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Oustees demand stoppage of Maheshwar dam in front of Environment Monitoring Committee

The oustees of Maheshwar Dam demanded immediate stoppage of Maheshwar dam in village after village during the visit of the Monitoring Committee constituted by the Ministry of Environment and Forest. The oustees told the Committee that the project authorities have completely failed to rehabilitate the oustees but the construction work is going on full pace. Therefore, as per the conditions of the clearance the dam work should be stopped.

The Monitoring Committee:

It may be stated that on 1st May 2001, the Ministry of Environment and Forest transferred the statutory clearance regarding Maheshwar Project to the Shree Maheshwar Hydel Power Corporation Limited (SMHPCL), the company building the dam. As per this clearance a Monitoring Committee was constituted to ensure that the rehabilitation work should be carried out at the same pace of concreting. The Committee headed by Mrs. Nirmala Buch visited the area on 23 rd and 24th of February,2009.

23rd February 2009:

The committee visited the Bakawa rehabilitation site and found that the R&R site does not have most of the amenities. The oustees of Villages Mardana, Nagawa and Bhatyan villages have gathered there in large numbers. They told the Committee that though the R&R Policy is one of allotment of agricultural land for land, none of the oustees has been given any agricultural land so far. Even resettlement site for the majority of the oustees is yet to be prepared. The project authorities have completely failed in preparing any comprehensive Rehabilitation Plan. As per the environmental clearance, the R&R Plan should be ready by December 2001. The oustees demanded that the construction of the dam should be stopped immediately and a comprehensive land based rehabilitation plan should be prepared and implemented.

24th February, 2009:

On 24th of February a large delegation of villagers along with senior Narmada Bachao Andolan activist Shri Alok Agarwal met the Committee. The delegation told the committee that the agricultural lands of the oustees are being illegally purchased by the SMHPCL. No one is being allotted agricultural land. As far as resettlement is concerned, the project authorities have themselves admitted that only 3% oustees have been allotted plots and rest 97% remain to be resettled. The Andolan demanded that since the conditions of the clearance have been violated, the dam work should be stopped and the authorities should be directed to prepare a comprehensive Rehabilitation and Resettlement Plan.

When the committee visited the village Lepa, they were told that there is no site for half of the village and for the rest, the R&R site is incomplete. The oustees asked that first they should be given land for land and only after that any resettlement site can be built near these lands, as per the conditions of the environmental clearance. In villages Amlatha and Teliyaon oustees asked for stoppage of dam construction. The project authorities were completely embarrassed in village Teliyaon when the Monitoring Committee found the claim of the authorities that all the villagers of this village had moved out was completely baseless.

Hundreds of oustees of villages Pathrad, Sulgaon, Gogawa, Behgaon, Pitamali, Sitoka, Malgaon, Naharkhedi, Jalud, Khedi etc. also met the Monitoring Committee and demanded the immediate stoppage of construction on the dam. It may be noted that on the 18th February 2009, the M.P. High Court has already given a stay on any further dam construction which would block the river, and on the purchase of the agricultural lands of the oustees by the Company until the next date of hearing.

- Bhagwan Mukati, Ramkuwar, Sanjay Nigam, Kadvijiji, Chittaroopa Palit