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A Report by
Heffa Schücking
March 1999


Fundamental preconditions for successful resettlement planning and implementation are a solid and up-to-date information base, the availability of fertile agricultural replacement land and full information and participation of the affected people. In the case of Maheshwar, resettlement planning does not fulfill any one of these criteria. What we are seeing on the ground is instead the making of a resettlement fiasco.

Of the 50 families who have lost their land for the project to date, not a single family has been resettled. The official resettlement plan is not only unrealistic, but severely lacking in credibility. A solid data base is nowhere to be seen: The planning agencies do not know how many people live in the affected villages nor what their livelihoods are based on. Five land availability documents have not been able to show sufficient agricultural land for resettlement purposes. The efforts by MPEB and the project promoter to show resettlement sites is leading to displacement and provisions of the Resettlement Policy of the State as well as the conditions of the environmental clearance for the project are being grossly violated.

In all likelihood, the project will uproot at least 20,000 people. No one can say with certainty how many people will be affected, but by my own estimate it could easily be up to 35,000 people.

The cost-benefit analysis for the project is based on erroneous data (poor villages, unirrigated lands, little infrastructure). If compensation at replacement value would be undertaken, the project would very likely not be economically viable.

In view of their past experiences both with the authorities and the project company, local people have lost all trust that their concerns will be dealt with fairly. They will do their utmost to save their lands and stop the project. The project can only be completed - if at all - through the use of continuous and massive police force against the communities.

A coalition of 120 German NGOs representing over one million citizens therefore calls upon the Government of Germany to withhold guarantees for this project. German taxpayer's money must not be used to insure a project that will harm Indian farmers and destroy their livelihoods. In addition and with all due respect, we call upon the Government of Madhya Pradesh to listen to its people in the Nimad Region and to step back from Maheshwar.
There are many alternatives to meeting Madhya Pradesh's energy needs; alternatives that do not cause social havoc and destroy the thriving and peaceful villages along the Narmada.


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