Modi’s Birthday Celebration and Inauguration of Sardar Sarovar dam

Modi, in an imperial style, will be in Gujarat tomorrow 17 Sep inaugurating the Sardar Sarovar dam on his birthday. And as he does this, he is signing a warrant for utter devastation drowning more than 40000 families living in the submergence area of Sardar Sarovar Dam in Madhya Pradesh. Also, the water being released from other dams to fill the Sardar Sarovar is resulting drowning of thousands of families, houses, bridges, cattles, trees and large tracts of forest and prime agricultural land. Nothing could be more shameful than the sight of an elected Prime Minister forcing a celebration of his birthday on the edifice of destruction of lives and livelihoods of our people.

For the past 32 years, ever since the SSP has been mooted, it has been the centre of spirited protests. Various governments have come and gone – touting a host of lies and semi-truths – to promote this disastrous project. This project has been adversely affecting THREE states: Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. Time and again, blatant lies about the SSP – lies about the projected generation of power, about the projected irrigation potential, about the scope of benefits – have been bandied about with abandon.

For instance, provision of drinking water for Kutch and Saurashtra has been an oft-repeated trope used to ‘sell’ the project. However, the reality is that canals connecting the Narmada waters are NOT reaching the parched regions of Kutch and Saurashtra, and far less destructive options being available to provide water to these regions.

Again, belying various pompous claims, only 30% of the total canal network has been constructed till now in Gujarat. When the SSP was around 122 metres high (it is much higher now), it was SUPPOSED to irrigate at least 8-10 lakh hectares of land. But in reality it has irrigates less than 3 lakh hectares, as per official records.

Far from providing water to parched regions of the country, it is clear that the real aim of the SSP is to cater to the water guzzling industries, water/amusement parks and commercial enterprises in cities such as Ahmedabad and Surat. Moreover, there is no share in water benefit to either Maharashtra or Madhya Pradesh, who are to pay the biggest cost in terms of lost land. Lakhs of lives and livelihoods and entire local economies have been sacrificed in the name of these fictitious benefits/‘claims’! And BJP governments in all the three states concerned, as well as the Central government, are together playing a well-orchestrated hoax in the name of ‘development’.

The entire history of SSP is replete with such stories of false claims, betrayed promises and forced imposition of corporate-sponsored demands on the poor. It is now an open secret that the primary beneficiaries of the SSP will be the Coca Cola company, car industries (including Suzuki, thanks to the visit by Japanese Premier), Adani’s and Ambani’s projects and all the industrial estates to come up in Gujarat as a part of the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor. And the biggest sufferers will be farmers, fisherpeople, Adivasis and the poor, who are being displaced with no compensation, who are being told to make way without protest for rampaging ‘development’ in the name of the ‘country’!

Tomorrow, on Modi birthday, as he chooses to ‘dedicate’ the SSP to the nation, let us remind ourselves that this massive 455-feet dam has brought massive devastation in its wake. It is being inaugurated at a time when even Supreme Court mandated guidelines for rehabilitation and compensation the project affected people are being openly violated. The much-touted ‘Narmada Mahotsav’ being celebrated is a codeword for drowning and devastation. Since last few days, water from the dam is being released, preparing the way for the grand ‘inauguration’ tomorrow and for the subsequent drowning of several hundred villages. A large number of affected families haven’t yet received the house plots and compensation entitled to them, thousands of applications remain unheard before the Grievance Redressal Authority (GRA).

Modi’s Megalomania : In a horrific show of imperial arrogance and insensitivity, the entire state machinery is being used in different parts of the country to ‘celebrate’ Modi’s birthday on 17 Sep. Government schools in some parts of the country are forcing students to come to school on a Sunday to ‘celebrate’ – a pathetic sign of fascist and authoritarian arrogance. In Gujarat, these ‘celebrations’ have taken a macabre turn. Narendra Modi, worried about the upcoming assembly elections in Gujarat, is desperately trying to launch several disastrous projects in the name of ‘development’ in order to divert attention from the effects of demonetisation, GST and skyrocketing petrol/diesel prices.

The arrogant Amit Shah is supposed to once said: “Gujarat ka sher kisi sawaal ka jawaab nahi deta” (the Lion of Gujarat never replies to questions raised). Tomorrow on 17 Sep, as we witness one of the worst demonstrations of fascist arrogance and enforced celebration of a ‘leader’, let us give a clear message that the people of India will stand with the dam-affected people in MP and Gujarat, not with Modi and his lies.

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