Category Archives: News

‘ Govt favouring industries’

Narmada’s irrigation water diverted for industries, says Medha Patkar

Indore: Hardly a day has passed after the State Cabinet meeting was held at Narmada- Kshipra merging spot in village Ujjaini, when Narmada Bachao Andolan’s Medha Patkar has alleged that the State Government is using irrigation water of Narmada to fulfill industrial requirement.

Patkar, who is a petitioner in Narmada Valley canal project, claimed that the water is brought from Narmada into River Kshipra for industrial purposes only. She said that the river linking could have been the fifth phase while the first four should have been for Indira Sagar and Omkareshwar canal project.

However, without even completing the first phase of the canal project, the fifth phase of river linking was completed in one year. The reason she quotes for this is the requirement of water for industries under the DMIC project. She even accused that the river linking project has been funded by the industries of DMIC. It is noteworthy that earlier, a double bench of the High Court in response to a Public Interest Litigation had directed the State Government to form a high- level committee to hear objections on river linking project.

The petitioner has alleged that State Government, through Narmada- Kshipra River linking project, is using Narmada water of Omkareshwar reservoir for the purposes beyond the scope of the project. The HC also observed that Govt cannot change the original plan of Okareshwar project without approval from the sanctioning authorities.


HC to Govt: Form high- level committee to settle issues

PILs on Indira Sagar, Omkareshwar

Indore: The Indore bench of Madhya Pradesh High Court, on Tuesday, in response to a Public Interest Litigation ( PIL), directed the State Government to form a high- level committee to settle issues of Indira Sagar and Omkareshwar projects.

Double bench of Chief Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice JK Maheshwari directed the Government to constitute a high- level committee to hear issues raised by the Narmada Bachao Andolan ( NBA). The committee should comprise of Chief Secretary, Principal Secretary of Narmada Valley Development Authority ( NVDA) and Secretary, agriculture and water resources.

In the litigation, NBA chief Medha Patkar informed the court about the devastating effect in the rainy season due to non- implementation of canal project. Shortage of drainage system has caused enormous loss already while the affected farmers are not even noticed let alone compensation to them.

In its verdict, the HC also look into consideration of the State Government report and the affidavit filed by expert committee of the Ministry of Environment and Forest. The court observed that the State Government is non- serious about the NVDA matter and the latest report by the expert committee of MoEF, several previous reports, and other evidence stand testimony to it.

Patkar of NBA said that the formation of a high- level committee would help in fair and open dialogue on various issues, thus giving right treatment to the farmers and actual beneficiaries. She said that issues of rehabilitation for farmers who lost considerable chunk of their land would also be discussed with the committee.


Form panel for issues relating to Indira Sagar project: HC

INDORE: Indore bench of Madhya Pradesh high court on Tuesday directed the state government to constitute a high-level committee under chief secretary to discuss and resolve issues pertaining to Indira Sagar and Omkareshwar canal project in Narmada valley.
A double bench of Chief Justice A M Khanwilkar and Justice J K Maheshwari, while hearing a PIL over Indira Sagar and Omkareshwar Canal project, directed that a high level committee, comprising chief secretary, principal secretary of Narmada valley development department (NVDD) and secretary, agriculture and water resources will hear issues raised by Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) and those in the PIL in first week of March.
Medha Patkar, appearing in person, highlighted the adverse impact that has occurred and bound to occur in the coming monsoon due to non-implementation of the ‘on-farm development’ and ‘command area development’ in the canal project. Lack of adequate drainage works in numerous villages from Phase – I to Phase – IV of the project has caused massive loss and affected farmers are neither counted nor compensated. HC also took cognizance of ‘action taken report’, filed by state government and affidavit filed by expert committee of ministry of environment and forest (MoEF), highlighting inadequacies in canal and command area planning and execution by NVDA, which has led to severe impact on agricultural land causing crop loss.
Court pulled up state government over the way the project is being executed and observed that the government is treating it in a very non-serious manner, which is evident from the recent report of expert committee of MoEF, filed after their recent visit in January 2014 and in a series of earlier reports, recommendations and letters of MoEF.
Patkar expressed satisfaction over HC’s direction to form high level committee and said it would lead to a fair, open and conclusive dialogue on various outstanding issues, so that fruits of the project reach actual beneficiaries and needy farmers on time.
Issues of rehabilitation and compensation for farmers, losing less than 60% land would also be discussed before the committee.

Tribal protest against acquisation of land for cement factory

INDORE: Up in arms against land acquisition, farmers from nearly 27 villages, mostly tribal, of Manavar Tehsil of Dhar district on Thursday protested against the acquisition of their land for the proposed cement plant and raised issue related to legality of the project.

Tribal alleged that even after submitting hundreds of applications to officials and local representatives they did not get satisfactory reply. On Thursday hundreds of villagers took out the rally at Main Street of Manavar and reached the SDM office and demanded to clear the stand of government over land acquisition.

Meera of Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) alleged that as per the rule to set up any project they need to get approval from the people of the area, here in this case Gram Sabha had passed a resolution opposing the proposed cement factory. “They even fail to produce documents related to approval from Ministry of Environment and Forest for the project and they don’t even have approval from the planning commission,” alleged Meera.

The plant, which is proposed in the scheduled adivasi area is being strongly challenged by the local adivasis – farmers, as thousands of them will be displaced and affected for the plant, its mines and by expansion, pollution activities. All the villages to be affected are in the command area of the Maan Dam of NVDA and the land is fully irrigated.

Chhagan Bhilala, resident of Manawar alleged that dam water meant for rural irrigation is being diverted for the industrial purpose.

Prashant Patidar, who was part of the protest said why fresh acquisition of land is being carried out which will displace hundreds of people, when hundreds of acre of land acquired for Dhar Cement is lying vacant. “The vacant land should be given for the new cement factory instead of acquiring fresh land,” he said.

Meera even raised question over the validity of the project saying that state government has signed a memorandum of understanding with the company for cement plant in October 2010 at Khajuraho Global Investor meet. The validity of the MoU was for three years. She claimed that project has lapsed and even then government is going ahead with the project. “There is no document to show that time period of MoU has been extended,” she said.

Protestors also demand that after the passing of new Land Acquisition Act 2013 all the process of land acquisition should be done under the new law. They alleged that administration is trying to acquire land under the old land acquisition act on the pretext that project was announced and notices for land acquisition was issued before the enforcement of new land acquisition act.



NHDC unlikely to infuse funds into Maheshwar power project

Narmada Hydroelectric Development Corporation (NHDC), a subsidiary of MP government and National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC), is unlikely to chip in any funds into the controversial Shree Maheshwar Hydel Power Project.

Union ministry of power is learnt to have asked the NHDC to chip in at least Rs 700 crore in promoter’s equity in the 400 Mw  project.

If highly placed sources are to be believed, two meetings have already taken in this regard in New Delhi. NHDC has been asked to give a reply by 10 February.

“The matter was discussed in NHPC’s board meet,” a highly placed source who has direct knowledge of the development told Business Standard. On any decision in this regard, the source clarified, “Who will invest in an unviable project.”

Top officials of NHDC and other government officials are tight-lipped about the issue. A senior official, however, clarified that only State government and NHPC jointly can decide on the matter. They will also have to consider the big issue of resettlement and rehabilitation. NHDC can take over the project, it would be an easier option, the source said.

Reacting to the probable development, Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), which has been demanding that the project be dumped, has strongly objected to the move.

“The Union Ministry of Power had already said two years back that power generated through this project would not be less than Rs 11 per unit, if it comes to shape the domestic power tariff from the project would go up to Rs 15-17 per unit, who will buy the costly power? Also the state will have to follow recent Supreme Court ruling in resettlement and rehabilitation, as a result the project cost would escalate by another Rs 1,000 crore. Also, entire debt of the project has been declared NPA (non-performing asset) by Reserve Bank of India. If Union government is taking any such decision it would be wastage of public money,” Alok Agrawal, chief activist Narmada Bachao Andolan told Business Standard.

According to the source, a meeting took place on 13 January and later on 20th January in which NHDC was asked to chip in Rs 700 crore as contribution to the promoter’s equity, which has widened due to cost escalation.

Earlier, BHEL had also been asked to chip in but the ‘Navaratna’ company refused since payment against three machines (40×3 MW turbines) which it had supplied to the project is still pending.

“The cost has now gone up to Rs 5,600-6,000 crore and now there is another fund gap which is why they (Union government) want some public sector undertaking to chip in funds,” the source said adding, “If NHDC refuses they will go to some other PSU.”

Power Finance Corporation is the biggest lender and all lenders have cumulative exposure of Rs 2,200 crore to the project. “There are plans to infuse more funds and give the promoters more time,” the source said.

The 400 MW run-of-the-river project originally came into picture in 1993 when its projected cost was Rs 1,653 crore and power tariff pegged at Rs 2.64 per unit. Later it slipped into controversies and PFC came to extend financial support. A consortium of PFC (Rs 700 crore), HUDCO (Rs 250 crore), Central Bank of India (Rs 180 crore), State Bank of India (Rs 200 crore), Life Insurance Corporation of India (Rs 106 crore), IDBI (Rs 30 crore), Dena Bank (Rs 41 crore), Rural Electrification Corporation (Rs 250 crore) and IFCI (Rs 41 crore) was formed to provide loan to the project.

“So far approximately Rs 3,000 crore had been invested in the project but nothing has come off it,” Agrawal said.

NHDC has developed two projects – 1,000 Mw Indira Sagar project and 520 Mw Omkareshwar project  – on Narmada river in western Madhya Pradesh in Khandwa district. The Maheshwar power project is a downstream project of Omkareshwar project.


HC issues summons over delay in canal works

INDORE: Indore bench of Madhya Pradesh high court on Tuesday summoned Narmada Valley Development Department (NVDD) secretary to appear in court in person to explain the reason for delay in construction of canal for Indira Sagar and Omkareshwar projects.

Double bench of chief justice Ajay Manikrao Khanwilkar and justice Shantanu Kemkar gave this order while hearing the petition of Indira Sagar and Omkareshwar Canal project field by Medha Patkar of Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA). During the hearing, counsel and superintendent engineer of Narmada Development Authority said that construction of only 5 per cent of right bank canal and 20 per cent of left bank canal was remaining.

Petitioner objected this argument saying that just digging and excavation of canal doesn’t mean completion of the work. Till now, all the canals have been not connected with the main network and it is causing huge problems to farmers as they are not getting water for irrigation. It also causes water-logging during monsoons.

NBA said the work should be completed in accordance with the guidelines. As per the project, state government should have got the approval from Union government for the Command Area Development after submitting a plan for it along with continuing digging and excavation work. But till date, Command Area Development plan for 1100 villages has not been submitted to the Union government, it alleged.


Tribals say not happy with govt assurance

A day after the government assurance that demands made by tribals living in villages near the proposed Statue of Unity will be met, the protesters said that the “verbal” assurance given by Tribal Welfare Minister Ganpat Vasava was not enough to persuade them away from the issue. Continue reading

Gujrat govt to accept demands of tribal villages in Narmada

Gujarat government has decided to concede the demands of 70 tribal-dominated villages of Narmada district located near Sardar Sarovar dam, including creation of a new taluka.

State forest and environment minister and Narmada district incharge Ganpatbhai Vasava told PTI today that the state government has decided to accept the demands of the villagers.

The demands include creation of Garudeshwar taluka, removal of 70 villages from the list of Kevadiya Area Development Authority (KADA), special package for projected affected people six villages (near original dam site in Narmada district) and giving of water from Sardar Sarovar dam and a reservoir across Karjan river to the villages.

“After creation of new taluka of Garudeshwar, KADA will be automatically removed,” Vasava said.

On October 16, the state government had initiated talks with tribal representatives of 70 villages in Narmada district after they had opposed land acquisition for a tourism project near the Sardar Sarovar dam at Kevadiya.

About 145 tribal representatives had held talks with the concerned ministers.

They had demanded removal of 70 villages from the list of KADA, extension of rehabilitation benefits given to project affected people of Sardar Sarovar dam across Narmada river and irrigation benefits of Sardar Sarovar dam and Karjan river dam to the 70 villages.

Business Standard


‘Statue of Unity will rob tribals of their land’

DNA, Ahmedabad, 24 October 2013, Ahmedabad: Activists belonging to the Radical Socialist group have opposed the construction of the Statue of Unity on the grounds that it is being constructed at the cost of the land and livelihood of the tribals. Continue reading

Gujarat farmers set to lose water from the Narmada canal network

(This Down to Earth report confirms what NBA was stressing since long that water will never reach to Kutch and used by farmers but will be diverted for industrial uses alone. – NBA) Continue reading