Press Note, 12th February 2007
Maheshwar dam oustees march and sit-in at Bhopal
Demand to stop work on the dam
State Government must issue White Paper and make public disclosure
Narmada Bachao Andolan
Jail Road, Mandleshwar,
Tel : 0733-2228418, 07283-233162,094259-28007
Hundreds of oustees affected by the Maheshwar dam being built in the Narmada valley protested in Bhopal today demanding that work on the dam should be immediately stopped in the light of the human, financial and technical flaws in the project, and that the State must issue a White Paper placing the truth about the project in front of the people of the state. The oustees also called on all banks and public financial institutions not to put money into this anti-people project.
No techno-economic clearance at current costs
It may be noted that the people of the Narmada valley have been struggling for the last ten years against this destructive project, which will submerge the homes, lands and livelihoods of over twenty thousand families in this area. The Maheshwar Project is slated to generate very little and very expensive power. The current capital outlay of Rs. 2450 crores has not been cleared as viable either by the Central Electricity Authority or the Madhya Pradesh State Electricity Regulatory Commission. Yet the Madhya Pradesh Government is going ahead with the project.
No assessment of actual number of affected families or comprehensive R&R Plan
The oustees have been repeatedly demanding that the surveys to assess the actual extent of submergence up to the Full Reservoir Level and further up to back-waters should be done by the Central Water Commission (CWC). The failure of the State Government surveys is apparent most markedly in the Indira Sagar Project where over 2000 acres of land and over 1160 houses have been additionally found in submergence under FRL when the Courts directed a re-survey by the CWC. Therefore, in Maheshwar too, the oustees are demanding survey by the CWC.
The Maheshwar dam oustees demand that after the full extent of submergence is known, a comprehensive R&R (Rehabilitation and Resettlement) Plan based on allotment of actually available agricultural land to farmers, landless families mostly of the Kewat, Kahar and Dalit communities and their adult sons be prepared in compliance with the conditions of the Central Government clearance. After the clearance given to the Project in January 1994, field investigations in the years 1998, 2002 and recently in December 2006 have shown that no agricultural land has been identified by the Project promoters for the R&R of the affected families. It is clear that even 13 years after the clearance was given, no comprehensive R&R Plan based on the actual availability of land has been prepared, yet construction on the dam continues. On the contrary, the Project promoters are purchasing agricultural land in the submergence area in flagrant violation of the stipulations of the M.P. Land Revenue Code and the M.P. Land Ceiling Act.
Misuse of public money
The Madhya Pradesh State Industrial Development Corporation gave huge amounts of money to the holding company of the Shree Maheshwar Hydel Power Corporation Limited - the Induj Enertech Limited now known as the Entegra Infrastructures for the Maheshwar Project, setting aside the rules, regulations and legal requirements. Subsequently the Company defaulted on the repayment. The Economic Offences Wing of the State Government has filed criminal charges against the Promoters and Directors of Induj Enertech Limited and the officials of the MPSIDC including charges of fraud, cheating and criminal conspiracy. The CAG of India (Comptroller and Auditor General) has repeatedly censured this Project for grave financial irregularities with regard to the default on the money to be returned to the MPSEB and NVDA, and imprudential investment by the Power Finance Corporation. However despite RBI directives that no public money should be given to groups whose companies are facing criminal charges such as fraud, misrepresentation, etc, the State Government has not only given a guarantee to this Project for the issue of bonds, but is also in the process of dedicating the revenue collection from the high yielding Jabalpur and Narsinghpur revenue collection centres for escrow guarantee to the Project.
The struggle demands :
The Narmada Bachao Andolan demands that the work on the dam must be immediately stopped by the State Government in public interest, the criminal proceedings against the State Government officials and promoters of the Maheshwar Project responsible for financial irregularities expedited, and the financial viability of the Project after making a comprehensive R&R Plan based on land allotment for farmers, landless families and adult sons and unmarried adult daughters. The State Government must immediately take back the guarantee given to the Maheshwar project and not dedicate the revenue centres at Narsinghpur and Jabalpur for the escrow payments for expensive Maheshwar power.
The NBA also demands that the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests stop the Maheshwar dam work because of the violation of the conditions of the environmental clearance. The NBA and the affected people call on all banks and public financial institutions not to put public money into anti-people projects such as Maheshwar. The NBA also warns the State Government that if it continued with its policy of privileging the interest of the industrialist over public interest, then they would have to take the struggle to places all over the country and to take direct non-violent Do or Die action to stop the work on the dam site.