More of the same
The displacement of people by another dam on the Narmada!
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April 2001: The Man dam is one of the 30 large dams that has been planned as part of the Narmada Valley Development Project (NVDP). As with the other large dams in the valley, there have been serious problems and lapses with respect to the resettlement and rehabilitation (R&R) of the people affected by the project. In a meeting held on February 20, 2001, under the chairmanship of Deputy Chief Minister of MP, Shri Subhash Yadav with the affected tribals, the officials of the Madhya Pradesh state government conceded that more than 700 families are yet to be resettled whose land and homes will be submerged this monsoon.

This stands in clear violation of several statutory provisions that require the oustees to be resettled with non-forest agricultural land for the land lost due to submergence, namely,

  • The Conditional Clearance from the Central Environment Ministry granted in 1994.
  • The MP state government policy for the oustees of the Narmada Projects that was formulated in 1987 and affirmed in 1992.
  • The provisions of the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal NWDT).

Inspite of these legally binding requirements, the MP Govt has attempted to settle rehabilitation-related claims through paltry cash compensation for the oustees.

This is not a recent development, either, as work on the dam has continued for many years now in violation these provisions. Even now the Government has offered no plan for the required rehabilitation of the oustees except for a temporary camp where they will be offered food and half the minimum wages for unskilled laborers for two months! The lack of any meaningful rehabilitation is compounded by the callousness displayed by the officials of the Narmada Valley Development Authority who have argued that the livelihoods of the affected people do not need to be restored and that cash compensation was adequate.

Since March 20th, 2001, the tribals have been protesting this injustice under the aegis of the Narmada Bachaon Andolan (NBA). The state government has responded with force and intimidation. On March 21st, the government arrested and detained over 200 adivasis and their representatives who had been protesting the Man Dam and the lack of proper rehabilitation. The project-affected tribals have been demanding to be rehabilitated before proceeding with the construction of the project. The Andolan has stated clearly that it is not against the project, but is against the displacement of tribals without rehabilitating them in accordance with the MP government's own policy and legal requirements.

On 28th March, after a week in jail, 200 of the arrested tribals were released but 13 activists were detained in jail due to false charges filed against them. By March 31st, everyone was released except for Chittaroopa Palit and Urmila Patidar of the NBA against whom the police maintain charges, which the respondents claim are false and raked up from old cases.

This state action in MP is the latest in the series of difficulties being faced by tribal communities of India, who are seen as the easiest targets of exploitation. Alarmingly, they see that national newspapers seem to be uninterested in this issue, and urge your assistance in raising awareness. Please write to newspapers about this serious lacunae in their reporting. Also, please write to the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister and to the other authorities concerned with the project. Contact details for these project authorities is available at:

Vinay Kumar + Subramanya Sastry
April 2001

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