Sunday, May 14, 2017

Madhya Pradesh officials "threaten" forcible eviction of Narmada dam affected families, admits 8000 still not resettled

An NBA protest in Madhya Pradesh
By Our Representative
In an email alert to Counterview, top anti-dam leader of the  Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) Medha Patkar has raised the alarm that “after almost 32 years of struggle, lakhs of people in the Narmada valley to be affected by the Sardar Sarovar Dam in Gujarat, are being threatened with brutal eviction.”
Signed by Parkar and several of her colleagues, including Nurji Vasave, Sanober Mansoori, Bhagirath Dhangar, Rahul Yadav, Kailash Awasya and others, the email alert reports, the Madhya Pradesh government has begun a frantic exercise of “sending its emissaries to convey to the farmers, labourers and all inhabitants of the Narmada valley that they will have to move out of their homes and hearths, their farms and orchards.”
“They are asked to leave behind their pucca houses, children’s schools, shops and markets, all the sources of livelihood attached to land and the mother river Narmada”, it continues, adding, “All the temples and ghats, mosques and mazars, age-old religious and cultural monuments, not just archaeological but their ancestors’ remnants underneath, which are not live, yet legendary.”
“The officials and employees are merely the carriers of the message that they will be given a tin shed if they come out of their houses, may it be one built of bricks and mud or cement. Those in one-storied building well-to-do farmers and traders too will follow the poor, landless, fisher people, potters and labourers”, the email alert says.
The Madhya Pradesh government move follows the order by Supreme Court bench headed by chief justice JS Khehar to pay Rs 60 lakh compensation towards purchase of land in lieu of the property they lost under the acquisition proceedings for the project, even as telling NBA that  the authorities would thereafter resort to force to evict them thereafter, as one “cannot take everybody for ransom” by now allowing the “the project to come up.” 
Medha Patkar
The email alert insists, this is happening when the rehabilitation sites “are not at all ready with amenities, mandated under the Narmada Tribunal, and endorsed by all the judgements of the Apex Court.”
Alleging “huge corruption in the establishment works at these sites, exposed by Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) and then by NBA”, the email alert says, as many as 40 engineers have been “sacked after a long legal battle indicating the low quality” of the sites, something which was also “exposed by the technical reports by IIT Mumbai and MANIT Bhopal, accepted by Justice Jha Commission.”
Pointing out that “90% of families haven’t shifted to the new sites, which are full of problems with no drinking water or no drainage, leading to waterlogging and submergence of houses”, the email alert says, “Many have no house plots to build houses on, with large pits, unlevelled or black cotton soil. Thousands of families can’t even build the plinths with the meagre compensation for a house paid to them, 10 to 15 years back.”
All this is happening, says Patkar’s email alert, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi will participate in the much-trumpeted Narmada Seva Yatra, to be concluded on May 15, wondering, “Whom are they trying to save this least polluted river for? Why are they suddenly spending Rs 1,000 crore on propaganda?”
Insisting that it’s the corporate power, ranging from Coca Cola to Adani, which is “snatching away the waters leaving the riverine population high and dry”, the email alert says, “The state is getting ready to use force, which they were never ever permitted by any court, till the latest order of February 8 this year.”
All this, says the email alert, is happening when, even according to official sources, “112 villages from four districts in Madhya Pradesh – Badwani, Dhar, Alirajpur and Khargone with 8,000 families – are likely be submerged as of today. Yet, it wonders, why are 76 villages from district Dhar alone are being “asked to vacate”.

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