Nearly 40,000 Families are Still Living in Thriving Narmada Villages :: Rehabilitation Sites are in Shambles.
Yet the Madhya Pradesh Govt Prepares to Evict or Drown these Villages based on Falsehoods, Even Before Rehabilitation is Done, Even When Many Deserving Affected Families are Yet to be Compensated.
In Delhi on August 7th, National Alliance of People’s Movements and Bhumi Adhikar Andolan together organised a press conference in Delhi to expose the lies of Madhya Pradesh Govt regarding the status of rehabilitation of more than 40000 families in Narmada Valley and Rehabilitation sites. Hannan Mollah, Former MP and Gen. Secretary of All India Kisan Sabha, Soumya Dutta, Environmentalist and Energy Expert, Bharat Jan Vigyan Jatha, and Annie Raja, Gen. Secretary at National Federation of Indian Women together briefed the journalists about the present situation of Narmada Valley and exposed the lies of Madhya Pradesh Govt.
The Madhya Pradesh government is going ahead with its preparations for a state-engineered modern-day genocide in the Narmada valley. The waters of the Sardar Sarovar Dam reservoir is rising after the closing of the dam-gates, as more rain water flows in. There are about 191 villages and the small town of Dharampuri which are threatened with submergence, mostly in Nimad region – some completely, some in large parts. The Narmada Bachao Andolan estimates that about 40,000 families are still living in these villages, who have either not been given rehabilitation entitlements, or given in part. The government estimates a far lower 18,000+ families that still needs to be rehabilitated.
Hundreds of temples-mosques-adivasi religious places, schools, health centers, thousands of shops, small business places, very well developed fruits & vegetable farms which are still being actively used…….. are all to be drowned latest by 1st or 2nd week of October, as per the schedule issues by the Govt.
Some of the villages have yielded rich archaeological evidences of pre-historic human habitations. From times very ancient to the present day, innovative farming communities have made this valley a treasure house of productivity. And yet, today we are witnessing its insane destruction, just for a few MW of electricity and the elusive irrigation that is still a mirage.
The MP govt also have attempted condemnable acts of demolishing Mahatma Gandhi Samadhi by the banks of Narmada in Badwani district, in the dead of night, using construction machinery!.
The Honourable Supreme Court had – in its 2000 and 2005 orders, made it clear that every project affected family losing land will have to be rehabilitated based on land for land principle, six-months before their displacement, along with house plots in fully developed rehabilitation sites, containing a minimum of 17 listed facilities. Other oustees were also to be rehabilitated in terms of their livelihoods lost. These were also the original awards of the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal (NWDT), in its 1979 order.
The MP and Union governments earlier repeatedly lied to the SC, claiming that there is “ZERO BALANCE” for rehabilitation, meaning everyone deserving rehabilitation, have already been rehabilitated. The Narmada Control Authority (NCA) authorized the closing of the 17 meter high dam gates, effectively raising the dam height to 138.68 meters, based on the latest report of the R&R subcommittee, housed in the Social Justice Ministry. This also apparently claims rehabilitation is complete or nearly so !
The Secretary of the same Union Social Welfare Ministry (who heads the R&R sub-committee) later admitted – on June 27 – that “they know” there are still 18,000+ families living in the submergence threatened villages, who needs to be rehabilitated. Tens of thousands of fully grown trees are also standing in these villages, contrary to claims by the MP government.
In the last 4 months, several independent (of NBA) groups and committees have visited the affected area of Narmada valley, and found these govt claims to be largely false. Out of 88 rehab sites, most are not even levelled, not to talk about being provided with the 17 listed facilities, including drinking water, approach and internal roads, drainage, electricity, schools, health care facilities etc.
In its last order dated 8th February 2017, the Supreme Court had ordered the Governments to compensate Rs.60 lakhs (estimated price of 5 Acres of agricultural land there) to all those losing over 25% of land and who have not taken any compensation yet. As per repeatedly clarified orders, these were to include adult children as separate families. Those who took the earlier meagre compensation of 5.58 lakhs, but were cheated by the collusion of officers and land-agents, were awarded 15 lakhs each family.
To know how these massive scams happened with collusion of high govt officials, one can refer to the well investigated report of the Justice Jha Commission, appointed by the MP High Court.
The MP Govt is deliberately mis-interpreting the last SC order, which mentions the right of the state to evict villagers by force, once rehabilitation is done. The moot point is REHABILITATION IS FAR FROM DONE, IN MOST CASES – THIS HAS NOT EVEN BEGUN IN RIGHT EARNEST. BUT – the MP govt has amassed large police forces in the area, conducting intimidating drills in the villages, threatening villagers to vacate or else…….
VACATE, BUT WHERE TO? Many rehab sites are not even approachable by road. Many are undulating rocky terrain, with large ditches as allotted house plots!. Many have deep layers of black cotton soil, on which you cannot place a house foundation without huge investment. Barsaati nallahs run through some sites and house plots. One such site in Dharampuri town is just by the side of a fast flowing hilly stream, which destroys its surroundings every good monsoon! Tales of inhuman treatments to prosperous, hard-working, peaceful farming communities abound in the threatened valley.
After all this, Even the reservoir in Gujarat are already filled and some of the canals are broken which increased the intensity of floods in Gujarat. This proves that the decision of closing Sardar Sarovar Dam gates is not for the water supply to Gujarat or Rajasthan but a mere tool to influence the Gujarat elections. This is a shameless politics of governments, when the same decision can drown lakhs of people in Narmada Valley.