NAPM has urged Ministry of Environment and Forests to take steps to stop the illegal excavation in the Narmada valley.
Here is the full text:
Ms. Jayanthi Natrajan
Ministry of Environment and Forests,
22nd March, 2013
Sub: To take action against the illegal and irrational Canal Excavation in the Narmada Valley
Dear Ms. Jayanthi Natrajan Ji,
You may urgently note that since March 21 arrests have been on in the Narmada Valley, where the State Authority, NVDA and the State Government has been pushing the Omkareswar Canal excavation only to illegally and irrationally destroy the prime agricultural irrigated land even with the standing crop. It is much more shocking since the Ministry of Environment and Forests is to carry the mandate of ensuring compliance of conditions related to Canals, stipulated in the MoEF clearances. Furthermore, the SC in 2011 had also directed the ministry to carry out the tasks related to Command Area Development Plans and monitoring all aspects of the canal network.
The ministry further appointed an expert committee to do so. However, it is shocking that the committee’s recommendations made after the first visit were not followed till the next visit that is one full year later. This was obvious and accepted by the NVDA officials in front of hundreds of villagers and promises were made when the committee claimed that it would ensure compliance on the part of the authorities.
It is obvious and has been proved that the following are the main issues such as:-
1. The whole track of irrigated land and villages on the banks of the Narmada River (including Maheswar and Sardar Sarovar dam affected) needs to be reviewed and dropped out of the canal network. The committee as well as the NVDA authorities sought our lists of such villages and agreed to review the present plans and save prime irrigated land. While this is yet to be done, NVDA officials with Police force have been up to destroy and have destroyed the irrigated lands and showing total contempt to the committee’s recommendations.
Arrests have taken place since last two days in Nandra village. The village is falling in the adjacent village which is fully irrigated and that has been excavated and destroyed irreparably. The committee failed to intervene. Above 50 adivasis and farmers and activists reached the door steps of MoEF on the 19th March and then had a dialogue with Mr. Rajagopalan, the Secretary. This issue was raised and promise given was of urgent intervention that the Secretary will plan with Mr. Barman, Director and Member of the Committee. I am sorry to say that this has not happened and hence the result.
2. Command Area Development Plans- preparation and execution is also pre conditional to the canal excavation. While a few hundred of these plans have to be prepared by NVDA under pressures and close monitoring by the High Court and later Supreme Court, a few hundred village plans has been prepared by the NVDA, however, hundreds more are not yet ready and there is no execution of plans even in one village. This has resulted in water logging and salinisation destroying crop and land, even beyond acquired areas in some villages. To avoid this not only the committee but the MOEF authorities, you will agree that to fulfill the duty and legal mandate to protect land from such negative environment impact which is far from fulfilled. Other expert member in the committee would also confirm that studies and plans related to various environment aspects to have impact on health are also not taken care of. It is therefore necessary to stop the canal excavation at this stage and get all pre-excavation measures implemented at the earliest.
3.It is also mandatory that the canal affected people are not just compensated but rehabilitated with alternative land as per their eligibility upheld by the Supreme Court order 2011. These two are violated resulting in serious repercussions for the farmers.
Without all this and much the NVDA and State of Madhya Pradesh pushing the excavation through the prime land and even the standing crop. The farmers who were raising a sane voice and questions within the legal framework, asserting rights and protecting environment.
While 40 + men and Women remain in custody at this moment I would urge you to do everything possible irrational destruction and save their life and livelihood. And we would demand :-
1. Kindly take urgent intervention and action to stop use of force, forcible arrest and forcible excavation of any land. No use of police force and release of all the arrested and withdrawl of the cases since they were raising absolutely legal and rational issues through non violent protest.
2.No excavation in the land adjacent to the banks of Narmada valley which is to be reviewed as per the recommendations of the expert committee Chaired by Mr. B P Das.
3. No further excavation and construction till the recommendation of the first report presented by the expert committee are fully followed and fulfilled and second report submitted and followed. Ensure the second report be submitted immediately.
4.The Ministry of Environment and Forests through appropriate authority, takes a clear position on violation of condition including planning and execution of Command Area Development to lay down full fledged drainage before excavation, as it has led to water logging even with rain water, which was brought out in the Environment Clearance through various documents including expert committee reports.
5. MOEF also take a position since rehabilitation was a condition in the clearance that without compliance on Supreme Court directives no displacement and destruction of the affected family caused as it already done in the case of Mr. Tola Ram, a farmer losing 50% of land, resident of Village Nandra, Tehsil Maheswar, Dist Khargone.
6.Direct the Regional Conservator of Forests at Bhopal to visit the area, for latest fact finding, preparing a report and intervening on behalf of Ministry of Environment and Forests.
Kindly take urgent action to stop illegal and irrational canal excavation to save life and livelihood of the adivasis and the farmers.
Medha Patkar, Lalchand Patidar, Kamla Yadav, Mukesh Bhagoriya,Bhagirath