Saturday, June 17, 2017

Madhya Pradesh's 2.5 lakh people of 192 villages, one town "to face submergence": Narmada dam gates closed

Narmada dam's gates being closed
By Our Representative
In a sharply-worded statement, well-known anti-dam organization, Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), has described the Gujarat government announcement to close down the Sardar Sarovar Dam’s 30-odd gates as based on “false” representation of the ground realities.
“People of the valley are determined to fight against the evil forces which are anti-farmer, anti-development, and anti-land”, the statement said, pointing out that it would be met with stiff resistance, especially in Madhya Pradesh.
The announcement came following the Friday meeting of the Narmada Control Authority (NCA), where Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra governments jointly agreed that since the resettlement and rehabilitation (R&R) of the project affected families (PAFs) was “over”, the gates could be closed and water could be filled up to 138.68 meters as against 121.92 metres as of now.
Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, accompanied by his deputy Nitin Patel, visited the dam site on Saturday morning to observe the gates’ closure, which, it was claimed, would increase the dam’s storage capacity from 1.4 MAF (million acre feet) to 4.75 MAF. The leaders expected this would help uninterrupted supply was water to Saurashtra and North Gujarat for irrigation, drinking water and industry.
Coming ahead of the elections, scheduled late this year, the gates’ closure is being interpreted as having been in accordance with the recent Supreme Court order, which wanted all the formalities for R&R, especially in Madhya Pradesh, to be completed before July 31.
The state BJP rulers have planned a grand show in July-end or August first week, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to make a big show, announcing “completion” of the Sardar Sarovar project. A Narmada Yatra has also been planned.
Gujarat CM Vijay Rupani at dam site
In its statement, NBA said, the documents, including the official reports and affidavits before the Supreme Court, as also orders of the Grievance Redressal Authorities (GRAs) in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat, suggest that R&R remains incomplete, and the gates would be closed in “violation of the legal regime”, including the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal Award (NWDTA) and Supreme Court judgments.
“At least 40,000 families and 2.5 lakh people reside in the 192 villages of Madhya Pradesh and one town, which have been declared project affected. They are to be forcibly removed, if they do not move out with whatever little they have receive as R&R benefit”, the statement said.
Pointing out that there are “continuous protests going on in each of the affected districts and villages in Badwani, Dhar and Khargone” districts of Madhya Pradesh, the NBA said, “It’s obvious from the recent writ petition filed before the Indore High Court that even the latest order of the Supreme Court has not complied with.”
It added, “The R&R sites are not ready with civic amenities mandatory under the law for which tenders are being issued. The disbursement of the new package in lieu of land, directed by the Supreme Court, is far from complete. A few thousand applications by the eligible beneficiaries are pending before the GRA, Madhya Pradesh. Hundreds are pending before the GRA, Maharashtra, and GRA, Gujarat too.”

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