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India: Narmada Update / Background information

NBA | 30.07.2003 12:14 | Social Struggles | World

The submergence in the Narmada Valley cause of the Sadar Sarovar Dam continues. Forceful Evictions of Adivasis. Action Call.
Background information

[NBA] Urgent appeal: crisis in the Narmada valley

Dear Friends,

The submergence caused by the Narmada river due to the
100 meter Sardar Sarovar dam height is increasing and has
entered almost all the 33 Adivasi villages in Maharashtra. It has submerged
the Nimagavhan and by now it must have submerged the
Jeevan Shalas (School for life) of Narmada Bachao Andolan. The water
level is expected to go upto 120 meters soon.

The government of Maharashtra has not initiated even
the most primary action towards rehabilitation of the people threatened

with submergence. Till this time it has not issued a
Government order (GR) for rehabilitation according to the
assurances it has given to end the indefinite fast by Medha Patkar
and dharna in May-June 2003.

Instead it chose to deal with the people through
police. On Tuesday (July 29), police arrested another 74 people
alongwith activists like Pratibha Shinde, Noorjibhai
and others.

The NBA has sent a letter to the District Collector to
come to Dhadgaon (Tehsil Akrani) on AUgust 1 2003 with all the responses
from the government and answer the people's questions. The main
activists including Medha Patkar are in the valley with the

We call unto you to immediately call/fax/email/meet
the Chief Minister or Maharashtra, Mr. Sushilkumar
Shinde, Mantralaya, Mumbai-400003

+91-22-23634950; +91-22-23630408; (Residence)
+91-22-22025151; +91-22-22025222; (Office)
Fax: 022-23633272, 022-22029214
Chief Secy. Ajit Nimbalkar +91-9821092411 (Mobile)

and demand the following

-Initiate concrete steps immediately to resettle
people affected by the SSP in Maharashtra. A revised GR
should be issued instantly and the Collector be instructed to carry out
the rehabilitation process in a just, participatory

-Correct the faulty Resolution passed by the
Government of Maharashtra as per the discussions held with the
Ministers and terms agreed upon and implement these without delays.

-Immediately implement the recommendations of the Task
Force Report set up by the Maharashtra Government and
conducted jointly by the Government and the Narmada Bachao Andolan.

-Demand that Gujarat keeps the SSP gates open in order to minimise
submergence in Maharashtra.

-Demand an immediate geological enquiry into the
Earthquake at the dam-site that took place on the 17th July morning and
measured 4.3 on the richter scale.

-Full compensation for the damage and destruction
following the just panchnamas in the affected villages.

-The Maharashtra government should not allow any
further increase in the height of the dam since people affected at 80
meters are yet to be resettled.

Please stand by in solidarity with the people in the
Narmada valley. Make public the injustice of the State and central
governments in India and do not allow the governments to evade the
responsibility of saefguarding the lives and livelihoods of the people.

Sanjay Sangvai
Pervin Jenhangir
Narmada Bachao Andolan

Background information

Illegal increase of Sardar Sarovar Dam to 100m: violation of fundamental
rights, SC ruling

On May 14th 2003, the Resettlement and Rehabilitation (R&R) subgroup of the
Narmada Control Authority (NCA) gave its "conditional recommendation² to
increase the height of the Sardar Sarovar Dam from its present height of 95m
to 100m (The Hindu, May 14, 2003). This "conditional recommendation² by the
subgroup and the subsequent approval by the full NCA occurred on May 15th
(The Hindu, May 15, 2003) in the face of abundant evidence that the most
basic requirements of fair and just resettlement and rehabilitation of
affected populations have not been met even at the current dam height of
95m. This is borne out by both state sponsored studies such as the Justice
Daud Committee report on condition of oustees in the state of Maharashtra
and the subsequent Joint-Task Force commissioned by Maharashtra; and those
by independent and respected international groups such as the Housing and
Land Rights Network of Habitat International Coalition. For example, studies
by the joint task force in October 2002 at the current height of the dam
(95m) found that more than 3600 families remained to be rehabilitated (about
3100 families remained near the river and 500 families had shifted to
resettlement sites but had not been granted land). This figure for
Maharashtra alone implies tens of thousands of people are yet to be
resettled and the dam even at its current height is in violation of the law.
The condition of the affected people in Madhya Pradesh is worse - a large
majority of the 35,000 oustee families are yet to receive rehabilitation.
The MP government has openly declared that there is no land available for
the oustees and is giving cash compensation, in violation of the Narmada
Water Disputes Tribunal (NWDT) guidelines, which the Supreme Court upheld in
2000. At least 1500 families in Maharashtra and 12000 families in MP face
submergence this monsoon due to the illegal increase in dam height without
adequate rehabilitation.

As per the Supreme Court judgment and the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal
Awards, resettlement must precede submergence by at least six months. The
arrival of the monsoon in the next month or two would jeopardize their lives
and livelihoods.An overwhelming majority of project-affected persons are
indigenous tribes (adivasis) The serious problems with resettlement and
rehabilitation are in violation of adivasi rights protected under the Indian
Constitution and international conventions.

The state administrations are in continued breach of faith of their
citizens. On April 24th 2003, the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Sushilkumar
Shinde in a meeting with affected persons recognized that several of them
had not been resettled and assured them that the state would not permit an
increase in the height of the Sardar Sarovar Dam until full resettlement and
rehabilitation has occurred in the state. Shinde's promise has turned out to
be worthless.

The move by the Narmada Control Authority was timed precisely to subvert the
authority of the Supreme Court The NCA meetings began soon after the
Supreme Court went into an extended summer recess from May 12 until July,
thereby making it difficult for the aggrieved people to approach the Court
for justice.

It happened last May as well !

Exactly one year ago in May 2002, the NCA had ordered an increase of the dam
height from 90 m to 95 m. The displaced people of the Narmada Bachao Andolan
or the Save Narmada Movement went in front of the Supreme Court¹s two-judge
vacation bench. The two judges could not come to a consensus on staying the
dam construction and at the end of May referred it to a new vacation bench
that would sit in the month of June! Meanwhile the dam was raised to 95
metres. The submergence that ensued in the monsoon months of July, August
and September swept away several houses, flooded many fields and put
thousands of families in danger in the remote hills of the Narmada valley.
The Maharshtra state government admitted to submergence without
rehabilitation and agreed for a Rs 35 lakh compensation for the immediate
short-term crop loss and damage. The families in the valley are still
awaiting their rightful land-for land rehabilitation.

Domkhedi submergence (August 2002)
Medha and others in satygaraha (Sep 2002)
satyagraha in Jalsindhi (August 2002)

Narmada water in Kutch

The arrival of Narmada water in Kutch has been announced recently in the
media with fanfare by the Gujarat Government (The Hindu, May 18, 2003).
However, as in Rajkot and Ahmedabad, where Narmada water was brought in just
before the elections, this will do little to alleviate the chronic water
problem there. Furthermore, this is just the drinking water component of the
promised Narmada waters. The irrigation water for 37,000 hectares of
cultivable land in Kutch still remains a mirage. Of the proposed irrigation
of 18 lakh hectares from the project, only 1.6% of the total cultivable land
in Kutch (37,000 ha.) and 9.2% land of Saurashtra would get water from the
Sardar Sarovar Project.


1. Report of the Maharashtra Government¹s Justice Daud Committee

2. Final report of Habitat International Coalition's fact finding team to
the Narmada valley (SSP and Maan dams) September 2002 (PDF file in four

3. A note on rehabilitation status as of Feb 2002 prepared by the Narmada
Bachao Andolan

4. The Supreme Court ruling of October 2000

5. The Maharashtra Government Task Force Report (translation)
Press Releases

A Note on Raising the Sardar Sarovar Dam to 100 Metres
NBA Press Release, May 22 2003

Madhya Pradesh Govt. Bent Upon Destroying Peasants and Tribals in Connivance
with Modi. Battle for Life in Narmada Valley before the Electoral Battle
NBA Press Release, May 20 2003

Indian Dam Decision Threatens Indigenous People; Supreme Court Orders
FORN/AID/IRN Press Release May 14, 2003

Increase in SSP Height - A Corrupt Politics : Digvijay, Shinde Submit to
Modi¹s Wiles
NBA Press Release, May 14 2003

Press Clippings

`Conditional' recommendation to raise Narmada dam height
The Hindu. May 14, 2003

Clearance for raising Narmada dam height
The Hindu. May 15, 2003

Work resumes at Sardar Sarovar dam
The Hindu. May 16, 2003

Editorial: Violating the spirit
The Hindu. May 18, 2003

Modi releases Narmada water to Kutch District
The Hindu. May 18, 2003

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