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25 October, 2010

An Open Letter to the PM on 25th anniversary of Narmada Andolan

The Prime Minister of India
7, Race Course Road
New Delhi


The people in the Narmada Valley have been fighting for survival, for right to life, with dignity since the last twenty-five years, hoping that the Indian state would respond to their just demands. The Sadar Sarovar Project which was touted as the 'best project' ensuring ecological balance and ideal rehabilitation policy stands fully exposed with 200,000 and more people still in the submergence area, awaiting their entitlement and a few thousand Adivasis having lost their land to submergence, without obtaining agricultural land in compensation.

Not one, but four reports of the Expert Committee appointed by the Ministry of Environment and Forest till 2010 clearly indicate the position taken by the Narmada Bachao Andolan of grave non-compliance on environmental measures and conditions in the project clearance granted in 1987. Even the backwater levels of the project are far from finalized, after thirty full years since the declaration of the Tribunal award.

What about the benefits, you may ask. Kindly take time to look into the report of performance appraisal of the Sadar Sarovar Project. The Planning Commissions own working group on water resources estimate that the final project cost to be 70,000 crores by 2012. When such escalation, almost ten times of the original cost has occurred, how could a further clearance for 40,000 crores be granted, that too after having spent 30,000 crores without a review of the post benefit analysis, may we ask? The most shocking is the fact that Gujarat has built only 20 percent of the canals over thirty years, the ponded waters are not even utilised beyond ten percent, resulting in very low irrigation and power benefits, much below the expectations.

Obviously the enormous cost paid by the people and nature are not utilised in this situation. We all, concerned about the justice and the sustainability ion the development planning are highly disturbed and anguished and hence would like to issue this appeal to your conscience and your government to take serious cognizance of the unprecedented devastation to take place in the Narmada Valley due to the large dams and canals. We would like to assert that the central government, under your leadership, must immediately undertake a comprehensive review of not only Sadar Sarowar, but also the entire Narmada Valley project, involving the decade old non-violent people's movement.

There is a need, you would agree, to not only ensure democratic and just process in dam building but also to save the prime agricultural land, leaving dense populated communities of Advasis, farmers, fisher people and others and minimise unwarranted destruction, displacement and destitution. This is both possible and necessary and we would seek your full cooperation in this vital initiative.

Without your taking such a step forward, we do not see any other alternative before the people but to exercise all forms of democratic Satyagraha and resistance to assert their constitutional, legal and human rights.

Yours sincerely,

The people of Narmada Valley
National Alliance of People's Movement

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