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NBA dharna in Delhi continues

• NBA dharna in Delhi continues
• NBA delegation meets Smt. Veena Chhotray, Chairperson, Resettlement and Rehabilitation (R&R) Sub-group, Narmada Control Authority
• Fraudulent affidavits submitted to Supreme Court by M.P. and Maharashtra stands exposed
• “Visthapan Parishad” held at the Dharna site today

The Narmada Bachao Andolan dharna in New Delhi today entered the 2nd day with hundreds of representatives of the affected adivasis and farmers in the Narmada Valley, who arrived here, resolving that they will not return till their demands, are met. The dharna, which began yesterday at the gate of Shastri Bhavan, continues at Jantar Mantar, after the agitating affected people were forcibly lifted and put into vans and brought to Jantar Mantar late last night. This police action is reprehensible not just because of the use of force on peaceful agitators, but also since it took place while the NBA delegation was in Shastri Bhavan, holding discussions with Smt. Veena Chhoutray, Chairperson R&R Sub-group.

NBA has, in its talks yesterday with the Dr. Meira Kumar, Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment and Smt. Veena Chhoutray, expressed deep anguish at the fact that construction up to 122m had been completed even after the Shunglu Committee Report had clearly found that R&R was not yet completed. Also, despite the directions of Prime Minister that R&R work must be accelerated, during the period when there would be stoppage of work at 119m, and completed before work on construction of the dam was resumed. NBA then pressed for the undertaking of R&R work on war footing without any further increase in dam height. Towards realizing R&R of affected people, NBA placed a list of demands that is enclosed with the press release. The sacrificing of the rights of the affected populations at the altar of Sardar Sarovar is the violation of the rehabilitation framework laid down by the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal Award and the several judgments of the Supreme Court.

IT MAY BE RECALLED THAT IN THE ONGOING CASE IN THE SUPREME COURT, THE GOVERNMENTS OF MADHYA PRADESH AND MAHARASHTRA HAD FILED AFFIDAVITS STATING THAT THE R&R OF ALL PAFS UP TO 122M HAD BEEN COMPLETED. OWING TO THE NBA’S AGITATION IN MARCH/APRIL 2006 IN NEW DELHI, THE PRIME MINISTER DIRECTED THE FORMATION OF THE SHUNGLU COMMITTEE TO VERIFY THE R&R CLAIMS IN MADHYA PRADESH. THE FINDINGS OF THE SHUNGLU COMMITTEE, NOT ONLY VALIDATE THE CLAIMS MADE BY NBA, BUT EXPOSE THE LIES IN THE AFFIDAVITS OF THE GOVERNMENTS. THE REPORT ALSO BRINGS OUT THAT 25,000 FAMILIES (19000 DECLARED PAFS, OTHERS ‘CLAIMANTS’) CONTINUE TO RESIDE IN THE SUBMERGENCE AREA OF M.P ALONE WHO WOULD HAVE TO BE RESETTLED AND REHABILITATED, LISTS OF MAJOR SONS WERE YET TO BE COMPLETED, LAND YET TO BE PURCHASED BY THOSE WHO HAVE ACCEPTED SPECIAL REHABILITATION PACKAGE (SRP), TENS OF R&R SITES WERE YET TO BE EITHER ESTABLISHED OR DEVELOPED WITH AMENITIES AND THE GOVERNMENT OF MADHYA PRADESH DOES NOT HAVE CULTIVABLE LAND FOR REHABILITATION. THE REPORT OF YASHADA, PUNE, THE OFFICIAL MONITORING AND EVALUATION AGENCY APPOINTED BY THE GOVERNMENT OF MAHARASHTRA, HAS FOUND THAT 874 PROJECT AFFECTED FAMILIES ARE YET TO BE REHABILITATED. WHAT THIS GOES TO PROVE IS THAT THE AFFIDAVITS THAT HAVE BEEN PLACED BEFORE THE SUPREME COURT BY THE GOVERNMENTS OF MAHARASHTRA AND MADHYA PRADESH ARE FRAUDULENT.

One of NBA’s demands is that there should be an investigation into the massive corruption in the disbursement of cash compensation in the name of Special Rehabilitation Package (SRP) in M.P. The figures presented by M.P., of the PAFs rehabilitated in Madhya Pradesh or of those who are shown to have supposedly purchased land, are fabricated. There is massive corruption of crores or rupees by the officials (almost all land acquisition officers and resettlement officers) and the middlemen (especially few local advocates), which has led to false registries and land purchases that have not actually occurred. In the past month or so, several government officials have been found guilty of corruption practices in relation to SRP. An investigation by a Central Agency would reveal the obscene levels of corruption pervading this entire process.

Today, “Visthapan Parishad” (a public meeting of the displaced) was called to discuss the various issues related to displacement. Speakers, relating to experiences across India, strongly stated that displacement, without ‘rehabilitation with replacement of livelihood’, just mere uprooting of communities, has become the most serious national issue. On the one hand, the traditional displacement caused by dams, highways, mines, industries, etc. still displace lakhs, on a yearly basis. Now the new “land reform” movement of the government, namely SEZ, will further displacement like never before. Only humane considerations and a humanist value framework, which is enshrined in our constitution, can enable anyone and the State to take cognizance of the pain and anguish, the intensifying people’s struggles, the issues of justice raised, rights to life and livelihood, asserted. The speakers included Ravindra Sahu speaking on Orissa, Shantaji (Sanjha Manch), Sandeep speaking on Singur, Rakesh Rafique, Lalbabu, Vimalbhai (Uttarkhand), Bijulal, Denzil, Kamala Yadav and Himanshu Upadhyay.

The dharna at Jantar Mantar will continue and that is the resolve of the people from the Narmada Valley. The NWDTA and Supreme Court judgments have to be implemented and the R&R of people must precede any further dam construction. Like Bhaijikaka, an adivasi from Gujarat affected by the dam, always says, “hamara hak aage hain, Sardar Sarovar peeche hain” (The rights of the affected comes first, projects can wait).

Ashish Mandloi,Kamala Yadav,Yogini Khanolkar,Noorji Padvi,Medha Patkar