Thursday, September 05, 2013

UPA works for Madhya Pradesh's BJP govt, colludes to pass land acquisition bill in Parliament, alleges NAPM

By Our Representative
The National Alliance for People’s Movements (NAPM), an apex body of more than dozen organizations across India, has alleged that the Rajya Sabha vote in favour of the Land Acquisition, Resettlement and Rehabilitation Bill was accomplished after agreeing to “three regressive amendments suggested by the Madhya Pradesh government and accepted by the UPA government.” It believes, “These amendments will take away the rights of the dam and canal affected people, even then hope is not lost on the struggling adivasis and farmers of the Narmada valley.”
Under the new amendment, the Social Impact Assessment (SIA) ahead of land acquisition “will not be applicable to irrigation projects”, and “land for land provision will not be applicable in irrigation projects.” Saying that this is “highly condemnable”, the statement says, “This is being done in the backdrop of three decades of struggle against 30 big dams, 135 medium dams and 3,000 small dams on the Narmada and its tributaries in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra.”
It goes on to add, “Together these dams are affecting nearly five million people in three states and as of now not in a single project the satisfactory resettlement and rehabilitation has been done by the government. The Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal (NWDT) Award, 1979, which mandated five acres of land for land to every major sons for the Sardar Sarovar Dam affected families, a principle later accepted for some other dams too, is now under attack in collusion with Central and State governments.”
The statement quotes South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP) and other sources to say that 5,500 big dams across India have together displaced nearly 5.5 crore people and submerged 44,00,000 Hectares of land in 4,528 dams. “Nearly 47 percent of those displaced by these dams are adivasis / indigenous people. In such a scenario a move to leave out the irrigation projects from the realm of SIA and land for land provisions will be extremely unfortunate and a move which will hurt the farmers, workers, Dalits and tribals most”, it says.
Significantly, the amendment also comes in the wake of recent protests by Madhya Pradesh’s project affected persons struggle against the state government’s move to offer cash instead of land for the land they have lost because of the Sardar Sarovar Project. The idea of offering cash instead of land, floated by officials of the Gujarat government in an effort to expedite the project in mid-2000s, has led to huge corruption in payment to Madhya Pradesh oustees. Currently, the matter is under close scrutiny of the high court.
Menwhile, the NAPM said, the protest which began on September 2 by 1200 adivasis, by laying a siege of the office of the district collector, Nandurbar, Maharashtra, has been called off. The protest was against “illegal and unjust submergence due to Sardar Sarovar Project.” The protest ended after the district collector agreed to look into “impact of submergence, land-based rehabilitation, forest rights including common property rights, and also displacement due to seven medium projects, diversion of river water to the non adivasis families”, a separate NAPM statement, issued with Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), said.
“On September 3, at 11pm, the Collector brought a letter to the hundreds of people on the sit-in and addressed the meeting assuring action on the issues, which were discussed with the NBA:, the statement said, claiming, the statement clearly exposes “the falsehood in the number of balance families yet to be rehabilitated. While Narmada Control Authority (NCA) report showed balance to be zero. The figure, prima-facie, calculated shows it to be above 1500 in Maharashtra.”
Under the agreement, “the details of land in Maharashtra and Gujarat for rehabilitation to be finalised and those will to be shared to the representatives of the oustees within next seven to 10 days. Various amenities – health, jetty, solar lamps - are to be provided to the villages on the Narmada Bank and rehabilitation sites, as per detailed decision taken. Enquiry into corruption discovered in NREGA, Rs two crore in eight villages and a few more crore in three other villages where social audit was conducted years back will lead to concrete action planned.”
The statement further said, it was agreed upon that “73 forest villages will become revenue and the process is expected to be completed by October first week. NBA has finished all documents, explaining the legal and illegal process on this, during last one a half decade. The medium projects, where Rs 20 crore, as opposed to, planned Rs 6 crore is to be spent on survey and plans itself, are challenged by the NBA. Those dams on the tributaries of Narmada, and as agreed by the Collector, can’t proceed unless the due democratic, consultative process is carried out, at the Gram Sabhas level.”

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