SOUTH ASIA ONE WORLD, SEPTEMBER 4, 2OO6
NARMADA: SARDAR SAROVAR DROWNS THE ADIVASIS BUT NEITHER THEIR SPIRIT NOR THEIR STRUGGLE
The situation in the Narmada valley today is nothing unexpected yet the most shocking. The Sardar Sarovar Dam, with the height raised, has silently killed the Adivasi communities in the Nandurbar district of Maharashtra, Jhabua district of Madhya Pradesh and many in Badwani and Dhar districts of Madhya Pradesh too.
These generations’ old Adivasis in the Satpura and Vindhya have lost their main sources of livelihood, land, to the sea that the roaring river water is converted to. The houses at higher levels in the hills and mountains and small patches of degraded sloppy land are what they are left behind with. Yet, even after they are pushed to a corner with backs to the mountains and left without any transport, a school, a functional ration shop, with hardly any grain left in the house and no potable water around, mostly, they continue to be satyagrahis, asserting their right to land and life, both.
The Satyagraha continues in village Chimalkhedi in Nandurbar, Bhitada in Jhabua and Chikhalda in Dhar representing 3 sub regions. The Nimad region in Madhya Pradesh have about 100, of 177 villages which are threatened by the dam and can face submergence this monsoon itself. It has not occurred still but those continue to house thousands of families.
All those 25,000 families which Shunglu Committee and National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO) interviewed in the submergence area of 122 meters of dam and those they left out due to flaws in research methodology and deliberate manipulation and misinterpretation of data, are the ones which NBA claimed to be affected illegally, without rehabilitation, with no cultivable and irrigable land offered in either Madhya Pradesh or Maharashtra today. With Resettlement & Rehabilitation sites and house plots not ready for thousands of families, the monstrous dam is proving to be a killer as many other projects in the country.
Whatever regulation of water has occurred with the upstream dams filled till now and rains, even if heavy, in different parts of the Valley at different times and dam raise stopped at 119 meters instead of 122 meters, the highly populated non-Adivasi and mixed villages and towns are saved as yet. Those may not escape flooding during the next heavy rain fall in the coming month.
The scenario on the other side of the dam is the most revealing. When the reservoir is full with swollen water body, the canals are empty for anyone to see. This has once again vindicated NBA’s position that Gujarat Government and Narendra Modi pushed the dam, fooling the Prime Minister and the Court with stories of water crisis and without the necessary readiness to use the additional waters. The canal network with 40,000 cusecs capacity is far from complete and when Gujarat could not use the water at 110 meters to satiate thirst of all 8000+ villages, which was technically possible, it cannot, at 119 meters as well.
The villages on the bank of the canal whose houses and fields drowned due to breaches in 2003-2004, again faced submergence in 2 villages of Pavi-Jetpur tehsil, Vadodara, which led them to threaten and prevent the Government from releasing waters into the canals. The canal-head power house could not function to produce the expected power. The tragedy is obvious and people of Gujarat, having faced floods everywhere, are to now raise questions including their own: Who is allowing the rain waters to go to the sea and why?, before an additional 20,000 Crores of rupees are spent and lakhs of other people are affected and victimized raising the Sardar Sarovar Dam height beyond 119 meters.
Press Release issued by:
NARMADA BACHAO ANDOLAN
62 Mahatma Gandhi Marg
Badwani, M.P. – 451551
Maitri Niwas, Tembewadi, Dhadgaon, Nandurbar
C/o B-13, Shivam Flats