About a 1,000 men and women, including young children, from over 50 villages in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat made their way through the muck and gathered at Domkhedi and Jalsindhi on Saturday to participate in the NBA-sponsored satyagraha
against what it termed as unjust submergence of villages.
The gathering reiterated its mission to face submergence if alternative rehabilitation sites were not provided to people affected by the Sardar Sarovar Project.
To mark their presence and reiterate their resolve, the villagers nailed nameplates of the villages on a tree at satyagraha site in Domkhedi. Children among the lot included those of Narmada Jeevanshala, non-formal education school run by the Narmada
NBA leader Medha Patkar told The Asian Age, after inauguration of the satyagraha at Domkhedi, that they still stand by their earlier resolve to do jalsamarpan if the dam height was increased without total review of the project. The NBA had first started
the monsoon-long satyagrahas from Manibeli in 1991.
Last year Ms Patkar and other PAPs had to be forcibly taken out by the police when they refused to move even under neck-deep water. After roping in Arundhati Roy into the mission, the NBA invited Navy chief L. Ramdas to kick off the satyagraha this time
around. Talking to The Asian Age, Mr Ramdas said he was convinced that big dams were obsolete in development and concept. People should not be displaced from their rich and fertile land, he said.
This war is different from that of Kargil. It is war against injustice and is bound to win against all odds, said Admiral Ramdas to add strength to people coming from Manibeli, Danel, Bamni, Bharad, Pipalchowk, Nimgavan, Kundia, Kadmal and other
villages. His wife Lalita Ramdas also participated in the function organised to kick off the satyagraha.
The NBAs new slogan Sardar Sarovar nahi hai jawab, bade bandho ke juthe hai khwaab (Sardar Sarovar is not the answer, its misplaced illusion) was prominently displayed along with the NBAs blue flag. And as supporters from Kerala and United Kingdom
rose to make their representations, slogans like The fight from Kerala to Narmada and The fight from United Kingdom to Narmada echoed in the air.
I will prefer to die here. Where will I go? The Maharashtra government has no land, Bholiabhai Mundya of Domkhedi told this correspondent. Although he still has two plots of land left, Mundya is certainly upset about his six acres that has already
submerged. His submerged land is now the docking place for boats, he said.
A prayer to river Narmada and immersion of dam demon marked the end of the opening day of the satyagraha. Various programmes like youth camp, peace day, martyrs day and the Independence Day will be celebrated during the satyagraha.