Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) leader Medha Patkar has expressed concern over the real benefits that the State of Madhya Pradesh will get out of the Sardar Sarovar project.
Speaking to journalists on Saturday here, Ms. Patkar accused the Gujarat government of betraying Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, the other states involved in the Sardar Sarovar project.
“While the Modi government is creating its own political pressures and extracting money from the Centre by bringing the Members of Parliament together, there is no one in Madhya Pradesh except the people of Narmada valley, to bring out the real costs and benefits to the State,” said Ms. Patkar.
Ms. Patkar further said that lakhs of people, prime agricultural land, ghats with thickly populated communities of adivasis, farmers and fish workers would be submerged if the Centre’s nod to canal construction is taken ahead.
These include thousands of adivasi families from Alirajpur and Badwani districts whose lands and houses are already submerged since 1990s and who have not yet been given the land-based rehabilitation in Madhya Pradesh.
As far as ‘benefit’s to the State of M.P. go, the only benefit of power (56%) that was guaranteed (of whatever is generated) through the Narmada Tribunal Award (1979) is not received by the State yet, she said.
She also said that while Maharashtra, which is in a similar situation of “betrayal by Gujarat”, has demanded compensation worth Rs.1800 crores for the move, the Madhya Pradesh government’s silence over the issue seemed inexplicable.
According to the NBA leader, while there are still two lakh people residing and settled in the Sardar Sarovar reservoir area, the rehabilitation process has been far from satisfactory.
The rehabilitation process has been plagued with allegations of corruption in various forms including fake registries, corruption in house/plot allotment, payment of compensation to ineligible people etc.
Ms. Patkar also called for a renewed cost-benefit analysis of the Sardar Sarovar Project, as costs have sky-rocketed from the original estimate of Rs.4200 crore (1983), Rs.6406 crore (1988) to Rs.45,000 crore and further upto Rs.70, 000 crore (by 2012) as per expert appraisal of the Planning Commission (11th Plan).
She further said that the new grant for SSP’s canals by Centre, which is planned to be released till 2015, indicates that the cost of the project may shoot up to Rs.80,000 crore.
“With Rs. 30,000 crores already spent, only 7% of the reservoir water is used and just 70,000 hectares of land irrigated by it,” she said.