Skip to main content

Prominent citizens to Modi: Withhold decision to raise Narmada dam, respect democratic, human values

By Our Representative
Thirty-eight prominent citizens have asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to withhold the decision to raise the height of the Narmada dam further by erecting 17 metres high gates, to the full reservoir level, i.e. 138.68 meters, saying this will affect “44 additional village communities and one whole township”, and stretching up to “214 km long area in the Narmada basin.” Asking him to do this in the name of “a new democratic initiative, respect law, democracy, human values and human rights”, the letter warned, in case the height is raised, “45,000 families will be displaced.”
Pointing out that all this is happening at a time when “full, fair and legal rehabilitation” is yet to take place, in their letter, the prominent citizens said, the decision will only lead to a major “human tragedy and a man-made disaster”, adding, even at the present height, 122 metres, there are “35,000 and more families residing in the submergence area and hence yet to be rehabilitated.” In view of all this, the letter asked the Prime Minister to personally intervene to stop “this wanton destruction.”
The letter has been written two days ahead of Modi’s move to inaugurate the construction work at the dam site on October 31, Sardar Patel’s birth anniversary. It has been signed, among others, by Justice (Retd) Rajinder Sachar; Aruna Roy and Prof Jean Dreze, former National Advisory Council members; Swami Agnivesh of the Bandhu Mukti Morcha; Admiral (Retd) L Ramdas; retired IAS officer BD Sharma; bureaucrat-turned-activist Harsh Mander; and Rohit Prajapati and Anand Mazgaonkar of the Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti, Gujarat.
The letter said, immediately after the decision was announced by the Narmada Control Authority (NCA) on June 12 to allow raising of the dam, the oustees and their representatives met the concerned ministers in Delhi and appraised them of all the facts, ongoing legal and judicial processes, pending litigations, inquiry into corruption and non-compliance of the orders of the Grievance Redressal Authorities. They urged the ministers to put the decision to raise the dam on hold. “The ministers were not fully aware of the project and the ground realities but assured review of the matter”, the letter claimed.
Objecting to the decision to keep erect the gates, even if to be kept open for the time being, the letter said, the backwater levels of the Narmada dam were now being shown at the reduced level compared to what they were 30 years ago when the original survey was done in 1980s. Thereafter, there is no scientific analysis of the matter, hence to argue that there wouldn’t be submergence because of the backwater levels would be wrong. “Hence, any construction beyond the present height cannot be pushed today”, the letter underlined.
Asking Modi to behave more like the Prime Minister the nation, the letter said, “You are expected to look after the welfare of all citizens, and ensure that lakhs of oustees, especially of Madhya Pradesh, do not face destitution.” It reminded Modi that ex-Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had “committed to the Supreme Court in 2006 that rehabilitation, as per law, would precede any further construction, and you are certainly bound both by virtue of your good office and by law to keep up this promise.”
The letter said, he should be “aware of the fact that the Justice Jha Commission, appointed by the High Court of Madhya Pradesh, is investigating thousands of land registries which are forged and fake, and also corruption in payment of grants to thousands, allotment of house plots and construction at the resettlement sites. Fraud in all these has been proved, and the final report is likely soon, that crores of rupees are wasted and rehabilitation is far from complete.”
The letter further said, the report by the expert committee appointed by the Ministry of Environment till 2012 had pointed towards “severe impact on natural resources in the Narmada valley.” The report also talked of adverse impact on “health, forest, fisheries, seismically risky region, the catchment and siltation” in the command area in Gujarat. “Without complying all this, the dam cannot and should not be pushed ahead”, it urged Modi.
Currently, the letter said, Narmada waters were being diverted to industries and new projects, such as Coca Cola plant (30 lakh liters/day), the car industry in Sanand alone (60 lakh liters/per day) and so on. “Also that a few lakh hectares of land in the command area are being diverted and reserved as industrial areas”, it pointed out, adding, “All this indicates the change in the original plan and that there is absolutely no urgency to raise the dam at the cost of people and the nature.”
The letter said, already, the oustees in the Narmada dam-affected areas are now legal owners of the acquired lands and houses, as per Section 24(2) of the recently passed Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, since they continue to remain in possession of the acquired properties, till date. “It would thus be unlawful to continue with further construction that is bound to lead to submergence and interference with the property and human rights of the owners”, it concluded.

Comments

TRENDING

Whistle-blowing IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt's wife suspects foul play after truck hits her car

By Nachiketa Desai*
Paranoia has seized Shweta Bhatt, wife of suspended Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Sanjiv Bhatt, after the car she was driving was rammed in broad day light. According to Shweta Bhatt, it was beacon light-flashing truck without registration number plate. The incident took place on January 7, just a day ahead of the Gujarat High Court was scheduled to take up the bail application of Sanjiv Bhatt, arrested last year for "involvement" in a 23-year-old case.

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.

Morari Bapu, who has installed new statues of Ram, Laxman, Hanuman without weapons

By Sandeep Pandey*
A saint is one who can give some inner peace by his/her voice. This will happen only when s(he) will talk about love and harmony. Morari Bapu is one saint who has been conveying the message of love, peace, harmony, fraternity, etc. Today when a number of saffron clad figures with aggressive posture, spewing venom, fanning hatred to polarise voters are at the forefront of politics of Hindutva it is a relief to see Morari Bapu in a different mould.

99% MGNREGA funds "exhausted", Govt of India makes no additional sanctions: Study

Counterview Desk
A letter, addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and prepared by senior activists led by Aruna Roy on behalf of the Peoples’ Action for Employment Guarantee (PAEG), and signed, among others, by 80 members of Parliament, has regretted that, despite repeated public statements by his government promising employment and job creation that will boost the country’s growth, the country’s only employment guarantee programme, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), “is being systematically undermined.”

Nuclear reactors sought from French giant "not safe": Letter to Modi on Jaitapur project

Counterview Desk
Amidst reports that the French nuclear giant EDF has submitted a “techno-commercial offer” for the world’s largest nuclear power park proposed in Maharashtra’s Jaitapur nuclear power park in Jaitapur on the Maharashtra coast, Dr EAS Sarma, India’s former Union Secretary in the Minister of Power, and an eminent voice in the civil society, has written an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who also heads Department of Atomic Energy (DAE),  protesting the move.

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

Rejoinder: Worldwide anxiety post-Fukishima is fading, slowly and steadily

By Dr KS Parthasarathy* 
EAS Sarma, former Secretary, Government of India (GoI) in a letter addressed to the Secretary, Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), GoI, stated that, there has been "worldwide anxiety about the consequences of catastrophic nuclear accidents, either due to manual lapses or natural calamities" (Counterview, December 2, 2018). "In the recent years, globally, the pace of growth of nuclear power has escalated in leaps and bounds, causing a great deal of public concern and apprehension."

Kerala land being acquired using "draconian, anti-people" National Highway Act, 1956

Counterview Desk
In a letter Chief Minister of Kerala Pinarayi Vijayan, senior activists and politicians have insisted that the Kerala government should not agree to "inhuman displacement and buid-operate-transfer (BOT) Toll system", imposed by the Government of India and the National Highway Authority of India, for widening the current National Highway (NH) 66.

Kaiga NPP expansion: Karnataka to get just 400 MW, but lose thick forest, fresh water

Counterview Desk
In an open letter to the chairman and members of the Atomic energy Commission (AEC) on the issue of Kaiga nuclear power plant (NPP) expansion plan in Karnataka, Shankar Sharma, well-known power policy analyst, has argued that that in case of expansion, the site will face “exponential increase in radiation emission risks”, underlining, “Nuclear safety experts identify such a scenario as enhanced risk for NPPs with multiple reactors and shared technical facilities."
Sharma says the questions that also be asked whether Karnataka should lose more than 54 hectares of thick forests and about 152,304 cubic meters of fresh water per day from Kali river for a meager benefit of 400 MW from the Kaiga NPP, for which “there are many benign alternative options available for the state at much lower overall costs to the state.”
Text of the letter: This has reference to the public hearing under the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Rule 2006 of Ministry of Environment, Fore…

Uttarakhand High Court: Biodiversity boards can impose fees on Ramdev's Divya Pharmacy

By Mridhu Tandon
In a significant decision, the Uttarakhand High Court on December 21, 2018 has dismissed the writ petition filed by Divya Pharmacy founded by Baba Ramdev and Acharya Balakrishnan, challenging the demand of the Uttarakhand Biodiversity Board (UBB) imposing fees under the provisions of the Fair and Equitable Benefit Sharing (FEBS).