Tuesday, June 20, 2017

18,390 Narmada dam oustees "yet to be rehabilitated", as Govt of India claims it's "satisfied" with R&R

NBA protest outside Water Resources Ministry grate, Delhi
By Our Representative
A high-level civil society delegation, which met delegation Minister of Water Resources Uma Bharati, Secretary, Ministry of Water Resources, Amarjit Singh and Joint Secretary Sanjay Kundu, has been told that the Narmada dam’s gates were closed down after "evaluating" the recommendations made of the environment and rehabilitation and resettlement (R&R) sub-group.
Comprising of Vimal Bhai from Matu Jan Sangathan, Manoj from All-India Kisan Sabha, Madhuresh Kumar, and Himshi Singh and Uma from National Alliance of People’s Movements, the delegation was further told that they were “satisfied” with the recommendations of the two subgroups.
The delegation met the minister and officials even as NBA leader Medha Patkar alleged that the closure of the Narmada dam’s gates in Gujarat, “except two because of a technical problem”, will lead to “submergence and related forcible eviction, in effect washing off somewhere around 18390 families of 141 villages as per the Madhya Pradesh government gazette notification of May 27.”
Patkar, in an email alert to Counterview, said, the actual numbers are at the highest flood level are “much higher as per field surveys”, yet Vijay Rupani, chief minister of Gujarat and Prime Minister Narendra Modi have “announced a large celebration at the dam site at the end of July and Narmada Yatra across Gujarat.”
What is shocking is, said Patkar, the Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan “hasn't uttered a word, rather has given silent consent to take a toll on more than 2.5 lakh in the submergence area.”
The Government of India response came even as the delegation sought copies of the recommendations by the sub-groups “so that inaccuracies be exposed and brought to the notice”, a Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) source, which organized the civil society meeting at the ministry, said.
It added, “The delegation told the minister and the government officials that the Ministry was ‘willfully’ choosing to read the Supreme Court judgment ‘in a certain light’ neglecting ‘the complete failure to prepare R&R sites and has buckled under the political pressure.”
The delegation also sought recommendations of the report of the six teams of the Central Water Commission, which made a visit to R&R sites on June 7-9 and submitted their report on June 11. NBA said, its activists “confronted the six teams, which went to Dhar and Badwani districts, and asked them to visit certain sites; yet they dodged the activists.”
In a statement following the meeting, which was preceded by a demonstration on the ministry’s gates in Delhi, the NBA said, “It is shameful that the lives of the people affected by the dam in Madhya Pradesh are only numbers for them and there is a complete abdication of their responsibility to monitor the situation on the ground.”
All but two gates of Narmada dam closed down
“This was amply visible in the conversation between the delegation and the ministry officials, who continued to ask for numbers and names of the sites. The Ministry has every data with them and they have simply chosen to close their eyes and put the stamp on the false information given by the government of Madhya Pradesh”, the statement alleged.
Asking the minister and the secretary, Ministry of Water Resources, to “to face the people in Narmada Valley and see for themselves R&R claims”, the NBA called the closure of “undemocratic and unjust”.
“This paves the way for imminent submergence of 192 villages and one township of Madhya Pradesh this monsoon”, it said, adding, “Citing Supreme Court order of February 2017, the decision has been taken to close down the gates without verifying actual ground conditions in Madhya Pradesh.”
Pointing out that “the claims of the almost complete disbursement of the compensation, as per the Supreme Court judgment, is not true, since a number of applications are still pending in front of the Grievance Redressal Authority in Madhya Pradesh”, the NBA said, “In these matters, the claims of the project affected families for disbursement of the appropriate amount for the land lost hasn’t been settled yet.”

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