Monday, April 17, 2006

GoM's confidential report on Narmada visit

Link to the report, obtained exclusively by The Hindu, "A Brief Note on the Assessment of Resettlement and Rehabilitation (R & R) Sites and Submergence of Villages of the Sardar Sarovar Project." The note marked confidential and dated April 9, 2006, was signed by Union Minister of Water Resources, Saifuddin Soz, Union Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment Meira Kumar, and Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office Prithviraj Chauhan.

The report makes a very sad reading of the ground realities in the affected areas and of the oustees. This line at the end of the report summarizes it all,
The reports of the Rehabilitation and Resettlement Sub Group and the GRA on the basis of which Narmada Control Authority (NCA) granted permission for raising the height has been largely paperwork and it has no relevance with the situation on the ground.

Wonder why Mr. Manmohan Singh is still not doing anything about it?
To do the least, he could have just made the report public on April 9th. People need to know what the truth is! He could have even scored a few political points over BJP by making the report public.

Another report on The Hindu: Narmada project: clearing the confusion
The factual answers to ten relevant questions are clear. Now the Prime Minister needs to act justly and responsibly, in line with the Supreme Court's judgment.


Dr. J.C.Dutt said...

It is time for everyone to realize true colors of NBA, and call the bluff of their phony supporters.
1. Over the last few weeks, they have been repeating the same arguments against big dams etc. all of which have been dealt with at the Government since 1986 and the Supreme Court since 1994 and comprehensively rejected. Still, by repeating the same, they managed to find sympathizers who do not have an idea of events so far.
2. It is their habit to try and drown the voice of reason as was found when one of the activists in an interview on tv channel did not allow a senior advocate to speak by her hysterical interruptions.
3. Arundhati Rao said that since an advertisement was released showing support of distinguished industrialists, the project was meant for the rich and not for the poor!
4. Another activist, Himanshu Thakkar in another tv interview, besides repeating old rejected arguments, said that the project would only benefit rich farmers!! This was in spite of the fact that over 95% of the farmers are holders of small plots.
5. Medha Patkar stated that the Gujarat CM was responsible for the post Godhra riots and was communal. It is clear that this was just a calumny which has nothing to do with the development project of Narmada.
6. NBA have been known to be instigating the affected persons not to accept rehabilitation.
7. The newest supporter of NBA, one Aamir Khan with a bloated ego, grandly declared:“Along with Supreme Court, I will also keep a watch on the rehab programme for the next three months”. It appears that he is trying to become a super protector of the people.
8. Medha went on fast when an application to Supreme Court was already made. Hoping to get a favourable order, her lawyers asked for early hearing but this was denied and the Court maintained the date of 17th April. This upset her calculations forcing her to continue fast for much longer. Ultimately, she gave up even when the Court did not stop work immediately.
9. In a brazen attenpt to pressurize the Court and the PM, their lawyer Bhushan publicly expressed disappointment with the Court order and Arundhati said that Court and PM were not taking the right decision.
10. Arundhati even used profanity in front of the tv camera, which had to be blocked by the channel.

Many who have experience of NBA realize that they are ready to adopt any tactics including abusing constitutional authorities to achieve their goal and are bringing a bad name to bona fide NGOs.

Anonymous said...

I agree with above sentiments. People are simply getting carried away with emotional stuff and misleading or irrelevant arguments put forth by Medha and her other elitist friends.

Purushottam said...

I am not sure why it is irrelevant to remind the State(s) that it is not following the R&R rules and the Supreme Court verdict. The SC order says that R&R should be carried out before the dam height can be increased (there is no longer an argument about the sdam itself)---the condition is straigh forward---rehabilitate and resettle and increase the height. If NBA is trying to make the state authorities accountable to there own conditions, how is it irrelevant? Even the group of ministers who visited in their report say "The reports [about R&R are] largely paperwork and it has no relevance with the situation on the ground". So why is NBAs protest irrelevant? Infact, I think people are getting misled and arguing against each other about the wrong things. The politicians want the common man to fight against each other, the rural vs the urban, the slum dwellers vs the house owners, the worker vs. the owners, because that keeps us away from thinking about the main and important issues. With respect to the dam, the main issues would be the evaluation of th peoject itself, its cost and the increased costs over the past 10-15 years, the corruption, the delays in finishing several infrastructure projects related to the dam (and this has nothing to do with NBA protests), the model of development, the number of people that are really benefitted, are the displaced villages/people getting any benefits for the sacrificies, are they are any alternative and if so what is the governments stand on it. The politicians don't want people to think about these central issues, and pitch us against each other, even to the extent that if a group of people demands accountability of their own promises, they are called anti-development, anti-nation, anti-blah. Mr. Modi says, the dam constuction will not stop as it is the lifeline of Gujarat---well it might be, but the NBA is saying please rehabilate according to the terms and increase the height!

Read this to get an idea about the faulty SSP claims.
and this is after they changed their claims ...
Today Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) engineers claimed (Reference 1 below) that only 550 Million Units of additional electricity (worth about Rs 110 crores) will be generated every year if the Sardar Sarovar dam is taken to 121.9 mts. Considering that the transmission and distribution losses in India are close to 50%, this electricity is barely sufficient to power 30,000 households in a city like Mumbai, that have a refrigerator, air-conditioner and colour television, with an average consumption of 25 units a day. On the other hand, 35,000 rural families including farmers and adivasis are facing displacement without rehabilitation, losing not only their houses but also tens of thousands of acres of fertile agricultural land to submergence due to the increase to 121.9 mts.
...These are issues of real debate and I think the NBA is taking the right steps in demanding accountability.

tejal said...

there are hundreds of organizations working on different issues and you can identify with one or the other, chose to work with/like one or the other. But that does not make the others work less important. NBA has been very important in giving the struggle of the Adivasis a political face, bringing it on the political agenda which the other organizations have failed to do. These struggles need to become political, and the system needs to be questioned otherwise there will be a long drawn out fight by some NGO at every project where people are being disregarded. When farmers commit suicides, its not enough to say that they will be compensated, the systemic forces that lead to those suicides need to be attacked and changes made. Questioning big dam/projects is happening all around the world and problems of big dams are being faced everywhere today (please refer ot Silenced Rivers). So sticking to the old "dams are temples" funda is more archaic and anti-progress than questionin it is. the NBA is doing very important work which needs to be done at all levels. one cant always just keep making superficial arrangements within the system which may crumble very soon, at some point we have to question the system and attack the root of the problems that are largely due to administrative and policy failures.

Kamble said...

It is clear that Tejal has a one track mind that feels that NBA cant do no wrong. The real agenda of NBA is to stop Narmada and any other dams. It is evident that if they were only concerned about rehab. they would not keep revisting the big dam argument at every opportunity. Perhaps tejal is not seeing and reading these things.

NO ONE says rehab should not be done. In fact that is the only question that has to be addressed. BUt the way NBA is messing up by accusing all governments and the supreme court, it is only complicating matters (which is exactly what they want)

Suhas Kamble said...

puru is partly right when he says that people want to make us fight by creating class divide.

IN fact, this is one of the strategies of NBA. See how they bring in rich vs.poor("industrialist supporting narmada means project is pro-rich"), big farmers vs. small farmers("irrigation facility will be enjoyed only by large farmers"), divide between communities("Gujarat CM is communal"-hinting that muslims should not support),adivasis vs. higher castes, central govt. vs. atate govt.("PM succumbs to blackmail by Gujarat CM"), goondas vs. civilized people("Congress and BJP goondas destroyed the only PC that was donated to us"), longer fast vs. shorter fast("Gujarat CM did not even fast for 51 hours and medha fasted for 19 days",regional divide ("kutch and saurashtra getting less water than south gujarat")etc.

But we, like fools still consider ourselves intelligent and fall for their divisive tactics.

Purushottam said...

thanks for writing Suhas. My comment actually only meant politicians and the corporates (each of them hand-in-glove with the other), who for their interests divide the common people on small issues and do not let the focus shift to the real issues. I think NBA has done a commendable job in raising important questions regarding feasibility, alternatives, costs, the narrow-idea of development and demanding accountability from the State (in some sense doing the State's job for it).
About R&R, the NBA is demanding that the State follow its own rules, how does that lead to delaying R&R? If anyone has pointers to such data (NBA stopping R&R), would like to take a look.

Suhas said...

puru i think you are selectively using the argument of people creating class divide. I have detailed some of the arguments consistently used-misused by NBA to create that rift.
If that does not appear to fit into your definition of creating class divide, what does?

As for NBA creating obstructions, if you have followed their activities long enough (including video footages shown by one of the tv channels), you will know what is meant. What is happening is that they have actually hijacked the cause of the displaced persons. They are fighting their own main cause of stopping dam at all cost, nothing less.

Suhas said...

Further to my above comment, as regards NBA doing a commendable job of issues like feasiblity alternatives, etc. these are today all settled by the Govt. as well as the highest court of the land as far as Narmada is concerned.

Those who understand the democratic process well understand that.

For future projects they can keep presenting their ideas but they cannot insist that only their ideas should be accepted because they are the wisest ones and others are incapable or unintelligent.

Purushottam said...

Suhas---I am not sure why asking the Govt. to accountable to their own statements means obstructing R&R? I do not have access to the video footage you mention, but I will try to get a hold of them or please send me a pointer.
On the question of alternatives, NBa has never claimed to be wisest and others are incapable---infact the govt. has not divulged several of the plans of the project before implementation started.
Please lookup this link for alternative solutions by several people independent of the NBA.

True, the govenrment has already decided on going ahead with the SSP, and the NBA at this point is fighting only for R&R, with an ideology that questions large closed-door projects of governements which are highly accountable and are which are monumatal opportunities for corruption and control.

Tarini said...

I think puru has completely misread NBA actions when he says that "NBA at this point is fighting only for R&R".

It is msot certainly not simply fighting for R&R. It is still persisting with stopping the project altogether at every forum.

If it was really thinking only of R&R, it would not be asking to stop the project when they jolly well know the costs involved in delay. In fact, they should be facilitating not obstructing R&R efforts by working with both government and the displaced ones.

see various articles including and readers comments on the way they obstruct the R&R.

Who says they have only R&R on their mind?????????

Purushottam said...

tarini---when I said "NBA at this point is fighting only for R&R", I meant the height construction and height of the dam have already been cleared already, so there is no question that the dam will be built.

Regarding the delay, I think this is a good example of how governments are shifting focus on the NBA as delay-causers. Instead, the State itself is the reason for the delay. If they had persued R&R according the SC verdict, there would have been no delay. Instead, they openly disregard R&R and try to blame movements which are demanding greater accountability from them. Even the 3 party GoM which visited the region couple of weeks back reported that most of the rehab is only on paper and has no relation to ground reality (consistent with NBA's stand). So, am not sure why reminding the government of their own rules regarding R&R--- a pre-requisite for increase in dam height, make NBA the delay-causers and not the State that has failed in its responsibility?
As I tried to mention before, by shifting focus on NBA and potraying them as obstacles to "development" the govt. is trying to mislead people and shift focus away from their own accountability.

also, the construction of the dam has not stopped and still continues!

i think the real questions would be smtg like:
- if rehab is already claimed to be done by the govts. and if people are claiming otherwise, where done the money allocated for the same go? were there irregularities?
- why is the canal construction delayed? (which has no connection with the dam height)
- why are affected villages not getting water or power?
- how much of the claims that SSP made, has it been able to meet?
- how is property being leased/distributed along the canal?

According to me, answers to some of these questions and more on these lines is where the debate/discussion should be.

PARTHO said...

Puru, you can be excused for being a little naive but stopping the dam is what they want. It is only because the Court has not permitted it, it has not been stopped.

R&R is fine, everyone wants it but the proper way is to pressure the laggards in other ways rather than going on dramatic fasts and asking for dam construction to be stopped as what NBA is doing.

I believe you have not followed the history of Narmada projects and the obstructions by NBA over the years to STOP THE PROJECT, NOT HELP R&R.

Purushottam said...

Partho--- at *this point* the NBA are fighting for R&R, the decision regarding the height of the dam has already been cleared by the SC.
Regarding previous efforts, obviously they are against the dam and so were many others (World bank's own investigation came up with a report, which advised the bank to pull out). Several people have proposed alternate plans for the same projects, none which got discussed or paid any attention too. Further, several people (check Narmada Dammed for one) have verified that the claims of the SSP are technically not possible. With this and the shady R&R, the NBA has questioned the dam itself in the past and I dont understant why questioning the motives and trying the make the govt. more accountable is wrong?

Suren said...

tell you what:

Let Arundhati be placed in charge of fasting and dharna for displaced Kashmiri pundits since she has an international stature.

Let Medha look after Coke agitation cuz she is in water already.

Purushottam said...

A link to NBA's press release regarding the defamation and 'official' propaganda on 'rehabilitating' the 'rehabilitated'.
Suhas, this might related to your prev. point about India TV's anti-NBA footage and reporting.