Monday, April 25, 2016

NBA to protest Madhya Pradesh "failure" to rehabilitate Narmada dam oustees, cites Gujarat success

By Our Representative
In a major announcement, the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), led by top social activist Medha Patkar, has declared its decision to hold a protest fast (chetavni upvas) from April 27 to 29, 2016 at Bhopal against the Madhya Pradesh government's alleged failure to rehabilitate thousands of Narmada dam oustees.
In a statement, the NBA said, “People from the Narmada valley will reach Bhopal on April 27 morning to fight displacement, disaster and inequality that is being bestowed on people in the name of development over the last 30 years.”
Over the last 30 years, the NBA said, while 14,000 Narmada oustees – mostly Dalits and tribals – were rehabilitated in Gujarat and Maharashtra and handed over land, “in Madhya Pradesh only 40-50 rehabilitated people were given land.” It added, “Even today, more than 50,000 displaced families are residing in submergence area.”
Recalling the Jha Commission report, which looked into corruption charges by government officials in handing over cash instead of land for land, the NBA said, “The families haven’t been rehabilitated. They have not yet been granted justice.”
“Yet”, it said, “The Modi government as also governments ofMadhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharastra governments pulled strings to increase the height of the dam by 17 metres, i.e. from 122 t to 139 metres. The construction of the gates is almost complete.”
As part of the protest, the NBA said, “People from various tehsils in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and different parts of the country would stage a dharna at their places in solidarity.”
“The time has come again that together we challenge the preparations made by those in power and involved in corruption to drown thousands of families in years old civilization of the Narmada Valley”, said the NBA.
Regretting that the report of the Justice Jha Commission, which was formed by the order of the Madhya Pradesh High Court in the year 2008, is ready, yet it is not being allowed to see it despite being a petitioner for itws formation, the NBA said, “The NBA was not allowed to open it in the court, nor was the report given to the MLAs of the region.”
Currently lying with the Madhya Pradesh state assembly, the NBA said, refusal to open the report suggests how the government wants to hide corruption by the Narmada Valley Development Authority.
Meanwhile, it added, “The Supreme Court has sought ‘Action Taken Report’ from the state government regarding the report within six weeks' time.”
“The Jha report has shed light into how many fake registries in rehabilitating the oustees have happened”, the NBA said.
It added, however, the questions that need to be asked are: “How many crores of rupees would have gone waste in that? How many middlemen and corrupt government employees are involved in that? What all scams have taken place in the construction of houses, and rehabilitation sites?”
“It has to be found out which officials are involved in this, apart from finding out about money and land. Those who are guilty needs to be identified and punished accordingly. Even before we went to the High Court, the displaced people were being sent to jail, which was stopped by the High Court”, the NBA said.

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