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Narmada waters for Coca Cola – really, how much more development can we take?

September 15, 2014

by Nivedita Menon
cokeindiaFarmers who have for three decades non-violently protested the brutal ousting from their lands for the dam project on the Narmada river have been castigated for being anti-development. The dam would bring water to the thirsty, to the parched agricultural lands around it, we were told. Look at these selfish folk, protesting the loss of their lands and livelihoods, neck deep in the rising waters!

narmada

In 2012, people affected by the Omkareshwar and Indira Sagar dams protested the raising of dam storage levels by staying in neck-deep water for over a fortnight

Well, here’s what the water is being used for – to fuel Coca Cola’s new bottling plant at Sanand. The Coca Cola bottling plant will be using about 3 Million Litres per day (MLD) of water sourced from Narmada canal. This requirement is a “little more than those of the industries that are currently operating at Sanand”, said an official. But the good news? Their plant will have zero-effluent discharge! So that should keep the eco-kooks happy.

In a statement, the Narmada Bachao Andolan says:

The project was pushed in the name of providing water to the drought stricken parts of North Gujarat, Saurashtra and Kachh. This resulted in the submergence of the jungle, villages, high yielding farms, temples and mosques of the tribal people in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. After such huge losses, now the government is trying to befool people and has planned to provide precious water to COCA COLA, a consumer goods manufacturing company. Now, the government is making a policy shift and is going to provide water and prime agricultural land to the industrialists instead of providing water to the farmers in North Gujarat, Saurashtra and Kachch.

According to the documents furnished by the government, the total cost of the Sardar Sarovar Project has raised from Rs. 4200 Cr to Rs. 90,000 Cr. Some 40-45 thousand families, living in the submerged area around the Sardar Sarovar, are still waiting for their rehabilitation to be done. An inquiry commission, headed by Justice Shravan Shankar Jha, is still probing into the reckless behaviour of the government in rehabilitation of these people and massive corruption in the whole process. According to the norms in ‘the Right to fair compensation and transparency in land acquisition, rehabilitation and resettlement act, 2013’, the displaced people are treated as the village natives, who continue to have possession. This is one of the reasons why this act on the part of the government is unlawful.

Narmada Bachao Andolan appeals to all the sensitive people present in the society and the government to think about the hardships of the people living in the Narmada valley and demands for the reconsideration of the Sardar Sarovar Project. We also demand to save farm and community land, cultural heritage of the region and the lives of the thousands of people living in the Narmada valley.

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