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UN experts come to Patkar's aid

Three UN human rights experts have said that India should stop the construction of Narmada dam.

india Updated: Apr 14, 2006 11:30 IST

Three United Nations human rights experts have said that India should stop the construction of a contested dam, which is to submerge the homes and land of tens of thousands of people.

"Until the human rights of those affected can be guaranteed we recommend that the construction of the dam is halted," said Hina Jilani.

Jillian monitors the situation facing human rights activists, housing expert Miloon Kothari and Rodolfo Stavenhagen, UN specialists on the rights of indigenous peoples.

Advocates of the Narmada Valley dam project in western India say it will provide water and hydro-electricity to areas in desperate need. But critics are focusing on the fate of tens of thousands of villagers whose homes and land are being left under water as the project advances.

The three UN experts said that they were concerned about the recent decision of the Narmada Control Authority, which oversees the project, to raise the height of the Sardar Sarovar -- the biggest dam in the complex.

They pointed to an Indian Supreme Court judgement in 2000, which banned construction to raise the dam's height until 35,000 villagers were resettled and given cultivable land.

"According to reports received, adequate rehabilitation has not yet been provided for those affected at the current dam-height, many of them indigenous peoples and farmers."

Affected villagers may be left homeless when the land is submerged because none of the new sites where they are expected to live have sufficient housing plots, they added.

"Furthermore, alternative agricultural land is reportedly not being provided, and where land has been allotted, it is uncultivable and inadequate," they said.