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Home > National Interest vs People’s Interest > Action Alert: Act Now for Survival and Justice in the Narmada Valley (...)

Action Alert: Act Now for Survival and Justice in the Narmada Valley (India)

28 March 2010

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With the politics on Narmada reaching its peak, yet again, there are enormous pressures on the central authorities including the Planning Commission, not only to sanction funds, but also to clear way for raising the Sardar Sarovar Dam to its final height which would also raise the submergence level from 122.92 mts (the present) to 138. 68 mts, erecting 17 mts high gates!

If this happens, the densely populated villages and township with standing crop and horticulture with pakka houses and the remaining lands of adivasis who have already faced submergence since 90s will be pushed under waters. Lakhs or even millions of trees will be destroyed amidst the tall talk of climate change all over!

All such severe blows to the life, ecology and agro-economy, culture and communities in this oldest of the civilizations in the world will become irreversible if there is an irrational push given to this giant dam, with least compliance on rehabilitation and environmental measures…

While 40,000+ families are still in the submergence area, thousands of families in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat are yet to get land-based rehabilitation. These include those adivasis who have lost land and homes as also the fish workers, potters, landless labourers, small traders, artisans and others who are entitled to alternative livelihood.

The most revealing story of environmental compliance is also out in the open now with the Devender Pandey Committee’s Report (February 2010), assessing the situation pertaining to various environmental safeguard measures, such as command area development, catchment area treatment, compensatory Afforestation, health impacts etc. and concluding that in the face of gross violations and serious non-compliance, there shall be no construction on the dam and canals and no irrigation in the situation of no final plans for command area development.

In Madhya Pradesh, corruption of more than 300 crores in various aspects of rehabilitation; including fake land registers, payments of rehabilitation grants to the ineligible persons and exclusion of eligible, compensation to ineligible properties, corruption in house plot allotment and flawed enumeration of backwater levels etc is under investigation by a Judicial Commission of Inquiry, which is functioning despite a hostile political climate and will to tackle the corruption.

While this is the sorry state of affairs with regard to rehabilitation and environmental compliance, the sage of ‘benefits’ of the dam are, in fact, even more telling. Even after having spent 30,000 crores, the Government of Gujarat is seeking 39,000 crores more from the Planning Commission, which has already estimated the present cost of the Project to be a whopping 45000 crores!

However, not more than 30% of the canals are built over 30 years and not more than 10% of the reservoir waters are used, after having submerged the lands of thousands of adivasis and threatening more submergence! Neither is enough power being generated which is proved from the fact that Maharashtra has claimed Rs. 1800 crores compensation from Gujarat. While the people of Kutch have gone against the Government of Gujarat to the apex Court, the investors of the bonds in the Project have also gone to the Supreme Court and Mumbai High Court, since the Government has turned its back on them as well after promising ‘returns’.

Gujarat’s own citizens and organizations have now exposed this ‘monument of mismanagement’ after having extensively studied and experienced the claims of the Project and the ground reality, today. In any case, who cares of the cost-benefit analysis?

Time has come for the nation to ask:

  • Is the sacrifice of thousands of adivasis and farming communities worth the 10% benefits that has been achieved till date?
  • Will the thirst of Kutchis or Rajasthanis ever get satiated even after flooding the rich natural eco-valley?
  • Will the benefits be sustainable and bring in distributive justice? Will lakhs of these people in their generations old beautiful and bountiful river valley ever be ‘rehabilitated’?
  • Can the natural resources, including rich forests that have been destroyed ever be restored or compensated with no or little progress over the last 20 years?

This gross mismanagement, destruction of people’s lands, livelihoods, natural and national resources is not and should not be a cause of concern for the people of the Narmada valley alone, but should shake and wake the nation conscience.

Without answering these questions truthfully and treading an honest, feasible and just path even now, the ‘powers that be’ are engaged in political expedient processes, which is callous and will prove ‘criminal’!

We, the adivasis, farmers, labourers, fish workers from the Narmada Ghati appeal to your conscience to write to the concerned authorities to respect the law and our constitutional and human rights and not allow the Project to go ahead unless

  • Do write to the Prime Minister and all the concerned Ministers conveying to them that the Constitution, law and Supreme Court’s Judgement will have to be respected:
  • You may also Condemn the Government of Madhya Pradesh conspiring to drown and destroy its own river valley and Warn the Government of Maharashtra against joining the other two states writing to their Chef Ministers.

Yours in solidarity,

Kailash Awasya (Bhilkheda)
- Ghokru Bhilala (Bhadal)
- Ratanbhai (Sugat)
- Khemabhai (Jobat)
- Kamla Yadav (Chhota Barda)
- Ranveer Tomar (Semalda)
- Siyaram Padvi (Danel)
- Ramanbhai (Parveta)
- Pinjaribai (Sikka)
- Punya Padvi (Somaval)
- Shanta Yadav (Pipri)
- Mohan Patidar (Bhavaria)

Kindly turn overleaf for the Contact details of the concerned authorities and Ministers.

WRITE TO:

Dr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India,
- 7, Race Course Road, New Delhi / Email: manmohan at sansad.nic.in

Shri. Prithviraj Chauhan, Minister of State, Prime Minister’s Office 11, Race Course Road, New Delhi 110001 Fax: 011-23017839 / 23013124, Email: chavanprithviraj at sansad.nic.in

Dr. Jairam Ramesh, Hon’ble Minister, Ministry of Environment and Forests, -Paryavaran Bhavan, CGO Complex, Lodhi Road, New Delhi ; Fax: 011 24362222 / 24361727 / Email: jairam54 at gmail.com

Shri Mukul Wasnik, Hon’ble Minister, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment Shastri Bhavan, Rajendra Prasad Road, New Delhi
- Fax: 011—23381902/23381390 Email: m_wasnik at hotmail.com / min-sje at nic.in

Ms. Meira Kumar, Hon’ble Speaker, Lok Sabha and (Former Minister, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment) 17, Parliament House, New Delhi 110001 Fax: 011 23792927 / 23017795Email: speakerloksabha at sansad.nic.in / pstohs at sansad.nic.in (Pvt. Secy) / lokmail at sansad.nic.in

Shri Pawan Kumar Bansal, Hon’ble Minister, Ministry of Water Resources, Sharam Shakti Bhawan, Rafi marg, New Delhi 110001
- Fax: 11—23710804 / 11—23711780 / Email: minister-mowr at nic.in / pkbhansal at sansad.nic.in

Ms. Sonia Gandhi President, United Progressive Alliance
- 10, Janpath, New Delhi
- Fax: 011 23794616 / 23014481 / Email: soniagandhi at sansad.nic.in

Shri Dileep Deshmukh, Rehabilitation Minister, Maharashtra
- Fax: 022—22876342
- Email: sec_r&r at maharashtra.gov.in

Shri Shivraj Singh Chauhan, Chief Minister, Madhya Pradesh
- Fax: 0755—2551781, 0755—2540501
- Email: cm at mp.nic.in

Shri Ashok Chavan, Chief Minister, Maharashtra
- Fax: 022-22029214, 23633272, 23631446
- Email:chiefminister at maharashtra.gov.in