The recent High Level meeting in Delhi chaired by the Prime Minister’s Pirncipal Secretary Nripendra Mishra and attended by the Chief Secretaries of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra on the 6th of this month regarding the Sardar Sarovar Project, reveals the deep sense of apathy and indifference of the current Central and respective State governments to the plight of the thousands of Project Affected Persons in the Narmada valley.
It is understood that the respective State governments of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh have been directed to expedite Resettlement and Rehabilitation (R&R) process while the Gujarat government undoubtedly seeks a much needed boost in terms of favourable public opinion before the Assembly Elections in 2017. The Gujarat government is particularly under severe pressure owing to the negative publicity due to the Patidar agitation in the state. The state’s oft repeated claim that the completion of the dam would immensely increase the irrigation potential of the State remains a palpable lie to this day; a fact vindicated by the still dry regions of Kutch and Saurashtra.
Narmada Bachao Andolan has consistently reiterated that this alleged “irrigation benefit” has been directed only towards industries in the state. It appears that this trend is set to continue under the current neo-liberal regime characteristic of the infallible belief in ‘growth without limits’.
The respective state governments have repeatedly and falsely claimed complete rehabilitation of the Projected Affected Persons despite multiple evidences put forward by the Andolan, which has often been validated by the ongoing proceedings infront of GRA or numbers unearthed by Jha Commsssion. The struggle has been fought tooth and nail on the legal fronts as well; only to see the judiciary blinded by its own scaffold; often ignoring or underestimating violence perpetrated by the State and Central Governments.
When there are not less than 40,000 families in Madhya Pradesh who are to face the watery grave this Monsoon, then what can one counter the Chief Secretary of the state with who reports compliance and merely demands 350 crore rupeers for rehabilitation? They choose to ignore their own commissions, tribunals and other authorities reports or ground realities, as they exist today.
In the recent meeting, The Gujarat Chief Secretary is reported to have claimed that “Maharashtra has only around 300 families to be resettled while MP needs to settle more – around 1200 families”; numbers which we insist are nowhere even close to the actual figures. For instance, in Maharashtra alone, there are about 791 declared families; a figure which was arrived at following jointly prepared report after a thorough check up of all documents in the Collectors office by both, activists from the NBA and the Collectors’ men over few months in 2015. This figure does not include the 300-400 yet to be declared PAF’s who are currently at the mercy of seeking their declaration by the Grievance Redressal Authority (GRA) chaired by a retired High Court judge, in the state.
The State’s brute force and its unyielding arrogance asserts itself blatantly, particularly so under the current Central Governement’s disposition. This ego driven project is nothing but a facade to cover decades of ‘destruction’ in the name of ‘development’ placing a veil over the inhuman treatment meted out to the people affected by this project!
Such a falsehood, unprecedented in history, needs to be countered not before the Courts of justice but in people’s court in which about 40,000 families, communities within the submergence area need support of all those who are courageous to challenge the present paradigm of development.
For Narmada Bachao Aandolan
Devram Kanera, Kamla Yadav, Gokhru Bhilala, Kailash Awasya, Bhagirath Dhangar, Mohan Patidar, Kailash Yadav, Mudubhai Machhwara, Devisingh Tomar, Yogini Khanolkar, Noorji Vasave, Chetan Salve, Jiku Tadvi, Pemal Behan, Ramesh Prajapati, Sanovar B Mansoori, Lokesh Patidar, Shyama Behan, Rahul Yadav, Mukesh Bhagoriya, Khema Bhilala, Medha Patkar