In his response to President’s speech in the Lok Sabha, Prime Minister Modi didn’t forget to refer to Sardar Sarovar, the pet project of himself and his own state, Gujarat. He has boasted of the Gigantic Dam which is no doubt standing like a statue but neither has it served the real purpose of satiating the thirst of the drought affected Kutch & Saurashtra, as promised, nor have all the lakhs of people (Adivasis, farmers, fisher people, laborers and others) affected by the Dam rehabilitated as per law & justice.
He criticized all, who according to him, are spreading false news about Sardar Sarovar, probably referring to both, the people from the valley as well as from Gujarat. The latter are left high and dry since they haven’t yet received waters from the SSP, proving to be a mirage! The people from the valley in 30000 families, residing on the river bank of Narmada till date, certainly cannot support raising the SSP water level to 139 mts., as they await rehabilitation, with legal right to stay put in their original villages till that happens. If he is targeting farmers protesting in Gujarat, is he unaware about the 481 companies that are supplied SSP waters to, at the cost of the farmers whose farms are still without a micro net of canals?
Mr. Modi has always been craving for the credit for completing the Big Dam, ignoring the violations of legal and human rights and environmental laws. Is it done unknowingly or deliberately? Does he not know how the Tribunal Award to Supreme Court and the state policies (including one of Gujarat) provided for rehabilitation aimed at better standard of living after rehabilitation? Is he ignorant of the fact that the same was only due to the 34 years long people’s struggle? And that thousands of families are yet to receive all those benefits, for which the states are responsible but Gujarat is to provide full finance required?
Is Modiji unaware of the fact that both Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh governments are bereft of funds which is a genuine necessity for the enormous balance work in rehabilitation, that was concealed during the legal proceedings before the Apex Court as well as the High Courts? Instead of taking stock of the legal, mandatory responsibility and the environmental impacts unattended and not compensated, the Prime Minister seems to be giving a push to the Gujarat’s dream of filling the dam without fulfilling the mandate. Within Gujarat too, the pull and push is more from the industries than the ordinary farmers and the drought affected.
“You, Mr. Prime Minister, are no more just a Chief Minister of Gujarat. Please try to understand the changed position and the related duty you are expected to perform. You have to save the lives and livelihoods of adivasis, dalits, farmers, laborers and all who are entitled to an alternative life and livelihood, with shelter and amenities when displaced.”
“And you can’t call the assertion of present Congress government of M.P., that they can’t fill the waters and create a grave for lakhs of people to be irrational or political. They have to review all wrong data, decisions and lapses in execution to corruption left behind by your counterpart, Shivraj Singh Chouhan. They can’t and will not be permitted to take any decision against their electoral promise, commitment and the public interest.”
The Prime Minister can’t also hide the facts on benefits distribution. Where is “power” from SSP, due to the states of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh after investment of crores of rupees? Why was the power generation at the lowest (of past 15 years) in 2008, much less than the magnitude achieved at a much lower (17 mts. less) dam height? Why is it that the water shortage, the risks of climate change as also the issues in regulations and monitoring in the cascade (series) of dams, proved to be serious today, are not the factors he brings to the drawing board and hold a dialogue with all the stakeholders? Why are the environmental laws in the downstream are not followed assuring the fisher people and others struggling for a river flowing to prevent sea ingress? Can Gujarat promise 1500 cusecs of water to be released from the dam to the downstream, without any review of the water requirement in the downstream and allocations in the upstream as also readiness by the government of M.P.?
The people from the Valley raise all these questions for Mr. Prime Minister to respond as without it, he can’t just claim his big contribution through the ‘51 hours fast’ which was a ‘5 star fast’ only to counter the 21 days fast by us, the people from the Valley. Mr. Prime Minister, whose plan is it to violate the NWDTA, to submerge and kick out thousands of families, not to follow the known policies and impose ‘tourism to torture’ on the people who have lived with Narmada through a life with honesty, simplicity and self reliance? We once again pledge to stay put and to “drown but not to leave their motherland and mother-river without rehabilitation”.