Skip to main content

Government of India assures NBA: Narmada dam height will not be raised till the last oustee is rehabilitated

Anti-dam rally in Madhya Pradesh
By Our Representative
The Government of India has said that there will not be any movement towards increasing the height of the Narmada dam from the present 122 metres to 138.64 metres, which is the full reservoir level, till the last oustee is rehabilitated. The declaration came at a meeting of representatives from the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) led by Medha Patkar in Delhi following two-day dharna by hundreds of oustees affected by the dam from Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat at Jantar Mantar.
Union minister for water resources Harish Rawat, who met a 10-member delegation of the oustees, led by Patkar, assured the oustees that the dam “cannot move ahead until the last person is rehabilitated and that his Ministry, which leads the Narmada Control Authority, will have to ensure rehabilitation, environmental compliance and a comprehensive cost-benefit appraisal before permitting any decision on the dam height.
“The minister and his officials heard a presentation on the massive scale of pending rehabilitation of 48,000 families, ongoing judicial inquiry into Rs 1,000 crore corruption scandal in Madhya Pradesh and severe non-compliance on environmental measures and dismal performance of the SSP, after an investment of Rs 70,000 crore rupees”, a statement issued in Delhi by the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), an apex body of several NGOs across India, said.
Rawat said that although the primary role of his ministry is water management and dam building, “it cannot be without lawful rehabilitation”. Responding to the oustees who claimed that more than 1,500 houses and thousands of hecatres of land with standing crop has been submerged illegally in the monsoon of 2012 and 2013, due to water releases from upstream dams, he said, “There can be no submergence without rehabilitation and the people have a right to reside and cultivate their agricultural land and carry on livelihoods.”
“The minister directed his officials to seek a report from the three state governments, particularly Madhya Pradesh, on the status of compliance with the orders of the Grievance Redressal Authorities (GRA), binding as per the judgment of the Supreme Court, even as taking cognizance of the orders and reports with regards to the ongoing processes of inquiry into corruption by the Jha Commission and the GRA and admitted that the official process itself is clear to prove that rehabilitation is far from complete”, the NAPM statement said.
Rawat said his ministry will explore ways to ensure land-based rehabilitation to all categories of oustees (more than 6,500), including 3,000 families who have been entangled in the “fake registries scam”, 1,500 families who have “not been able to purchase land out of the meagre cash compensation” and 2,000 adivasis and other farmers in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, “who have not accepted cash at all, but have been given offers of uncultivable or encroached land.”
He assured the traditional displaced fisher families have “the first and inviolable right to fisheries in the reservoir and the state governments are legally duty bound to register the cooperatives of the fish workers”, even as promising to look into the “serious issue of exclusion of 55 villages and a huge township from submergence by changing the backwater levels, which have even been disapproved by an Expert Committee of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF)”.
The minister said, the role and right of Gram Sabhas in the scheduled adivasis areas is inviolable and that his ministry and the NCA “will work to ensure that the PESA Act is fully complied with, in the context of the Narmada project oustees.” At the same time, the minister asked the NBA to give a separate representation on the issue of illegal sand mining in the project-affected areas, adding, “Concrete action would be taken in this regard.”
Later in the evening, a larger delegation met Sudhir Bhargav, chairperson, resettlement and rehabilitation subgroup, NCA, and secretary, ministry of social justice and empowerment, who said no final clearance has been granted to increase the dam height. He said this in response to the oustees’ view that neither the GRA of Maharashtra, not that of Madhya Pradesh, has given consent to raise the dam height and there is absolutely no case for permitting further construction.
He was told that Madhya Pradesh has fraudulently presented consultation of the ‘former’ GRA in the last meeting of the R&R subgroup, while even as on date, there are hundreds of orders of the former and present GRA yet to be complied with and hundreds of pending complaints. “Project affected families from Gujarat also complained about the pending issues of land allotment in the original villages and R&R sites”, NAPM statement said. The secretary said, there was a need to initiate a process of field verification in sample villages, to begin with, to assess the status of rehabilitation.
In a third meeting with Union minister for rural development Jairam Ramesh, who had recently visited the submergence area in Madhya Pradesh and witnessed the scale of pending rehabilitation, a similar assurance was given to the delegation. Meanwhile, NAPM claimed, NBA dharna received “wide support from writers, academicians and advocates”. Those who visited the dharna included writer Arundhati Roy, Annie Raja, president National Federation of Indian Women, Prof Manoranjan Mohanty of the Delhi University, Dr Prakash Jha, well-known environmental expert, Sagari Chhabra and Sanjay Kak, prominent documentary film makers, Kumar Prashant of the Gandhi Peace Foundation, among others.

Comments

TRENDING

Call to support IIM-Bangalore professor, censured for seeking action against Uniliver

Counterview Desk
Sections of the Indian Institute of Managements (IIMs) across India have strongly reacted to the decision to censure Dr Deepak Malghan, a faulty at IIM-Bangalore. Prabhir Vishnu Poruthiyil, who is faculty at IIM-Tiruchirapalli, has sought wider solidarity with Dr Malghan, saying, "The administration has censured Deepak for merely suggesting a meaningful action against Hindustan Unilever for their abysmal environmental record" by “disinviting” it for campus placement.

Actionable programme for 2019 polls amidst lynch mobs, caste violence, hate mongering

Counterview Desk
Reclaiming the Republic, a civil rights network, has released a document prepared under the chairmanship of Justice AP Shah (retired) -- and backed, among others, by Supreme Court advocate Prashant Bhushan, bureaucrat-turned-human rights activist Harsh Mander, economist Prabhat Patnaik, Right to transparency activist Anjali Bhardwaj and social scientist Yogendra Yadav  (click HERE for full list) -- with the "aim" of putting forth policy and legislative reforms needed to “protect” and “strengthen” the Constitutional safeguards for India’s democratic polity.

Noam Chomsky, top scholars ask NRIs to take stand on human rights violations in India

Counterview Desk
Renowned world scholars, including Noam Chomsky, James Petras, Angela Davis, Fredric Jameson, Bruno Latour, Ilan Pappe, Judith Butler, among others, have issued a statement castigating the Narendra Modi government for allegedly creating an environment of fear through arrests, intimidation and violence.

India under Modi "promoted" crony business, protected financial fraudsters, fueled bigotry

By Sandeep* and Rahul Pandey**
Narendra Modi's ascension to power was accompanied with jubilation and expectation. His supporters were expecting an end to era of corruption and initiation of good governance which was described as Achche Din. His party's adherence to idea of nationalism was believed to make India a vibrant country and guide India to be a world leader. He gave the slogan of 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas' conveying that his government was for all.
Corruption The government system is infested with corruption. A minimum of 10% is siphoned off from government schemes and projects, some of which goes back to political party in power and remaining is pocketed by various administrative, executive and political functionaries. This corruption continues and has increased. Now an additional Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) person working as Official on Special Duty or some equivalent position in every government department also has a share in this booty.
The Narendra M…

Inviting Rajapaksa to India "insult" to 1,40,000 Tamils killed by Sri Lankan army

Counterview Desk
In the context of Sri Lankan opposition leader Mahinda Rajapaksa being invited in India, about 75 human rights activists*, claiming to be concerned about rights violations during the civil war in Sri Lanka, especially in 2009, have joined together to express their dissent through a statement.

A Godse legacy? BJP rulers have "refrained" from calling Gandhi Father of the Nation

By Dr Hari Desai*
What an agony! On one hand, the entire India is celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but on the other side, so-called Hindu Mahasabha members have been found mock-enacting the killing of the Mahatma and celebrating the murder by distributing sweets!

Post-advisory, Govt of India appears reluctant to ban e-cigarettes, "harmful" to kids

By Rajiv Shah
Is the Government of India dilly-dallying over the issue of banning e-cigarettes, which have been declared by anti-tobacco activists across the world as providing “an entryway to nicotine addiction”, especially among the kids? It would seem so, if the latest developments are any guide.

No aadhaar, no ration? Hard blow by Gujarat govt on poor and marginalized

By Pankti Jog*
Only those who have aadhaar registration and linked it with ration card will get ration from a Public Distribution System (PDS) shop. This decision of the Gujarat government has hit very badly thousands of poor and marginalized communities of Gujarat, especially during the drought year.

Poser to Modi: Why is Gujarat not fulfilling Constitutional obligations to minorities?

Counterview Desk
In an open letter, Mujahid Nafees, convener, Minority Coordination Committee (MCC), a Gujarat-based civil rights organization, has accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi on infringing upon MCC activists’ constitutional right to protest. Nafees says, they had no other demands except that the Gujarat government should move towards fulfilling the constitutional obligations towards minorities and international treaties to which India is a signatory.

World Bank needs a new perspective on development, not just a new president

By Maju Varghese*
The resignation of the World Bank President Jim Yong Kim was an unexpected development given the fact that he had three more years to complete his tenure. Resignations at such a high level after bidding for a second term is unusual which prompts people to think what would have led to the act itself.