Governments in this country refuse to listen to reason that is being dinned into their heads by people's movements about not following anti-people policies. Even court orders do not seem to have any effect and the governments brazenly ignore them to pursue a policy of unsustainable and unjust development. Under the circumstances it becomes really difficult for people's movements to hold on in the face of such blatant illegality of the State. Here is a note from the Narmada Bachao Andolan detailing the government's attempt to fill up the Maheshwar dam despite clear directives from the courts and the Ministry of Environment and Forests that they cannot do so without first rehabilitating the project affected persons -
Despite the facts that no synchronization and electricity generation is possible at EL 154 meters of the Maheshwar dam, that there is no survey of the impact of submergence at EL 154 meters, and that less than 15% of the villagers of the 61 villages affected by the Maheshwar dam have been rehabilitated and resettled, the State Government and the S.Kumar’s company Shree Maheshwar Hydel Power Corporation Limited (SMHPCL) which is building the Maheshwar dam on the river Narmada has asked the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF) of the Central government for permission to fill the Maheshwar dam up to 154 meters.
A team of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests visited the submergence area on 22nd and 23rd of March, 2012, in this regard, and their report is awaited. The Narmada Bachao Andolan demands that the State and Central Governments should not accord any permission for filling of Maheshwar dam up to 154 meters as the same would be arbitrary, and against the law and the Constitution, and expresses grave apprehension that any such filling may cause the death of hundreds and thousands of villagers in the submergence area in the plains of the Narmada valley. The Andolan declares that if any permission is given for submergence, in village after village, the villagers will embark on Jal Satyagraha, and will choose death to abandoning their lands and homes without rehabilitation and resettlement.
No electricity generation possible at EL 154 meters
As per letter of Secretary, Union Ministry of Power dated 18.02.2011 and opinion of Central Electricity Authority dated 17.02.2011, no synchronization and electricity generation is possible at EL 154 meters of the Maheshwar dam. It is clear from this that the company and the State want to submerge the area only so that thousands of families will flee the area without rehabilitation and resettlement. It is clear that when the power from this privatized company is so costly, ie. Rs. 10 per unit that it cannot be sold, public interest lies in saving the 61 villages from any submergence.
Submergence at 154 meters in the monsoon of 2011: Revenue records expose false claims of Secretary Energy and Collector Khargone
It may be noted that erstwhile Minister MOEF had passed Order dated 6.05.2011 prohibiting closure of the gates of the Maheshwar dam. The Orders of the Hon’ble High Court Madhya Pradesh dated 18.02.2009, 5.03.2009, 6.05.2009, 12.05.2009, 18.05.2009, and 28.07.2009 in W.P. No. 1359/09 also prohibited any submergence of the 61 villages affected by the Maheshwar dam. However, in violation of the Order of the MOEF dated 6.05.2011, conditions of the environmental clearance dated 1.05.2001 and the aforementioned Orders of the Hon’ble High Court Madhya Pradesh, on the 27th of August 2011 the Company SMHPCL illegally closed five gates of the Maheshwar dam fully and others partially, causing the illegal submergence of 70 houses in villages Sulgaon, Pathrad, Behgaon, Bhatiyan and Mardana, and 41 fields in villages Jalud, Sulgaon, Bhasunda, Lepa, Lalpura, Amlatha, Bakawa, and Teliyaon. In addition, a settlement in Village Pathrad was completely encircled by water and houses in villages Sulgaon and Mardana were also cut off by the waters.
The submergence of lands and houses on 27th August 2012 is clearly set out in the revenue records of the Revenue Department. Despite this, on the 17th of January 2012, District Collector Khargone wrote a letter at the instance of the SMHPCL making the completely false averment that on filling the dam up to 154 meters, there would be no submergence of houses and fields. However the revenue records annexed to his own letter showed submergence.
Hundreds and thousands of people to submerge without rehabilitation and resettlement at 154 meters: Contempt of Supreme Court judgment
It may be noted that the State Government has no estimate of the submergence which will ensue at EL 154 meters, since no study has been done to what extent the back-waters may climb behind the Maheshwar dam when the reservoir is permitted to fill up to EL 154 meters. The area behind the Maheshwar dam in the plains of the Narmada valley is absolutely flat. Thus, even a small submergence may cause the drowning and death of hundreds and thousands of persons in the area. It may also be noted that as per the Order and judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court dated 15.03.2005 in Narmada Bachao Andolan vs. Union of India & Ors., the dam cannot be permitted to be built without prior rehabilitation and resettlement of the affected families to that level, and submergence can only be permitted six months after the completion of rehabilitation and resettlement. In this case even the extent of submergence is yet to be known, and rehabilitation and resettlement is a far cry. It is clear that any permission for submergence up to 154 meters would be in contempt of the Order of the Hon’ble Supreme Court. Moreover, if the reservoir is impounded up to 154 meters, thousands of pumps situated on the river-banks and pipe-lines will be submerged, stopping agricultural activity and provision of drinking water in these villages.
More than 85% oustees yet to be rehabilitated and resettled
In the last 16 years, the S.Kumar’s who own the Maheshwar Project and the State Government have been able to rehabilitate and resettle less than 15% of the affected families. Not a single family has been rehabilitated by allotting lands as per R&R Policy. Over 60,000-70,000 persons of 61 villages of the area are affected by the Maheshwar dam. Following are the figures of the State Government and the company:
- Family Lists for 41 out of 61 villages not yet prepared.
- Allotment of a minimum of 2 ha. of land – 100% families left to be allotted.
- Acquisition of land – 70% families left to be given.
- Allotment of house-plots – 78% families left to be given.
- Rehabilitation grant – 87% families left to be given.
- Shifting of families – 93% families left to be shifted.
It is clear that submergence being sought by the company without prior rehabilitation and resettlement is nothing but an unholy attempt to cause the oustees to flee without rehabilitation and resettlement.
State government silent on submergence of sacred Omkareshwar town due to Maheshwar dam
The State government has not denied the statement of the NBA that submergence of the sacred Omkareshwar town is likely due to the back-water submergence of the Maheshwar dam.
No permission for submergence up to 154 m
The Narmada Bachao Andolan calls on the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests take action under S. 16 and 17 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 for the illegal closure of gates and illegal submergence in the monsoon of 2011 and to refuse permission for filling of water up to 154 meters. The NBA also demands that action be taken against Collector Khargone and other officials for knowingly giving the SMHPCL a false certificate that filling of the reservoir at EL 154 meters will not cause any submergence of lands and houses. The NBA also severely censures the S.Kumar’s and the State Government for seeking to cause the death of thousands of villagers by asking for filling of the reservoir up to EL 154 meters, and cautions them that the people’s will respond by taking action against them and for by undertaking Jal Satyagraha in village after village.
Narmada Bachao Andolan2, Sai Nagar, Mata Chowk,
Khandwa, Madhya Pradesh -450 001
Telefax : 0733 - 2228318
E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org