rehabilitation policy that provided for land for
land, so that they would not be required to give lands to the people!

The NBA activists pointed out that even if the state government were to
amend the state rehabilitation policy, they could hardly amend the
conditions under which the Ministry of Environment clearance was given to
the Project.

Thus, the government has decided to carry on the construction and drown
out the people. The people of the Man project area have resolved to stop
the Project through non- violent but militant struggle. But the reality is
that the spillway section of the dam is being plugged in at the rate of a
foot a day. It is crucial that all work on the dam must immediately stop.

It is clear that the tribals of this area need all your support to win
this struggle and to save the homes and lands of these 5000 tribals from
sure submergence this monsoon. We are organizing a march through the area
from the 2nd to 4th March, 2001. We hope you will be able to join us
during those days. Please contact us at the telephone number or e-mail
address given in the letter head.

Protest letters

Please write letters of protest to the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh,
The Environment Minister, and to NABARD. Contact information for these are
given below.

   Address Shri Digvijay Singh,
           Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh
           Vallabh Bhavan Madhya Pradesh
   Fax     0755-540501
   Please ask for the immediate stoppage of the construction work
   and look into the rehabilitation of the already affected to
   the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh.

   Address Shri T.R.Balu,
           Union Minister,
           Ministry of Environment and Forests,
           Paryavaran Bhavan, C.G.O.Complex,
           Lodhi Road Institutional Area,
           New Delhi
   Phone   011-4361748 / 011-4361727
   Please write about the flagrant violations of environmental
   clearance and to revoke the clearance immediately.

   Address The Managing Director
           National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development
           First Floor, Sterling Centre
           Dr.A.B. Road, Worli
           Mumbai 400 018
   Telephone 4964396 to 4964399, 8879834 to 8879838, 4981216
   Fax       4931621, 4951104
   Telex     11 73770 NAB IN
   Cable     AGREFINANS (Mumbai)
   Please write asking them to immediately stop funding the project
   and not be a part of the destruction of the valley and devastation
   of the tribals.

Please send us a copy of your letters to the Ministers / authorities.

Looking forward for your continuous support.

In solidarity, 

Alok Agarwal, Bhuwan Singh, Bondribai, Mantribai Gendalal,
Khedi Balwadi, Village Khanpura, Village Rehtiaon

Narmada Parikrama Postponed

Dear all, 

Due to some unavoidable reasons, we are compelled to postpone the Narmada
Sangharsh Parikrama, which was planned from March 1st to 7th. The new
dates are April 4th to 10th.

We are aware that many of you were planning to take part in the same and
strengthen the struggle. We hope that you will find the new dates
convenient and will make it possible to be with us in the program. Please
confirm your participation at the earliest. Kindly reach Badwani (5 hours
from Indore) by April 3rd night and do attend the large gathering in
Indore on the 10th.

We also appeal you to let other friends in your area (who are not
connected with the email) know about the postponement and new dates.
Please do it.

We are sorry for the inconvenience caused to you. 

In solidarity, 

Ashish Mandloi
Medha Patkar

Other news

A river runs through it ; Times of India - February 25
It was a dam that initially brought Medha Patkar to Gujarat. Here
she tells Raja Bose how the recent earthquake might trigger a
rethinking on big dams.
'Water dispute will be a major issue in future' ; The Hindu - February 22
Eminent persons file PIL on Narmada award ; Times of India - February 21
Adivasis massacred in Koel-Karo: A preliminary report ; - February 20
A people's report on the recent police firing in Koel-Karo in the new
state of Jharkhand has been prepared - in consultation with the villagers
affiliated to the Koel-Karo Jan Sangathan - by Sarada Balagopalan of
Eklavya, a Bhopal-based non-governmental organisation, Kaushik Ghosh,
Fellow (Anthropology) at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences,
Kolkata, and Meghnath, an anti-dam activist based in Ranchi.  It is based
on intensive research in the area, and visits and interviews a few days
after the killings and is vastly defferent from the police version of the
incident. Nabina Das looks at excerpts from the report.

Feature Article: Naked Truth about Narmada Project - Veljibhai Desai

Bhoomiputra (in Gujarati) - 16th November 2000

1. There are 856 villages in Rajkot district. Out of that 803 villages
will not get a single drop of water from the Narmada. Only 53 villages
will get the water and that means only 6% will be lucky while the rest
will remain thirsty. There are 13 talukas in Rajkot District. Out of that
11 talukas will get nothing from the Narmada. The population of this
district is 20,93,094. Only 67,230 people of those 53 villages will
benefit from the project. This means only 3% of the population will get
water. All these figures are published by the Government and the picture
of Rajkot is bare before us.

2. Bhavnagar district is formed of 876 villages. Out of that 770 villages
will not get a single drop of water from the Narmada. Only 106 villages,
12%, will get the water. The population of Bhavnagar is 18,79,340. Only
1,15,020 people of those lucky 106 villages will benefit from the project.
This comes to only 6% of the whole population. This is the bare picture of
Bhavnagar District based on the figures given by the Government.

3. Not a single will get water from the Narmada in Junagadh District. This
district will benefit nothing from the project as per the Govt. figures.

4. The same is the case with Jamnagar District. Not a single village is
lucky in this matter. The whole district is to remain dry as the
government figures show.

5. Amrely district too is benefiting nothing from the Narmada as the
record shows.

6. Porbunder district is also in the above group.

7. Surendranagar district has 651 villages, out of which 352 will get
water from the Narmada. 299 villages 54%- will get nothing from the
project. Surendranagar has the population of 10,34,185. Only 4,72,794
people of 352 villages will benefit from the project, which comes to 45%
of the population. This is the naked picture of Surendranagar based on
Govt. figures only. Considering the whole area of Saurashtra, it is found
that out of total 64,34,000 hectare land, 41,77,000 hectare land is
agricultural. 3,86,120 hectare of that portion will get the Narmada water,
which means only 9% agricultural land will be beneficiary. The rest of 91%
will remain dry. These are government figures.

8. Kutch is formed of 948 villages. Out of this 875 villages will get
nothing from the Narmada. Only 73 8%- will get water. The total population
of Kutch is 10,50,181. And only 90,123 people of those 73 villages will
benefit from the project. The Narmada water will reach only 37850 hectares
of the total 23,63,100 agricultural land of Kutch. This shows that only
1.6%, less than even 2% land will benefit from the project. The figures
are given by the government and the picture of Kutch is so bare before us.

Is the Narmada project in any way a lifeline for either Kutch or
Saurashtra? Looking to the area of Saurashtra, 91% of it will get no water
and in Kutch 98% will get nothing. This reality will there even when the
whole project is completed in next 20 years. Instead of it being lifeline,
as per the figures, it may turn out to be a death-knell for Kutch and

The Narmada project is to cost Rs.22,000 crores, out of which every year
the government spends hardly Rs.700 crores. In Saurashtra and Kutch, all
other projects like check dams, small dams, irrigation schemes etc. are
shelved for the time being and all the resources are employed for the
Narmada project. Moreover, the government is entitled to spend Rs.700
crores for this. Till now around Rs.8000 crores are spent and the
remaining Rs.14000 crores are still to be spent. For next 20 years this
work will go on at the rate of Rs.700 crores per year. The project can
never be over in two-three years as it is claimed.

About 90% of Saurashtra and Kutch are will not get water from the Narmada.
People of that area are suffering from the problems by force and coercion.
Just think how far away is this from the point of justice and mercy? It is
sheer injustice to these people. If the justice is to be done, let these
one crore people of 4000 villages, who are not gaining from the Narmada
project get their share of Rs.6000 crores to make check dams, small dams,
etc by themselves. This will make each village get Rs.1.5 crore, from
which 150 check dams can be built with lakh each. This only will
make Saurashtra and Kutch the real garden of Eden and there will be no
shortage of water. When the Narmada project is complete those some areas
of Saurashtra and Kutch which will get water to 32 lakhs acres feet in
total. It comes to 15 inch rain water in the whole regions of Saurashtra
and Kutch! Generally Saurashtra and Kutch get 10 inch yearly rain. If the
half of it is saved, it will be three times more than the water gained
from the Narmada.

With the governmental coercion, the whole public is robbed of money and
thereby water-project is centralised. 95% people of Saurashtra and Kutch
are thrown to dogs as a result of water shortage. The Narmada project is
certainly a crooked network. It is neither surprising nor shocking when so
called high flying public leaders cheat people by giving them false hopes
of turning their land into heaven by Narmada water but the farmers who are
directly associated with the land, the smallscale social workers working
in the villages and working for the villagers, the surpanches, the members
of gram panchayats, the presidents of village bodies et al should
understand the seriousness of these naked facts. They better realise that
the Narmada Yojana is not a solution to check dams and small irrigation
systems. They should forcibly ask for justice from the government and get
Rs.6000 crores directly for such requirements. All this should happen as
early as possible.