The MKSS strongly supports the demands of the Jal Satyagraha ongoing in Ghoghalgaon, Khandwa District in Madhya Pradesh, were people displaced by the Omarkeshwar Dam are standing in chin deep water to protest the rising dam waters. The MKSS urges the State Government to address the demands of rehabilitation which have been ordered by the Supreme Court.
The water level of the Omarkeshwar Dam, part of the Narmada Valley Project, built by the Narmada Hydrolectric Development Corporation, has been increased from 189 metres to 193 metres on 25th August. This would contribute to the submergence of an estimated 30 villages and adversely affect the livelihood of about 52,000 people. This increase in the level of water has been done without rehabilitating those who have lost their land to earlier submergence.
This is a violation of the commitment made by the government in court. In May 2011, the Apex Court ruled that the authorities are obliged to allot a land for land and a minimum of 2 hectares of land, well in advance of the completion of dam construction. Although an entire year has passed since the judgment, the State has failed to allot land to the over 2500 land-holder families. The NHDC continues to flout the Rehabilitation Policy with the awareness of the state government, in contradiction with the Supreme Court and the High Court orders. Even the Grievance Redressal Authority (GRA) has clearly stated that land must be given in lieu of land.
Thus we see time and again that the promise of rehabilitation after displacement by authorities is consistently flouted. Therefore the MKSS demands that on principle, displacement under no account must be allowed to proceed without complete rehabilitation. We urge the implementation of the interim order by the State Human Right Commission recommending the Chief Secretary, Commissioner of Indore Division & the Collector of Khandwa to reduce the water level in the Dams to save the precious lives of the Oustees. We reiterate the main demands of the protestors;
1. The state government will immediately stop increasing the water level at the Omkareshwar Dam;
2. The government will immediately undertake and audit of the evicted villagers;
3. That the government will take without any further delay, all steps required to adequately rehabilitate the villagers who have lost their land to the project, on the basis of land allotted as compensation per land lost;
4. The state government will provide all medical assistance to the villagers who need such assistance after staying in water for the past 10 days.
Aruna Roy, Shankar Singh, Nikhil Dey
For the MKSS