Saturday, June 29, 2013

Decision to raise height of Narmada dam is "political conspiracy" and is "illegal", alleges NAPM

A rally in Bhopal on June 28 against Narmada dam
By Our Representative
In a strongly-worded statement, the National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM) has said that the Central authorities "cannot permit drowning of two lakh population without rehabilitation". The Narmada Bachao Andolan, led by top activist Medha Patkar, is one of the NAPM's major partners. The decision to permit raising of the height of the Sardar Sarovar Dam from the present height of 122 metres to the final height of 138.68 metres was taken by the Resettlement and Rehabilitation (R&R) sub-group of the Narmada Control Authority (NCA) on June 26.

"This is supposed to have been done on the basis of the reports by the four states, including Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra, confirming, that ‘rehabilitation is complete’", NAPM said, adding, :"All this is absolutely unbelievable and unacceptable since there are more than 40,000 families in the 245 villages in the submergence area spread across three states, but the maximum (193) are in Madhya Pradesh alone", the statement said.
"There are at least 4,000 families in MP and about 1,000 in Maharashtra who are yet to receive alternative agricultural land as per the eligibility. Thousands of landless, including agricultural labourers, fish workers, potters and other artisans, are yet to get an alternative source of livelihood as per the state policy and the action plan, endorsed by the Supreme Court. Those at the resettlement site in Gujarat or Maharashtra or at a very small percentage in MP are certainly not rehabilitated, till date, as there are hundreds of families without full land, as per entitlement or amenities, yet to be attained", the statement pointed out.
NAPM alleged a "huge corruption through a massive scandal of about Rs 500 to Rs 1,000 crores, misappropriated by MP officials and agents in rehabilitation", saying the whole matter is "under inquiry, by  the Justice Jha Commission, appointed by the High Court for the past 5 years. There is no way that MP can approve the fake rehabilitation. MP has allotted land to only 21 families till date, that too in the past two months, while 4,000 plus families remain to attain their due, many of whom are cheated through fake land registries."
Pointing out that "these include hilly adivasis habited in Satpuda and Vindhya ranges, who are to be taken special care of as per the policy and judgements", the statment said, "Maharashtra is still searching and locating land to establish R&R sites, and Gujarat’s oustees are awaiting declaration for the allotment of land and/ or amenities in the original villages as well as resettlement sites.""
Quoting the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal (NWDT) award and the Supreme Court’s judgements, (1991, 2000, 2002, 2005), the statement said, "The last interim order has clearly directed full and fair implementation of the NWDT award. This is being violated once again.Flooding the villages, where life is on with pucca houses, shops, markets, schools, temples and mosques and lakhs of trees will be a gross injustice, against law and contempt of court."
The statement further said, "The Prime Minister himself had given a written commitment to the Apex Court on April 17, 2006,   that all the families up to 122 had not been not been rehabilitated, He had added, rehabilitation would be completed within three months i.e. by June 2006. The same has not yet happened and hence there could be no permission granted for further work at the dam."
Moreover, the statement said, "not one, but many committees of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) and the latest one chaired by Devendra Pandey have clearly concluded, based on the documents and data, that almost all the conditions in the environmental clearance are not fulfilled, but violated. Be it Gujarat on the non-compliance of command area development plans, or Maharashtra and MP, targets and plans on protective/ preventive measures, compensatory afforestation, health measures for all the three states are still awaited."
Saying  that "political expediency" was the main reason for allowing the dam to be raised. the statement said, "Narendra Modi for the last last few months has been raising SSP issues publicly to blame or challenge the UPA government, which is succumbing to these pressures unnecessarily and unjustifiably. When Gujarat doesn’t have its canal network ready and not built beyond 25-30 per cent over the last 30 years, what is the need to raise the height and fill more water to drown the valley?"
It wondered, "Why can’t the MoEF and the Narmada Control Authority under the Ministry of Water Resources compel Gujarat to complete execution of all environmental measures and building of canal network phase-wise and thereby utilize the already ponded waters?"

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