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Decision To Raise The Sardar Sarovar Height Inhuman And Undemocratic

By Medha Patkar

21 March, 2004

The decision by the Narmada Control Authority (NCA) to raise the height
of the Sardar Sarovar Dam (SSP) to 110.64 metres
with immediate effect and approval granted by
Election Commission is yet another blow to the
Indian democracy. The gigantic dam which is a
violence against the adivasis and farmers of the
Narmada valley has always been pushed ahead for
political reasons and interests and never for the
real solution to the thirst and drought in
Gujarat. The 40,000 families still in the
reservoir area, out of whom at least 12000
families - their houses and fields, temples and
mosques, markets - thrown into the 'likely to be
affected zone, if the dam height is raised to 110
mts, have always taken us the challenge to expose
the power-players and will continue to do so.

After assessing the ground reality when it was obvious that thousands
of families in the villages (Nandurbar district, Maharashtra, Dhar and
Badwani in M.P. and Narmada in Gujarat) are yet to receive land-based
rehabilitation, the Narmada Control Authority had not permitted the
raising of height in spite of two meetings held
on January 29th and February 12th. However, as
is obvious from the reports from within and
outside the Authority, it was a clear pressure
from the PMO and Modi to seek clearance before
the elections, to influence the voters in Gujarat
that worked to cull out the NCA decision
announced yesterday. With water made to be the
main electoral agenda, and claims of 'water
revolution' in Gujarat advertised through out the
country, Modi is trying all means including
announcement of new schemes with no detailed
planning and parts of beneficiary areas
overlapping with that of Sardar Sarovar, only to
bring in a flood of votes. The most crucial
device for Modi and NDA, along with BJP in MP,
however, was clearance to raise the SS dam
height. Once the BJP came to power in MP and
Rajasthan together with NDA, they decided to
clear the path for this even when it meant
another homicide of people in the valley.

The Congress government in Maharashtra did take a decision time and
again using NBA's struggle on the streets but
failed to give a strong fights, which it could.
A strong representation of the fact that
thousands of adivasi familes in Maharashtra
remain to be rehabilitated that adequate land is
yet to be identified and the allocation of land
as well as shifting
will take a few years, if done, would have made a difference. However,
the Maharashtra's underestimation and unrealistic
claim that 177 families would be rehabilitated
within 4 months was used by the BJP governments
to push the dam ahead, sidelining its weak
oppositiobn with no challenge. The Congress
might have done this to gain a double advantage,
avoiding conflict with the people's movements and
secular forces in the state of Maharshtra and
gaining support to Gujarat Congress. This however
boomeranged and the Modi as well as BJP has used
the Project, as done by many a government before,
to ensure victory in the upcoming elections .

The Project which is not to bring a drop of water to either Maharashtra
or Madhya Pradesh, can produce only about 30 to
40 MW of electricity at the proposed height of
110 metres, that too mainly during monsoon and
hence, compared to the cost - human and financial
(with Gujarat compelling Maharashtra and MP to
share crores of Rupees interest on the debt) - 10
MW to Maharashtra and 20 MW to MP is no benefit
to justify the decision.

For Uma Bharati, again this is however a poll-agenda in line with BJP's
propoganda Sadak, Pani, Bijli since the last assembly election.
Election Commission of India Deliberately Misinformed
While it's very clear within 24 hours since the EC cleared the decision
that Modi and his party has made and announced all plans to reap the
votes, the EC seems to have been cheated.
Beginning with Ahmedabad - Kevadia Yatra andthat
the advertisements in the past to the propaganda
throughout would help these violent politicians
to influence the voting in Gujarat, even without
ceremonial outfits, the mere decision would help
them in a major way. Confusing the EC by
claiming this decision to be in compliance with
the Supreme Court judgement, NCA with the NDA
government and bureaucrats, Gujarat and MP
governments as members, have misled the EC and
violated the Model Code of Conduct. No new
decision or work as the old decision can be taken
up if it is to influence the voters, the rules as
a part of the code of conduct state. The
exceptions made with regard to action for
genuinely public good too can't be applicable to
SSP since the raising of the height is not a must
even for Gujarat's water crisis as much of water
already drawn through by pass tunnel (lower
canal) by Gujarat is yet to be fully and fairly
used with its canal network incomplete and not to
be ready for next 10 years. NBA has written to
the election commissioner of India appealing him
to stay the decision with immediate effect as a
move to save the country from the power hungry

Whether or not the Congress raises a question in this regards to save
Gujarat and itself from the electoral massacre, planned by Modi remains to be seen.

Courtesy:Harsh Kapoor/SACW