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Friday, August 6, 1999

Arundhati determined to continue fight against SSP

EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE  
VADODARA, Aug 5: Booker prize winner Arundhati Roy reaffirmed her stand to fight against Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) and other dams in the Narmada Valley, even as the five-day-long `Rally for the Valley' led by her concluded at Domkhedi in Maharashtra on Tuesday.

According to reports reaching here, of the 450 ralliysts who left for Indore -- after the conclusion of the rally -- one group went via the river route through Kakrana and the other on foot through another route.

During the rally, Roy addressed public meetings at Jalsindhi in Madhya Pradesh and Domkhedi and Nimgavan in Maharashtra. While Roy also addressed schoolchildren in Domkhedi, she said that she and her people would continue their protests.

Nandini Oza of the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), who returned from Jalsindhi, told Express Newsline that several eminent persons from all over the country, including noted economist Ashish Kothari and Vinod Raina, reaffirmed to fight for tribal rights.

While the rally also saw participation from abroad, a large number of affected people from Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra are believed to have attended the public meetings and rallies.

Terming the SSP as destructive model of development, Roy said ``it was unfair to snatch away the rights from the poorest of the poor.'' Protests by thousands of families indicated that the truth could not be hidden for long, she added.

Medha Patkar, spearheading the anti-dam movement, in her address, asserted that residents of 50 villages of Maharashtra, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh would not leave their places even if the waters rose.

Reacting to imposition of section 144 of the IPC by the State Government in areas near the Kevadia Colony, Oza claimed that imposition of the section and allowing the pro-dam activists to protest only indicated that the Gujarat Government had to hide something.

If at all the rally had plans to come in Gujarat, the pro-dam activists would have welcomed them with black flags, she stated. ``If the Government had nothing to hide, it could have allowed the people from India and abroad to visit the resettlement sites,'' she stated.

Meanwhile, the Kanwat police on Tuesday detained a jeep (MOB-9957) found under suspicious circumstances in the jungles of Gujarat, about a km from Hafeshwar. The jeep was spotted during police patrolling to prevent entry of NBA activists in Gujarat.

According to District Superintendent of Police, Vadodara, Vivek Srivsatava, one Jagdishbhbai Bhagwanbhai Patidar of Bhanwaria village of Kuchchi taluka in Dhar district of Madhya Pradesh, who was keeping watch over the jeep, was detained but let off later on.

The man said, according to the police, that the jeep belonged to Patkar, but could not explain how the vehicle reached there. Neither were there any papers in the vehicle. He was not allowed to take the water route but asked to go by road, he claimed.

According to Srivastava, the security in villages bordering Madhya Pradesh had been cut down in the wake of NBA activists going back from Jal Sindhi and Domkhedi. Madhya Pradesh police had also withdrawn its police bandobast from Hafeshwar and shifted it to Alirajpur.

Copyright © 1999 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.


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