Narmada Samachar: 29 January 2001


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Gujarat Earthquake

As many of you must be aware, a massive earthquake has struck Gujarat. According to latest reports, the death toll is expected to cross 30,000. You can find complete coverage at: India Together has a good listing of relief efforts both in the US and in India at: If any of want specific information about any of these, please contact

Meanwhile, the NBA is also mobilizing support and resources for relief efforts in Kutch. More information about the NBA's relief efforts can be found at:

NBA Press Releases

Narmada Valley expresses solidarity with Gujarat people;
Will participate in quake relief; Further investigations needed
NBA Press Release - Jan 28, 2001

Press Clippings

Narmada Dam safe ; Times of India - Jan 28
Experts dispute NBA theory on causes of quake ; Indian Express - Jan 28

Sanjay Sangvai of the NBA has responded to this misrepresentation and his letter is also published on the pressclippings section of the website.

Sanjay Sangvai's clarifications ; - Jan 29

President Narayanan's Republic Day speech

On the eve of Republic Day, President K.R.Narayanan made another one of his "unconventional" addresses that he has become known for. In that address, he alluded to the Narmada issue and talked about how the current development path is hurting tribals and other marginalized sections. Enclosed below is the URL for his entire speech and some the media's interpretations of the same.

President K.R.Narayanan's Republic Day address ; - Jan 26
Narayanan concerned over large river valley projects ; Rediff on the Net - Jan 25
Reminder on Narmada ; The Telegraph - Jan 26
A True Republican ; Times of India - Jan 27
President against constitution review, large dams ; Economic Times - Jan 26

Downstream impact of closing the gates of the SSP dam

As the gates of the Narmada dam have been closed, Narmada waters turn ; Loksatta (Translated from Gujarati) - Jan 19, 2001
Tribals Get Stinking Water As The Gates Of Narmada Project Are Being Closed On Whim And Fancy ; Sandesh (Translated from Gujarati) - Jan 8, 2001

News related to SSP and other dams

Man Project affected tribals march in Dhar, sit in at Collector's office;
Demand immediate stoppage of construction on dam in face of imminent submergence in the monsoon of 2001
NBA Press Release - Jan 25, 2001
Ex-minister speaks to Dubai NRIs on Narmada ; Times of India - Jan 22, 2001
Vyas to fight all obstacles in way of SSP Project; ; Indian Express - Jan 24, 2001
Canal work reviewed ; Indian Express - Jan 24, 2001
Medha Patkar files defamation suit ; Times of India - Jan 23, 2001

News related to the water problem and water misuse in Gujarat

CGWB frowns on use of ground water for parks ; Times of India - Jan 25, 2001
State's apathy to water misuse surprises official ; Times of India - Jan 24, 2001
States gear up to tackle drought ; Times of India - Jan 22, 2001
The official machinery, already withering under the
unending drought in many states, is getting ready to
brave the warmer weather and deepening crisis from
March. Officials are now questioning the wisdom of
short-term and short-sighted measures which have
messed up the situation in the past few decades.
Recharging well in Rajkot ; Indian Express - Jan 23, 2001

Recent Additions to the web-site

Collection of Audio Interviews ;
- Added a collection of audio interviews (in real audio format) on the issue
of dams (and specifically on the Narmada dam issue).  If you notice any missing
interview, please bring it to our attention.

Debate on Big Dams (two different viewpoints)

Poor are sold down the river ; Phil Williams; The Guardian - Dec 7, 2000
The commission, evading its main task of adjudicating on the
"development effectiveness" of dams, emphasised that poor planning
has caused unnecessary harm. This contradicts critics' charges that
it is the dams themselves, no matter how well planned, that inevitably
have deleterious social and ecological impacts. 

Critics also say that dams are the very antithesis of development
for the poor because they enable the expropriation of the resources
of a river valley, placing the livelihood of people who depend on rivers
at the disposal of those who have the power to exploit them. 
The Debate on Big Dams ;V.Venkatesan; Frontline - Edition of February 2
The debate on big dams has often been a simplistic one: depending on the
stand you take, you can easily find arguments that would sustain your
position. The Supreme Court judgment in October 2000 on the Sardar Sarovar
Dam is an example; the majority of judges, who let the construction of the
dam to continue, dwelt on the merits of big dams in their judgment, quite
oblivious of the strong, cogent arguments against such dams. While the
proponents of big dams often tend to underestimate the impact of such
structures on the environment and on the people who would be displaced,
some of their opponents make the mistake of challanging the very rationale
of big dams.

The publication of the report of the World Commission on Dams [WCD] is
welcome insofar as it seeks to achieve a reasonable balance between these
extreme positions. The report, released by former South African President
Nelson Mandela on November 16 in London, is the culmination of more than
two years of endeavour by the WCD's 12 independent members, who were
chosen through a global search process to reflect regional diversity,
expertise and stakeholder perspectives. Each member served in an
individual capacity, and none represented an institution or a country.

Feature Article: Problems and trauma of displacement - R Akhileshwari

Deccan Herald - Jan 24, 2000

About 1500 families of more than 10 villages near Hyderabad are spending
sleepless nights. The people are faced with losing their homes, land and
their livelihood as the government plans to acquire about 5000 acres to
build the prestigious international airport in Shamshabad mandal near
Hyderabad, abutting the Hyderabad-Bangalore highway. ''What is this
development? How is an airport useful to us,`` asked Mrs Nagamani, mother
of three sons, with tears in her eyes. Her village, Chinnagollapally, is
one of the 10 that is going to be acquired. ''It is like mowing down a
tree and making the birds homeless,`` she said with earthy wisdom.

Twentytwo-year-old Janardhan, an SC who sells flowers and vegetables in
Hyderabad grown in his one acre field, said if the acquisition came about
he would be forced to beg on the roads of Hyderabad. Balaraj Goud of the
same village said the only alternative open to them was to turn into
rag-pickers, and then they would have to live with the ''sin`` of
displacing the present rag-pickers and depriving them of their livelihood.
''Perhaps the government should drop a bomb on us to spare us this trauma
and then take our village for development,`` Goud said bitterly.

The tragedy of Chinnagollapally is compounded by the fact that the people
faced a similar displacement 80 years ago when the Himayatsagar dam was
built to supply drinking water to Hyderabad. The State government plans to
acquire 5000 acres in 10 villages of three mandals, that is Shamshabad,
Saroornagar and Maheshwaram. About 3400 acres of this is privately owned.
A majority of the 1500 families that will have to give up their
homesteads, land and livelihood are farmers owning half acre to two acres.
The proposed international airport is a joint venture between private
sector, the government of Andhra Pradesh and Central government, with the
private sector holding 74 per cent of the equity. The Central and State
governments will equally share the remaining 26 per cent. The lands under
acquisition are situated less than 20 km from Hyderabad. Even as the
government has notified the lands for acquisition and the demand for them
and their value has plummetted, the price of land outside the borders of
the airport has catapulted to anything between Rs 50-70 lakh per acre.

The Shamshabad International Airport Land-losers Welfare Association
points out that the government was dealing a double blow to the affected
people. Not only is it displacing them, but offering a pittance of a
compensation of Rs 45,000 per acre whereas the prevailing market rate is
between Rs 16 lakh and Rs 22 lakh per acre.

The Association suggests that the government change the location of the
airport to the other side of Hyderabad where most of the land is
undeveloped and infertile. It will involve no dislocation of people and
also safeguard the fertile lands of Shamshabad. Every family of the 1500
affected families under the airport plan grows flowers, vegetables and
fruits that find a ready market in Hyderabad. Almost all flowers, whether
roses or jasmines or chrysanthemum, and 30-50 per cent of vegetables and
fruits consumed by the people of Hyderabad are supplied by the farmers of

The Association says the government is using ''underhand`` methods to deny
the people to be displaced the compensation due to them. For instance, the
sub-registrar has not increased the official land rate, the yardstick for
calculating the land value, for five years. Besides, it has passed an
''award`` of Rs 45,000 per acre for 137 acres being acquired in the first
phase around Manneguda village, most of which belongs to a former raja and
is under dispute. This rate will serve as a precedent to deny higher rates
being demanded by the people of other villages. There are barely 19
families in Manneguda. Also, the government is under-assessing the number
of households being displaced. While the number of households according to
the government is 228 families, the Association puts it etween 700 and
800, mainly due to grown up sons of a household setting up their own
homesteads after marriage and dividing the land.

The Association points out that the AP government gave Rs 2.25 lakh per
acre for 2500 acres it acquired for the Simhadri Thermal Power project in
Visakhapatnam district. Similarly, the Government of Karnataka gave
compensation ranging from Rs 4 lakh to Rs 6.5 lakh for land for its
proposed Devanahalli international airport, 40 km from Bangalore. Yadi
Reddy of the Association says: ''Here we are 17 km from the city, the
lands highly fertile and the surrounding land is valued at Rs 20-22 lakh
an acre..Yet the government wants to pay us only Rs 45,000 per acre.``

The Association makes it clear that it is not against the airport but only
wants justice to be done to those about to lose their all. It demands
include providing alternative equal lands to the affected instead of
compensation in cash at the same distance from Hyderabad or compensation
for lands under acquisition of present market value which is Rs 15 lakh to
Rs 20 lakh per acre as on date, employment and educational opportunities
to all qualified persons among the displaced, compensation to the poor
cultivators who are in possession of government land on par with private
lands, and reasonable compensation to the landless people who depend upon
agricultural work.