It has been brought to my notice recently that your reputed journal has published a number of articles which are not only expressing an opinion opposing ours about development projects or paradigm but also accuse Narmada Bachao Andolan and me of having taken to ?a profession of stalling projects? under the garb of ?a mission?, of being anti-Hindu (article by Sandhya Jain) and also being funded by a US based non-government agency aimed at ?decommissioning dams? all over the world!
All these allegations are indeed baseless and defamatory and are more practically motivated and biased than our cause and work is. The author such as Shyam Khosla are certainly misinformed but what is shocking is he makes such a serious accusation in such a well-known journal as yours, without any basic, preliminary investigation. It is before sending the author and your journal a legal notice, I consider it to be my duty to refute the allegations and inform your readership about the truth. Knowing very well that yours is a journal considered to be a mouth-piece of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and related to BJP, which is in power in Gujarat as well as Madhya Pradesh, two of the main states to be affected and benefitted by Narmada projects, anyone can see through the unstated political motives of supporting these governments and yet my plea would be to have a rational and honest campaign if not a dialogue
The authors have also stated and analyzed the political stances related to Sardar Sarovar and NBA in a wrong way. It is not true that Congress leaders of MP were upset over the stoppage of work and that they attacked the NBA and its leader. You must note that the State Congress leaders have reviewed the rehabilitation status and reported to the Union demanding no further construction beyond 110 mts. So did it happen with the Congress MLA and MP in Maharashtra, the only ones to have seen the ground level situation. The distortion of the position taken by three Union Ministers? team is certainly unjustifiable. But what is more atrocious is the superficial yet seriously questionable comment that none else but Minister of Water Resources had ganged up with the anti-dam brigade, i.e., NBA. We can not steep so low to make similar allegations against the lobbies within Gujarat amongst the beneficiary corporates, the vote bankers politicians, the Yes Minister or Yes Master bureaucrats and the religious saints who surely have no knowledge of the adivasis: their Gods to grievances.
One can understand the ignorance as well as callousness towards the social and environmental impacts of large projects, may it be Sardar Sarovar or Maheshwar, since this country and many other have always victimized and insulted the people and communities of adivasi, farmers, fish workers, labourers whose lands and livelihood are simply acquired through British days Act, 1894. The trauma as well as undemocratic process imposed upon not just families or clans but a small civilization within the larger, is to be witnessed and faced to be able to understand. But the authors are certainly unaware of the data and experiences in displacement, the issues raised by the generations old communities in the Valley; the impacts that can not be compensated like on the natural resources in the oldest of the civilizations in the world, which is Narmada (as per pre-history branch of archeology) if theirs and your position is that ?it doesn'tmatter? and the impact is either not severe or is manageable, they are free to hold a view, rejecting and dejecting the human lives and nature. They only have to be aware that 245 villages for Sardar Sarovar, 254 villages of Narmada Sagar, 61 for Maheshwar are planned to be submerged rather drowned when 162 villages for 26 for Tawa dam who were evicted and submerged between 1970 and 1990 also could not be resettled, leave aside rehabilitated. That there is a violation of human rights since lakhs and millions as in other projects are to loose their social habitats and sources of livelihoods with no plan, no guarantee of being replaced, is obvious. The Government of Gujarat offered land but cheated many?hundreds of PAFs by allotting bad, uncultivable land and government of M.P. is clearly denying to provide land, instead resorting to cash compensation with massive corruption in crores by the officials. That the policy is unjust and inadequate. Those affected by dams such as Bargi, Tava, Narmada Sagar faced the worst with no government agency to ensure rehabilitation, fair and just, as a pre condition and without people raising questions, asserting rights through a movement. What does this indicate, the authors may ponder over please.
The benefits too are now known to be exaggerated. That Sardar Sarovar has 1450 MW as the power generation capacity (Maheshwar, 400 MW) and the actual, achievable or firm power needs to be known. Even after bulldozing rights to rules and pushing large dams ahead, water or power benefits fall behind. Claiming one-lakh acres of irrigation and drinking water to 2000 villages, as an achievement another author, hailing ?second green revolution through Narmada? (article by Abhay Rawal), is also probably depending on the official data and documents. The readers need to really go deep and look at non-governmental evolutionary research by the organisations in Gujarat The Pravah Study shows, hardly 10 per cent of the claimed to be covered, villages have received regular drinking water and 1/3rd in the official list has not received any. It'sIWMI and other well-known scientific research institution that have undertaken to conclude that while five lakh hectares was planned irrigation at 110 mts, not more than one lakh is achieved that too with also either absence or dysfunctioning of water distribution network of co operatives. One only has to read ?Institutional vacuum in Sardar Sarovar Project? by Tushar Shah in EPW?The Agriculture Special, March 2004. The situation has deteriorated rather than improved this monsoon.
So if ponds and check dams ? decentralised, short-term, low cost ? can store and save water and all the villages to areas have a possibility of harnessing local resources, then why not? Why such a costly solution in S.S.P, where the cost includes 40,000 crore rupees but also a very high human cost. It is our plea that alternative ways of water management with least displacement and destruction may be the priority. In power sector, neither the author nor the State ever highlight the transmission and distribution losses which are almost 50 per cent in Madhya Pradesh that is losing prime agricultural land, horticulture, living communities, temples, mosques, monuments, lakhs of trees and right to Narmada over about 250 kms on both the banks due to Sardar Sarovar alone for uncertain magnitude of power as the only benefit. And the power generated in June 2006 in Gujarat is just 16% of what was estimated as achievable from Sardar Sarovar and only three per cent of the claimed power from all the Hydel power projects. Sever canal breaches of 2004 and 2005 as well as failure of transformers in 2006, have resulted in huge losses and lagging behind of power generation. The reality is hidden but the woes, the crisis is highlighted with no solution in sight. Do the authors know that Modi, the Chief Minister himself has publicly announced that the power crisis would end once the dam reached 110 mts. The same claim is now for 122 mts. Who would bell the cat and save the mouse, is the question. When people do it they can neither be accused as anti-development or pro-U.S. that is considered fanatical and fascist by all those who know the reality is complex and diversity needs to be respected towards equitable, sustainable and just solution appropriate choice of technology and democratic process of development planning. That is our mission and our profession too, the latter indicating a body of knowledge and ethics both.
It is just our ethical commitments and moral standing that is now being systematically and strategically ?attacked? by the BJP lobby and its allies. I say this with full knowledge of the conspiracy to defame us, which was initiated as early as in 2000 but continues till date. The advertisements/news have no truth, nor are based on democratic principle of tolerance of opposite viewpoint but are meant to be defamatory. NBA is not foreign funded when so many NGO'sand the governments themselves are heavily funded. We don'tconsider either of them as untouchables but we don'tcarry out our struggle with foreign funding. We did not even accept the money associated with two
international awards amounting to almost one lakh dollars, which was given to two different organisations one of them specifically formed trust but with a lean condition not to fund NBA. The allegations are, therefore, not worth replying to, getting trapped into the agenda of keeping us engaged. We have and we will file defamation cases against those who target us. Beyond this it is our conscience and commitment that would continue to give us strength.
So what are the ?dubious sources of funds? your authors refer to, we must ask. And further, what right do the governments or political powers have to question anything foreign, as we do with pride, when they themselves are submerged into a submissive to foreign investments, technology, corporate and political powers.
We, thus, know what we stand for, but are always humble on the complex development issues. No international lobby or conspiracy has the courage to influence, control or even collaborate with us. Only those who understand and respect our views on indigenous development, equitable, just and ecologically sustainable, take up the Cause and share the burden and there is nothing to hide about it. We do it not on emotional or dogmatic basis but in the framework of values: secularism, non violence, justice, socialism as social control over resources, every sector, project or paradigm. Yes, stalling growth if it'swithout justice and sustainability, is our mission.