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India: Inauguration of Sardar Sarovar Dam a Cruel Joke on people of the Narmada Valley

Sardar Sarovar Dam is incomplete without rehabilitation of all the oustees

14 September

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Citizens protest in front of Ministry of Water Resources against the decision to inaugurate the Sardar Sarovar Dam on Modi’s Birthday

More than 40,000 families are yet to be rehabilitated; More than 40000 Kms of Narmada Canals yet to be constructed.

Narmada Mahotsav is nothing but a politics for votes, Modi Govt. telling lie to people of Gujarat and the Narmada Valley.

New Delhi | September 14, 2017: Today, a group of citizens protested in front of Ministry of Water Resources and submitted memorandum to the Secretary.

Hannan Mollah, former Member of Parliament; Richa Singh (NAPM), Krishna Prasad (All India Kisan Sabha), Vimal Bhai (Matu Jansangathan), and many others came together and protested against the Govt’s decision of inaugurating the Sardar Sarovar Dam formally and dedicating it to the nation on Modi’s birthday. It cannot be more than a cruel joke with the people of Narmada Valley, where more than 40000 families are still waiting for complete and just rehabilitation as per the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal (NWDT) Award, liberalised rehabilitation policy of Madhya Pradesh and many court judgments.

Govt’s response and apathy on the issue is shameless and completely undemocratic. It seems that they can go to any extent for winning elections. In Gujarat, Canals are incomplete, Govt. has reduced the planned irrigation command area from 18 lakh hectares to mere 12 lakh hectares last year. Even then they are only able to irrigate mere 3 lakh hectares till this year. The length of Narmada Canal reduced consistently and silently. From earlier planned 90389 Kms, it has reduced to approximately 71000 Kms, of which still they need to construct 42000 Kms of Canal network. Thus, by closing gates of Sardar Sarovar Dam, and submerging people of Narmada valley, to whom are they providing water without canals? Narmada Mahotsav is planned by Govt. only to highlight their lies and a mere campaign for vote politics. This cannot be more shameful for the people of this country to watch the mass murder being planned by the people’s representatives and the same Government is showing it as a celebration to the people. It is painful to watch the concerned ministries, and state govt. of Maharashtra, Gujarat, and especially Madhya Pradesh having surrendered to boost the image makeover event for Modi after people of the country have rejected messures like demonetisation and GST.

During the protest, people talked about the realities and impending threats over adivasis, farmers, workers, fishworkers, women, children, potters, artisans and others living in the valley. Water level is rising day by day and the Government is also putting pressure to the concerned authorities to release water from other dams into the Sardar Sarovar Reservoir. Shivraj Singh Chouhan has no moral authority to be in the post of Chief Minister anymore, if he cannot protect the interest of lakhs of people of his state.

Vimal Bhai, and Richa Singh went to submit the memorandum to Shri Nitin Gadkari, who was not present in the ministry, thus secretary Sanjay Ji came to meet both. We gave the memorandum and briefed him about the current situation and gross violations of human and environmental rights and when we asked for the minutes and report of Environment Sub Group and Resettlement & Rehabilitation Sub Group, on the basis of which the decision has been taken to close the gates of Sardar Sarovar Dam. He was unable to provide and shamelessly said in the end that we need to take a decision at the end no matter what is the reality. We always criticised this approach of governance that they cannot murder people in the name of completing a project. If a project is showing adverse impacts, we need to immediately shut it down. We cannot risk lives of lakhs of people. This is what happening in the case of Sardar Sarovar Dam and Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, must answer the critical questions before cutting the cake of his birthday on September 17.

People protested for more than an hour, where Sunita sang revolutionary songs demanding rights and asking people to come together and fight against the state oppression. Hannan Mollah (All India Kisan Sabha and Bhumi Adhikar Andolan), Vimal Bhai (Matu Jansangathan), Krishna Prasad (All India Kisan Sabha), Avijit Vasi (AIUFWP), Sanjeev (DSG), Faisal Khan, Inamul Hassan (Khudai Khidmatgar), Suresh Rathore (Saajha Sanskriti Manch), Richa Singh (NAPM), Uma (NAPM), Saurav (DSG), and Amit (NAPM) spoke about the impending threat of submergence in the valley and the continued state oppression. The lies of state and violent attacks by the state led police forces in the Narmada Valley are now exposed. We stand in solidarity with the people fighting with high spirit in the Valley and condemn the notorious plans of inaugurating Sardar Sarovar Dam when the Project is incomplete without complete rehabilitation of all the oustees, and many other pending works.

Uma, Ayaz, Antara, Asha

Delhi Solidarity Group | National Alliance of People’s Movements

9971058735 | 9958797409

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