Skip to main content

Madhya Pradesh using 'false' Narmada dam oustee figures of previous govt: Medha Patkar

Counterview Desk
In her strongly-worded letter to Gopal S Reddy, additional chief secretary, Narmada Valley Development Department, Government of Madhya Pradesh, Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) leader Medha Patkar has asserted that he and his government have "failed" to properly convey actual position of the Narmada dam oustees to the Central agency Narmada Control Authority (NCA) and the Government of India, a major reason why large areas upstream of the dam are facing submergence.
Patkar says, while the Madhya Pradesh government has admitted that the total number of villages that would face submergence is 178, it has refused to provide the number of oustees who would suffer. Also, it has refused to press upon the Gujarat government to reimburse Rs 1,857 crore for rehabilitating the oustees. Several letters on this and related issues have been forwarded to the Centre and Gujarat, but these have not been made public, keeping the oustees in the dark.

Text:

We know that you have been taking a stand against the Gujarat government, which is getting support from the Narmada Control Authority (NCA) to fill up the Sardar Sarovar dam up to the full reservoir level (FRL) of 138.68 metres during this monsoon. There is no doubt that this is necessary, considering the interests of the thousands of oustees in Madhya Pradesh.
However, as I stated in the meeting with the Madhya Pradesh chief secretary on August 24, 2019, we have intensely felt that the letter by the chief secretary to NCA on this issue, dated May 27, 2019, has quoted wrong figures and underestimated the scale of submergence.
The figure of 76 villages and 6,000 families to be affected by submergence at FRL of the Sardar Sarovar dam, i.e., 138.68 metres, is the figure of just one district, Dhar, and this excludes the three other districts, Alirajpur, Badwani and Khargon.
You may now note that the officials who might have briefed you, as well as the chief secretary, the minister concerned and the chief minister, have offered you wrong figures, something you have now accepted. The number of affected villages has been finally put at 178. However, no final figures of the affected families has been announced. Your have, however, admitted that the earlier surveys of many places might have been flawed, and hence are pending review.
May I ask you, the chief secretary, as well as the chief minister, whether you have written a single letter to NCA, as also the secretary, Union water resources ministry, and the Union minister concerned, quoting actual facts that would bring out the formidable scale of impact of submergence, compelling the authorities to review their decision?
If yes, will you kindly forward a copy to me of the any such letter/s, and if not, will you kindly ensure that these letters are sent?
I am shocked about what you have written a letter recently to NCA regarding water levels. You have questioned the NCA decision to take the water level in the dam to 134.50 metres by August 31. But you have not said anything about what water levels should be maintained during the month of September.
Is this, may I ask, your strongest possible argument in order to protect the interest of the oustees, who are in thousands? Don’t you think that the issue that needs to be raised should be more basic, especially focusing on the unjustifiable decision to raise the water level beyond 122 metres in order to avoid the submergence of property of the Narmada project affected families without full and proper rehabilitation, as it would violate law, policy as well as the fundamental human and Constitutional rights?
As you are aware, the Central ministry and NCA are depending their facts and figures on the basis of false affidavits filed by the former government of Madhya Pradesh showing zero balance in rehabilitation and resettlement (R&R) during 2008-2016, which needed to be strongly challenged and rejected by taking a firm and fact-based position. The new state government and your department, as well as the Narmada minister, should have done this.
There are also many other points that were conveyed to you, the chief minister, and the minister in your presence, which can form a relevant basis for questioning and taking up issue of filling up the dam’s reservoir. For example, the Government of Gujarat has still not provided to you the required reimbursement of Rs 1,857 crore, which is mandatory as per the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal Award (NWDTA). It is unfortunate that this demand was put up as late as in July 2019.
Worse, this demand, as well as failure to get any response on this and other issues, have not been put  in the public domain, which is surprising in the present situation of the devastating impact on the people, communities, and the natural ecosystem, including livelihood of farmers and other sections in the Sardar Sarovar dam-affected people.
I am writing this letter to you because I think that you should make a final scrutiny of facts and positions being taken up at your end before any briefing takes place at the level of the chief secretary or the chief minister.
I would like you to play a major role in putting together all the relevant and reliable facts that would help in carving out a clear and confident position on the part of the State government against the filling up of the Sardar Sarovar reservoir.
As you know, if this does not happen at a war-footing, nothing less than watery grave awaits the communities living in the upstream of the dam, and the State government will be held responsible for the role it is expected to play and legal mandate it should follow in the interests of the project affected families.
---
The letter has been slightly edited for style

Comments

TRENDING

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.

How lead petitioner was rendered homeless when GM mustard matter came up in SC

By Rosamma Thomas*  On January 5, 2023, the Supreme Court stayed a December 20, 2022 direction of the Uttarakhand High Court to the Indian Railways and the district administration of Haldwani to use paramilitary forces to evict thousands of poor families occupying land that belonged to the railways.  Justice AS Oka remarked that it was not right to order the bringing in of paramilitary forces. The SC held that even those who had no rights, but were living there for years, needed to be rehabilitated. On December 21, 2022, just as she was getting ready to celebrate Christmas, researcher Aruna Rodrigues was abruptly evicted from her home in Mhow Cantonment, Madhya Pradesh – no eviction notice was served, and nearly 30 Indian Army soldiers bearing arms were part of the eviction process. What is noteworthy in this case is that the records establishing possession of the house date back to 1892 – the title deed with the name of Dr VP Cardoza, Rodrigues’ great grandfather, is dated November 14

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.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

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".

Tax buoyancy claims when less than 4% Indian dollar millionaires pay income tax

By Prasanna Mohanty  In FY18, the last year for which disaggregated income tax data is available, only 29,002 ITRs declared income above Rs 5 crore, while Credit Suisse said India had 7.25 lakh dollar millionaires (the wealth equivalent of Rs 8 crore and above) that year. Often enough, the Centre claims that demonetization in 2016 raised tax collections, improved tax efficiency, and expanded the tax base. Now RBI Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) member Ashima Goyal has also joined their ranks, attributing the “claims” of rising tax collections in the current fiscal year to “tax buoyancy” brought by the demonetisation . Do such claims have any basis in official records? The answer is unequivocal. The budget documents show the tax-to-GDP ratio (direct plus indirect tax) increased from 10.6% in FY16 (pre-demonetization) to 11.2% in FY17, remained there in FY18 (demonetization and GST fiscals), and then fell to 9.9% in FY20. In FY22, it improved to 10.8% and is estimated to drop to 10.7% in

Gandhian unease at Mahadev Desai book launch: Sabarmati Ashram may lose free space

By Rajiv Shah  A simmering apprehension has gripped the Gandhians who continue to be trustees of the Sabarmati Ashram: the “limited freedom” to express one’s views under the Modi dispensation still available at the place which Mahatma Gandhi made his home from 1917 to 1930 may soon be taken away. Also known as Harijan Ashram, a meeting held for introducing yet-to-be-released book, “Mahadev Desai: Mahatma Gandhi's Frontline Reporter”, saw speaker and after speaker point towards “narrowing space” in Gujarat for Gandhians (as also others) to express themselves. Penned by veteran journalist Nachiketa Desai, grandson of Mahadev Desai, while the book was planned to be released on January 1 and the meeting saw several prominent personalities, including actor-director Nandita Das, her scholar-mother Varsha Das, British House of Lords member Bhikhu Parekh, among others, speak glowingly about the effort put in for bringing out the book, exchanges between speakers suggested it should be rele

Civil rights leaders allege corporate loot of resources, suppression of democratic rights

By Our Representative  Civil rights activists have alleged, quoting top intelligence officers as also multiple international forensic reports, that recent developments with regard to the Bhima Koregaon and the Citizenship Amendment Act-National Register of Citizens (CAA-NRC) cases suggest, there was "no connection between the Elgaar Parishad event and the Bhima Koregaon violence." Activists of the Campaign Against State Repression (CASR) told a media event at the HKS Surjeet Bhawan, New Delhi, that, despite this, several political prisoners continue to be behind bars on being accused under the anti-terror the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Addressed by family members of the political prisoners, academics, as well as social activists, it was highlighted how cases were sought to be fabricated against progressive individuals, democratic activists and intellectuals, who spoke out against "corporate loot of Indian resources, suppression of basic democratic

Why no information with Assam state agency about female rhino poaching for a year?

By Nava Thakuria   According to official claims, incidents of poaching related to rhinoceros in various forest reserves of Assam in northeast India have decreased drastically. Brutal laws against the poachers, strengthening of ground staff inside the protected forest areas and increasing public awareness in the fringe localities of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries across the State are the reasons cited for positively impacting the mission to save the one-horned rhinos. Officials records suggest, only two rhinos were poached in Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve since 1 January 2021 till date. The last incident took place probably in the last week of December 2021, as a decomposed carcass of a fully-grown (around 30 years old) female rhino was recovered inside the world-famous forest reserve next month. As the precious horn was missing, for which the gigantic animal was apparently hunted down, it could not be a natural death. Ironically, however, it was not confirmed when

Kerala natural rubber producers 'squeezed', attend to their plight: Govt of India told

By Rosamma Thomas   Babu Joseph, general secretary of the National Federation of Rubber Producers Societies (NFRPS) at a recent discussion at Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, explained that it is high time the Union government paid greater heed to the troubles plaguing the rubber production sector in India – rubber is a strategic product, important for the military establishment and for industry, since natural rubber is still used in the manufacture of tyres for large vehicles and aeroplanes. Synthetic rubber is now quite widespread, but styrene, which is used in making synthetic rubber and plastics, and also butadiene, another major constituent of synthetic rubber, are both hazardous. Prolonged exposure to these even in recycled rubber can cause neurological damage. Kerala produces the bulk of India’s natural rubber. In 2019-20, Kerala’s share in the national production of rubber was over 74%. Over 20% of the gross cropped area in the state is under rubber cultivation, with total

Lack of welfare schemes, BSF curbs force West Bengal farmers to migrate far away

Counteview Desk  In a representation to the National Human Rights Commission chairperson, a senior West Bengal based activist has complained that villagers living near the border with Bangladesh are forced to migrate to as far away as Mumbai and Kerala because of lack of government sensitivity towards their welfare in original villages. Giving specific instances, Kirity Roy, secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), said, if the Border Security Force (BSF) had not put any restriction on agricultural activities, and if villages had properly implemented welfare schemes, these people would never migrate to other States. Text: I want to attract your immediate attention to the inhumane condition of the migrated workers of Gobra village, Swarupnagar Block in North 24 Parganas district of West Bengal to seek your urgent intervention to protect the rights of these people. Gobra is a village situated near the Indo-Bangladesh Border where the border fencing is about 500 meters i