From Kathmandu, Friday, April 14, 2006
My regrets also that the formatting that I have used so far may not be possible over the next while; I am now writing from Kathmandu, and perhaps because of my technical limitations I am only able to send this out on Yahoo – thereby losing all formatting.
And last, since I am now away from Delhi, and therefore more dependent on reports coming in to me, the news over the next while is likely to be a little less fresh and there are also likely to be small time
lags in the reporting.
I am also modifying the structure of this Bulletin; my comments, if any, will come as item 1 below.
Jai Sen, for CACIM
In this issue of CDDB :
[1] Delhi Demo Diary Notes (April 13-14)
[2] NBA Press Release : Health of all three fasters
deteriorates / Medha Patkar writes letter to the SHO
for her release / RCNCA meeting announced for Saturday
morning / Anna Hazare visits dharna site, also meets
Maharashtra Chief Minister / Solidarity actions around
the country and the world continue and intensify
(April 13-14)
[3] Update On Narmada Dam Height Battle – Please Take
Action (April 13-14)
[4] Statement in Support of the Narmada Bachao Andolan
– National Campaign for People’s Right to Information
(April 6/14)
[5] Human Rights Experts Express Concern about Impact
of Raising of Height of Dam in Narmada River, India
(April 14)
[6] Big Money, Big Dams (April 14-15)
Note : All back issues of this Bulletin (the CACIM
Delhi Demos Bulletin), number 0 onwards, are available here.
[1] Delhi Demo Diary Notes
Jai Sen, April 14 2006
The Bhopal hunger strike, now in its fourth day, continues. As of Thursday evening, all but one of the hungers strikers are well; daily medical checks are being done, and all counts are normal. One striker was nauseous yesterday, threw up, and then recovered, and is otherwise well.
Given the total and deafening silence that has prevailed so far, the BIG news last night at the Bhopal dharna site was that the PMO (Prime Minister’s Office) had called the Bhopalis to a meeting with the Prime Minister this morning (Friday).
The news this morning however (Friday), in the
newspapers, was that the PM had had a flu yesterday, had had cancelled all his meeting yesterday evening. Which the Bhopal team felt would almost certainly impact on their appointment.
As summarised clearly in item 2 below, the condition of the NBA members who are on hunger strike is deteriorating. Please note this, and take whatever actions you think are necessary and appropriate to address this situation. Items 2 and 3 give some suggestions.
• Further to a statement issued last week by the NCPRI (National Campaign for People’s Right to Information) in India in support of the NBA’s demo (see item 4 below), Shekhar Singh and Aruna Roy on behalf of the NCPRI have on Wednesday April 12 filed a formal request with the PMO under India’s Right to Information law for a copy of the report of the government’s fact-finding team (referred to by the government as the ‘Group of Ministers’ (GoM)), which has not yet been made public.
Importantly, they have made this request under a special clause of the RtI Act that specifies that in situation where “life or liberty” are threatened, the authorities approached are obliged to respond within 48 hours – meaning within today, Friday, April 14 2006.
• As also mentioned in item 2, the Review Committee of the Narmada Control Authority (to whom the Prime Minister has referred the report of the government’s fact finding team – see CDDB 16, April 12) is meeting tomorrow, Saturday, April 15. Other things being equal, they should therefore have finalised their
decision by tomorrow afternoon, and should be forwarding their decision to the Prime Minister of India. Item 3 gives information on how you can put pressure on India’s Prime Minister to act.
• The word doing the rounds is that the government of India has already taken a position on the matter, but that it has referred the matter to the NCA Review Committee both in order to respect its constitutional position and role and also because it needs to cover itself. Let’s see which way the Committee swings, tomorrow.
• In CDDB 16, I had reported that some eminent citizens were planning to file a PIL (Public Interest Litigation) in the Supreme Court of India in relation to the Narmada case. The latest on this is that they decided to not do this, at least as yet, because doing so during this time when the government is meant to be taking its own position on its own fact finding mission’s report would give it (the government) as excuse to not take a decision, saying that the matter is now in the Court’s hands. But the Narmada case in any case comes up for a hearing on Monday, April 17. So there is always a chance that they might do so then.
[2] On 14.4.06 9:36 pm, “”
Narmada Bachao Andolan
– 62 Gandhi Marg, Badwani, Madhya Pradesh 451551. Ph:
– C/o B-13 Shivam Flats, Ellora Park, Vadodara,
Gujarat 390023. Ph:
– Maitri Niwas, Tembewadi, Dhadgaon, dist. Nandurbar,
Maharashtra. Ph:
April 13, 2006
§ Health of all three fasters deteriorates
§ Medha Patkar writes letter to the SHO for her release
§ RCNCA meeting announced for Saturday morning; NBA states dam construction must be stalled since rehabilitation not done and
Report of the Ministers visit should be released
§ Anna Hazare visits dharna site, also meets Maharashtra Chief Minister
§ Solidarity actions around the country and the world continue and intensify
The health of the three fasters is beginning to deteriorate on their 16th day of indefinite hunger fast. Jamsingh Nargave’s is
in a lot of pain, especially in his legs. Bhagwati behen is beginning to experience a lot of weakness. Medha Patkar’s BP and potassium level continue to fluctuate abnormally and the ketone level is positive. She is experiencing weakness and severe headaches. However, the struggle for justice and the hunger fast
continues and will continue unless the people of the Narmada Valley get justice.
Medha Patkar has written a letter to the Parliament Street SHO demanding to know what sections she has been charged under, since she was officially not been served any papers at all. Nor has she been produced before a magistrate until now. Yet, she is being held under detention.
Meanwhile, noted social activist and anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare visited the dharna site today to support the ongoing
struggle. He also met Vilasrao Deshmukh, Chief Minister of Maharashtra, to urge him to intervene in this matter as far as the rehabilitation of Maharashtra families is concerned.
The meeting of the Review Committee of the NCA has been announced for Saturday morning. NBA welcomes the decision to call the meeting, however, we reiterate that this meeting should have been held one month ago when the construction clearance was given. By now, the dam construction has proceeded upto about 3 metres, illegally! NBA demands an immediate stalling of construction until all affected families are rehabilitated as per Supreme Court directives; with land and shifted six
months before possible submergence.
Solidarity actions, demonstrations, dharnas and solidarity fasts continue throughout Indian and the world over. 34 individuals
and 42 organisations from all over the world including Bangladesh, Australia, USA, Belgium, Thailand, Philippines, Venezuela, Japan, etc, have written a letter of protest to the Prime Minister. The letter states, “…this is a blot on your government…the Narmada struggle is a reaffirmation of the Indian constitution’s commitment to democracy and justice”. The organizations include Friends of the Earth, Australia, Assembly of the Poor, Thailand, Focus on the Global South, Thailand & Philippines, Center for Economic Justice, USA, Nodo Bolivar Del Observatoria Desc Amazonia, Venezuela and many others.
All over the country too there are solidarity actions in Itarsi,
Hoshangabad, Bhopal, Indore, Trivandrum, Mysore, Mumbai. Bhopal saw a huge dharna yesterday, including scientists, writers and
eminent citizens. The dharna in Indore is continuous with regular relay fasts and they even held a Kavi Sammelan yesterday, showcasing the Narmada poems. Especially in Kerala, hundreds of villages are observing fasts and conducting dharnas in solidarity. Badwani, which being 4 kms from the Narmada river, is close to several submergence villages in Madhya Pradesh and is also the center of the office of the NBA, observed a 100% bandh on 11th April in solidarity with the struggle in Delhi. The bandh was total, and brought together
varying groups including Jain community, NSUI, ABVP, several college students, and all the merchants association of this
town. Although the M.P. govt claims that Badwani is not in submergence even at 138 m, the life and existence of Badwani depends on the villages around it, which are on the verge of being drowned without rehabilitation.
Several of these submergence villages, such as Chikhalda, Kadmal, Ekalra, Ekkalbara, Bhavariya, Kavti that are affected by
submergence are observing ‘chulhabandi’ where the entire village observes solidarity fast. This was also observed in Vadchil, the Maharashtra resettlement site, where families of Nimgavhan, Domkhedi and Surung have been resettled 2 years ago, after
immense struggle. In the submergence village Kakrana, all the children of the jeevanshala (school) there observed a fast on 9th April. The villages of Nimad are also daily carrying out ‘deep daan’, where they release diyas (lamps) into the Narmada river. The largest ‘deep daan’ as yet has been done by the people of Nissarpur, in special support of Bhagwati Patidar
from their village, who is also on her 16th day of fast.
Yogini Khanolkar, Kamla Yadav, Siyaram Padvi, Chetan Salve, Dipti Bhatnagar, Ranvirsingh, Noorji Padvi
[3] On 14.4.06 12:11am, “”
Below is an update on the struggle over the increase of the Sardar Sarovar dam height in India’s Narmada Valley. As the story indicates, the project authorities will meet on Saturday, April 15, to discuss the issue. Please support the demands of the Save the Narmada Movement before this important meeting. Please visit IRN’s Take Action Centre and send an e-mail message
to India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at
Thank you for taking action urgently.
International Rivers Network
Centre to Review Dam Height Decision
Gargi Parsai, The Hindu, April 13, 2006 (Front Page)
Decision follows report from Group of Ministers that visited some of rehabilitation sites in Madhya Pradesh A meeting of Review Committee of Narmada Control Authority will be held on
April 15
NEW DELHI: The Centre on Wednesday decided to review the decision to raise the height of the Narmada dam after considering the report of the Group of Ministers that visited some of the rehabilitation sites and submergence villages in Madhya Pradesh, which is a riparian State.
A meeting of the Review Committee of the Narmada Control Authority (RCNCA) will be held here on April 15 to discuss the issue. The Chief Ministers of the Narmada riparian States of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan are members of the RCNCA along with the Minister for Environment and Forests.
The decision was taken at a meeting of the Union Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs (CCPA) chaired by Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh. The Group of Ministers comprising Water Resources Minister Saifuddin Soz, Minister for Social Justice and Environment Meira Kumar and Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office Prithviraj Chauhan were special invitees to the highest political committee in the Government. Their
findings were discussed before it was decided that the decision of the official-level Narmada Control Authority to raise the
height of the dam be reviewed.
Declaring that the decision of the NCA would be reviewed in the RCNCA meet, Mr. Soz said Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha
Patkar should now end her indefinite fast. However, Ms. Patkar, whose sodium, potassium levels and fluctuating blood pressure are a matter of concern for doctors at the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences, where she is admitted, said she would not end her fast till the construction was suspended.
Left appeal Communist Party of India (Marxist) Polit Bureau member Brinda Karat and Communist Party of India leader A.B. Bardhan met the Prime Minister soon after the meeting of the CCPA to discuss the issue. The Left said the measure to review the dam height decision would be “half hearted” unless the Government ensured that the Supreme Court judgment on resettlement and rehabilitation was implemented in full. They also urged Dr. Singh to make the report of the GOM public and suspend the construction of the Narmada dam till rehabilitation was completed as per the Narmada award and Supreme Court orders.
Union Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Home Minister Shivraj Patil, Human Resource Minister Arjun Singh, Agriculture Minister
Sharad Pawar and Railway Minister Lalu Prasad are members of the CCPA.
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[4] >From SACW | 14 Apr 2006 :
National Campaign for Peoples Right to Information
C17-A Munirka, New Delhi 67, India
6 April 2006
The National Campaign for People’s Right to Information strongly protests the distortion of facts and efforts at spreading misinformation regarding the status of rehabilitation of people displaced by the Sardar Sarovar Project. Though the homes of thousands of families are threatened with submersion, most of
these families have yet to be given alternate land and otherwise suitably rehabilitated. And yet, government committees continue to turn a blind eye and play around with “official data” that is clearly inaccurate. The consequent clearance for raising the height of the dam from 110 metres to over 120 metres is not only a violation of the orders of the Supreme Court of India but a major crime on humanity.
The NCPRI expresses its solidarity with the Narmada Bachao Andolan and demands that independent credible observers be immediately despatched to the Narmada Valley to observe first hand and report back the true status of rehabilitation. Till this has been established and all the displaced people
satisfactorily rehabilitated, no further displacement should be permitted.
Shekhar Singh
[5] On 14.4.06 9:41 pm, “”
Press Release, 13 April 2006
The following statement was issued today by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the situation of human rights defenders, Hina Jilani; the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, Miloon Kothari, and the Special Rapporteur on the human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people, Rodolfo Stavenhagen
We are concerned about the recent decision of the Narmada Control Authority (NCA) to further raise the height of the Sardar Sarovar Dam on the Narmada River from the present 110.64 metres to 121.92 metres and reports indicating that this will result in the submergence of villages and displacement of over 35,000 families.
According to a Supreme Court judgement in 2000 any further increase with respect to the height of the Sardar Sarovar Dam should be preceded by the implementation of resettlement and rehabilitation measures. However, according to reports received, adequate rehabilitation has not yet been provided for those affected at the current dam-height, many of them indigenous peoples and farmers. Official estimates say that an additional 24,421 families in 177 villages of Madhya Pradesh are to be displaced at the dam height of 121.92 metres. We are concerned about information indicating that in Madhya Pradesh rehabilitation sites are still not ready and none of the sites have sufficient house plots for affected families and that this may leave people homeless when affected villages are submerged. Furthermore, alternative agricultural land is reportedly not being provided, and where land has been allotted as in Maharashtra and Gujarat, it is uncultivable and inadequate.
We are aware of the indefinite sit-in (dharna) by the over 300 dam-affected and activists of the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA ˆ Save Narmada Movement) in New Delhi since 17 March, demanding a halt to construction at the Sardar Sarovar dam. We are also aware of the three NBA activists who have been on an indefinite fast since 29 March, recently joined by other human rights defenders. We are seriously concerned about recent information according to which on the night of 5 April, a large police force allegedly used indiscriminate force against the protestors, arrested and hospitalised Ms Medha Patkar and Mr Jamsing Nargave on the eighth day of their fast and detained another 25 NBA activists. Testimonies suggest that the use of force was excessive and disproportionate.
In view of the above, we urge the Government of India to release the report of the findings of the three Union Ministers who visited the Narmada Valley on 7 April to assess the status of resettlement and rehabilitation, as reportedly announced by the Minister of Water Resources in a statement dated 4 April. We also urge the Government of India and appropriate authorities to take immediate steps to ensure that any further raising of the dam height will not result in the violation of the human rights of those affected, including to ensure that just and proper resettlement and rehabilitation of all the affected is provided in accordance with international human rights instruments, including the right to food and adequate housing as enshrined, for example, in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Such measures could include the undertaking of a comprehensive assessment of the entire resettlement and rehabilitation experience in the areas affected by the Sardar Sarovar dam in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, possibly through the setting up of an independent inquiry. Until the human rights of those affected can be guaranteed we recommend that the construction of the dam is halted.
We are also deeply concerned regarding the situation of those carrying out peaceful protest to demonstrate their opposition to
the raising of the dam-level. We remind the Government that the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders protects the right to peacefully react or oppose any action detrimental to human rights or fundamental freedoms. We, therefore, recommend that the allegations of indiscriminate and excessive use of force by the police against activists engaged in the protest is properly investigated and that action is taken against the responsible officers, as appropriate. In this context it is also recommended that proper and swift investigation is undertaken with respect to allegations of false charges, if any, against Ms Medha Patkar and other NBA
[6] >From SACW | 14 Apr 2006 :
April 15 , 2006
Himanshu Upadhyaya
Why is it that pro-dam governments and corporations have repeatedly defaulted on rehabilitation, while they have been keen not to default on debts they owe financial investors, asks Himanshu Upadhyaya :
For the last fortnight hundreds of victims from the Narmada Valley have been peacefully camping on the streets of Delhi. They’ve been routinely beaten, dragged and arrested by the police. Frustrated by the insensitive government, Medha Patkar, Jamsing Nargave from village Amlali in Badwani (MP) and Bhagwatibai Jatpuria from village Nissarpur in Dhar (MP) went on a fast-unto-death since March 29, 2006. Hence, it’s crucial to look at the claims made in support of the big dam, especially by the Centre and the Gujarat government led by Hindutva Hriday Samrat Narendra Modi.
Financial insolvency has plagued the multi-crore Sardar Sarovar Project since its inception. The Narmada Control Authority (NCA) gave permission to raise the height of the dam upto 121.92m (from its present height of 110.64m) and the construction work, continues despite the chairman of the review committee of NCA, Union Water Resources Minister, Saif-ud-din Soz, calling the decision ‘premature’. So it’s the need of the hour to examine the unanswered financial questions, lest the Gujarat economy face an unprecedented crisis. Besides, if the dam height is increased, 35,000 families will be uprooted from their land and homes – is this not a violation of the rehabilitation guidelines issued by the Supreme Court?
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) stated in a report for the year ending on March 31, 2001 that Gujarat’s fiscal position is seriously deteriorating. It indicted Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited (SSNNL) for spending a huge amount towards interest charges and servicing debt liabilities. The CAG report clearly indicts SSNNL for its indulgence in imprudent ways of resource mobilisation that made it to spend Rs 2,413.98 crore on interest payments and debt servicing. The total expenditure incurred on the project as on March 31, 2001 was Rs 10,978.63 crore. Thus, almost 22 percent of the total expenditure was spent merely on servicing debt liabilities and paying interest charges.
Concluding the scathing audit review, the CAG states, “The SSP was approved without outlining the sources of raising the funds and cost elements towards borrowing. The SSNNL borrowed in an ad hoc manner and cash flow was not worked out accurately… SSNNL incurred avoidable interest charged as a result of higher rate of interest and retaining huge amount of borrowed funds in short term deposits.”
The blame for cost escalation is often put on the Narmada Bachao Andolan, arguing that had they not stopped the dam construction, for six years during 1994-2000, the costs wouldn’t have risen. However, on close examination, this turns out to be a clever propaganda trick employed by dam builders that protects their profligacy. What is disturbing is the crusade unleashed by political parties in Gujarat that are rallying behind the surreptitious way the establishment has managed to get the clearance to raise the dam height, be it the communal BJP or ‘secular’ Congress. This blind faith on the project will not only betray the citizens of Saurashtra and Kutch, but also violate the most basic principles of economics.
For 1993-94, the budgetary support from Gujarat to the SSP was Rs 749 crore, while in the year 1996-97, it was Rs 567 crore (whereas the irrigation budget was Rs 700 crore). In 1998-99, it went up to Rs 955 crore, while in 2000-01, it was a whopping Rs 3,730 crore. Shall we say that the budgetary allocation of the Gujarat government had influenced the Supreme Court judgement in 2000 that allowed the dam construction to go ahead in stages, putting the riders of ‘resettlement and rehabilitation’ six months prior to likely submergence?
Even in 1995, it was evident that SSP was not financially viable. A confidential study conducted by the Gujarat government found that the SSP would be delayed beyond 2010, primarily because of the non-availability of requisite funds on time. What the study had found is revealing: “The trend clearly indicates SSNNL’s ability to raise funds through this source (bond issues guaranteed by tripartite agreement) on a sustained basis is doubtful. It is unlikely that the irrigation water would be priced in a manner that would reflect its true cost. The power component is relatively small, and would be used mainly for peak load requirements.” The study predicted, “Once the principal repayment commence, a large portion would be eaten up by the debt servicing requirements.” However, these cautious words fall on deaf ears, unable to accept the justified criticism of the project.
Six years later, India’s supreme audit institution, CAG (2002: 57), has criticised the mounting debt obligations, “SSNNL’s average annual debt liability works out to be Rs 944.77 crore. The state government had directed the SSNNL (January 1996) to create a sinking fund out of its own resources with ad hoc contribution of Rs 50 crore annually. The SSNNL, however, never created such a fund nor proposed any alternative arrangement for liquidating the debt liability arising out of issue of bonds. SSNNL, thus, without any systematic plan for redemption of bonds, went on borrowing for redemption of earlier debts, which resulted in abnormal increase in the expenditure on servicing the debt.
Last week, debating the Narmada dam in the Gujarat Assembly and showering eloquent praise on the Modi government, Congress chief whip, Balwantsinh Rajput quoted figures on how much the SSNNL has spent during the last three years on interest payments and debt servicing. The figures quoted are Rs 717 crore, Rs 944 crore and Rs 766 crore, respectively for 2002-03, 2003-04 and 2004-05. He put forth on the floor of the house the cumulative figure of SSNNL having spent Rs 2,428 crore in three years and invented the familiar stick to beat the critics of SSP with, by shouting, “Honourable speaker sir, our state is loosing Rs 2.22 crore on interest payments. We must not allow the Union Water Resources Minister to review the decision of raising the dam height because delay on the dam construction adds to huge erosion of the state exchequer due to interest payments.”
I want to ask him, what was the budgetary allocation from Gujarat to SSP in the annual plan of 2004-’05? It was Rs 900 crore. And how much of this has gone to the bank accounts of a few bondholders at the cost of the citizens of the state? A whopping Rs 766 crore, as per his own admission on the floor of the house. Shouldn’t the people – and most of whom can’t afford to be SSNNL bondholders – stop paying taxes when the resources of the state exchequer are diverted to the coffers of a few financial investors? Moreover, it’s inexplicable, why should the opposition party sanctify such a huge erosion of the state’s funds?
Besides, how much has been spent on interest payments and debt servicing as on March 31, 2005? Taking into consideration figures from the Assembly debate, as well as CAG’s figures on the debt liability of SSNNL, it turns out to be Rs 5,405 crore.
So shouldn’t we ask Union Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment Meira Kumar to please stand up and answer that, while the state governments and central government’s building the Sardar Sarovar Dam has spent 28 percent of the total expenditure (Rs 18831.24 crore) on the project as on March 31, 2005, how much has been spent on resettlement and rehabilitation of the project affected families from the submergence villages? Why is it that governments have repeatedly defaulted on the rehabilitation front, while the dam building corporation and the governments backing it have taken keen interest on not to default the debts that it owes to the financial investors?
We, the people, must ask: is it for progress or profligacy that the establishment loves building dams with such an infatuated and brutish obsession?
CACIM – India Institute for Critical Action : Centre
in Movement
A-3 Defence Colony, New Delhi 110 024, India
Ph 91-11-5155 1521, 2433 2451
Nayi Rajniti (‘New Politics’), Hindi edition of Talking New Politics, Sen and Saini, eds 2005 Nayi Subah Ki Or (‘Towards A New Dawn’), volume 1 of Hindi edition of World Social Forum : Challenging Empires Are Other Worlds Possible ? Books 2 & 3 –
‘Interrogating Empires’ & ‘Imagining Alternatives’ Open Space Webspace : WSFDiscuss – an open discussion listserve on the World Social Forum and cultures of politics in movements : Send an empty email to Out in 2005-6 : World Social Forum : Challenging Empires – in German, Japanese, Spanish, and now in Hindi and Urdu !
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Issue 182 of the International Social Science Journal
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Jai Sen
CACIM – India Institute for Critical Action : Centre
in Movement
A-3 Defence Colony, New Delhi 110 024, India
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