Join us for a demonstratation in front of the Indian embassy

Wednesday, October 25, 2000; 5:30 pm
Meet initially at the Dupont Circle Fountain

(Directions: Dupont Circle Metro Station (Red line), Circle exit)
We will then march to the Indian embassy on Mass. Avenue.


Friends,

Most of you must have read about the recent Supreme Court verdict on the Sardar Sarovar project on the Narmada river. Despite clear, documented evidence about the non-availability of land for resettlement, despite the fact that there was no comprehensive environmental analysis of the project, the SC has ruled in favour of raising the dam to its full height.

This week, all over the world, protests and demonstrations are being organized to express solidarity and support with the people of the Narmada valley.

This is not just about large dams- it's about environment, social justice, democracy and peoples rights. attend and express your voice for true democracy

In solidarity,
Friends of the Narmada

For more info, contact:

Manoj Saranathan
Friends of the River Narmada
301-984-2306
manojk@earthling.net
Kiran Vissa
Friends of the River Narmada
301-422-7765
vissa@glue.umd.edu

For more information on the struggle, go to www.narmada.org


The Supreme Court Judgement

On October 18, 2000, the Supreme Court of India disposed of the public interest litigation with a 2-1 majority judgement in favor of immediate resumption of dam construction. The minority judgement asked for immediate stoppage of all construction and a thorough environmental review by the Ministry of Environment and Forests. Several legal experts, public figures and people's movements have condemned this as the most outrageous decision ever by the Supreme Court. Some obvious problems with the judgement:

  1. Government of Madhya Pradesh (state where 2/3rds of the submergence would happen - 193 villages!) has stated in its affidavits that it does not have land to resettle oustees even upto 90 metres of construction (which is about to start on October 31st). Thus the Court judgement violates its own orders.
  2. Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh re-stated on the day after the judgement that he will be forced to give cash compensation for lack of land, which is explicitly prohibited by the Tribunal (and Courts).
  3. Mandatory environmental analysis has not been done, and conditional clearance was given "flouting all norms" (ref: minority judgement).
  4. Fundamental right to life of the people of the valley was not even considered. Such a dam blatantly promotes social inequity - 60% of the oustees are tribal and "lowest caste" people.


The Sardar Sarovar Dam and Narmada projects

The Narmada River Valley Project is a mega-dam project which involves the construction of 30 large, 135 medium and 3000 small dams across the Narmada river which flows westward through the states of Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, and Maharashtra, before reaching the Arabian Sea.The Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP), the largest dam in this project currently stands at 88 m and is planned to reach a height of 138 m (455 ft). If completed, the reservoir will directly displace about 300,000 people with the total affected being closer to 1 million. About 50,000 families are entitled to at least 5 acres of land according to the Tribunal award - this amount of land is simply not available. The major emotional manipulation pushing the dam is the purported dream of taking water to the drought areas in north Gujarat -even the Gujarat CM has publicly admitted that this won't happen.


A brief history of Save the Narmada movement (Narmada Bachao Andolan)

The Narmada River Valley Project is a mega-dam project which involves the construction of 30 large, 135 medium and 3000 small dams across the Narmada river which flows westward through the states of Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, and Maharashtra, before reaching the Arabian Sea.The Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP), the largest dam in this project currently stands at 88m and is planned to reach a height of 136.5m (455 ft). The World Bank was the initial funding source for the $450 million project. Meanwhile, resistance to the project mounted from people in the Narmada Valley. The Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA or Save the Narmada Movement) raised fundamental questions about development, cost-benefit analyses, rehabilitation for the oustees, and alternatives to large dams. The resulting large-scale protests in India and the US forced the World Bank to institute the Bradford Morse committee to conduct an independent review of the project and a subsequent pullout by the Bank. Construction resumed last year after the ban on construction by the Supreme Court was lifted, despite the fact that there was no land available for rehabilitation and resettlement of the dam oustees or is of very poor quality. Besides the disastrous social impacts, the environmental and economic aspects have not been taken into account properly. This final damning verdict is totally against the interests and fundamental rights of people in the Narmada valley.

For more info on the Naramada project, visit:
http://www.narmada.org and http://www.indiatogether.org/infofiles/sspfcsht.htm

For an alternative proposal to the SSP (that can benefit from the existing height of the dam without further construction), visit: http://www.indiatogether.org/stories/suhas-ssp.htm