Intensification of struggle against arbitrariness and denial of justice to oustees
No Rule of Law in the State: Refusal to implement Court Orders shocking
Thousands of oustees of the Indira Sagar, Omkareshwar, Maheshwar, Man, Upper Beda and Bargi dams in the Narmada valley marched through Bhopal today against the repression and injustice being wreaked by the State Government on the villagers. In the pouring rain, the approximately 8000-10,000 people who had come from the districts of Dhar, Khargone, Khandwa, Dewas, Harda, Jabalpur, Seoni, and Mandla of M.P. made it clear that it simply would not tolerate the attempts of the State Government to fill the reservoirs and flood out and submerge the villages without rehabilitating and resettling the people. The agitating villagers warned the Government that if it continued to flout the law and the Constitution, the villagers would intensify the struggle in the State and the Government would have to face the anger of the people.
It may be noted that there is a Rehabilitation Policy of the State Government for the oustees of the Narmada Projects provides for land for land with a minimum of 5 acres of irrigated land for each displaced family whose land is in the submergence, allotment of land to adult sons and unmarried adult daughters of cultivators, house-plots on developed R&R sites with all amenities, rehabilitation grants, grants for landless families, house construction assistance. However thousands of oustees from the Narmada dams have been arbitrarily denied these entitlements. Thousands of houses recorded in the Government surveys of the submergence area have been arbitrarily excluded from acquisition and payment of compensation. Similarly, thousands of persons have been excluded from the Family Lists and denied all R&R entitlements. As far as land is concerned, it has not been allotted to the oustees. Even the Orders of the High Court and the Supreme Court with regard to R&R are being openly flouted. The Adivasis and Dalits and the small and marginal farmers of the Narmada valley which have special protection as per the provisions of the Rehabilitation Policy have also been completely denied the same.
The legal and constitutional rights of the oustees are being violated by the dam building Companies and the State Government in order to earn super-profits. In the last two-three years, the NHDC (Narmada Hydro-Development Corporation) has earned nearly 1000 crores in profits after taxes, but the oustees are running from pillar to post for their rightful entitlements.
With regard to the privatized Maheshwar Project, it is clear that the financial position of state of M.P. will be adversely affected due to the disastrous agreement with the S.Kumars under which the Government will have to pay for the Maheshwar power even if it is very expensive and even if it is not produced. The amount of power to be produced by this Project is also very little, and does not justify the destruction of the rich land and riverine economy of the Narmada valley. The people demand that all work on the project should be stopped until the extent of submergence at back-waters is confirmed and a R&R Plan showing the availability of land to given to the land-holding and landless families be prepared. The NBA has demanded a White Paper on this destructive project but the silence of the State Government on this matter is raising grave questions.
The refusal of the State government to comply with the Orders of the High Court and Supreme Court is also very disquieting and demonstrates that there is no Rule of Law in the State. On the 9th of September 2006, the M.P. High Court ordered that the adult sons and daughters should be provided all R&R entitlements including land as "separate families", but till today, the same has been denied to the villagers.
Today thousands of villagers have taken out a rally and will demonstrate at the Narmada Bhavan. Yesterday, a group of representatives from the Narmada Bachao Andolan met the Narmada Minister Shri Nagendra Singh, who was leaving town and apprised him of the extreme arbitrariness in R&R and denial of entitlements to the villagers. A list of demands with regard to oustees of each of the six dams was also handed over to him.
The oustees also intend to meet the Chief Minister and also the Governor of the State to apprise them of the grave state of affairs. It is expected that large numbers of villagers of the Upper Beda, Indira Sagar and Omkareshwar dams who are yet to be provided their R&R entitlements will face submergence within the next few weeks itself.
The oustees warn the State Government to mend its ways and stop the reign of arbitrariness, corruption and injustice being perpetrated in the Narmada valley, else the villagers would intensify their struggle. The oustees would be compelled to start Jal-satyagraha in the reservoir waters and face the unjust submergence, and the State would have to face the anger of the people in every village and district and would be held accountable for its actions.
Press release of the Narmada Bachao Andolan