Maan dam


The Maan dam is one of the 30 large dams that has been planned as part of the Narmada Valley Development Project (NVDP). It is being constructed on the river Maan (that drains into the Narmada River) as an irrigation project in the Dhar district of Madhya Pradesh.

The Maan Project received the legally binding environmental clearance from the Central Environment Ministry in 1994. The condition of the clearance was that the affected tribals must be resettled with non-forest agricultural land. The state government policy for the oustees of the Narmada Projects that was made in 1987 and firmed in 1992 also required that the affected people must be resettled with land for land. Despite this from 1991 to 1994, the state government completely violated the conditions of the environmental clearance and the provisions of its own policy and finished the rights of the people with paltry amounts of cash compensation.

As a result, in 1994, the Appraisal Committee of the Central Environment Ministry blacklisted the Maan Project for complete violation of the conditions of the environmental clearance. In 1997, when the oustees were given eviction notices, they organized themselves under the aegis of the Narmada Bachao Andolan and raised their voices. After a long struggle, in April-May 1999, the Madhya Pradesh government agreed to constitute a committee for the rehabilitation of the affected people. This committee which was constituted under the chairmanship of the Narmada Minister of Madhya Pradesh comprised of the affected people, elected representatives, government officials and two members of the Narmada Bachao Andolan. The government order of 2nd May, 1999 that constituted this committee clearly stated that no construction work on the dam would be allowed to be carried out that would endanger any affected person whose rehabilitation had not been completed. But despite this clear order, from October 2000 onwards, the state government began work on the spillway section of the dam, thus creating a situation of imminent submergence of hundreds of tribal families who are yet to be rehabilitated.

On the 24th of January this year, the Maan-affected tribals then took out a protest rally in Dhar demanding immediate stoppage of work and rehabilitation of the affected people. Subsequently after representations to the NVDA, a government order of 30th January stopped the work on the spillway section of the dam. The actual physical work had to be stopped by demonstrating people at the dam site demanding that the order be carried out.

All 17 villages affected by the Maan dam, are slated for submergence this monsoon. Yet, despite the fact that the rehabilitation policy of the state government for the oustees of the Narmada Projects deems that the oustees must be ehabilitated with irrigated land in lieu of the land that will be going under submergence, the 5000-6000 adivasi people who will be affected by this Project this year have not been thus rehabilitated.

These affected people have been on a dharna in Bhopal since May 15th with all their demands and issues pertaining to rehabilitation and their livelihoods. The State administration has instead responded quite characteristically by cutting electricity supply, removing handpumps, cutting down trees and bulldozing schools to forcibly evict these adivasis from their villages. The adivasis and activists of the NBA have responded by intensifying their struggle.

The situation as of today is that the government has decided to carry on the construction and drown out the people. The people of the Maan project area have resolved to stop the Project through non- violent but militant struggle. But the reality is that the spillway section of the dam is being plugged in at the rate of a foot a day. It is crucial that all work on the dam must immediately stop.