Narmada Bachao Andolan,
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barodanarmada.org Dhadgaon - Ph: 02595-220363
Mumbai- pjehangirhotmail.com, medhanarmada.org
For more information visit : www.narmada.org
This issue of Narmada Samachar(July 2003) reaches you in yet another critical juncture of the two decade old people's struggle in the Narmada valley. In the context of the illegal and absurd clearance given by the Narmada Control Authority for the further construction of the Sardar Sarovar Dam (SSP) from 95 to 100 Mts., the people of the Valley have intensified their struggle to assert and ensure their community rights over livelihood resources.
The governments are all out to bribe people and take bribes through cash-compensation in the plains of Madhya Pradesh. With the adivasis in the mountain ranges of Vindhya and Satpudas not responding, they are using force to evict people, clear-fell trees and this is likely to increase in the upcoming monsoon period.
We have challenged all this and will continue to raise questions about the increase in the height leading to submergence and forcible displacement without rehabilitation of thousands of families and demanding just, land-based rehabilitation as per the policies, for the already affected. We know our position on the financial non-viability and distributive justice in SSP benefits is vindicated. Our views on the environmental impacts and lack of political will to take care of those through compensatory measures still hold good, not only the Valley but the people of Gujarat and the World will also be watching the final results. We continue to fight against all oddsand the struggle has to be intensified if the governments don't budge!!
if no resolution is arrived at to the conflict related to rehabilitation by July end and there is no progress on the matter with the Government, by the NBA, then we will start a fiery Satyagraha from August onwards. Till then, there will be 'Warn' and 'Watch' centers in the villages, observing the moves made by the Governments towards rehabilitation of those families affected at the present height of the dam. This has already been given in writing to the Government of Maharashtra and will soon be given to the Government of Madhya Pradesh also. In Gujarat , there is no change in the situation, i.e. the GRA is no more functional. Extension officers are now in charge and they have been threatening people and activists in the region. Our struggle is not just to attain the rights and save the Valley and get justice to the people in the Narmada Basin, it is for an alternative people-oriented development that would not be at the cost of the adivasis, dalits, farmers, fisher people, women and the next generation itself. Do continue to contribute your resources, views, suggestions, money and physical presence in order to strengthen the Andolan and to enhance the cause of enabling social justice and transformation.
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Once again, the Indian State has betrayed the Adivasis and farmers in the Narmada Valley by its callous and outrageous decision to impose the submergence and destitution on its own people. It is nothing but the intra-border terrorism by the Indian State on its own people. It will be not merely a doob (submergence), but a doom unleashed on the innocent civilians.
The ancient and cohesive Adivasi and peasant communities of the Narmada Valley will be facing the most dangerous threat to their very existence as the Reservoir of the monstrous Sardar Sarovar Dam begins to fill this monsoon. Their existence as a unique culture and civilization will now be a part of the history. The most unjust and illegal clearance given by the Narmada Control Authority (NCA) to raise the dam height from 95 to 100 Mts. (plus 3 Mt humps) will fatally affect all the 33 adivasi villages in Maharashtra (around 3000 families still resolutely fighting in the Valley for just and proper rehabilitation), 28 Adivasi villages in Jhabua District and 60 thickly populated villages of Nimad (out of a total of 193 villages in Madhya Pradesh, about 10,000 families in M.P. alone under 100 Mts.). Moreover, there are a few hundred families still living in the 19 dam affected Adivasi villages of Gujarat, most of them gone back to the Valley from the resettlement sites due to rightful grievances which are yet to be heard.
Even the 206 odd resettlement sites in Gujarat, 6 in Maharashtra and a few in M.P. still have hundreds of families waiting to get land-based rehabilitation and village-wise resettlement with the promised amenities. In this context, the people in the Narmada Valley, the adivasis and peasants, are fighting for ensuring just and proper rehabilitation, struggling against all odds for the last 18 years, to stall the unjust and illegal submergence by the ill-planned SSP. From this January to June, all the activities were focussed on bringing to light the flaws in the government surveys regarding the number of PAFs as well as to stop further construction of the dam, till rehabilitation of people affected under 100 Mts. is completed. But the recent decision on 13th May by the NCA has once again exposed the most atrocious and deceitful nexus of politicians, bureaucrats and contractors. It was the most contemptible act of political expediency by which 12 thousand families are made to bear the cost of not just Government's negligence and failure but callousness and cruel non-compliance.
All the pleas and demands made so far had gone into deaf years, revealing the utter lawlessness in our government procedures and rule by vested interests, considering the fact that both the NWDT Award as well as the Supreme Court Order were blatantly violated in order to safe-guard the pro-development image of the ruling governments, whether BJP in Gujarat or Congress in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. The present illegal construction of the dam is on the pretext that rehabilitation is completed upto 100 Mts. The NBA was able to expose with facts and figures that this is a blatant lie when the Maharashtra Chief Minister agreed that he "will" ensure complete rehabilitation of the PAFs as per the Task Force Report, as soon as possible. All lovers of Democracy and Truth and Corruption-free Development should see to it that the reigns of "Our India" should not fall into the hands of a few liars, hooligans and blood-thirsty development mongers.
"The said NCA meeting (13th May, 03) was simply a 'Farce' and an 'Eye-wash' in as much as it did not take any cognizance of the present status of rehabilitation in Maharashtra as brought out by Justice Kurdukar in his report, particularly the requirement, as stipulated by the Supreme Court, to complete the R&R works in all respects atleast six months in advance of further raising the height of this dam. All that happened in that meeting, taken by Water Resources Secretary Shri Goswami, was simply a 'stage-managed' show." This was a first hand report by an honest official regarding how the decision to raise the height of the dam to 100 Mts. was taken on that fateful day in New Delhi. One may wonder as to how it is possible for the officials to get away with such gross violation of policy and the court when so much of inter-state pressure politics is involved in it. This is "nothing else but a replica" of the present state of the political situation in our country where a handful of vested interests can toy with the life and livelihood security of a vast number of people. The authenticity, credibility and accountability of government bodies like NCA, GRA etc stands exposed and its legitimacy is fast eroding in the minds of the people. They have violated the Supreme Court judgement as well. The present decision deserves nothing less than public contempt and those deceptive powers that play behind the scene must be brought to people's court.
Within 5 days of the damning decision of NCA, Narendra Modi had positioned himself to take full advantage of the situation, for the benefit of his political image and of his party, keeping an eye on the coming general elections in various states. On May 18th, Narmada Waters were released to some major towns and a few villages in Kutchch through pipelines, to quench the thirst of the people. Big celebrations were conducted in Samkhyali in which Mr. Modi once again used SSP as the "political lifeline" of Gujarat rulers.
While NBA had always stood with the genuine needs of the people of Kutchch and fully recognize their joy in receiving Narmada Waters, a few pertinent questions also have to be raised in order to ensure that the dreams of the people of Kutchch are not shattered later.
Out of the total irrigable land area in Kutchch, only 1.6 percent is in the command area of SSP. Among the 948 odd villages in Kutchch, about 70 is supposed to get drinking water through pipelines. Moreover, with the demand for a share of the Narmada waters increasing all along the canal system, how much of water will actually reach Kutchch and for how long and in what seasons? With the SSNNL in utter financial crisis and a major part of the canal construction yet to be done, will the waters reach Kutchch through canals in the next ten years? (The water that has reached Kutchch through pipelines is not for irrigation)
Moreover, the price of water required to be paid is going to be many times the presently accepted agreements. The latest CAG report highlights this since the pipe line itself is said to have cost not less than 8000 crores. The Chief General Manager of Gujarat State Drinking Water Infrastructure Co. Ltd. (GSDWIL) B. J. Vasavda puts the project cost at Rs 7230.00 crores at 1999 prices. The enormity of the costs can only be grasped when put against the figure of total annual plan outlay for Gujarat for the year 2002-'03: Rs 7600 crores. For a part of this ambitious pipeline network, the Gujarat Government siphoned Asian Development Bank funds from Kutchch Earthquake Reconstruction program, but even after playing such tactics, Gujarat Water Supply & Sewerage Board officer confesses that they don't have funds for the next phase of pipeline for Kutchch.
“Rs 380 crore from ADB loan were siphoned for the first phase of the project. For the second phase, which will cover the rest of the district, we have no money. ” says V T Mistry, Superintending Engineer of the Gandhidham section of Gujarat Water Supply and Sewerage Board.
And this is merely capital cost? What about Operation and maintenance costs?
Operation and maintenance cost for such a huge centralized pipeline network is said to inflict such a heavy burden on public finance, that it would have a potential to dry off the outlay for other social sector developmental expenditure. The annual Operation and Maintenance costs is projected as Rs 1000 crores annually by GSDWIL.
Will the common citizens, including the Kutchchis, can afford to pay or will that be the factor deciding who pays and who benefits?
The Kutchchis themselves have worries about the likely politico-economic problems infesting the sustainability of water supply to Kutchch. They reported that if waters reach Rajkot, then they get an upper hand over the Kutchchis as far as agricultural markets in Northern Gujarat are concerned. The intricacies of water politics within Gujarat are yet to be emerged and realized. Once that happens, people on both ends, Valley and Kutchch (most in Saurashtra and North Gujarat too) may decide to join hands and raise a united voice and vision.
Will it not be too late?
The SSP being an article of faith with such emotional appeal in Gujarat, the releasing of Narmada Waters to Kutchch had almost doubled its legitimacy in the popular perception. Inspite of the total violation of all the existing rules and regulations, the clearance given to the further construction of the dam was justified by 'quenching the thirst' of the drought affected people. Inspite of the beneficiaries being a small number, its emotional appeal was tremendous and fully used by Narendra Modi for more than one purpose.
The most obvious purpose is his own legitimacy as he came to power promising Narmada waters. But the more important purpose is the upcoming sale of SSNNL bonds. The Narmada Nigam is in such worse financial situation that this year also they are planning to sell tax free interest bonds.
Waters reaching Kutchch was a real boost to the eroding authenticity and legitimacy of the Nigam which is paying almost 22 percent of the total cost of SSP (spent so far) on interest payment alone while only about 4 percent has been used for rehabilitation works.
With the elections round the corner in many states, Gujarat BJP Government was still able to make the neighboring Congress Governments of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh yield to their advantage. Inspite of all the hype about communal politics, Development seems to be the major weapon in the coming State elections. Since BJP projected itself as a pro-dam party, the Congress governments could not afford to block the dam even if on the truthful and lawful basis of rehabilitation not being completed, obviously fearing of an anti-development image. But that was also because the Government of M.P., its Chief Minister was more interested in the bargain with the Prime Minister and Mr. Modi. It is another matter that he failed in gaining much - either projects or credit for votes!
Was he the one who influenced and took with him the comparatively more progressive Government of Maharashtra? Whosoever did it, PM, Asarambapu or.they fell into Modi's trap. (All of them are out to please the National and International Capitalist lobby at the expense of the politically powerless communities)
In any case, it is not just water nor is it Kutchch with its thirst that has led to waters reaching Kutchch! If waters which can reach Kutchch through pipelines as a result of the integrated by-pass tunnel which is at 89.7 mts and lower height than the main canal, Gujarat could have taken waters to Kutchch much earlier (atleast two years ago) and also avoid large scale displacement caused now beyond 90 mts of dam height. Why did they wait for so long?
Shobha Wagh, our comrade-in-arms for over half a decade, working in the tribal areas of Satpuda ranges in the Narmada Valley, with grit and determination, died as she was trapped in the silt and waters of the Sardar Sarovar dam in Domkhedi (Dist.Nandurbar) on Thursday, May 22. She was 25 years old and is survived by her aged parents, two sisters and one young brother. She was mainly working with the tribal villages in Maharashtra and the Jeevan Shalas (the Schools) of the Narmada Bachao Andolan.
On Thursday, she was going to hold a meeting of the villagers of Domkhedi and adjacent Nimgavan villages at 11 in the morning, to prepare for the mass action in Nashik, against the unjust decision to raise the height of the dam up to 100 meters. Before the meeting, she went for bathing in nearby Khad River, a tributary, four furlongs away from Narmada. As she did not arrive for a long time, people searched for her, in the river and they found her trapped and dead, yet another victim of the demonic SSP.
Shy, gentle and frail, Shobha had the commitment to work in the villages in mountainous terrain of the Satpuda ranges in Akrani and Akkalkuva talukas of Maharashtra. She took special interest in the Jeevanshalas, the schools started by the Andolan. Shobha came from an extremely poor family and was studying second year of law when she joined the Andolan during the monsoon Satyagraha of 1999. Hailing from a poor family and yet interested in sacrificing for the society, despite the difficulties on the home front, Shobha opted to live with the struggling tribals in the Satpuda villages and that became her home for the last four years. We lost our comrade, a caring, quiet and intense, sensitive and determined woman with a silent conviction and determination. The level of Khad river too rose due to the submergence water and large-scale silt deposits were accumulated in and around the villages, even when the people continue to reside there. Shobha was not the only victim of the submergence and siltation which are imposed on these communities. It has become practically impossible for the people to bathe, wash clothes and collect drinking water, as they had to wade with difficulty through the mud, avoiding 10 to 15 feet deep mud. Tens of cattle died as they were trapped in the silt.
In 2000 August, Lata Vasave, a third standard schoolchild from Nimgavan's Jeevan Shala died as she fell in the river and was trapped in the silt. A woman from Tinismal crossing the river, a young girl from Bhitada filling the water pots too, lost their lives. Shobha is fourth such human victim of the silt and dam water. She was given the last salute at her village Bolthan, near Malegaon in Nashik district, while the condolence meetings were held in Dhadgaon and Malegaon both.
We salute Shobha, will cherish her memory and believe that she is with us till we attain the shared goals.
While the NCA has given clearance on the premise that all PAFs under 100 mts have been completely rehabilitated, or would be before this monsoon, not less than 12,000 (twelve thousand) tribal and peasant families on the banks of the River Narmada will be compelled to face submergence during this monsoon. The fact was well established through repeated surveys and government appointed fact-finding missions. The land-based resettlement is a cardinal provision of Narmada Water Dispute Tribunal (NWDT), to which the state governments had sworn allegiance. Knowing this fully well, the bureaucrats and political bosses in the governments of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra have connived to bring in flood and devastation beyond last years' calamitous submergence to make the people destitute. With hardly any progress on rehabilitation with land, as provided in the policies, this raising of the height and consequent submergence is illegal, unjust and a clear contempt of Supreme Court's Judgment 2000.
Task Force Facts and Beyond..
Sardar Sarovar and Maharashtra
Girish Sant and Suhas Paranjapye, two of the members - non-governmental nominees - resigned from the SSP - Cost - Benefit Review Committee in protest of the Government of Maharashtra failing to furnish the latest cost estimates and other data related to SSP. This has happened inspite of the Maharashtra CM directing the Irrigation ministry to do so as the latter calls Gujarat the culprit, openly claiming that Gujarat is non-cooperative. Unashamed of its failure in getting due respect and status at the hands of Gujarat, Maharashtra Government is yet to decide on the resignation while the NBA demands that the same should not be accepted and the members should be continued to serve towards a truthful assessment of what would the project bring for Maharashtra?
Not a drop of water, no right to fish, not less than 2000 crores and uncertain magnitude of power - 27% of whatever is generated, with Gujarat drawing water at a lower level and giving no priority to power generation. Will the cost be as high as that of Enron power? Will the price to be paid, due to finance for other projects - in Krishna, Tapi, Godawari river basins eg - diverted, worth it? Let our answer be withheld and the official bipartite committee function. This is not in the interest of the Adivasis but the people of the state and the State itself! Then why not?
Of Displacement and Resettlement
Sardar Sarovar and M.P.
The Adivasis and peasants of the Narmada valley uphold and support the adivasis of Kerala in their struggle for the right to land. Kerala Government should have decided on this earlier and Antony should have kept the promises. Government decided to give deluded area within the sanctuary. We ask for Community Forests were the adivasi communities manage and take care of the forests.
NBA also condemns the atrocities committed by the police and the allegations of linkages with Naxalites and other similar cases. It also objects to the treatment of the activists by the police - the Lathi charge - especially treatment to the CPM activists - C S Sujatha ( ex - District President - Alappuzha), N M Krishna Das ( CPM - MP- Pallakad) and others. Antony should keep his promise
Irrational economics: skewed cost-benefit assessment from the start: The cost-benefit ratio of the SSP has been negative from the start itself. The most conservative estimate arising from the appraisal conducted by Tata Economic Consultancy Services at 1981-82 prices, indicate an adverse cost-benefit ratio, 1: 1.39, far below the stipulated 1: 1.50, which is a pre-condition for granting financial clearance for any major project. When official World Bank Project Appraisal team, which visited India three times in 1985 scrutinized the TECS analysis, they found that certain costs were blithely deleted, when they added whopping Rs. 1098 crores cost deletions to the base cost estimated by TECS i.e. Rs. 4887 crores, the revised cost-benefit ratio arrived at was 1: 1.17.
The total cost of the project is soaring day by day, not just because of time over runs and corresponding burden of inflation, but because of two important reasons. One that many costs had been under estimated or not counted at all (e.g. cost of drainage or even merely capital cost of much touted drinking water component of SSP Rs. 7230 crores at 1999 prices) and secondly because the SSP demands ridiculously high annual input of funds - with high burden of debt and interest payment resulting in the situation of indebtedness - failing which the costs do escalate.
TECS said; « the project cost is substantially larger than the entire public sector investment for Gujarat in the Sixth Five Year Plan ». TECS had an audacity to reflect on ridiculously high input of funds in comparative term, but it never bothered to ponder « wherefrom will finances to such a high size would come? » It never gave it a thought that can SSP ever be financed without bending over back to international financial institution, or without crowding out budgetary expenditure on other developmental activities, without shrinking social sector expenditure? This gloss over suggest how the nexus of planner, politicians and contractors pushed SSP - a prototype of reflecting political economy of privatization era. Many of the costs of the environmental mitigation measures and Rehabilitation costs too are not fully estimated as yet, since many of these impacts (like Compensatory Afforestation, Catchment Area Treatment, Downstream Impacts) themselves still remain to be assessed fully and the related action plans too are far from getting finalized, and 22 years after NWDTA, Narmada Control Authority has admitted that submergence zone has increased by 13 percent than the earlier estimates, and may increase further, the number of affected persons increasing and the land for rehabilitating them not identified as yet.
Debt Servicing, An Impossible task ahead:
Even in 1995, it was evident to Gujarat government that SSP was not financially viable. A confidential study conducted by Gujarat government found that the SSP would be delayed beyond 2010, primarily because of the no availability of requisite funds on time. What the study had found is interestingly revealing to quote; « the trend clearly indicates SSNNL's ability to raise funds through this source (i.e. bond issues guaranteed by tripartite agreement) on a sustained basis is doubtful. It is unlikely that the irrigation water would be priced in a manner that would reflect its true cost. The power component is relatively small, and would be used mainly for peak load requirements ». The study further predicted: once the principal repayment commences, a large portion would be eaten up by the debt servicing requirements.
CAG indicts SSNNL for imprudent market borrowings:
Comptroller and Auditors General of India in its report for Gujarat (Commercial) for the year ended on March 31, 2001 indicted Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd for raising resources through market borrowings for this capital intensive project in an unjustifiable manner. Here is what they have said: « It was seen in audit that the components of cost towards interest charges and debt servicing were not identified while submitting the original investment proposal to the Planning Commission. Further, the revised cost estimates prepared in 1991-92 also did not indicate expenditure likely to be incurred on account of debt servicing and interest charges. As on 31 March 2001, Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd (SSNNL) had incurred expenditure of Rs 10978 crores, of which, expenditure of Rs 2413 crores (22 per cent) was towards interest charges and servicing debt liability ». CAG pointed out in details the deficiencies noticed during Audit in market borrowings.
Mounting interest payments, Sinking under Debt: Slouching towards default?
CAG in its report has criticised the SSNNL for an utter lack of debt management policy. It says: « the state government had directed (January 1996) the SSNNL to create a sinking fund out of its own resources with ad hoc contribution of around Rs 500 M annually. SSNNL, however neither created such a fund nor proposed any alternative arrangement for liquidating the debt liability arising out of issue of bonds. SSNNL thus without any systematic plan for redemption of the debts went on borrowing for redemption of earlier debts, which resulted in abnormal increase in the expenditure on servicing of the debt. » While giving the year wide break up for SSNNL's outstanding Debt, CAG points out that from 2001-'02 to 2013-'14, i.e. the next 12 years, SSNNL will have to serve the Debts worth Rs 12282 crores. Which means every year SSNNL will have to pay Rs 945 crores to bondholders from whom it has borrowed the money in indiscriminate and unsystematic fashion.
SSP may turn out to be sinking ship for Gujarat Economy, not a lifeline: Comptroller and Auditors General of India in its report for Gujarat (Civil) for the year ended on March 31, 2002 has warned that the Gujarat government 'is gradually getting into a debt trap' by violating 'the cardinal rules of debt sustainability'. Not only have revenue receipts and state's own resources during 1997-2002 failed to increase at the same pace as debts, there is a decline in the net availability of funds from the borrowings, as 'a large portion of the funds are used up in debt servicing'. During past five years Gujarat govt's Interest Payments obligations have risen threefold.
Here is how it shot up to such a high mark with a steep rise:
1995-'96 Rs 1328.00 crores 1996-'97: Rs 1610.00 crores 1997-'98: Rs 1884.00 crores 1998-'99: Rs 2262.00 crores 1999-'00: Rs 2808.00 crores 2000-'01: Rs 3131.00 crores
During the year 1999-'00, Interest Payments was as high as three times what the State was spending on Public Health. During the year 2000-'01, it amounted to 14% of the Revenue Expenditure, and it was three and a half times what the state was spending on Public Health. In the year 2001-'02, the Interest Payments surged a steep high by witnessing a 30% increase, over the previous year. For the year 2002-'03, the Budgetary allocation towards this head amounts to Rs 4900 crores, which is yet again 15.6% higher over the payments in the year 2001-'02.
So, for past few years the Interest Payments has witnessed a steep rise and it has become the largest head of the state government's Revenue expenditure, surpassing what government spends on Education, Sports, Arts and Culture, which is the highest head of the Revenue Expenditure towards Social Services. Which means compared to what the state spends on any of the area of developmental expenditure under social sector, it spends more on the Interest payments.
The latest indictment of the dam has come from the Gujarat Ecology Commission (GEC), a state government commission. In its report of March 2001, the GEC says,
"A glance at the map of the command area of the (Narmada) project clearly indicates that, large areas of water deficit regions would not get any water from the Narmada Project. As many as 35 out of 53 taluks having dark or over exploited status of ground water development, are outside the command of the Narmada Project. As a matter of fact, Narmada waters will serve only 22% of the cultivable land in the 53 taluks where ground water is over exploited".
One has to read between the lines when the GEC observes that, ".... the problems of degraded water resources in the form of fast declining quantity and quality of the ground water in large parts of the state and water logging and salinity in the command areas of the irrigation projects shall become severe with time."
It is the tears of tribals and peasants in Narmada Valley that Modi and his ilk are playing with. It is all the more painful to see Digvijay Singh and Sushilkumar Shinde supporting Modi, going out of way for facilitating his objectives - electoral or otherwise- by violating legal provisions and the constitutional and human rights of the tribals and peasants in their state. There was no compulsion to rush to submerge their own people without a proper land-based resettlement, with the participation and consultation with the people's organization. That much these CMs could have done, despite intense pressure from Gujarat Chief Minister, Prime Minster's office and the Union Home Minister, a staunchest supporter of Modi.
In the context of NCA giving clearance to the further construction of the dam without rehabilitating the people, it has become imperative on the part of the affected people to fight for their livelihood rights on a war footing. While maintaining the position earlier taken by the people that they will not move out of the Valley until proper rehabilitation procedures are completed, it has become obvious that living in the Valley has become impossible with waters going to rise much higher than during last year's submergence. Especially the 33 adivasi villages in Maharashtra and the 28 adivasi villages of Jhabua in M.P. will be affected severely with another 60 villages in the Nimad belt of M.P. facing submergence, many of them for the first time.
Hence from this year onwards, the struggle for land-based rehabilitation has been intensified. But a major hitch was the irregularities in assessing the correct number of PAFs, especially in M.P. In Maharashtra, thanks to the Joint Task Force, atleast the numbers are almost accurate corresponding to the ground reality. But the M.P. government is unwilling to conduct proper, participatory surveys for the fear of numbers increasing by large margins. They have been trying to reduce the number of PAFs by making a distinction between permanently affected and temporarily affected. According to this line of argument, only the 4 fully submerging villages and those houses and lands, which will be permanently under the waters, will be considered for rehabilitation. All other areas where floodwaters enter for two to three months and then recede, will not be considered as affected! This is an absurd judgement, totally ignorant of ground realities and completely violates the NWDTA requirements. But M.P. Government is adamant to continue with the grave mistakes (or crimes?) they are committing.
It is in the above said context that the NBA sat on an indefinite dharna in Alirajpur from 21 February, which culminated on 12th March 2003.
The main demands were:
Hundreds of affected people sat in front of the Thahsildar's office from 21 February onwards. But even after more than a fortnight of intense struggle, the authorities did not respond adequately. The Jhabua Collector, who is responsible for correcting and assessing the records of land holdings, number of PAFs etc behaved in a dubious manner.
There were more than 500 petitions given to the GRA Shri. Sohniji. But he has accepted only two of them. With the others he was demanding birth certificates, school and other certificates, totally ignorant of the fact that many villages like Bada Amba, Dubkheda, Anjanwara do not even have schools in their villages, let alone systems for issuing birth certificates! GRA listens only to the authorities and not to the people. Such centralized systems do not really care for the people or take them seriously. Though Government of M.P. talks about the Panchayati Raj, but in reality they are not valid in many respects. For example, the identity cards issued by the Panchayat are not valid!
While the M.P. Government has taken crores of rupees from Gujarat Government for Rehabilitation, they have not provided lands for Adivasis or Dalits of the Narmada Valley!
This means that the Government was unwilling to affirm the rights of the adivasis, guaranteed by the constitution and the NWDT Award.
To raise protest against the callousness of the M.P. Government in supporting the NCA decision and to demand immediate application of the NWDTA stipulations, NBA barged into the Bungalow of Deputy Chief Minister Sharad Yadav on 20th morning. The people sat on dharna and demanded immediate response from the authorities. Finally Sharad Yadav appeared in front of the people and humiliated them and refused to heed to people's demands. The NBA decided not to move from his house. By evening police were given orders to arrest and remove the people. About 193 people including Medha Patkar were arrested and put in Jail. Since Medha Patkar started an indefinite fast until the people are released, she was hospitalized and put in the ICU. Her fast was a symbolic protest against the humiliation meted out to NBA by Mr. Sharad Yadav.
Finally after two days of deliberations and negotiations people were released on bail.
Announcing her indefinite fast at the dharna place in front of the Divisional Commissioner's office, at Nashik on May 30th, Medha Patkar clarified that the Andolan was constrained to take up such action, as the Maharashtra government has become so insensitive regarding even minimum legitimate demands by the tribals about their least entitlements. " This is a reflection of the recent acts of the new Maharashtra Chief Minister and the ruling class, against the values of equality and a definite bias for the corporate powers. The misuse, appropriation and the denial of the natural resources of the people is a highest kind of corruption", she said. In the Dharna which started from 26th May onwards, the progressive trade unions, political parties and organizations in Nashik area actively participated and demonstrated in front of the Divisional Commissioner's office on May 30, in support of its demands and compelling the government to start the process of the just resettlement. On Thursday (May 29), main activists including Pratibha Shinde, Khayali Vasave and Thobya Vasave and the supporters from Nashik Mrs.Sumitra Jhavar and Dr. Vijay Gawali observed a 24-hour fast demanding the immediate rehabilitation.
She wondered and expressed pain and anguish at the obdurate stand of the Maharashtra government regarding the resettlement of the tribal oustees, which has remained a problem due to its own intransigence and willful denial of the rights and entitlements of the tribals in the Narmada Valley. "Why Maharashtra government is not conceding that it had squarely failed to honour its own promises and the recommendations of the committees appointed by itself? We wonder why it is now unwilling to resettle the 3000 tribal families whose lives are endangered by its own act, knowing fully well - as we have been shouting hoarsely for last so many years, with facts and figures and with the law on our side? Does the government expect people to accept the destruction of their lives without any alternative and keep quiet?"
The government was inactive regarding the recommendation of its own Task Force Report, which was submitted in July 2002. The report has exposed the serious anomalies regarding the number of the oustees, the false discrepancy between 'declared' and 'undeclared' oustees. However, as the situation has unfolded, not a single day has to be lost if the rights and life of thousands of tribal people in our state has to be saved. The government therefore -must start acting at once for the just and proper rehabilitation of the over 3000 families that will be affected by the submergence due to 100 m. dam. It will be futile and meaningless to resettle the people in a scattered manner according to the different heights. It will be just and according to NWDT stipulations to resettle all the families as one unit at one place. There is a need to find such chunks of irrigable lands to resettle at least 3000 PAFs in Maharashtra, show these to the people, purchase the land chunks they choose, finalize all the resettlement procedures and relocate all those below 100 meters.
"The time for a detailed investigation and enumeration has gone now; the government had deliberately lost it as it wished that people should bear the cost of its failures. We will not allow this to happen; often the governments had done so in the past. We want the governments to be responsible and accountable on all fronts. So, the process of resettlement of all the 3000 oustee families should be started on war-footing, but with proper procedure and diligence, must be completed on war footing, before the onset of monsoon and submergence. Hereafter, there should be no further increase in the height of the dam before all the oustees below that level are fully resettled at least six months before", she said.
Government has conceded NBA's main demand during its activists' meeting with Chief Minister Sushilkumar Shinde in Mumbai on June 4th. The Government has agreed to rehabilitate all the affected people, keeping away the dispute of "undeclared and declared" beneficiaries.
The Government has also accepted NBA's demand of not distributing lands without consulting the affected people and to make village-wise planning for rehabilitation instead of taking up individual cases.
During the discussion Shinde expressed surprise over the permission given to increasing the dam height by 100 meters and said secretary level officer V N Lal, allegedly involved in giving the orders, has already been transferred.
Finally the Nashik Dharna achieved some amount of success when the Maharashtra Cabinet agreed with the NBA demands and gave their word in writing. The process for implementing the rehabilitation before monsoon has started on a war footing.
Desh Bachao Desh Banao Abhiyan (Save the Nation, Build the Nation Campaign) The National Alliance of Peoples Movements (N.A.P.M.) has initiated the Desh Bachao Desh Banao Abhiyan to raise the clarion call for all struggling People's Movements and Organizations to unite and fight against the twin-headed demon i.e. Globalization and Communalism.
From January 26th till march 30th, a team of more than 60 members traveled through 19 states of India, conducting more than 360 meetings and campaigns, involving various sections of people from landless tillers to factory workers, from intellectuals to artists, from Gandhians to Marxists, instilling a new zeal to work towards the transformation of our degenerating sovereign, socialist, democratic Republic.
The Abhiyan started from Plachimada village in Palakkad District of Kerala, where an intense struggle is going on against the Coca-Cola Plant which is causing havoc to the surrounding villagers by sucking more than 50,000 litres of underground water through bore wells. The campaign culminated in Faizabad-Ayodhya, thus establishing the link between Global Capitalism and Regional Communalism.
Apart from linking people in different parts of the country towards a more unified, though complex, vision for liberative action, the campaign was able to coin a statement towards future action known as the Ayodhya Declaration. (For details, see www.andolan.org)
The move to link the Gangetic and the Peninsular Rivers is going ahead and people are coming together in protest against this catastrophic plan. Even ex - bureaucrats and people from all walks of life are raising their voice to stop this over-ambitious and foolish plan which will have permanent and disastrous effect on our present water sources, riverine communities and the economy itself.
When many possible alternatives are not even tried, the government's intention to go ahead with this plan in a high-handed manner, raises serious democratic questions regarding decentralized planning, transparency, information dissemination and the like. In various meetings NBA talked about this and stated this as part of the four National Issues focussed by the Desh-Bachao Desh-Banao Campaign.
DROWNED OUT, 75 minutes, ?2002 ,Produced by Spanner Films LTD, A film by Franny Armstrong is a study of the devastation caused by India's Narmada River dam project. "Drowned Out" follows the Jalsindhi villagers through hunger strikes, rallies, police brutality and a six-year Supreme Court case. It stays with them as the dam fills and the river starts to rise... Drowned Out doesn't preach, yet it condemns the dam-builders through their own words. It is impossible to watch this film without being pierced by the clear, small voices of the villagers.
WORDS ON WATER
Shot and edited over a period of three years, Words on Water, Directed by Sanjay Kak
Run time: 85 minutes, is a film about sustained non-violent resistance, in a world where the use of violence has become the arbiter of all political debate. It's about the Satyagraha, the assertion of truth, which empowers the people as they struggle for their rights, yet saves them from the ultimate humiliation of violence.
The film has been screened at International film festivals in Hong Kong, Italy, Slovakia, Thiruvanandapuram and most recently in Brazil (where it won the prize for the Best Long Documentary)
An audio cassette containing Adivasi songs sung by the adivasi girls of the Narmada Valley. This was an initiative of AID, India. The full transliterated text, with its meaning in English is available along with the cassette, thus making it possible for the outside world to feel and participate in the culture and spirit of the Adivasis in the Narmada Valley.
HABITAT INTERNATIONAL COALITION (HIC) REPORT - SEPTEMBER 2002
The Final Report of the Fact Finding Mission of the HIC "The Impact of the 2002 Submergence on Housing and Land Rights in the Narmada Valley" (52 pages) has brought out the actual facts (with photographs) about the grave situation in the Narmada Valley with regard to Displacement and Rehabilitation of SSP and Man Dams. Inspite of their recommendations and warning to National and International authorities, dam height is being increased without completing rehabilitation, making 2003 monsoon even more terrible for the people living in the valley.
* To access any of these materials, you can contact the Badwani or Baroda office through Phone or e-mail given below.
Narmada Bachao Andolan,
62 Gandhi Marg, Badwani, M.P. Ph:07290-222464, badwaninarmada.org
B-13, Shivam Flats, Ellora Park, Baroda -7. Ph:0265-2282232,
barodanarmada.org Dhadgaon - Ph: 02595-220363
Mumbai- pjehangirhotmail.com, medhanarmada.org
For more information visit : www.narmada.org
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