The Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), top anti-dam organization, has disputed claims by Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi at a rally in Bhopal that the Sardar Sarovar project (SSP) has helped both Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh in a big way, and gains would have been much greater had the Government of India helped raise the Narmada dam’s height to the full reservoir level. The NBA said, Modi, along with Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan, has “begun playing the same old SSP card, knowing pretty well that the project, which the Planning Commission estimates to cost more than 70,000 crores as on date, is ten times the initial sanctioned cost, and has not lived up to its tall political claims and paper promises.”
“With the BJP led Madhya Pradesh government on its side, that cares little for the thousands of hectares of fertile land to be submerged and thousands of families to be affected in 193 villages, Gujarat’s CM has been pushing his illegal agenda to clear the final height of the dam (from 122 metres to 138 metres) and consign 2.5 lakh people in the Narmada valley to a watery grave, as had happened in Uttarakhand”, the NBA has alleged.
“The election stunt in the state capital, Bhopal, today is just another attempt by the Modi-Shivraj nexus to raise the hollow issue of ‘delayed benefits’ due to the SSP. It is not even ‘power’ generation that Madhya Pradesh or Gujarat are interested in, but only political power that the leaders are keen to attain. It may be noted that the Sardar Sarovar dam with 1450 MW of firm power generation capacity would generate only 415 MW firm power and the same would also go on reducing as and how the irrigation comes into being and takes water allocated for the same purpose”, the NBA said.
“Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh are not entitled to even a drop of water from SSP, but only 27% and 56% of whatever power is generated at every level of the dam height respectively. While official data shows that power generation at SSP, commenced since 2004, Maharashtra and MP have not received the exact amount of the power they are entitled to. MP, even after having to sacrifice thousands of hectares of land and resources with livelihoods is not to attain any real ‘power’ benefits”, it added.
The statement further said, “A few months ago, Modi, on his election visit to Pune, made a bogus claim that Maharashtra can get Rs 400 crores free electricity from the SSP. Maharashtra, which has also sacrificed a few thousands crores of revenue, by submergence of 33 hilly adivasi villages, has not been getting the expected quantum of electricity as decided by the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal Award, 1979. Maharashtra got its first meagre share of power i.e. 3 million units (MU) only in 2006. On an average, the state has been getting less than 540 MU of electricity, which is less than 1% of Maharashtra’s power generation capacity.”
Recalling its success in “exposing” a huge corruption scandal in the rehabilitation of SSP oustees, the NBA estimates it to be “worth about Rs 1,000 crores”. It said, “Not less than 3,000 fake registries in the name of land purchase and 8,000 fake documents claiming livelihood based rehabilitation of landless has meant wastage of crores of rupees from the state exchequer. The Report by the Judicial Commission of Inquiry, which has been investigating the scam for the past five years, as per orders of the MP High Court, will bring out the truth. The Madhya Pradesh CM has no moral right to speak about corruption, since one of the largest scams in the country that has not just looted the state exchequer, but violated the right to life of the people is under inquiry by the Jha Commission.”
The statement wonders, “Is it fair for a project, built and pushed ahead in the name of needy farmers and villages of Kutch and Saurashtra to divert waters, on a large scale, to corporates, urban municipalities and cities in Gujarat? Is the decision of the Modi Government to exclude 4 lakh hecatres of land from the command area and reserve the same for corporates, SEZs, SIRs etc. a ‘farmer-friendly’ move or a fatal blow to the farmers in the state? Is the sacrifice of the Narmada valley necessary and justifiable for satisfying corporate greed and political vested interests, by changing the very plan of Sardar Sarovar?”