Narmada Control Authority accepts Sardar Sarovar oustees' demands: Medha Patkar

After 13 days stay and struggle at the Office of the Narmada Control Authority (NCA), Indore, hundreds of adivasis and farmers, with fisher people and potters from the Sardar Sarovar affected villages in the Narmada valley moved to Bhopal. They left NCA’s headquarters after Mr. V.K. Jyoti, Executive Member and Mr. Afroz Ahmed, Director (Rehabilitation) admitted that the people’s demands are within the framework of the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal ward (NWDTA), state’s R&R Policies and the Supreme Court’s Judgments. Read more

SSP, Jobat dam osutees and the canal-affected farmers and adivasis of Indira Sagar and Omkareshwar canals decided to challenge NVDA on various issues including land-based rehabilitation and non-compliance concealed to push the SSP dam height and the legality and logic of destroying prime agricultural lands. Despite the non-receptive attitude of NVDA officials, the people made their way into the ‘Narmada Bhavan’ today afternoon and had an intense face-to-face on the burning reality of submergence with no rehabilitation and massive corruption. The Vice-Chairman Mr. O.P. Rawat had to come down and dialogue with the people for an hour and he said that he will try to look into the concerns raised. People asserted that the Vice-Chairman must listen to their issues and grievances and resolve them at the earliest, else they would have to launch a do-or-die battle.

Andolan, through their hours long dialogue with the NCA officials and meetings at the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (MSJE) and Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) held by a delegation that went to Delhi last week received assurances that there is no decision as yet to erect the gates on the 122 mts high dam.

The Environment Sub-Group of NCA led by the Secretary, MoEF has taken a position that since the Central Water Commission (CWC) has not given in writing that there would be no additional submergence due to erection of gates, no final clearance is granted by the Environment Sub-Group. The Social Justice Ministry has also assured that when no rehabilitation with land to at least 5000 eligible families, fisheries rights to the fish workers and river bank land to the potters is yet ensured, the issue of granting clearance to increase the dam height further by the R&R Sub-Group does not arise.

After the people’s action, the NCA had to take cognizance and write to all the three states to take action. The oustees’ have asserted that for those who have lost their agricultural land in 1990’s when the dam height was below 80 mts and others who are in the submergence at the present height, have the right to ‘rehabilitation villages’ with a farmland and house plots with all civic amenities.

The project-affected families specifically demanded that the Madhya Pradesh Government must purchase private land, as is being done in Maharashtra and Gujarat and the NCA has in turn written to the NVDA, M.P. This letter by the NCA, to the Vice-Chairman, NVDA was read out before the Sardar Sarovar and Jobat affected adivasis and farmers at 7:45 a.m. today morning when the people warned them of all the pending tasks relating to rehabilitation and environmental compliance and the fact that there are still 2,00,000 and more people living in the submergence area in the hilly communities and the densely populated villages. They also reminded them of the NCA’s powers under the Narmada Tribunal Award, the Narmada Water Scheme, 1987 and the Supreme Court’s Judgement of 2000.

The State can’t permit anyone’s land and property to be submerged without full and fair rehabilitation, people asserted. SSP is at a standstill since 2006 and has to remain so, even now, until all the conditions on rehabilitation and environmental mitigation are fulfilled.

The adivasis of Jobat dam have also risen up and asserted their right to land and the duty of the NCA to monitor their full and fair rehabilitation in a situation where no land but meager cash and no resettlement sites are provided to them, till date.

All these adivasis, farmers, fisher people, potters from the Narmada valley have warned the NCA and the NVDA that if they do not take up the promises and the process forward towards full compliance, the people will come out of the valley and plunge into the ultimate battle to attain their constitutional,
legal and human rights.

Surbhan Bhilala    Janaki Gulalia     Madubhai Machuara   
Pushpa Prajapati   Tekambhai     Kailash Awasya     
Ashish Mandloi     Kamla Yadav       Yogini Khanolkar
Medha Patkar