August 23, 2016
Dear Prime Minister, Shri. Narendra Modi,
It’s with a heavy heart that we want to bring to your attention the plight of the communities affected by the Sardar Sarovar (Narmada) dam.
We are sure that you are conversant with a lot of facts about the dam, having relentlessly pushed the dam height as the Chief Minister of Gujarat, despite the rehabilitation far from complete, and having given clearance to complete the dam, with gates, on the 17th day of your Prime Ministership.
However, the fact that there are thousands of families and a few lakhs of people residing in the villages yet to be rehabilitated is something which either the officials are wilfully concealing from you, or you fail to take cognisance of.
Additionally, there are no less that 15,900 families who are declared to be outside the submergence zone, (even after granting them part of the rehabilitation entitlements) with a stroke of a pen, that too after 30 years since the dam was planned and approved is something which astonishes us to no limit. Can the lives of our citizens be so valueless that a few bureaucrats can paly around with their plight as effortlessly as this?
As a Prime Minister who ran an election campaign on anti-corruption plank, we expected you to take exemplary action against officials in Madhya Pradesh involved in the corruption as exposed by Justice S.S.Jha Commission, unearthing corruption to the tune of not less than Rs. 1500 crores in the fake sale deeds of land meant for the affected communities. Instead, we are witnessing an endorsement of the same, with you and Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh taking no action, and instead, letting to go the dam complete based on false records.
You are no stranger to the fact that this project has been in the center of controversy for the past three decades. Apart from the colossal human rights violation, the project has been plagued with bad planning, skewed allocation and unviable financials.
What else, when 100s of people displaced in 1960’s for the colonies of the dam are sitting on a relay fast in Kevadia colony since last June 15, demanding full rehabilitation and employment for the ones not given land, and the government of Gujarat has taken no initiative until now for a composite dialogue, what can others expect?
Hundreds of women and men affected by the dam is on a Satyagraha at Badwani, Madhya Pradesh since July 30th. The people in the Narmada valley deserve the insaniyat you talked about the other day referring to the developments in Kashmir (ironically at a rally in Alirajpur, a tribal district in Madhya Pradesh affected by the Sardar Sarovar dam, where a few hundreds are yet to be rehabilitated).
We, the undersigned concerned citizens, appeal to you to:
1. Not allow the dam gates to be closed, until complete rehabilitation is done, and
2. Engage with Narmada Bachao Andolan, the people’s movement of 31 years, in a dialogue, aiming to develop a just and complete rehabilitation plan.
We are hopeful that as the Prime Minister of the largest democracy, you will stand upto the rights of the people in Narmada Valley.
Irom Sharmila, Social Activist
Aruna Roy, Nikhil Dey, Shankar Singh, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan
Adml (Retd) L. Ramdas, former Chief of Naval Staff
Lalita Ramdas, Human Rights Activist
Harsh Mander, Social Worker and Writer
Anand Patwardhan, filmmaker
Maj Gen S.G.Vombatkere, VSM (Retd), Mysuru
Dr. Sunilam, former MLA, Madhya Pradesh
Suhas Kolhekar, National Alliance of People’s Movements