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Abandon coal-based power plants, dams on Narmada river: MP 34 civil society bodies

Counterview Desk
As many as 34 civil society organizations of Madhya Pradesh, forming Jan Sangharsh Samanvay Samiti, have, through a statement, put forward a list of demands before candidates fighting the Lok Sabha elections, ranging from abandoning new plans to have coal-based power plants to suspending fresh dams on the Narmada river in view of sharp deceleration in the flow of water.

Text of statement:

In the context of the upcoming general election, a two days consultation was organized by Mahegi Bijali Abhiyan – Madhya Pradesh and National Alliance of People’s Movement – Madhya Pradesh on “Energy and Infrastructure Development – a Democratic Process” in Jabalpur.
More than 55 people from 30 people’s organisations and grassroots groups from across Madhya Pradesh which are resisting mega energy and infrastructure construction projects in their respective areas participated in the consultation.
The two-day consultation process ended with the community leaders from these groups came out with specific demands related to energy and water sector development projects and their financing mechanisms.
A state-level coordination committee was formed which has been formally named as – Madhya Pradesh Jan-Sangharsh Samanvay Samiti, it is an umbrella forum which looks to represent grassroots groups and people’s organisations questioning, critiquing and resisting mega infrastructure projects in energy and water sector in Madhya Pradesh.
The state level co-ordination committee resolved and prepared demands of these groups which will be put forth to all the people’s representatives as part of the democratic process. The groups also agreed to present these demands and get it passed through Gram Sabhas resolutions in the state on April 14, 2019 when the next gram sabha would convene. Thereafter, all the 30 groups will ask all the people’s representatives during the general elections to accept and formally agree to them, so as to ensure support and encouragement of the local community members.
The committee will also meet the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh and the concerned ministers to discuss the resolution in the near future. The committee will also hold briefings and meetings in Bhopal and other regions of the state in this regard.
Resolution and demands presented to the people’s representatives:
  • In Madhya Pradesh the installed capacity of electricity is double than demand, therefore, now there is no need to approve new coal-based power plant, hydropower plant, and nuclear projects.
  • Such projects where land has been acquired for power projects, but so far the work on the projects has not been started, the acquired land should be returned to original landowners/ tenants.
  • Power projects where there has been no power purchase agreement, Coal Linkages, water linkage and financial closure, such projects should be cancelled immediately.
  • Water conservation, protection and rehabilitation of water resources should be promoted across the state with urgency and should be given priority in the areas where water problems are arising due to pollution, encroachment, diversion, etc of water supply to power/ industrial projects. The basic right to water should be ensured in the state specifically water for drinking and irrigation should be ensured for all.
  • The privatisation of water services for drinking water and irrigation should be stopped in the name of reforms and privatised water services to be returned to public agencies.
  • Considering the decreasing water flows in the Narmada river, all the big construction projects should be stopped immediately in the Narmada basin. Catchment areas of Narmada and its tributaries should be protected from pollution and sand mining, efforts to be encouraged to maintain annual water flows in these rivers.
  • All the existing projects which are approved/ cleared by the government under the environmental conditions should ensure compliance of the conditions in the area.
  • Ensure the rehabilitation of all families displaced from various mega construction projects and immediately stopping any proposed displacement.
  • To cancel immediately all the false cases imposed on people who are resisting against these mega projects.
  • The Madhya Pradesh government land in villages should be declared as Gram Sabhaproperty under the Madhya Pradesh Panchayati Raj and Gram Swaraj acts 1993 and 2001.
  • The new land acquisition act has provision to provide 4 times the compensation from the current rate, however, Madhya Pradesh government is providing only 2 times compensation which is against the new act. According to the act four times, compensation should be ensured.
  • The Madhya Pradesh government is selling electricity to other states at INR 2.60 per unit. Therefore, electricity at the same rate should also be available to the people of Madhya Pradesh.
  • All the loans from power projects or companies which are declared under stressed assets or have become non-performing assets, the full amount of it should be recovered without any haircut or write off.
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Click HERE for the list of civil society participants

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