We address the Indian Government, demanding prompt action and to avoid a humanitarian crisis in the Narmada valley.
We, express our deep concern for the growing humanitarian crisis in Narmada valley, in Central India, where thousands of families are evicted without rehabilitation due to the Sardar Sarovar (Narmada dam) reservoir filling.
The dam, initially financed by the World Bank, has been in the center of controversy for 35 years, and has poor track record of rehabilitation of the affected communities. We learn that flouting all policies and guidelines, nearly 32,000 families are yet to be rehabilitated while the dam construction has been completed and the reservoir is getting filled rapidly.
We see injustice happening in Narmada valley in greater context of the push from the current government to develop many mega-dams in India’s river basins. Narmada example makes us believe that the Government intends to proceed with all other projects without providing just compensation and livelihood restoration for millions of affected people. We still hope that India seeks to become an equitable and inclusive society, not a place where powerful rich individuals enjoy flooded vistas while reservoirs’ waters cover devastation inflicted on powerless poor people.
We stand in solidarity with the Narmada struggle and feel deep concern for social activists who may sacrifice their lives by indefinite fast. We want to remind to the Government that a number of social leaders have fasted to death due to inaction and by authorities in recent past.
Specifically we demand that:
• The water level of Sardar Sarovar Reservoir should be kept constant at 122 meters till rehabilitation of all the 32 thousand affected is completed as per policy.
• The permission granted by the NCA to fill the dam to full reservoir level of 138.68 meters should be kept in abeyance until all the affected are rehabilitated.
• The affected population of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat should be rehabilitated by providing civic amenities and means of livelihood before submergence.
• All data and documents related to rehabilitation should be made public on the website so that new corruption can be curbed.
We demand the Government of India, and concerned state governments to address the demands of the struggle and avoid a humanitarian crisis.
Rivers without Boundaries International Coalition (RwB)
Socio-ecological Union (SEU) International
Environmental Section of All-Russia Civil Forum
Biodivesity Conservation Centre, Moscow.
Buryatia Regional Organization for Baikal, Ulan-Ude.
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