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Oriental  Bank OF Commerce  

NBA gets set for monsoon satyagraha

By Ketaki Ghoge
Mumbai, July 14



Torches will blaze on the swirling waters and slogans like ‘Koi nahi hatega, Bandh nahi banega’ heard. The Narmada valley is ripe to witness agitations and andolans again this monsoon and the satyagrahis have geared up for a mass people’s movement.

The monsoon long satyagraha of the Narmada Bachao Andolan—2000 will be launched at Domkhedi (Maharashtra) Jalsindhi (Madhya Pradesh)and other villages in the Narmada valley on July 15.

The protest is against the imposed displacement of the people and though the height of the dam will remain the same at 88 meters, activists point out that this year’s heavy monsoon will ensure greater submergence and consequently greater ruin of houses and farms in the valley.

An activist Sripad Dharmadhikari with the NBA said, “Along with the satyagraha, there’ll be constructive work ‘navnirman’ like surveying the resources of adivasi area, youth camps, village mapping etc. We will basically talk about How a valley should be developed.”

Along the valley at Maheshwar — on the banks of the Narmada in Madhya Pradesh—another round of indefinite action, struggle is in the making as the NBA activists have strongly protested against the decision of the Indian financial institutions—IDBI, GIC, LIC—to invest 15% of total project equity of the Maheshwar project.

The NBA claims that the Maheshwar hydro power project, granted to Skumars in 1993, whose cost has increased from Rs 465 crore to Rs 2000 crore in the last five years is financially unviable and at the cost of displacing thousands of people.

Chittaroopa Palit an NBA activist told the press, “The decision of the institutions to invest money in this ‘controversial’ project is motivated by political considerations rather than economic.”

Alok Agarwal another activist added, “The power from the project will estimatedly cost Rs 6.50 per unit, further the peaking power cost will be Rs 9.65 per unit. And in spite of this government is going to buy the power at this high rate for next 35 years.”

Clearly, its that time of the year when satyagrahas start along the river in the three states. However, after the high profile media blitz last year when Booker prize winner Arundhati Roy stormed into the valley with glamour and goodwill, the mood is a little less sombre.

NBA insiders, however, feel that this time “more work” will be done because urgent issues like balancing the need for water to riparian states like Gujarat with the need for proper rehabilitation of oustees will be discussed. Less slogans and more sense seems to be the theme this year.


 
 
 
 

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