Narmada Control Authority should not Clear Closure of Sardar Sarovar Gates in its meeting on May 9, 2017: Citizens Appeal to the President and Minister of Water Resources
- Supreme Court Order not complied, Madhya Pradesh government prepares for forceful Eviction from 192 Villages, Situation of Emergency in Narmada Valley
- Resettlement and Rehabilitation incomplete, Compensation disbursements ongoing, R&R sites work incomplete, still plans to close the gates.
- Narmada Bachao Andolan responds by forming 10 Kms long human chain from Rajghat, Badwani.
New Delhi, May 8: The governments at the Centre and three states of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat have begun a process towards sanctioning completion of the Sardar Sarovar Dam, with closure of the 17 meters high gates. As per information, the Narmada Control Authority (NCA), inter-state body established under the Narmada (Water Dispute) Tribunal Award, is to discuss the agenda item of the LOWERING DOWN OF THE GATES AND IMPOUNDING WATER IN THE RESERVOIR TO FULL RESERVOIR LEVEL (138.68M)”.
It is a countdown towards impounding waters in the 214 km land stretch where more than 40,000 families are residing till date.There are standing crops and massive plantations; thousands of pakka houses, schools, other public and private services erected; hundreds of temples, tens of mosques (as opposed to three temples claimed by the authorities), adivasi gods and worship places, all of which will be submerged. There are lakhs of trees in the submergence area. People are continuing with their daily lives, and except for a few villages in the hilly mountainous region, falling in Alirajpur district, all other villages in the plains, at least 150 have large populations (hundreds of families in each) with functioning panchayats. Farmers, labourers, fish workers, shopkeepers all who have fought the battle for Narmada over last 32 years, will be forced to submerge and evicted if the gates are closed.
The government of M.P. and Narmada Valley Development Authority (NVDA) has time and again stated that all of Sardar Sarovar affected families are fully rehabilitated, and NCA published the state level information in its annual reports as well. This has proved to be absolutely false, as the Supreme Court order dated 8.2.2017 granted special packages of 60 lakhs for 2 hectares of land to farmers who have not received land entitlement and granted relief to those who got duped in Fake Registry scam. The number of these beneficiaries itself is above 2000 families and all of them haven’t received the same as yet. The full list of the beneficiaries is also not available till date with the NVDA or NCA. Even then they are now planning for closure of the gates and fill water to the full reservoir level.
The official press statement issued after a special meeting called by the Commissioner Indore Division, states as follows:
112 villages of Indore division will be displaced
Mrs Renu Pant, Director, Operation Narmada Valley Development Authority (NVDA) informed that the height of Sardar Sarovar Dam is being raised to 17 meters as per the Supreme Court order, in which 8,000 people of 112 villages of Alirajpur, Dhar, Khargone and Barwani of Indore division will be affected. They have to be displaced till June 30, for which necessary budgets and instructions have been received from the state government. While being displaced affected people will be compensated for the land and the houses. While shifting to a new place, the affected people will be given facilities like school, hospital, post office, ration shop, electricity, hand pump etc. During this time there will also be displacement of temples, and the trees will be felled before the forests facing submergence. The State Government has appointed 8 deputy collectors as rehabilitation officers for this purpose.
All the collectors of Indore division, all the superintendents of police, district forest officers, Deputy Commissioner Smt. Sapna Shivale, Deputy commissioner Tribal Development Shri B.G. Mehta etc. were present in the meeting.
This gives a glimpse of what are the field reality and the brutal plans of eviction by the M.P.government!
The figures of 112 villages and 8,000 people (they mean, families) are also an absolute underestimate! Once the full dam height is reached with gates (erected already)finally getting closed, how can one presume that some families will be affected and not all? Altogether 192 villages and 1 township of M.P. fall in the submergence of this monstrous dam. If we include the other 2 states, the number of villages will be 244. The M.P. and Centre’s game of reducing the number of families by excluding 15,946 houses/families claiming reduction/change in the back water level in unscientific and proved to be unrealistic on the ground. So, if the gates are closed, the final number of villages and families to have their houses, farms, properties submerged will depend only on the intensity of floods.
The Governments are very well aware of the law and various judgments of the Supreme Court, which stipulated ” No submergence without rehabilitation”. However, the govt. of M.P. has not been able to comply with the directions, even in the latest order of Supreme Court: i.e. paying new package to all entitled families and upgrading and constructing resettlement sites.
Rehabilitation sites in M.P. are not ready and not livable, with serious lack in civic amenities, including water, drainage, roads, electricity etc. The Apex Court has ordered completion of these and shifting of all (thousands) houses and families to the sites by July 31st 2017. The Court has asked GRAs to direct the state authorities (NVDA) to complete works therein. However, the fact is that tenders for construction of gutters, building of roads etc., worth crores of rupees are just being advertised since last few days. Resettlement sites are mostly vacant and thousands of affected families in the original villages, falling in Scheduled area, obviously cannot be shifted and rehabilitated in the time limit.
It will be a brutal and inhuman, not just unconstitutional move with political expediency on the part of Modi Govt., to close the gates without fulfilling its duty : to ensure complete rehabilitation, but pushing false reports and claims in violation of law and justice!
If the NCA doesn’t recognize the reality and admit to violations. The Supreme Court and sensitive citizenry at large must take cognizance suo motto and cry halt to any such inhuman decision. We appeal to the conscience of the PM, CMs and all to defer any inhuman decision in NCA ‘s meeting tomorrow.
Hannan Mollah, Swami Agnivesh, Dr. Sunilam, Vimal Bhai, Sumit Chakravarty