By Nick Meynen
Hundreds of villagers from 60 affected villages in central India standing for weeks in the rising waters of a reservoir – to protest their displacement – had some relieve today. In a concession to the activists, the state government of Madhya Pradesh decided to bring the water level of Omkareswar Dam back to 189 meter, instead of raising it further to 193 meter. A promise has been made to provide the displaced with new land and monetary compensation, but it would not be the first broken promise. According to the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) organisation, the promoters of the dam had “raised the water levels in violation of the Orders of the High Court and Supreme Court”.
In May 2011, the Apex Court ruled that the authorities are obliged to allot minimum 2 ha. land, well in advance of the completion of dam construction. However, although an entire year has passed since the judgment, the State has failed to allot land to the over 2500 landholder families. Even the Grievance Redressal Authority has said in its orders that the rehabilitation policy has not been followed and all the oustees of Omkareshwar dam should be given land in lieu of land. Over 1000 families remain to be allotted even house-plots. Various other entitlements remain to be provided.
The NBA has a history of fighting for the rights of the numerous communities – such as tribal communities, fisher-folk, farmers, and agricultural labor – that are being denied land and livelihood by the controversial Narmada valley projects. More information:
Local Contacts : Alok Agarwal (094259-28007, 09009710068), Chittaroopa Palit (09425394606), Gulabchand (09424524638), Khandwa office (0733-2228318)