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Narmada Bachao Aandolan invites minister and secretary to face the people of Narmada Valley
Supporters of Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) laid seige on the entrance of Ministry of Water Resources on Monday, protesting against the undemocratic and unjust decision of Narmada Control Authority to close the gates of Sardar Sarovar Dam, in its June 16th meeting.

This paves the way for imminent submergence of 192 villages and one township of Madhya Pradesh this monsoon, when the full reservoir level will be achieved. In past two months, many assurances from NCA, NVDA and govt officials have been given but even then, citing Supreme Court order of February 2017, the decision has been taken without verifying actual ground conditions in Madhya Pradesh.

It needs to be mentioned that the claims of the almost complete disbursement of the compensation, as per SC judgement, is not true, since a number of applications are still pending infront of the Grievance Redressal Authority in Madhya Pradesh. In these matters, the claims of the project affected families for disbursement of the appropriate amount for the land lost hasn't been settled yet. It also needs to be noted that those who have received cash compensation, are yet to receive their due R&R entitlements for the loss of their houses and other common facilities, simply because 88 R&R sites in Madhya Pradesh are not complete. In such a situation, it is impossible for nearly 40,000 families to move to these sites, which lack even most of the basic facilities, including drinking water.

A delegation comprising of Vimal Bhai from Matu Jan Sangathan, Manoj from All India Kisan Sabha, Madhuresh Kumar, Himshi Singh and Uma from National Alliance of People's Movements met the Minister of Water Resources Uma Bharati ji, Secretary, MoWR Amarjit Singh and Joint Secretary Sanjay Kundu and raised these concerns.

In response, the ministry said that they have evaluated the recommendations made by the Environment sub-group and R&R sub group and were satisfied by their recommendations. This was challenged by the delegation, which asked for these recommendations by the sub-group, so that the inaccuracies be exposed and brought to the notice.

The delegation mentioned that the ministry has wilfully chosen to read the SC judgement in a certain light and has neglected the complete failure to prepare R&R sites and has buckled under political pressure and exigencies of the ruling party in power. This is sufficiently visible from the way, Gujarat Chief Minister, flew down to the dam site and inaugurated the closing of the gates and claimed major success on the same part. The ministry of Water Resources in its three years progress report has claimed the same, which is not only insensitive but is a complete failure on its parts in ensuring justice.

It is shameful that the lives of the people affected by the dam in Madhya Pradesh, are only numbers for them and there is a complete abdication of their responsibility to monitor the situation on the ground. This was amply visible in the conversation between the delegation and the ministry officials, who continued to ask for numbers and names of the sites. This needs to be noted that the ministry has every data with them and they have simply chosen to close their eyes and put the stamp on the false information given by the government of Madhya Pradesh.

The delegation asked them to not only supply the recommendations of the subgroups but also give them the report of the six teams of the Central Water Commission, which made a visit to the R&R sites between June 7-9 and submitted their report on June 11. Narmada Bachao Andolan had confronted the six teams which went to Dhar and Badwani districts and asked them to visit certain sites, however, they dodged the team and simply filed a report based on what Narmada Valley Development Authority asked them and showed them. The delegation challenged them to pick up any ten sites and come and visit along with the project affected families, since none of the 88 sites in MP are complete as per the Narmada Water Dispute Tribunal Guidelines.

It also needs to be noted that even today, the oustees of the Gujarat have been protesting for past one year at Kevadiya Colony, for want of basic services and livelihood options at R&R sites. Till date no one from the ministry has cared to meet them and have only faced police violence, detention and arrests.

The protest was addressed by Dr Sunilam of Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, Sanjeev Kumar of Delhi Solidarity Group, Avijit Wasi of All India Union of Forest Workers, and Vinod Singh of Kisan Manch among others.

The protest also received support from Bhumi Adhikar Andolan, an alliance of more than 300 organisations, which condemned the decision to close the gates and said, the farmers of Madhya Pradesh are either killed by the bullets or submerged or forced to commit suicide. It added, the Madhya Pradesh and Union government led by Bhartiya Janata Party is completely anti-farmer, workers, adivasis and Dalits and is only working for the interests of the private corporations.

The supporters of Narmada Bachao Andolan across the country have vowed to stand with the struggling people of the valley and are not going to give up in face of the illegal submergence and ready for the struggle.

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