NBA starts public hearing of Narmada dam PAPs

06 November 2009

Social activists involved with Narmada Bachao Aandolan (NBA) will make their report on the plight of Narmada oustees public within a month. Activists, including Medha Patkar, who are fighting for the cause of Narmada project-affected people (PAP), conducted their first public hearing on Friday at Parveta village near Naswadi.

Similar hearings will be held at Zaab village and Dediapada by people committee for public hearing, which consists of activists Manishi Jani, Dinkar Dave and Aditi Chanchvani as panellists.

"Around 300 PAPs attended the first hearing to state that the then government has not kept its promises. These so-called' rehabilitated persons do not get sufficient water and neither given jobs as promised," said activist Anand Mazgaonkar. "They neither have grazing land nor been provided with irrigated land," he added.

Even as only 17 metre gates remain to be erected (which will take the Narmada dam's height to the final 138 metre), activists are questioning the cost effectiveness of the project.

"From the day the project was undertaken, we had warned that cost benefit ratio will not be good enough. While on one hand tribals have been displaced saying the project is Gujarat's lifeline, water has still not reached the end user. The only difference is that earlier water of Narmada used to directly flow into ocean from Bharuch and now it flows into the ocean from Sabarmati. Against that the authorities have already spent Rs 46,000 crore, whereas the Planning Commission has estimated that the total project cost will reach Rs 70,000 crore. Ironically, the state government has also stopped work to construct canal network, which it had promised," Mazgaonkar added.