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Open Letter to UN Secy Secretary General on Gujarat Visit - Human Rights Concerns

10 January 2015

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January 9, 2014,

New Delhi

Mr. Ban Ki-moon,
Hon’ble Secretary General
United Nations

Dear Sir,

You are surely aware that the Article 1 of the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) says that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. Article 3 asserts that everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person. Article 17 too says that no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his (and her) property. These three universal human rights as well as many others, including rights guaranteed by Indian Constitution and upheld by Indian Courts have been denied continuously for the people affected by the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP). It is unfortunate that you have chosen to inaugurate a solar power project on the canal of the SSP. While solar energy is a necessary and worth-while endeavour, uprooting lives, livelihoods, homes and cultures of some of the poorest people on this planet is not. It is also paradoxical that solar power as alternative and renewable source of energy is being tried and publicised on the canals of the very same project which is in fact a giant hydro power project, neither clean nor sustainable. The World Bank, you may recall, withdrew from the SSP for these very reasons that the project was being pushed through unfair means, violating World Bank’s own agreement, and it now stands withdrawn.

Indeed, the SSP has become the living example of injustice, human rights violations and destruction of precious natural resources. Thousands of families of adivasis, farmers, labourers, fisher-people, potters, artisans and rural workers who are being affected by the dams and canals built under this project still await land-based rehabilitation, house plots at developed rehabilitation site as well as ensured alternative livelihood to landless families, as mandated by the law and successive judgments of the Supreme Court of India. Do you, Hon’ble Secretary General, endorse this destruction and displacement in the name of ‘development’? We respectfully invite you to visit the huts and the tenements of adivasis displaced by the SSP. You would be able to see for yourself the violations of both the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the SSP.

Furthermore, the rehabilitation process for the people affected by the SSP is far from complete and it will be nothing but the watery graves if the project is continued to be pushed in the manner it is being done now. Existing rehabilitation processes have been plagued by monumental corruption worth crores of rupees, and a Judicial Commission has been investigating and revealing corruption and blatant embezzlement in almost every aspect of rehabilitation. On the other hand, the environmental compliance is also seriously lacking. A committee set up by the Ministry of Environment & Forests not only verified this, but had also recommended that the SSP should not go ahead unless environmental compliance is effectively complete. Clearly, these are deliberate violations of international law as well as India’s international and human rights obligations, as also International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 107 for protection of rights of theadivasis as indigenous people of India, and commitments by successive governments. Even the ILO had looked into the matter and directed the Indian Government to comply with its Convention but that has been neglected for years. You may also kindly note that the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India is hearing the issues of denial of rehabilitation and violation of human rights.

We hope that as the Secretary General of United Nations, you will raise your influential voice against these violations of basic human rights. We, the undersigned, earnestly urge you to do so. We would be happy to facilitate discussions, trips, meetings and enquiries into the lives and pains of thousands of people at the Narmada Valley. We would be obliged if you permit a dialogue at the earliest on the same.

With respectful regards,

Prof. Amit Bhaduri, Delhi University
Prashant Bhushan, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India
Vandana Shiva, Environmentalist, Navdanya
Kavitha Kuruganti, Alliance for Sustainable & Holistic Agriculture (ASHA)
Ashish Kothari, Environmentalist, Kalpavriksh
Indira Unninayar, Advocate - Supreme Court & Delhi High Court
Adv. Roma, Dy. Gen Sec, All India Union of Forest Working People (AIUFWP) and Secretary, New Trade Union Initiative (NTUI)
Medha Patkar - Narmada Bachao Andolan and the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM);
Prafulla Samantara - Lok Shakti Abhiyan & Lingraj Azad – Niyamgiri Suraksha Samit, NAPM, Odisha;
Dr. Sunilam, Aradhna Bhargava - Kisan Sangharsh Samiti
Suniti SR, Suhas Kolhekar, Prasad Bagwe - NAPM, Maharashtra;
Subash Mohapatra, Global Human Rights Communications, Bhubaneswar
Gabriel Dietrich, Geetha Ramakrishnan – Unorganised Sector Workers Federation, NAPM, TN;
R. Selvam, Tamil Nadu Organic farmers federation I endorse the letter
C R Neelkandan – NAPM Kerala;
P Chennaiah & Ramakrishnan Raju – NAPM Andhra Pradesh,
Arundhati Dhuru, Richa Singh - NAPM, UP;
Sister Celia - Domestic Workers Union & Rukmini V P, Garment Labour Union, NAPM, Karnataka;
Maj Gen S.G.Vombatkere (Retd), Karnataka
Vimal Bhai - Matu Jan sangathan & Jabar Singh, NAPM, Uttarakhand;
Anand Mazgaonkar, Krishnakant -Paryavaran Suraksh Samiti, NAPM Gujarat;
Kamayani Swami, Ashish Ranjan – Jan Jagran Shakti Sangathan & Mahendra Yadav – Kosi Navnirman Manch, NAPM Bihar;
Faisal Khan, Khudai Khidmatgar, NAPM Haryana;
Rajinder Chaudhary, Former Professor, Department of Economics, MD University, Rohtak, Haryana
Kailash Meena, NAPM Rajasthan;
Amitava Mitra & Sujato Bhadra, NAPM West Bengal; B S Rawat – Jan Sangharsh Vahini & Rajendra Ravi,
Madhuresh Kumar and Kanika Sharma – NAPM, Delhi
Harsh Kapoor, South Asia Citizen’s Web
Vishal Kudchadkar, Los Angeles CA
David Amalanadane
Rabin Chakraborty
Ram Bhat, Maraa, media and arts collective, Bangalore,
Bharatiya Kisan Union
Suma Josson, Film Maker
Tom Kucharz, Ecologistas en Acción (Spain)
Tejashri Pratap Pratibha Kamble endorse, Kotadwahu gat,

Along with and on behalf of many public-spirited individuals and organizations

For details contact : Madhuresh Kumar 9818905316 | email : napmindia at
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