People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


Vol. XXX

No. 15

April 09, 2006

NARMADA ISSUE

 

CPI(M) MP Demands Rehabilitation Measures

 

ON March 23, a group of ten members of parliament, cutting across political lines, made an appeal to the prime minister regarding the Narmada Control Authorityís decision to raise the height of the Narmada dam without rehabilitation. These were members of the select committee going into the issue of tribal bill. The MPs concerned were Mahavir Bhagora, Giridhar Gamang, P P Koya, Baju Ban Riang, Babu Rao, Rishang Keishing, Radhakant Naik, Mangani Lal Mandal, Nand Kishore Yadav and Brinda Karat.

 

They said they were in deep anguish that the Supreme Courtís decision of March 2005 regarding rehabilitation of those affected by Narmada dam had not been implemented. On the contrary, the Narmada Control Authority had given permission to further raise the dam, which had been strictly forbidden by the Supreme Court. By this decision, 30,000 more tribal families will be affected.

 

The MPs urged the prime minister to immediately intervene to prevent this huge injustice to tribals and to reverse the illegal decision of the Narmada Control Authority. They said as per the decision of the Supreme Court, the height of the dam could not be raised without putting in place full rehabilitation measures including Ďland for landí for tribal families.

 

Earlier on March 18, the CPI(M)ís Polit Bureau member and Rajya Sabha member, Brinda Karat had written a letter to Saifuddin Soz, union minister for water resources, on the same subject. She recalled that the rehabilitation package was specifically linked to land for land policy with a minimum of two hectares for every adult son. This was further confirmed by the NCA chairperson in the NCA meeting on July 21, 2005, when chief secretaries of the affected states were informed that any payment of cash for compensation was illegal.

 

However, shockingly, in its March 2006 meeting, the NCA permitted the raising of the damís height without even a single field visit or any other direct information on the status of rehabilitation measures. In fact reports say the affected families were being told that unless they accepted the cash compensation they would not get anything else. In such a situation the NCA decision to raise the height of the dam will further displace over 30,000 families, mainly poor tribal families, in Madhya Pradesh. It is violative of the basic human right to live because raising the damís height without rehabilitation means death for thousands through forced landlessness, destitution and starvation.

 

Brinda Karat therefore asked the ministerís immediate intervention to reverse the illegal decision of the NCA, and also to send a team to Madhya Pradesh to assess the status of rehabilitation in the affected and would-be affected areas.    

 

On April 3, Brinda Karat and CPI(M) Central Committee member Subhashini Ali visited the Jantar Mantar site in New Delhi where the Narmada Bachao Andolanís leader Ms Medha Pateker and its activists are on a hunger strike. They reiterated the CPI(M)ís opposition to raising the damís height without undertaking proper rehabilitation measures.