Action Alert- Stop another planned #Uttarakhand- Challenge drowning of 2 lakh population in the Narmada Valley


 

Challenge drowning of 2 lakh population in the Narmada Valley

 

Dear saathi,

 

We are writing to you amidst a situation of extreme urgency. The two lakh population of adivasis, farmers, fish workers, potters etc. in the Narmada valley – in the three states of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat in the 245 villages require your immediate support to save their lives and livelihoods.

 

Reportedly, the state governments have submitted reports of ‘complete rehabilitation’ to the R&R Sub Group of the Narmada Control Authority (NCA) and the NCA is to take a final decision on the 2nd of July at Indore, regarding permission to raise the height of the Sardar Sarovar Dam from the present 122 mts to final height of 138 mts.

 

Thousands are yet to get land, thousands more alternative livelihood, fishing rights, house plots at R&R sites and other amenities and entitlements. Corruption worth, 1,000 crores is under judicial investigation. Major environmental non-compliance has been exposed by MoEF’s expert committees’. In such a situation, drowning the 2 lakh population in the living village communities would be a human massacre, worse than the painful Uttarakhand disaster.

 

Please intervene to stop the political conspiracy to complete the dam by violating all laws and judicial dicta, when only 10% of its claimed benefits have been realized and the financial, social and environmental costs have increased ten-fold. Please find enclosed our press release, which describes the situation in detail.Please do immediately write to the PM, Water Resources and Social Justice Minister and others to act by law.

 

With sincere regards,

 

Medha Patkar (09423965153)        Mukesh Bhagoria (09826811982)

 

Meera (09179148973)            Kailash Awasya (09009147868)

 

 

 

Contacts:

 

Shri Manmohan Singh,
Prime Minister,
Government of India
South Block, Raisina Hills,
New Delhi 110 101
Fax: 011-23019545, 23016857
E-mail: manmohan@sansad.nic.in
Kumari Selja,
Minister,
Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment,
Government of India
Shastri Bhawan, Dr. Rajendra Prasad Marg, New Delhi

Ph: 011- 23381001 and 011-23381390
Fax: 011-23014432, 011-23012117
E-mail: min-sje@sb.nic.in andpsmsje@gmail.com ;Shri Harish Rawat,

Minister,

Ministry of Water Resources,

Sharam Shakti Bhawan

Rafi marg

New Delhi-110001

Office: 11-23714200 , 11-23714663 and 11-23711780

Residence: 11-23791352

Fax: 11-23710804 (O) and 11-23793184 ( R)

E-mail: minister-mowr@nic.inMs. Sonia Gandhi

President, United Progressive Alliance

10, Janpath

Fax: 011-23794616 / 23014481

E-mail: soniagandhi@sansad.nic.in

Shri Afroz Ahmed
Director,
(Rehabilitation and Impact Assessment),
Narmada Control Authority,
Narmada Sadan, Vijay Nagar, Indore.
Fax: 0731-2554333
E-mail: dir.rehab.nca@nic.in
afrozahmad@hotmail.comShri Sudhir Bhargav,
Chairman, Resettlement and Rehabilitation Sub Group (SSP) and
Secretary, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment
Government of India
Shastri Bhawan, Dr. Rajendra Prasad Marg,New Delhi

Ph: 011- 23389184 ; Fax:011-23385180
Email: secywel@sb.nic.in ,

secywel@nic.in

Shri Shivraj Singh Chauhan
Chief Minister,
Government of Madhya Pradesh,
Vallabh Bhawan,
Bhopal, M.P
Fax: 011-2441781
E-mail: cm@mp.nic.inShri Prithviraj Chavan,

Chief Minister, Maharashtra

Phone +91-22-22025151,22025222

Fax: 022-22029214,

23633272, 23631446

Email:

chiefminister@maharashtra.gov.in

Dr. Patangrao Shripatrao Kadam

Minister for Forests, Rehabilitation and Relief Works, Earthquake Rehabilitation,

E-mail: Min_Forest@maharashtra.gov.in

Office Ph: 91 22 22025398 and +91 22 22024751

Residence Ph: +91 22 23635688 and +91 22 23632748

Mantralaya, Mumbai.Shri Milind Mhaiskar, IAS

Secretary, Relief Commissioner,

Project Director

Relief & Rehabilitation

NAB

14th Floor

Ph: 22025274

sec_r&r@maharashtra.gov.in

   

 

===============================================

National Alliance of People’s Movements
National Office : 6/6, Jangpura B, Mathura Road, New Delhi 110014
Phone : 011 26241167 / 24354737 Mobile : 09818905316
Web : www.napm-india.org

Twitter : @napmindia



This mailing list is for dissemination of news and views on the communities struggles in India defending their land, water, air, rivers from hungry predatory corporations, policy formulations, announcements on struggles, action alerts and request for support.

 

Huge rally of Narmada dam oustees in Bhopal


  • NBA PR: 28th June 2013Jeevan Adhikar satyagraha and Upwaas begins with demand for rehabilitation and resettlement

    Thousands of oustees affected by the Indira Sagar, Omkareshwar, Maheshwar, Upper Beda and Man dam demonstrated in capital city Bhopal today and began their Satyagrah. Despite continuous rain in the entire Narmada valley, over 8000 men and women displaced persons have reached Bhopal to camp here for the next 5 days. The affected people demand that all the oustees of these dams should be rehabilitated and resettled with land and all other entitlements, and the injustice being wreaked on them for decades be stopped. Shri Alok Agarwal, senior activist of the Narmada Bacahao Andolan along with 4 men and women oustees have started their fast for 5 days in this “Narmada Jeevan Adhikar Satyagraha and Upwaas”.

    Thousands of oustees marched from Yadgaar –e – Shahjahani Park through Moti Masjid, and gave a Memorandum to the Chief Minister in front of Kamla Park, and then moved to Neelam Park to begin their satyagraha and upwaas. For five days during the “Narmada Jeevan Adhikar Satyagraha and Upwaas”, Narmada Bachao Andolan activist Shri Alok Agarwal, along with Omkareshwar dam oustees Sakubai and Kalabai, Maheshwar dam oustee Bhagwati bai, and Indira Sagar dam oustee Shri Kishor Chauhan would be on fast and they have already begun their fast.

    It is noteworthy that as per the common R&R Policy of the Government of Madhya Pradesh for the oustees of the Omkareshwar, Indira Sagar, Maheshwar, Man and Beda dams, the oustees have to be allotted land and other benefits of the R&R Policy, and resettled well before submergence. But there was no compliance with the R&R Policy, because of which the oustees reached a pitiable state. In its Order and judgment dated 11.05.2011, the Supreme Court gave a finding that the State Government had not offered land to even a single oustee, and had not fulfilled any of its obligations under the R&R Policy, because of which 89% of the displaced farmers could not purchase any land. The Supreme Court directed that the R&R Policy must be strictly followed for all these dams. However the thousands of oustees of these dams have been denied their rights under the R&R Policy, especially the right to be allotted land with a minimum of 2 ha. of irrigated land.

    Recently, the State Government has announced a grant of Rs. 2.5 lakhs to the landless families of the Omkareshwar dam. But the condition that the landless families would have to break their houses by the 15th of July in the middle of the monsoons in order to obtain the grant was both inhuman and impossible. It is clear that this condition must be immediately set aside. It is also noteworthy that the additional package of Rs. 2 lakhs per acre announced by the Chief Minister for the farmers of the Omkareshwar dam is not for an entitlement of 5 acres or at market value of land. Because of this, the displaced farmers will not be able to purchase land for land with a minimum of 2 ha. of land, as per the R&R Policy.
    The State Government has also not provided any land for the landholders or grant for the landless families of the Indira Sagar, Maheshwar, Man and Veda dams, and these rights remain to be provided.

    The oustees of these dams have lost their homes, villages, lands, and culture and have been completely pauperized. Their demand is:
    1. The farmers of the Omkareshwar, Indira Sagar, Maheshwar, Man and Beda dams must be provided land to the extent of land acquired, with a minimum of 2 ha, of land, or they should be assisted to purchase these entitlements.
    2. Every landless family of each of these dams should be provided Rs. 2.5 lakhs, and a time period of 6 months after providing this grant for the purchase of productive assets.
    3. All R&R entitlements to be provided before submergence and displacement.
    4. Those persons who have lost lands, but whose houses have not submerged, their houses should be acquired and the concerned families rehabilitated.
    5. The 41 villages of the Indira Sagar project whose back-water survey has not been carried out, the back-water survey must be done, and the necessary lands and properties acquired and the villagers rehabilitated and resettled.
    6. People of New Harsud resettlement site are suffering enormously because of lack of employment. Immediate arrangements for their employment must be made.
    7. The lands of five villages of Dewas namely Dharaji, Kothmir, Narsinghpura, Nayapura and Guwadi who are affected by the Omkareshwar dam must be acquired and the villagers rehabilitated and resettled.

    Thousands of oustees are resolved that they will take their rights and entitlements at any cost. Their slogan is that “Give us rehabilitation and land. Else empty the dam.”

    Alok Agarwal Sakubai Ram Vilas Rathor
    Omkareshwar Dam Indira Sagar Dam

    Radhubhai Bana Bai Govind Rawat
    Maheshwar Dam Upper Beda Dam Maan Dam

 

Press Release- Decision to raise Sardar Sarovar Dam height illegal


29th June, 2013

 

Decision to raise height of SSP illegal and political conspiracy

Central Authorities cannot permit drowning

of 2 lakh population without rehabilitation 

The decision to permit raising of the height of the Sardar Sarovar Dam from the present height of 122 mts to the final height of 138.68 mts, as per the news published in the Times of India, has been taken by the Resettlement and Rehabilitation Sub Group of the Narmada Control Authority (NCA) on 26th June. This is supposed to have been done on the basis of the reports by the 4 states, including Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra, confirming, that ‘rehabilitation is complete’. All this is absolutely unbelievable and unacceptable since there are more than 40,000 families in the 245 villages in the submergence area spread across three states, but the maximum (193) are in Madhya Pradesh alone.

 

There are at least 4,000 families in M.P. and about 1,000 in Maharashtra who are yet to receive alternative agricultural land as per the eligibility. Thousands of landless including agricultural labourers, fish workers, potters and other artisans are yet to get an alternative source of livelihood as per the state policy and Action Plan, endorsed by the Supreme Court. Those at the resettlement site in Gujarat or Maharashtra or at a very small percentage in M.P. are certainly not rehabilitated, till date, as there are hundreds of families without full land, as per entitlement or amenities, yet to be attained.

When huge corruption through a massive scandal of about 5,00 to 1,000 crores, misappropriated by officials and agents in rehabilitation is under inquiry, by Justice Jha Commission, appointed by the High Court for the past 5 years, there is no way that M.P. can approve the fake rehabilitation. M.P. has allotted land only 21 families till date, that too in the past two months, while 4,000 + remain to attain their due, many of whom are cheated through fake land registries. These include hilly adivasis habited in the Satpuda and Vindhya ranges, who are to be taken special care of as per the policy and judgements. Maharashtra too is still searching and locating land to establish R&R sites, more and Gujarat’s oustees are also awaiting declaration, allotment of land and / or amenities in the original villages as well as resettlement sites.

The Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal Award and all the Supreme Court’s judgements, (1991, 2000, 2002, 2005) and the last interim order that has clearly directed full and fair implementation of the NWDTA, are to be violated once again, is there is any raise, in the dam height,  at this stage. Flooding the villages, where life is on with pucca houses, shops, markets, schools, temples and mosques and lakhs of trees will be a gross injustice, against law and contempt of court. The Prime Minister himself had given a written commitment to the Apex Court on 17th April, 2006 i.e. on the 21st day of fast in New Delhi, that all the families upto 122 mts were not rehabilitated while that height was sanctioned and that rehabilitation would be complete within 3 months i.e. by June, 2006. The same has not yet happened and hence there could be no permission granted for further work at the dam.

 

Moreover, not one, but many committees of MoEF and the latest chaired by Shri Devendra Pandey have clearly concluded based on the documents and data that almost all the conditions in the environmental clearance are not fulfilled, but violated. Be it Gujarat on the non-compliance of CAD Plans, or Maharashtra and M.P. with targets and plans on protective / preventive measures, compensatory afforestation, health measures for all the three states.

It is, therefore, obvious that any clearance granted is only a result of political expediency. Mr. Narendra Modi since, last few months had been raising SSP issues publicly to blame or challenge the UPA Govt, which is succumbing to these pressures unnecessarily and unjustifiably. When Gujarat doesn’t have its canal network ready and not built beyond 25-30% over the last 30 years, what is the need to raise the height and fill more water to drown the valley? Why can’t the MoEF and the Narmada Control Authority under the Ministry of Water Resources compel Gujarat to complete execution of all environmental measures and building of canal network phase-wise and thereby utilize the already ponded waters?

 

The issue is politicized with nearing of 2014 elections, no doubt but people’s lives and livelihoods being at stake, we can’t allow such a heinous crime to be committed by flooding houses, communities, fields, and forests any more, not till all legal pre-conditions are fulfilled. We warn the NCA not to clear the raising of the dam height and also warn R&R Sub – Group to withdraw its decision. The people of the valley will compel these authorities to comply with law and are prepared to fight it tooth and nail.

Surbhan Bhilala            Devram Kanera          Kamla Yadav            Kailash Awasya

 

Ghokru            Ranveer Tomar         Shannobehan    Madu Machuara   Medha Patkar

 

Phone: 09179148973 / 09423965153

 

 

Narendra Modi On Sardar Patel: Putting Goebbels To Shame


MODI1

By Shamsul Islam

13 June, 2013
Countercurrents.org

Gujarat Chief Minister and Hindutva icon Narendra Modi, while inaugurating an all-India conference on livestock and dairy development on June 11, 2013 in Gandhinagar, announced a nation-wide campaign to collect small pieces of iron from farmers and use them to build a ‘Statue of Unity’ in memory of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the first interior minister of independent India in Nehru’s cabinet.

He announced, “On the day of Sardar Patel’s birth anniversary on October 31, 2013, we will launch a nation-wide campaign, covering more than five lakh villages throughout the country, to collect small pieces of iron of any tool used by farmers from each village, that will be used in the building of the statue.” This ‘Statue of Unity’ is to be the tallest statue on Earth: the 182 metres (392 feet) tall statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel — the Iron Man — will be built opposite the Sardar Sarovar Dam over the Narmada river in south Gujarat.

Modi lamented the fact that architect of modern India, “Sardar Patel brought the nation together. But gradually his memories are fading away” and went on to declare that “to reinvigorate his memory and as a fitting tribute to the Iron Man of India, we are building this statue, which will be double in height than the Statue of Liberty in New York.” He also reminded the audience that “Sardar Patel was also a farmer who was instrumental in bringing farmers into the freedom struggle.”

This grandiose project of Gujarat Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, who is an RSS whole-timer, raises a few pertinent issues. He was inaugurating a national conference on livestock and dairying, both of which are passing through a very critical phase due to famine, corporatization of agricultural land and high costs. The well-being of livestock and dairying is essentially connected with the well-being of farmers. According to official data, in the last one decade, on an average, one Indian farmer committed suicide every 40 minutes due to debt, sub-standard seeds/manure, high costs and scarcity of water, to name only few of the endless problems. In the same decade millions of head of cattle have perished due to famine, shrinking pasture lands and handing over fertile lands to business houses and builder mafias. Dairy products have become luxury items beyond the reach of common Indians. India leads the world in having the largest number of under-nourished children and women. Shockingly, Modi had no comments on this worsening scenario.

Modi’s love for Sardar Patel is intriguing for many reasons. Patel was a Congress leader who, inspired by Gandhi’s principle of non-violence, led a great and very powerful movement of farmers at Bardoli taluka in 1928. This is known as the Bardoli Satyagraha and the then pro-British English Press described it as “Bolshevism in Bardoli” and Patel as its “Lenin.”

Patel was awarded the title ‘Sardar’ after this heroic struggle. This peasants’ movement started against the extortionate lagan imposed by the British rulers and landlords and selling of large tracts of agricultural land to moneybags of Bombay. Sardar Patel led the movement but he had devoted Congressmen/women workers, both Hindus & Muslims, like Imam Saheb Abdul Kadir, Uttamchand Deepchand Shah, Mohanlal Kameshwar Pandya, Bhaktiba Desai, Darbar Gopaldas Desai, Meethubehn Petit, Jugatrambhai Dave, Surajbehn Mehta, Umar Sobani and Phoolchand Kavi, who challenged the colonial masters and their henchmen at the ground level.

One important fact to be noted is that the Hindu Mahasabha and the RSS, which existed during this period, kept aloof from this historical struggle. Modi’s co-option of Patel, who was a prominent Congress leader of the anti-British freedom struggle, is part of a ploy of the Hindutva camp to be seen as part of the freedom movement despite having betrayed it. This kind of co-option game is likely to succeed, as the Congress as a party has become indifferent to its anti-colonial legacy.

Dead persons do not speak, and Sardar Patel cannot appear to put across the truth. However, contemporary documents show that Modi’s and the Hindutva camp’s love for Sardar Patel is based on lies. Sardar Patel hated Hindutva politics and was the person who imposed the first ban on the RSS. The February 4, 1948 communique issued by the Home Ministry headed by Sardar Patel banning the RSS was self-explanatory:

“In their resolution of February 2, 1948 the Government of India declared their determination to root out the forces of hate and violence that are at work in our country and imperil the freedom of the Nation and darken her fair name. In pursuance of this policy the Government of India have decided to declare unlawful the RSS.”

The communique went on to say that the ban on the RSS was imposed because

“Undesirable and even dangerous activities have been carried on by members of the Sangh. It has been found that in several parts of the country individual members of the RSS have indulged in acts of violence involving arson, robbery, dacoity, and murder and have collected illicit arms and ammunition. They have been found circulating leaflets exhorting people to resort to terrorist methods, to collect firearms, to create disaffection against the government and suborn the police and the military.”

It was Sardar Patel who, as Home Minister, did not hesitate in telling the then supremo of the RSS, Guru Golwalkar, that his organization was responsible for killing Gandhi and instigating violence. In a letter written to Golwalkar, dated 11 September 1948, Sardar Patel stated:

“Organizing the Hindus and helping them is one thing but going in for revenge for its sufferings on innocent and helpless men, women and children is quite another thing… Apart from this, their opposition to the Congress, that too of such virulence, disregarding all considerations of personality, decency or decorum, created a kind of unrest among the people. All their speeches were full of communal poison. It was not necessary to spread poison in order to enthuse the Hindus and organize for their protection. As a final result of the poison, the country had to suffer the sacrifice of the invaluable life of Gandhiji. Even an iota of the sympathy of the Government, or of the people, no more remained for the RSS. In fact opposition grew. Opposition turned more severe, when the RSS men expressed joy and distributed sweets after Gandhiji’s death. Under these conditions it became inevitable for the Government to take action against the RSS… Since then, over six months have elapsed. We had hoped that after this lapse of time, with full and proper consideration the RSS persons would come to the right path. But from the reports that come to me, it is evident that attempts to put fresh life into their same old activities are afoot.”

Sardar Patel continued hammering the fact that the Hindutva brigade collectively was responsible for the murder of Gandhi. In a letter to Nehru dated February 27, 1948, he wrote, “It was a fanatical wing of the Hindu Mahasabha directly under Savarkar that hatched the conspiracy and saw it through. It also appears that conspiracy was limited to some ten men… Of course, his [Gandhiji’s] assassination was welcomed by those of the RSS and Hindu Mahasabha who were strongly opposed to his way of thinking and to his policy.”

Sardar Patel stressed the same fact in his letter to a prominent leader of the Hindu Mahasabha, Shyama Prasad Mookerjee, on July 18, 1948: “As regards the RSS and the Hindu Mahasabha, the case relating to Gandhiji’s murder is sub-judice and I should not like to say anything about the participation of the two organizations, but our reports do confirm that, as a result of the activities of these two bodies, particularly the former, an atmosphere was created in the country in which such a ghastly tragedy became possible. There is no doubt in my mind that the extreme section of the Hindu Mahasabha was involved in the conspiracy. The activities of the RSS constituted a clear threat to the existence of Government and the State. Our reports show that those activities, despite the ban, have not died down. Indeed, as time has marched on, the RSS circles are becoming more defiant and are indulging in their subversive activities in an increasing measure.”

Despite all these facts, Narendra Modi claims to love Sardar Patel. It only shows that Modi has no qualms about resorting to deceits for selfish gains. Sardar Patel is a ready-made heroic figure. Modi does not have to manufacture him. He and the RSS have only to hide the fact that the man was opposed to their organization and had acted against it, and then, by what can only be called theft, proceed to make him one of their own. This defiance of historical fact is characteristic of the strategy of the Hindutva camp. Goebbels is dead, long live Modi.

[I am thankful to Mr. Mukul Dube for inputs]

Shamsul Islam is Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, Satyawati College, University of Delhi.notoinjustice@gmail.com

 

Gujarat reeling under severe drought – #Narendramodi


On March 26, Revenue Minister Anandi Patel had declared water scarcity in about 4,000 villages and towns in 10 districts of Saurashtra, Kutch and North Gujarat
Illustration: Anand NaoremIllustration: Anand Naorem

Rajkot, Apr 14 (PTI): Narendra Modi may be on a campaign selling his model of governance, but Gujarat is reeling under severe drought that has left Saurashtra and Kutch regions parched and people battling odds to get even a pot of drinking water.

An estimated 10 to 15 per cent of the cash crops may have failed because of the drought this year that has come on the back of 11 normal monsoons. The water situation in half of the state has worsened with the onset of summer as big and small water reservoirs have dried up, forcing women in rural area to travel long distances, sometimes two to three kms, everyday for water.

Modi had, in his speeches in the national capital and in Kolkata recently, made claims regarding supply of piped water for long distances, thanks to Narmada projects. But familiar scenes of people jostling to get a bucket of water when a tanker arrives once in a while in their village or urban area are common in Kutch, Saurashtra and some northern parts of the state.

“Our children are thirsty as there is severe drinking water problem. Officials here are merely giving us hollow promises. No steps have been taken for regular supply of water by tanker to us,” said Saroj Makwana, a resident of Jetpur town in Rajkot district where water is supplied every 10 days.

“Ours is the remotest area where drinking water is being supplied once in 15 days. And despite our repeated representation to local municipal officers, the condition is unchanged,” said a frustrated Champaben Rabari of Amreli city. Protests and bandhs are order of the day in affected areas. Amreli city had observed a total bandh recently on the issue of non-supply of water. Women taking out protest marches with empty water pots has become a common scene in affected areas.

Saurashtra, Kutch and North Gujarat had witnessed acute water scarcity in 1998 and 1999 when successive years of deficient rains had made life difficult for the people of these three regions of the state. But 11 good monsoons from 2001 to 2011 had made people forgot those years of scarcity, driving Gujarat to double digit agriculture growth.

The state government also appeared to have taken the situation lightly when the rain goods were smiling as two major projects — Sardar Sarovar Dam on Narmada river and Kalpsar project — conceived to solve drinking water problems of scarcity-prone regions, have not progressed as per schedule. Modi took over as the Gujarat chief minister in 2001.

Seventy-five percent of the canal network of Sardar Sarovar Project still remains to be completed by the state government, which is an impediment in taking water of big dam constructed on Narmada river to the parched lands of state, as per the data presented in the state assembly.

While the Kalpsar project was conceived to build a reservoir with dam in the Gulf of Khambhat to harness flood waters of nine rivers during the time of Keshubhai Patel government in 1998, it is still in the study stage mode even after 14 years of conceptualisation.

On March 26, Revenue Minister Anandi Patel had declared water scarcity in about 4,000 villages and towns in 10 districts of Saurashtra, Kutch and North Gujarat. However, the opposition has said this is too little, too late.

“The state government should have anticipated the situation of scarcity last June itself as many areas of Kutch and Saurashtra had deficient rain and still it has done nothing to avert the situation,” says Leader of Opposition Shankarsinh Vaghela, whose Congress party has launched a 12-day ‘Jal Adhikar Yatra’ to highlight the water woes experienced by this region.

The government, on the other hand, has been denying the existence of the water crisis. It claims it has been supplying more water to this region for the last six months and is resolved to implement on “war footing” a contingency master plan of Rs 134 crore to provide water to Saurashtra and Kutch.

Government spokesperson and Finance Minister Nitin Patel, while brushing aside Congress claims, charges opposition leaders with ‘misleading’ the people by ‘spreading lies’ on the water situation. “We have already been providing enhanced water supply to cities like Rajkot, Jamnagar, Bhavnagar, Junagadh and Amreli,” Patel said.

Narmada water and Sardar Sarovar Dam issues have also been raised by both the state BJP and opposition parties for scoring brownie points over each other. Congress and Gujarat Parivartan Party have accused the Modi government of ‘inaction’ to complete the construction work of the Narmada canals.

“Since 2006, the height of Sardar Sarovar Narmada Dam has reached to 121.92 meters and that was enough for the storage of water which could have been used for irrigation in 10 lakh hectare agriculture land and provide drinking water to 11,000 villages and cities, but they have not completed the canal network,” Vaghela said.

However, state BJP has alleged that as the central government has been stalling the permission to raise the height of the dam to 138 meters and to build gates on the dam, people of Saurashtra and Kutch were facing acute water situation. Rajkot, Jamnagar, Junagadh, Amreli and Bhavnagar are the worst-hit districts in Saurashtra where people are supplied water once in three to fifteen days in different areas. Around 500 villages and some towns in these areas have to depend on water supplied to them by tankers.

In Rajkot, water levels in 34 reservoirs and dams like Aaji, Nyaari, Bhadar, Setubandh, Alansagar, Machhu have receded to almost 3 per cent of its storage capacity. Total water storage capacity of these 34 dams and reservoirs are 28,032.69 million cubic feet (MCF) whereas at present it is only 664.63 MCF there.A similar situation exists in other districts like Amreli (8.92 per cent), Jamnagar (0.43 per cent), Junagadh (6.06 per cent), Porbandar (1.11 per cent), Bhavnagar (5.29 per cent), Surendranagar (7.15 per cent) and Kutch (14.04 per cent). Deficient rain has also created problems for farmers and agriculture production has been hit.

“Though we are yet to ascertain production loss due to deficient rain, it must be between 15 to 20 per cent in cash crops and about 20 per cent in other crops including vegetables in Saurashtra and Kutch area,” a state agriculture department official said. He said the Rabi season has witnessed 15 per cent less sowing in comparison to the last year due to less rains.

Agriculture expert and former Director of Institute of Rural Management, Anand (IRMA) Dr Y K Alagh said “though the figure have not come out yet, if you compare the date of State Gross Domestic Product (SGDP) of previous two years, you can at least very conservatively say that because of deficient rain 15-20 per cent crop has failed in the state”.

 

Amenities elude Sardar Sarovar evictees


ANNU ANAND, The Hindu

Makeshift existence: Life at Anjanwada village. Photo: Annu Anand
Makeshift existence: Life at Anjanwada village. Photo: Annu Anand

Displaced by the Sardar Sarovar Dam project, hundreds living on the hills lining the Narmada banks are denied basic amenities

A satisfied smile flashes across Chuna’s face. At least for few months, she won’t have to worry about feeding her children. Leaving behind all the day’s work, 35-year-old Sarla was also rushing to the village outskirts. She didn’t want to let this opportunity go.

Just like Chuna and Sarla, all men and women were running towards the village end, near the bank of the river, where in the name of a ration shop, wheat, sugar and salt were scattered on the ground. The village was getting PDS grains after a gap of six months. Running towards this makeshift ration shop, the villagers were simultaneously worried by the thought that the PDS shopkeeper may leave before they reach and their children may have to face hunger and starvation again.

This was the scene in Bhitada village in Madhya Pradesh’s Alirajpur district — one of the villages that have been affected by the Sardar Sarovar Dam project. One can reach this village only after travelling 44 km by road followed by a one-hour travel boat ride and a three-km-long walk. The whole village has been divided into five clusters or falias and these clusters are inhabited by about 350 families. Each cluster is at a distance of about two km.

According to the draft Food Security Bill, it is the responsibility of the State government to ensure that each family below the poverty line gets subsidised ration from the PDS shops. But families living on the bank of Narmada — affected by the Sardar Sarovar project and inadequate rehabilitation — are forced to live on the mercy of government officials for their day-to-day sustenance. They get rations after months on end and that too for only a few hours. By the time the news of ration arriving spreads in their scattered homes in the village, the makeshift PDS shop gets dismantled. Nandla Bhai who came to deliver PDS ration was selling the salt costing Re. one a packet for Rs. 5 to the villagers. He justifies his action saying, “Transporting the ration over such a distance increases the cost of the goods.” But transport charges are being paid by the government! Nandla didn’t have any answer.

There are 15 villages in the Alirajpur district that are surrounded by the Narmada due to the dam project. As the dam’s height kept on increasing, these villages got submerged leading to loss of land and homes. Improper rehabilitation has led these villagers to struggle for their basic needs like food, health and livelihood. Government schemes like PDS, mid-day meal, MGNREGA and anganwadi are implemented in these villages in the official records but because of inaccessibility, their scattered nature and inefficiency and corruption on the part of the government, most of these schemes remain exist only on paper.

Around 13 years ago, these villages were filled with lush green fields. There was a road to reach the village. But beginning from 1996, these villages started getting affected. By 2000, their farms and houses were completely submerged. In this situation, many villagers had to seek shelter in the hills that line the bank of Narmada. The rocky nature of these hills makes it difficult for the villagers to even find a place to set up their homes.

Anjanwada is one such village. The health, school facilities and nutrition for children here remain a challenge. The population of this village is around 360. The government has started a primary school for the children in the village but for most of the children, the school is only accessible by an arduous boat ride or an hour long walk through the rocky terrain. The school and the anganwadi are situated at the same place. The anganwadi is unable to provide nutrition to needy children since it is difficult for them to cross the river or cover the long distance daily. There is no health centre in the village. Electricity and roads still seem like a distant dream for these villagers.

Khajan Singh of Anjanwada lost his 12-year-old daughter and 18-year-old son three years ago as he couldn’t provide them timely treatment. The nearest health sub centre is located in Kakrana, 12 km away and can only be reached by a two-hour-long boat ride from Anjanwada.

The Madhya Pradesh government claims that all 45,000 displaced in the Sardar Sarovar Project have been given adequate compensation. Meera Kumari of Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), however, says, “ Nearly 3,300 families have been given the first instalment of cash component. But due to the Fake Registry Scam, they have been unable to buy the land. As of now, the matter is in High Court.”

 

DNA investigation: Sardar Sarovar Project hit by illegal mining


Published: Saturday, Oct 13, 2012, 8:44 IST
By Sandeep Pai | Place: Indore | Agency: DNA

Rampant illegal sand mining across the Narmada valley on land acquired by the Narmada Valley Development Authority (NVDA) from oustees of the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) is not only threatening the delicate ecological balance of the area but could also reduce the project life of the dam.

While truckloads of sand is being mined without any permission, the activity also contravenes the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal Award of 1979, which expressly states that land acquired for the SSP may be used only for agriculture or for reservoirs.

The project life of the SSP, meant to irrigate 18 lakh hectares of land in Gujarat, 75,000 hectares in Rajasthan and 37,500 hectares in Maharashtra, is expected to be reduced because the mining is in the dam’s submergence areas, environmentalists say.

The illegal mining started after the collectors’ of the Badwani, Alirajpur, Khargone and Dhar districts in MP gave out mining licences on government lands adjacent to the NVDA’s acquired land. The licences were granted once in 2009
and again in 2011, for a period of two years.

The mining contracts are themselves a subject of debate as the government lands also lie in the submergence areas on both sides of the Narmada River. But more dangerously, illegal miners are now blatantly breaching boundaries of assigned mining areas, extracting sand instead from areas acquired by the NVDA.

In response to a Right to Information application, the NVDA has stated that it has not leased any land. “Thus, any mining activity on their land is illegal,” says social activist Medha Patkar, who has repeatedly raised the issue with the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) over the last two years.

Over 100 complaint letters were written during the same period by individual villagers and by panchayat representatives to police officers and district collectors. However, no action has been taken.
At least half a dozen gram sabhas have passed resolutions stating that prior approval of the gram sabha has not been obtained for the mining activity. The resolutions all state that the sand mining should be stopped.
Activists estimate the loss to the exchequer to be about Rs100 crore per year. In 2011, after a complaint about illegal mining in the submergence areas of SSP, the collector of Badwani conducted an investigation in two villages — Pendra and Barda — and recovered Rs3 crore in fines from illegal miners. “If we calculate for even 40-50 villages, the amount of revenue loss would exceed a few hundred crores per year,” said Srikant, an activist with Narmada Bachao Aandolan (NBA). As many as 192 villages are directly impacted by the SSP.

The collector’s report even named members of the sand mining mafia of the Badwani district, but no prosecution was initiated.
One complaint by the NBA to Union minister for environment and forests Jayanthi Natarajan in August said the government is on one hand spending crores of rupees for “catchment area treatment” that is mandatory as per the environment clearances issued to the SSP, and on the other hand is a mute spectator to hundreds of truckloads of mud, the topsoil discarded by sand miners, is being thrown into the reservoir. This could seriously affect the lifespan of the project, the NBA complaint pointed out.
A visit to the villages shows complete disregard for rules and the environment. In Perkhard village in Dhar district, huge heaps of top soil and even trees uprooted by miners have been thrown into the river. Large tracts of land acquired by the NVDA have turned into trenches due to unabated mining.

In Chottabarda village in Badwani district, DNA saw several trucks ferrying tonnes of sand. “On one side we have the Narmada and on the other we have these huge sand mining trenches. When the rains came this year, an entire settlement of fish workers was not able to move out – they were surrounded by water on all sides,” said Dayaram Yadav, former sarpanch of Chottabarda.

Villagers who protest are threatened, even assaulted, say villagers. “When I tried to stop the miners, they tried to strangle me,” said Om Prakash, from Piplav village in Badwani.

Complaints sent to the central government’s Narmada Control Authority and the NVDA were just forwarded to district collectors, to which the standard official response has been that no illegal mining is underway.

Afroz Ahmed, NCA director, said that whatever complaints he got were forwarded to the NVDA. “I have not received any reply from NVDA despite reminders,” said Ahmed. On his part, joint director of NVDA AK Khare simply denied that any illegal activity was going on. “All allegations are false,” he said.

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