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Narmada oustees in Madhya Pradesh are "rightful owners" of land acquired from them under new law: NBA

Medha Patkar addressing rally at Badwani
By Our Representative
In what may be termed as the first major meet in favour of the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act (LARR), 2013 in its present form, India’s well-known anti-dam movement, Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), held a well-attended public meeting at Badwani, a small town in Madhya Pradesh, situated about 190 upstream of the Narmada dam. The rally made the strong demand that land acquisition of the Narmada dam in Madhya Pradesh should now be held “afresh” in the backdrop of the new Act.
An NBA statement issued at the end of the rally, which was held on August 24, said, “As as per the new land acquisition Act, 2014, thousands of families living in the villages, where their land and houses have been acquired for the project, have now become owners, since they have either not accepted compensation or have not given possession of their lands and houses, five years after acquisition.”
The statement acquires significance against the backdrop of the Government of India’s decision to water down the Act by removing clauses related with public consent for land acquisition and social impact assessment. “With this declaration, a new phase of struggle begins. Under the Act, the government cannot submerge even an inch of land now and, if necessary, start all acquisition process afresh”, the statement declared.
The statement claimed, “The declaration was made in the presence of more than 200 supporters from across the country, including well-known hydrologist, representatives of various social movements and organizations, lawyers, teachers, students, artists, and social activists from Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu ,Kerala, Delhi, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Telangana and West Bengal, who joined the farmers, agricultural, labourers, adivasis, women, the young and the old of the valley.”
“Sitting MLA of Badwani, Ramesh Patel and former MLA of Dharampuri, Panchilal Meda also expressed solidarity with the struggle. The oustees celebrated the declaration with a plough, cart wheel, unfurling of banners, as also with the songs of well-known musician and writer Swanand Kirkire”, the statement said, adding, if the Government of India did not give in to the NBA’s demand, a “new phase of struggle would begin on October 10.
The statement further said, “The oustees and supporters demanded that the destructive step of increasing the height should be immediately revoked. They openly challenged the Central and the state governments on the decision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to increase the height of the Sardar Sarovar Dam on illegal and undemocratic grounds.”
NBA leader Medha Patkar, addressing the gathering stated that the struggle on Narmada, which is to complete thirty years in 2015, “has once again become vibrant and rejuvenated with this new declaration. In the long history of thirty years, the movement challenged the state powers”, starting with the report by the World Bank-appointed Morse Committee which talked of environmental destruction as a result of the dam.
“Time to time, the height of the dam has been stopped through the pressure of the movement and the solidarity attained from across the country and the world. We will face every challenge from the Govt”, Patkar said, adding, “If the height of the dam is increased, it implies the submergence of the thousands of hectares of most fertile land yielding best of wheat, maize, sugar cane, fruits, chilly, vegetables, cotton, bajra.”
“Thousands of farmers, agricultural labourers, fisher folks and shop-keepers and several others are not yet rehabilitated and Govt. has to answer people's questions before even thinking of any further project work”, Patkar pointing out, adding, “More than 2.5 lakh people from 245 villages from three states (Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat) continue to live in the submergence area.”
Well-known hydrologis, Raj Kachroo, while addressing the people, said the government should “stop being dishonest to the people”, demanding that the “project-affected people and experts should also be part of any further decision making process including real assessment of back water impact”.
Others addressing the rally talked of “massive corruption” into the rehabilitation process in Madhya by the Justice Jha Commission over the last five years, “and thousands of cases under inquiry, exposing fake claims of rehabilitation, but the government is hell-bent on raising the height of the dam, violating all constitutional guarantees.” They said, the anti-dam movement would be intensified if the Modi government did not revoke the decision to raise the Narmada dam by 17 metres, which would lead to huge submergence in the upstream.
Representatives of the teams visiting several villages in Khalghat, Pipri and Chhota Barda, making on the spot query, alleged that they had “witnessed that rehabilitation is a fraud”, asking the authorities to “review” fresh calculation of the back water levels, calling it “a huge game of numbers.” They alleged, the government was pushing the dam for ulterior purposes, not for Kutch and Saurashtra, but for Ambanis and Adanis.


Anonymous said…
until gadkari holds MoRD ministry nothing will happen.the outcome of mid term poll results clearly indicates the fall of modi's image.if the government continue in the process of any amendments to nullify the law to benifit the industry,definitely BJP will lose power in the next elections.
Unknown said…
Anonymous said…
Section 24(2) of the Act 30 of 2013 , is Justice with land owners whose land was acquired 5 Years or more Priors but till 01.01.2014 compensation was not paid . And punish to who had not paid compensation within 5 years .


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