The Plight of Displaced People Worsens

Press Note:10.06.2007

Fifth Day of Indefinite Hunger Strike
The Plight of Displaced People Worsens : Due to Blatant Flouting of Supreme Court Orders
The Price of Thousands of Lives is Larger than the State’s Fiscal Loss

On the fifth day of the indefinite sit-in of the Omkareshwar and Indira Sagar affected people, thousands of families are still continuing to throng the dharna site. The indefinite hunger-strike of a group of five people comprising of affected persons and activists of the Narmada Bachao Andolan as well as the three-day hunger strike in solidarity by 89 people from 30 affected villages continued today. A large number of people from the Maheshwar dam affected regions visited the dharna site too, and expressed their solidarity.

It is to be noted that thousands of displaced people from both the Indira Sagar Project as well as Omkareshwar project are being forced to suffer like destitutes due to the non-compliance of rehabilitation policy and plans. According to the information provided to the High Court by the state government and NHDC, more than 85% of the families displaced from the first five affected villages of the Omkareshwar project – namely Sailani, Bakhatgarh, Gunjari, Paldi and Rampura – have been unable to purchase any land. Same is the case of more than 83% families of the Indira Sagar project. More than 80% of the families who have been unable to buy land are the marginal and small farmers and adivasis, harijans and other poors. It is clear from these figures that displacement has pushed these affected people to the brink of total pauperisation.

The Supreme Court of India, considering displacement as an issue related to the Fundamental Right to Life and taking it under the Article 21 of the Constitution of India, has guaranteed full protection to the displaced people. In the verdicts of the Supreme Court in case of Narmada Bachao Andolan v/s Union of India of the year 2000 and year 2005, and of N D Jayal v/s Union of India regarding Tehri Dam, the apex court clearly ruled that after displacement the life standards of displaced people must be better than before. But the plight of the displaced people from the Indira Sagar and Omkareshwar affected regions clearly shows that these Supreme Court orders have been blatantly flouted. In fact the High Court of MP (Jabalpur Bench) has ordered that the reservoirs of Indira Sagar and Omkareshwar dams should not be allowed to fill up because the rehabilitation of the displaced persons has not been done according to the rehabilitation policies and plans.

Not only this, the government surveys in the case of both Indira Sagar and Omkareshwar dams have been proven false. In the surveys conducted after the orders of the High Court, thousands of new houses and thousands of acres of extra land has been found to be coming under submergence. Not only have these newly declared affected families not been rehabilitated as yet, but their land acquisition also has not yet taken place. In this scenario, to fill up the dam reservoirs will mean a direct threat to the lives of all these families. The claims of the project authorities that not filling up water in the dam reservoirs is causing fiscal loss to the state government shows the apathy and indifference of the authorities regarding the lives and Right to Life of these thousands of families.

It is due to this insensitivity of the state government and NHDC that over five thousand people have been forced to leave their farming and labour to sit on a dharna in Khandwa. The affected people have expressed their firm resolve that they will return to their villages only when they achieve their just and full rights.

Alok Agrawal
Dharamraj Jain
2, Sai Nagar, Mata Chowk,
Khandwa, Madhya Pradesh.
Phone : 0733-2228418,2270014


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