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Press Release: Delhi Citizens join in solidarity with the Chetawani Upwas in Bhopal

Press Release

Delhi citizens come together to extend solidarity with the Chetawani Upwas in Bhopal by the people from the Narmada Valley

New Delhi, April 28: A group of more than 50 protestors under the banner of Delhi solidarity Group and National Alliance of People’s movements gathered in front of Madhya Pradesh Bhawan today to provide solidarity to the ongoing Chetawani Upwas (27-29th April) by Narmada Bachao Aandolan in Bhopal. The people, who wanted to submit a memorandum to the Resident Commissioner, had to confront a strong police barricade in front of MP Bhawan. They spoke about the current situation of the people already displaced by the dams and lack of implementation of rehabilitation to them. People also raised concerns about the apathy shown by the Government of Madhya Pradesh in insisting on raising the height of Sardar Sarovar without having any plans to safeguard the lives and livelihood of the people. They also strongly demanded the release of the Justice Jha Commission report withheld by the state government. Linking it with the current issue of water shortage, they demanded that the government is losing its priorities when it is drowning people on one side and killing others due to drought on other side.

It’s been three decades since the people of the Narmada valley have been struggling against the unjust displacement due to the construction of the Sardar Sarovar Dam. The construction of the dam was restarted in June 2014 and now the dam height is nearing completion. As we approach the Monsoon, two hundred thousand people are faced with the threat of submergence. These families are still living in the submergence zone, they will lose their villages with schools, temples, mosques, houses, farms with prime agriculture and horticulture panchayats and one township partly submerged before, will be further affected.

The Narmada Bachao Andolan has challenged the government’s false affidavits on the question of complete R&R and exposed the massive corruption involved in the process. The petition of NBA to the Madhya Pradesh High Court constituted a commission of Enquiry under Justice S. S. Jha (referred as Jha Commission). The Jha commission submitted its report after nearly 7 years of detailed investigation into cases of corruption involving government employees and accepted the massive fraud to tune of 1000 crores. The Justice Jha Commission report has the numbers – 1500, 2000 or may be more and details of all fake registries, the amount of money wasted, and all the agents and officials involved in the scam.

But the State of Madhya Pradesh has refused to grant NBA access to the report! Furthermore, even the MLA’s have not been given access to the report. All this has been done citing privilege of the State Assembly. The corruption in the Narmada Valley Development Authority (N.V.D.A) must be uncovered.

In addition, the question of the quality of resettlement sites cannot be ignored. All culprits involved must be punished regardless of being an officer or an agent.

During decades of struggle NBA could succeed in getting 14,000 Adivasis, Dalit farmers and their families could receive land and due to R&R especially in Gujarat and Maharashtra. But Madhya Pradesh is a different story, only 40 to 50 displaced families have been allotted land. Even today, 40,000 families live in the submergence zone.

The Madhya Pradesh government has constantly fudged the number of oustees even changing Back Water Level data, and thereby excluded many people from the submergence area and lists of Project Affected People thereby denying them their due R&R share – initially 4,374 families and then another 15,900 families. Such action affecting about 20,000 families is both unscientific and illegal.

These villages that lie in the submergence zone are full of life and activity, with its houses, panchayats, temples, masjids, shops, markets and lakhs of trees, which cannot be submerged without proper resettlement violating the Narmada Water Dispute Tribunal and Supreme court judgments of 1992, 2000 and 2005.

Despite all this, Central government along with the Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat governments, have continued the construction of dam, which is almost complete to the height of 139 metres.

Immediate action must be taken to release the Jha commission report and complete the R&R of the affected people before submergence of adivasi families/villages and township causing devastation & destitution.

The demands raised by the Narmada Bachao Andolan are,

1. Make the Jha Commission Report on massive corruption in rehabilitation public. Send the guilty to Jail. Now!

2. Complete R&R of farmers, labourers, fisher people, and artisans numbering thousands before monsoon. Gates of the dam shouldn’t be closed till R&R is complete and all affected are resettled at new sites, in 3 states of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat at the earliest with all entitlements as per law and SC judgments.

For more details, please contact at: 9958797409

About Intercultural Resources

Intercultural Resources is a forum for research and political intervention on issues related to the impacts and alternatives to destructive development. Our effort draws upon the social, cultural, material and intellectual resources that have been generated in the course of dialogues between people of different cultures on questions of social justice, development and self-rule. We are of the view that dialogue can sustain plurality and open possibilities for recovery of the ground lost on account of inter-cultural alienation, which is manifest in a variety of forms of violence that we encounter everyday at different levels of social life. Intercultural Resources is based in Delhi, India. Email: ihpindia@gmail.com

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