Skip to main content

40 Alternative Nobel Prize recipents seek UN intervention to stop Narmada dam work, plead for urgent review

Campaigners gather at Narmada bank in Badwani, Madhya Pradesh
By Our Representative
In a major boost to the Narmada Bachao Andolan’s (NBA’s) ongoing campaign against the Gujarat government and the Centre to raise the Sardar Sarovar dam’s height by 17 metres, 40 prominent recipients of the Stockholm-based Right to Livelihood Award have sought United Nations (UN) intervention for urgent review of the mega project. The award is also known as “Alternative Nobel Prize”.
Seeking direct involvement of the UN Human Rights Commission and the International Labour Organization “to facilitate a comprehensive review of the project”, the appeal has asked the UN to send their “Special Rapporteurs on Housing Rights, Human Rights, Internal Displacement, Rights of Indigenous Communities and UN Women to visit the affected areas of Sardar Sarovar Project in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat immediately to assess the situation.”
The appeal, says, signatories “stand united” in their opposition to the “unlawful” submergence of 244 villages and one township by “flooding” caused by the dam. It has been signed by prominent Indian environmentalist Vandana Shiva and well-known campaigner Swami Agnivesh along with top human rights champions and intellectuals from US, UK, Hungary, Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Israel, Turkey, Chad, Indonesia, Nepal, New Zealand, Switzerland, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Guatemala and other countries.
Campaigners take a boat ride to protest against dam
“We firmly uphold the inviolable human rights and environmental justice for thousands of families in the Narmada Valley. For over two decades, we have been observing with immense concern the developments around the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP), which has disastrous implications for the sustenance of indigenous communities in the Narmada Valley and that of other riverine populations, which have, for centuries, built flourishing lives and livelihoods around the Narmada River”, the appeal says.
Expressing “serious concern over the colossal harm caused, and to be caused, by the SSP and other dam projects on the rich, yet fragile, eco- system of the Valley”, the appeal says, the dam will “submergence of the most fertile agricultural land, dense forest, and tree cover, and the destruction of cultural monuments and archaeology of this oldest of civilizations in the world.”
Warning “submergence, displacement, and pauperization” to the affected farmers, fish workers, and potters, the appeal says, while the “rehabilitation” of about 10,000 families is welcome, the scale of “the still pending resettlement and rehabilitation (R&R) of more than 40,000 families is massive, as cultivable farm land, house sites, civic amenities, fishing rights, livelihood sources, and so on, are yet to be ensured.”
“Appalled” that the “glaring backlog” of rehabilitation of thousands of families has remained unattended”, the appeal particularly hits out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for championing the dam height increase without focusing on “the cause of the displaced”. It says, his “decision to increase the height of SSP by 17 meters up to its final height of 138.68 meters” poses “grave threat to the lives and livelihood of all these families.”
Campaigners on a sit-in to protest dam height
Expressing “deep concern” over the dilution of R&R norms by paying cash instead of giving land to the oustees, the letter claims, this “has not worked out in the interest of a majority of oustees, the indigenous, and the non-literate”, adding, “Rather, an ensuing saga of corruption has been unearthed” leading to “in-depth investigation by a Judicial Commission.”
Asking the Government of India withdraw its decision to raise the height of the dam, as it does not involve application of the recently-enacted Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, the letter says, the way oustees are being treated “is not only a serious violation of the law of the land and the judgments of the Supreme Court of India, but also a transgression of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the Indigenous and Tribal People’s Convention, 1989, of ILO.”

Comments

TRENDING

India under Modi among top 10 autocratizing nations, on verge of 'losing' democracy status

By Rajiv Shah
A new report, prepared by a top Swedish institute studying liberal democracy, has observed that there has been a sharp “dive in press freedom along with increasing repression of civil society in India associated with the current Hindu-nationalist regime of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.” The report places India among the top 10 countries that “have autocratized the most”. Other countries that have been identified for rolling towards autocracy are -- Hungary, Turkey, Poland, Serbia, Brazil, Mali, Thailand, Nicaragua and Zambia.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam*
RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

RSS supremo Deoras 'supported' Emergency, but Indira, Sanjay Gandhi 'didn't respond'

By Shamsul Islam*
National Emergency was imposed on the country by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on June 25-26, 1975, and it lasted for 19 months. This period is considered as ''dark times' for Indian democratic polity. Indira Gandhi claimed that due to Jaiprakash Narayan's call to the armed forces to disobey the 'illegal' orders of Congress rulers had created a situation of anarchy and there was danger to the existence of Indian Republic so there was no alternative but to impose Emergency under article 352 of the Constitution.

Letter to friends, mentors: Coming together of class, communal, corona viruses 'scary'

By Prof (Dr) Mansee Bal Bhargava*
COVID greetings from Ahmedabad to dear mentors and friends from around the world…
I hope you are keeping well and taking care of yourself besides caring for the people around you. I’m writing to learn how is the science and the society coping with the prevention and cure of the pandemic. I’m also writing to share the state of the corona virus that is further complicated with the long-standing class and communal viruses.

Hurried nod to Western Ghat projects: 16 lakh Goans' water security 'jeopardised'

Counterview Desk
Taking strong exception to "virtual clearances" to eco-sensitive projects in the Western Ghats, the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) in a statement has said urged for a review of the four-lane highway, 400 KV transmission line and double tracking of the railway line through the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary and Mollem National Park in Goa.

Disturbing signal? Reliance 'shifting focus' away from Indian petrochemical sector

By NS Venkataraman*
Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), a large Indian company, has expanded and grown in a spectacular manner during the last few decades, like of which no industrial group in India has performed before. RIL is now involved in multi various activities relating to petroleum refineries, petrochemicals, oil and gas exploration, coal bed methane, life sciences, retail business, communication network, (Jio platform) media/entertainment etc.

Case for nationalising India's healthcare system amidst 'strong' private control

Counterview Desk
A draft discussion note, prepared by Dr Maya Valecha, a Gujarat-based gynecologist and activist, sent to the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) as also a large number of activists, academics and professionals as an email alert, is all set to create a flutter among policy experts for its strong insistence on nationalizing India’s healthcare system.

Clean chit to British rulers, Muslim League? Karnataka to have Veer Savarkar flyovers

By Shamsul Islam*
The BJP government of Karnataka led by BS Yediyurappa is going to honour Hindutva icon VD Savarkar by naming two of the newly built major flyovers in Bangalore and Mangalore after him. There was a huge uproar against this decision of the RSS-BJP government as many pro-Kannada organisations with opposition parties and liberal-secular organizations questioned the logic to ignore so many freedom fighters, social reformers and others from within the state.

Oxfam on WB project: ICT 'ineffective', privatised learning to worsen gender divide

By Rajiv Shah 
A top multinational NGO, with presence in several developed and developing countries, has taken strong exception to the World Bank part-funding Strengthening Teaching-Learning and Results for States (STARS) project in six Indian states – Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Odisha – for its emphasis on information and communication technology (ICT)-enabled approaches for teacher development, student assessment and digital platform for early childhood education.