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

India performs 'poorly' in Quality of Life Index, ranks 62nd out of 64 countries

Counterview Desk “Expat Insider”, which claims to be one of the world’s most extensive surveys about living and working abroad, in a survey of 20,259 participants from around the globe, has found that of the 64 destinations around the globe, has found that while Taiwan is the best destination for persons living outside their native country, closely by Vietnam and Portugal, India ranks 59th.

Human development index: India performs worse than G-20 developing countries

By Rajiv Shah A new book, “Sustainable Development in India: A Comparison with the G-20”, authored by Dr Keshab Chandra Mandal, has regretted that though India’s GDP has doubled over the last one decade, its human development indicators are worse than not just developed countries of the Group of 20 countries but also developing countries who its members.

US publication blames Gates Foundation for 'accelerating' India's healthcare crisis

By Rajiv Shah A new book, published by the New York-based Monthly Press Review (MPR), has blamed Microsoft founder Bill Gates for “crowning” the crisis allegedly engulfing India’s health sector, stating, the top American billionaire’s foundation of late has acquired “extraordinary influence" over India’s public health governance,  giving a fillip to a policy that deprives access of public healthcare facilities for majority of the country’s population.

Youngest of 16 activists jailed for sedition, Mahesh Raut 'fought' mining on tribal land

By Surabhi Agarwal, Sandeep Pandey* A compassionate human being, always popular among his friends and colleagues because of his friendly nature and human sensitivity, 33-year-old Mahesh Raut, champion of the democratic rights of the marginalised Adivasi people of Gadchiroli, Maharashtra, has been in prison for over two years now.

India's GDP down by 50%, not 23%, job loss 200 million not 122 million: Top economist

By Our Representative  One of India’s topmost economists has estimated that India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) decline was around 50%, and not 23%, as claimed by the Government of India’s top data body, National Statistical Organization (NSO). Prof Arun Kumar, who is Malcolm S Adiseshiah chair professor, Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi, said this was delivering a web policy speech, organised by the Impact and Policy Research Institute (IMPRI), New Delhi.

Stan Swamy vs Arnab Goswami: Are activists fighting a losing battle? Whither justice?

By Fr Sunil Macwan SJ* It is time one raised pertinent questions over the courts denying bail to Fr Stan Swamy, who was arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), and granting it to Arnab Goswami, editor-in-chief of the Republic TV, arrested under the charge of abetting suicide of Avay Naik, who ended his life in 2018. It is travesty of justice that a human rights activist is not only denied bail but is also made to wait for weeks to hear a response to his legitimate request for a straw to drink water, while Arnab Goswami walks free.

India among heavily impacted by Covid-19, China 'notoriously' evading transparency

By NS Venkataraman* With the year 2020 inevitably ending in the next few weeks, the thought amongst the people all over the world is whether the coming year 2021 will be free of Covid-19 (often dubbed as Wuhan virus, as it known to have spread from Wuhan in China).In the early 2020, many people thought that Covid-19 would be a localized affair in China but later on, it proved to be a global pandemic.

Namaz in Mathura temple: Haridwar, Ayodhya monks seek Faisal Khan's release

By Our Representative As many as 23 members of the Hindu Voices for Peace (HVP), including the founder president of the well-known Haridwar-based Matri Sadan Ashram, Swami Shivananda Saraswati, and a one of its top monks, Brahmachari Aatmabodhanand, have expressed their “dismay” over the arrest of Khudai Khidmatdar chief Faisal Khan and three others on charges of “promoting enmity between religions” and “defiling a place of worship” after they offered namaz in Mathura’s Nand Baba temple premises on October 29.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".