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Home > National Interest vs People’s Interest : A space for social movements > India: Act Now For Survival And Justice In The Narmada Valley

India: Act Now For Survival And Justice In The Narmada Valley

Stop NCA Decision: Call & Fax Water Resources & Social Justice Minister

23 January 2013

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23rd January, 2013

Dear friends,

The situation in the Narmada valley is once again very grave. The Narmada Control Authority may be meeting today or tomorrow, in order to take a decision to raise the height of the Sardar Sarovar dam.

You may remember that the Sardar Sarovar Dam has remained stopped since 2006, at the height of 122 metres. This has been and continues to be a legal requirement. Thousands and thousands of people – about 40,000 families still live in the submergence area of this dam. About 11,000 families have received land-for-land, in Gujarat and Maharashtra till date; this is unprecedented in any other dam in India. Yet, tens of thousands of families, including hundreds of tribal families, still await land-based rehabilitation, especially in the state of Madhya Pradesh, but also in Maharashtra and Gujarat. According to the judgments of the Supreme Court of India, they are required to get land-for-land. There are thousands of families who are still waiting to get land and house plots, at developed rehabilitation sites, as the law mandates. The landless families were to be ensured alternative livelihood. Shockingly, this has not happened either.

At the same time, the rehabilitation process has been plagued by monumental corruption worth crores of rupees. In Madhya Pradesh, Justice Shravan Shankar Jha has been chairing the Judicial Commission set up by the High Court of the state, to investigate the corruption charges in almost every area of rehabilitation. This Commission has been working relentlessly for the past 4 years. The High Court has ordered that the rehabilitation of thousands of adivasis (tribal families) and farmers cannot be said to be complete without the permission of the Justice Jha Commission, nor until Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra provide cultivable, irrigated land along with house plots and other amenities at rehabilitation sites. Also the fisher folk must be given the right to fish in their reservoir, and their co-operative societies must be recognised and registered by the state. Unfortunately, the corruption has reached crores of rupees, but rehabilitation has gone no way further. The report for this is due to be released in October 2013, and then the people caught in rehabilitation fraud must also be given their due as per the legal provisions.

On the other hand, the environmental compliance is also seriously lacking. The Dr. Pandey Committee, set up by the Ministry of Environment & Forests, clearly states this, and recommends that the dam should not go ahead until environmental compliance is completed. Far from accepting the 17 metre high gates on top of the dam’s current height of 122 metres, the Committee could not even allow poles to be put on top on the dam because they could raise the height of the reservoir by 1.5 metres – and any water height increase would be totally unacceptable. In addition, the Rehabilitation Sub-group of the Narmada Control Authority (NCA) denied permission in 2012 to raise the dam height. In fact, as recent as in the months of August and September, 2012, there have been severe impacts leading to submergence of 1500 acres of farm land and a few hundred houses and shops in the thickly populated plain areas of Nimad as well as severe submergence in the hilly adivasis villages, both in M.P. and Maharashtra.

Yet, we have received information that the Narmada Control Authority may take a decision in the next few days, which will drown not just the legal and human rights but the lives of 40,000 families of adivasis, farmers, farm labourers, workers, fisherfolk, potters, etc., in hundreds of villages, which will submerge productive agricultural lands, hundreds of thousands of trees, scores of temples, mosques, cultural sites. This is the unholy alliance of the states of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. Maharashtra has often supported the communities of the Narmada Valley. Yet at other times, it has sacrificed them. Justice Brahme and Justice Sathe, Chair of the Grievance Redressal Authority in Maharashtra have clearly stated that a large part of the rehabilitation work is still left pending and permission to raise the dam height cannot be given.

Yet…politics is holding justice hostage. The law, policies and Court judgements are being flouted openly, while hundreds of thousands of people are being threatened with submergence. In this capitalist and marketised world, injustice is rife.

Please help stop the Narmada Control Authority from taking this dangerous decision. Urgently e-mail, fax or phone the Minister of Water Resources, Mr. Harish Rawat, and the Minister of Social Justice, Kumari Selja. They are the decision-makers, urge them not to raise the dam height. You may also write to the CM of Maharashtra and Rehabilitation Minister asking them not to violate the legal mandate of the ‘Rehabilitation before Dam’. The contacts are below.

In anticipation of your support,

Kamla Yadav Kailash Awasya Medha Patkar Noorji Padvi

9479406259 9009147868 9423965153

Kumari Selja,
Minister,
Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment,
Government of India
Shastri Bhawan, Dr. Rajendra Prasad Marg, New Delhi
Ph: 011- 23381001 and 011-23381390
Fax: 011-23014432, 011-23012117
E-mail: min-sje at sb.nic.in and psmsje at gmail.com ;

Shri Harish Rawat,
Minister Ministry of Water Resources,
Sharam Shakti Bhawan, Rafi marg
New Delhi-110001
Office: 11-23714200 , 011-23714663 and 11-23711780
Residence: 11-23791352

Fax: 11-23710804 (O) and 11-23793184 ( R)
E-mail: minister-mowr at nic.in

Shri Prithviraj Chavan,
Chief Minister, Maharashtra
Phone +91-22-22025151,22025222
Fax: 022-22029214, 23633272, 23631446
Email: chiefminister at maharashtra.gov.in

Dr. Patangrao Shripatrao Kadam
Minister for Forests, Rehabilitation and Relief Works, Earthquake Rehabilitation,
E-mail: Min_Forest at maharashtra.gov.in
Office Ph: 91 22 22025398 and +91 22 22024751
Residence Ph: +91 22 23635688 and +91 22 23632748
Mantralaya, Mumbai.