So let's see.
Under this "perception", Sid lists various facts about R&R, including this one taken from the 2000 Supreme Court judgement (in the Narmada Bachao Andolan vs Union of India case):
- The total number of project affected families (PAFs) – with major sons being counted as separate families – is 40,827.
Very good. Only, the 40,827 seems to be a 1993 number, going by where it makes its sole appearance in the judgement:
- The total project affected families who would be affected were 40,827. ... The picture of this submergence as per the Government of Madhya Pradesh Action Plan of 1993 is as follows: [MP submergence details quoted by Sid].
Why make a point of this? Because the judgement itself makes a point of such increase. For example, it says:
- In 1988 when the project was first cleared ... it was estimated that 12,180 families would be affected in three States. ... the number of PAFs as estimated in 1992 by the State Governments were 30,144.
But apart from that, note that I said the 40,827 makes a "sole appearance" in the judgement. However a rather similar number -- 40,227 -- appears elsewhere in the judgement, like so:
- The number of PAFs as estimated in 1992 by the State Governments were 30,144. ... As per the 1990 Master Plan [for R&R] the total PAFs have increased to 40,227 from 30,144 due to addition of 100 more genuine PAFs in Maharashtra. ... The reason for increase in number of PAFs has been explained in the Master Plan and the reasons given, inter alia, are:
(a) After CWC prepared backwater level data, the number of PAFs in Madhya Pradesh (MP) increased by 12,000 PAFs.
In 1992, there were 30,144 estimated PAFs. But in 1990 -- two years earlier -- that number had "increased to 40,227 from 30,144"? And that time-warped increase is "due to" 100 more PAFs in Maharashtra? But 30,144 + 100 = 30,244. Not 40,227. Or was that increase because of 12,000 new MP PAFs? But 30,144 + 12,000 = 42,144. Not 40,227. And nowhere in here do you find 40,827.
So what is the right number of PAFs, today?
Besides, this article in the Hindustan Times (April 18 2006) has these lines:
- "If we could not rehabilitate them in six years, how can you expect the feat to be accomplished in just three months as the Centre has promised to the SC?" said a senior official of the Narmada Valley Development Corporation. ...
NVDC vice-chairman Uday Verma said that the number of families to be rehabilitated is about 16,000 and not 35,000 as claimed by the Narmada Bachao Andolan.
Sid also lists the "generous" R&R package the government has put together. It is generous; you will see some specifics from the package in this piece I wrote some days ago. But as you will also see in that piece, the point is not the generous package on paper, but how it is translated on the ground. That's the point the protesters are making. And that translation ... well, here's what those Central Ministers wrote:
- The reports [about R&R are] largely paperwork and it has no relevance with the situation on the ground.
Later in his piece, Sid tackles this very issue, about how the R&R policy is good on paper but is poorly implemented. He has this revealing sentence right there: R&R has generally been carried out successfully in Gujarat.
Perhaps so, but that means little. Why? Because by far the greatest displacement will happen not in Gujarat, but in MP.
For example, Sid himself says, early on: 241 villages will be partially affected (16 in Gujarat, 33 in Maharashtra and 192 in MP). [From the SC judgement.]
For example, an official 1998 Sardar Sarovar Project publication I have says that of 40,727 PAFs, 33,014 -- over 80 per cent -- are from MP. (FACTS: Sardar Sarovar Project, Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited, 1998).
So pointing to successful R&R in Gujarat is nice, but somewhat irrelevant. That was never an issue in the most recent Delhi protest.
(Sid also tackles perceptions that the NBA's efforts brought about the generous R&R policy, and that the NBA represents the poor. I believe these perceptions, true or false, are irrelevant to the success or failure of the project, which is the crucial issue. So I won't react to those).
Finally, Sid says his is a "pro-development" view. That may be the most subtle question of all. Is what is happening with the Sardar Sarovar project -- the mess with R&R, among other things -- truly development?
Plug: Some of what's here is in my book, The Narmada Dammed. There's plenty more there as well.