On the 9th day of the protest fast by veteran leader, Medha Patkar of the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), Kamal Nath, chief minister of Madhya Pradesh has appealed to her to call of the fast, assuring the organisation of rehabilitation
MP chief minister, Kamal Nath issued the following statement regarding the Sardar Sarovar Project yesterday:
1. Sardar Sarovar is an inter-state project, with Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Gujarat as the party states. Therefore, decisions cannot be taken by any one state alone. Rehabilitation processes are being implemented according to the decisions of the Narmada Water Dispute Tribunal (NWDT) award, state’s rehabilitation policy and the orders of the Supreme Court. Disputes related to the rehabilitation are being settled via the Grievance Redressal Authority constituted with 5 retired judges of the High Court. Madhya Pradesh government is committed to the protection of the rights of displaced people.
2. Being a welfare state, continuous dialogue process has been maintained by the senior politicians and bureaucrats, including myself, with the displaced people and the Narmada Bachao Andolan, in order to ensure that the issues faced by the displaced people are understood thoroughly and addressed meaningfully. In order to ensure the participation of the displaced people in the rehabilitation works, the current government has constituted village as well as district level Rehabilitation Committees in the villages of the submergence area. People’s representatives, social workers as well as the displaced people are being included in these committees.
3. The current government has given necessary orders to the District Collectors to review the cases of families that were earlier declared to be ineligible, towards providing them with adequate compensation. The current government has declared 115 new families to be eligible for the compensation of rupees 60 lakhs. We have not yet received the necessary amount from the Gujarat government, even after submitting applications towards the same.
4. In the monsoon season of 2019, the current government undertook mass scale flood prevention and relief measures. Village level committees were constituted and rescue boats, food and temporary shelters were provided to the people for evacuation from the submergence zone.
5. The decision as well as implementation of the filling of the Sardar Sarovar Dam’s reservoir is undertaken by the Narmada Control Authority (NCA). However, NCA has not been functioning in an impartial manner. The Madhya Pradesh government is opposing the filling of the reservoir this year, towards which the Chief Secretary had requested the NCA on 27/5/19 to call for a meeting for reconsidering the decision of filling the reservoir. However, this request was not taken seriously. The meeting that was called for 21/8/19 was cancelled on 20/8/19. The Additional Chief Secretary of the Narmada Valley Development Region met the Chairperson of the Narmada Control Authority in New Delhi to request them to not proceed with filling the dam reservoir.
6. Upon the request of the Gujarat government, a meeting of the Sardar Sarovar Reservoir Regulation Committee was called on August 16, 2019, in which the Gujarat government sought approval for filling the reservoir at the rate of 30 centimetres per day. However, this demand was not accepted due to the fervent opposition to the same by the Madhya Pradesh government, to look after the interests of its people.
7. I want to assure Medha Patkar Ji and all her associates in the Narmada Bachao Andolan that my government is fully committed to the complete rehabilitation of the affected families. Redressal of the demands as well as grievances of the affected families will be undertaken by setting up camps in each village. I sincerely request Medha Patkar Ji to call off her fast and cooperate with us for the immediate redressal of the issues of the affected families.
8. The Madhya Pradesh government will sincerely endeavour to keep to the gates of the dam open and strive for a stay on the decision to fill the reservoir completely.
(Translation from Hindi by Abha Jeurkar)