Hundreds of SSP Oustees in Indore: Approach NCA and GRA
Submergence without full rehabilitation illegal:
Oustees entitled to compensation: Dr. Afroz Ahmed, NCA
Provide interim relief if PAFs not ensured possession of land: GRA
“Even if a single rehabilitation entitlement has not been provided to
any PAF, s/he shall be presumed not to be rehabilitated and shall be
entitled for compensation, if his / her properties have been affected
by submergence”. This was the assurance and position taken by Dr.
Afroz Ahmed (Director), Rehabilitation, Narmada Control Authority,
Indore after almost 3 hours of intense dialogue and debate by hundreds
of Sardar Sarovar project-affected persons, whose farms, houses and
properties have been drowned in August, 2013 by the illegal release of
waters from the upstream dams in the Narmada valley, Madhya Pradesh
The oustees, a large number of them women, representing the
adivasis-farmers, fish workers, potters, landless persons from the
districts of Badwani and Dhar today stormed into the NCA’s office and
challenged the illegal submergence, prior to their lawful
rehabilitation as per the Narmada Award, State Rehabilitation policy,
Judgements of the Supreme Court and the Action Plans. They questioned
the Director, as to how can the NCA approve the submergence of 45,000
families residing in the submergence area of SSP, in the 193 villages
of Madhya Pradesh, yet to be fully rehabilitated, as per law.
From village after village people complained that their names have
been left out of the official lists, they have not yet been provided
alternative cultivable and encroached land, potters have not got land
on the river bank, fish workers have not got the right to fisheries,
landless have not been ensured alternative livelihood, many are yet to
be given house plots and amenities at the R&R sites etc, the plots at
many places are in deep pits, needing lakhs of rupees filling cost
etc. etc.

Thus, in such a circumstance, the dam-induced flooding leading to
destruction of standing crop on thousands of hectares land and
devastation of more than 2,000 houses, is absolutely illegal. Houses
of hundreds, both kuchcha and pucca have been razed to the ground,
walls and asbestos roof tops have fallen off, household belongings
such as food grains, fodder, fire wood, fishing nets, motor pumps,
small boats etc. have been washed away and a few thousand oustees’s
rights have been violated. All of this is utter violation of the
binding clause of the NWDTA, which states in no unclear terms that
there shall be no submergence before full rehabilitation.
The oustees threw a volley of questions to Mr. Ahmed and also to Mr.
Asif, Deputy Director and other officials of the NCA. They stated that
except for few small puri and chillies for a couple of days, no
concrete relief has been provided, whether support in terms of rations
(except 50 kgs wheat, after hundreds approached the Badwani CEO),
assistance for transport of materials etc. On the contrary, NVDA
claims to spend crores of rupees on so-called relief !

One of the most serious issues raised was also of the flawed back
water levels, (BWLs) which has been exposed by the dam-induced floods
this year. People questioned the report of the NCA, which reduced the
BWLs at some places even below the Full Reservoir Level (FRL). While
there is no finality of the levels to this date, the arbitrary manner
in which the NCA has excluded 55 villages such as Khalghat, Kasravad,
Mandwada, Selamda etc and Dharampuri township is completely illegal
since these very villages and even Dharampuri has faced the back lash
of submergence this time.
The Expert Committee of MoEF has already refused the NCA’s reduced BWL
and the oustees demanded that in the light of this report and the
present submergence, NCA must withdraw the Report on the ‘Revised
BWLs’ and conduct fresh accurate surveys, as per NWDTA, in a
time-bound manner, including all the nallahs (drains), tributaries
etc, by involving the affected people and villages in this process.
After heated discussions, Dr. Ahmed accepted that the submergence that
has been caused in the case of PAFs who have not yet been
rehabilitated is illegal and the NVDA and NCA will have to take full
responsibility  for the same. He said that he will ensure that the
state government records the losses and provides compensation for the
GRA accepts hundreds of complaints: Directs interim relief:
Earlier in the day, groups of oustees in large numbers approached the
office of the Chairperson, Grievance Redressal Authority. After 3
hours of arguments between NBA and NVDA, Hon’ble Justice S.P. Khare,
who patiently heard the PAFs from various villages directed that the
NVDA will have to provide interim relief to all those oustees who have
not been not been given possession of the land. He also accepted the
village-wise applications, Panchanamas, given by the PAFs and assured
them that the complaints and grievances placed would be looked into.
The NVDA was directed to file its reply in all these cases and the
matter has been posted on 22nd October.
Both at the level of the NCA and GRA, at the legal and field level,
the struggle to seek compensation for the illegal submergence and
rehabilitation shall continue.


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