Narmada displaced people demand for justice

The displaced adivasis and farmers affected by the Sardar Sarovar Project staged a demonstration before the office of the Narmada Valley Development Authority (NVDA) in Indore today morning. The Vice-Chairman of the NVDA, OP Rawat who was scheduled to meet the displaced postponed his visit, but the people have strongly resolved that they shall continue to assert their rights in a militant albeit peaceful way so long as a written response is not given to all the issues raised by them and until such time that the unjust and illegal attempts to push the dam are not given up. Read more

The resolute people embarked on a Jeevan Adhikar Yatra from the Narmada river bank at Rajghat (Badwani) and reached Indore on the 13th of April and have been on an indefinite protest ever since. The people have been protesting the unjust political expediency to raise the SSP dam from its present height of 121.92 mts to the final height of 138.68 mts by installing the 17 mts high radial gates,
even when there are 2 lakh people in the submergence area yet to be rehabilitated with land, alternative livelihood and rehabilitation villages and despite the fact that many environmental safeguard measures are yet to be fully complied with, as pointed out by Dr. Devender Pandey Committee (February 2009
and 2010).

NBA expresses its dismay that though the SSP and Jobat dam affected people expressed their willingness to have a constructive dialogue with the NVDA officials today, the latter did not show an inclination towards the same. Instead, the police were deployed in a good number to prevent the people from entering the NVDA premises. The Commissioner and the Deputy Commissioner almost
pleaded ignorance about the Vice-Chairman’s planned dialogue with the Andolan!

The Vice Chairman, Mr. Rawat excused himself from meeting the displaced by stating that he had to attend the Cabinet meeting at Bhopal and had to go to Delhi. He has promised to meet the people upon his return from Delhi.

The action at the Dharna site continued in its usual mood of hope and perseverance today as well. Jamsingh, Lalsingh and others of Bhadal village, making a piercing statement on the ‘freedom of the adivasis in independent India’ stated that when the British Government itself had granted pattas to
their ancestors, the NVDA is plotting to declare them as ‘ineligible’ and deny them their just and legal rehabilitation entitlements. Dadubhai of village Malangaon said that despite his village being marooned (tapu-affected) due to the Maan river and a large drain, his village has been declared as ‘unaffected’. On the other hand, hundreds of ineligible and even those living outside the affected villages have received crores of rupees R&R grants from the state rehabilitation fund as a result of the ‘grand nexus’ of corruption between the officials, agents and touts.

Medha Patkar stated that the NVDA should have the moral fibre to check corruption that has so extensively and deeply embedded itself within the Authority, but the even at the highest levels, there is a serious absence of political and bureaucratic will to address this virus. Instead the NVDA is
spending lakhs of rupees in engaging lawyers to shield the guilty officers, instead of using that amount to speed up the fair process of rehabilitation of the oustees, (particularly by purchasing private land) who are in a serious state of deprivation.

In the past one weak, the displaced and the activists of the Andolan have had two lengthy and informed rounds of dialogue with senior officials of NCA, VK Jyothi (Executive Member) and Afroz Ahmed (Director, Rehabilitation), but feel that there is a need for a further dialogue to clarify on many a issues and get concrete written assurances. NBA demands that the NCA must to take a strong and truthful position on the reality of poor rehabilitation and serious environmental non-compliance and issue firm directives to the NVDA to comply with the Narmada Tribunal Award, clearances, Rehabilitation Policy and Supreme Court’s Judgements.

Enormous support for the people’s cause continues to pour in from various supporters in Indore and elsewhere. The real struggle lies in the days ahead and the displaced are keen not to give up before asserting and attaining their rights.

Published in:
Elites TV News, USA
Citizen News Service (CNS), India/.Thailand