the Maheshwar hydel power project being built on river Narmada is a privatized project which was handed over to the S.Kumars group of companies. Around 70,000 people of 61 villages are affected by the submergence of the dam. In the last 16 years, the project promoters have resolutely refused to rehabilitate the displaced families, so that more than 85% oustees remain to be resettled till date and 100% of the oustees remain to be rehabilitated. Yet the Maheshwar dam is 90% complete and the promoters are seeking to fill the dam. In spite of this, the project promoters and Government of Madhya Pradesh has asked the Ministry of Environment and Forest to allow partial filling of reservoir till 154 meters.
On 27.8.2011, last monsoon, when the Shree Maheshwar Hydel Power Corporation Limited, the project authorities of the Maheshwar dam illegally closed the gates of Maheshwar dam and illegally filled the reservoir up to 154 meters at the dam site and to higher levels at the further reaches, many houses and lands got submerged in several villages. Since no back water impact at 154 meters has been estimated by the authorities, any permission to raise the water level to EL 154 meters is likely to cause huge submergence and death of hundreds of people.
0% rehabilitation has been achieved and less than 15% of the resettlement of the oustees has been achieved, although the same is required to be completed before reservoir filling is permitted. Even the Maheshwar dam oustees affected at 154 meters are yet to be rehabilitated.
We are writing this letter to you with deep concern about the over 70,000 people of the 61 villages affected by the Maheshwar Hydel Project in the Narmada valley. The private project promoters of this Project – the S.Kumars has not resettled more than 85% of around 70,000 oustees of Maheshwar Project, and has not rehabilitated any of the oustees. Even a rehabilitation plan as per clearance of Ministry of Environment dated 1.5.2001, with details of agricultural land, housing sites etc has not been submitted to the MOEF. Despite this, the Madhya Pradesh Government and the private project promoters are asking for filling the Maheshwar dam reservoir up to 154 mts.
This is completely unacceptable for the following reasons :
a. On 27.8.2011, last monsoon, when project authorities illegally closed the gates of Maheshwar dam and filled the water upto 154 mts, many houses and lands got submerged in several villages. Now, since no back water estimation is done at 154 mts, any permission may cause huge submergence and death of hundreds of people.
b. 0% rehabilitation has been achieved and less than 15% of the resettlement of the oustees has been achieved, although the same is required to be completed before reservoir filling is permitted. Even the Maheshwar dam oustees affected at 154 meters are yet to be rehabilitated.
c. As per Central Electricity Authority, no electricity generation is possible at 154 mts therefore the only motive behind this request seems to be to threaten oustees to flee without rehabilitation.
As per the Union Ministry of Power, the tariff of the electricity generated by this project is assessed at Rs 10 per unit, which is so costly that it cannot be purchased by anybody. Thus, there is no public interest to justify the submergence of 61 villages of this country for electricity that no one can purchase, only in order to provide undue pecuniary benefit to one single company.
We respectfully submit that it was clear from the letter of erstwhile Minister of MoEF dated 6.5.2011 lifting the stop work order on the five gates of the dam despite non-completion of R&R, that the PMO had intervened in favor of the S.Kumars leading to the violation of the law and the Constitution. We sincerely hope that this will not happen again. Therefore, we request you to direct the Ministry of Environment and Forest to ;
i. Not to give any permission to fill the Maheshwar reservoir up to 154 mts.
ii. Take strict action against the private project promoters for the illegal closure of the Maheshwar dam gates on 27.8.2011, in violation of the statutorily binding environmental Clearance dated 1.5.2001, and the Order of the Environment Ministry dated 6.5.2011.
iii. Direct the State Government and project authorities to strictly comply with the conditions of Environment Clearance dated 1.5.2001 and to rehabilitate and resettle the oustees as per the conditions of the clearance and the Rehabilitation policy. As per the environmental clearance and the Orders of Hon’ble Supreme Court, the reservoir can be filled only six month after the completion of rehabilitation and resettlement of all the oustees. In this case less than 15% of the resettlement and 0% of the rehabilitation has been achieved.
We hope you will take immediate steps in the matter and not allow the fundamental and statutory rights of the people of this country to be trampled on.