Satyagraha in the Narmada Valley
Join the Satyagraha 2000 in the Narmada Valley from July 15
Once again, the Narmada valley will be facing submergence and displacement in the Monsoon of 2000, due to the Sardar Sarovar Dam. Once again, the people in the villages are gearing themselves up for a Satyagraha, the non-violent mass action, against the imposed submergence.
The height of the dam was at 88 meters in the last year's monsoon, as was decided by the Supreme Court in 1999. Last year, despite the scanty rains, the swirling backwaters of the dam had destroyed hundreds of farms and houses in the villages in Maharashtra and Alirajpur tehsil of Madhya Pradesh. The water entered the Satyagraha places of Domkhedi, Jalsindhi, Piplachop, Sikka, and Bharad where the people confronted waist and chest deep submergence waters. On August 21, 1999, the Satyagrahis in Domkhedi did not move out even when the menacingly increasing water came upto their lips. The Satyagraha in 1999 has shown that the people and activists of Andolan are ready to confront the submergence to save the valley from destruction.
The Satyagraha generated the spirit of Narmada struggle all over the country. Hundreds of activists and youth from various parts of country converged at the Satyagraha places during the monsoon of 1999. Many programmes were held supporting the struggle in various cities and towns all over India. The "Rally for the Valley" by the supporters was a landmark occasion, creating a new awakening about the issues. Supporting organisations held a "Narmada Samarthan Yatra" (Solidarity March) from Kanyakumari to Delhi in July, 1999 and met the President of India to make him aware of the basic issues that the Andolan has been raising. The President also has referred to the Narmada Satyagraha as the new awakening of the youth in India. The Prime Minister too has written a letter to NBA accepting the gravity of the issues.
Meanwhile, the Governments continued their efforts to displace the people by hook or crook, and file false affidavits regarding resettlement in the Supreme Court. The attempts were made to whitewash the larger reality, by creating some 'model sites'. However, the basic issues regarding land availability, infrastructure, rights, natural resources, and livelihood remained unanswered. The people also have been questioning the false claims made by the governments, proving that the government could not resettle fully the people hitherto displaced. The people from the resettlement sites in Maharashtra and Gujarat too have joined with the people in the valley in exposing the false claims of the governments.
The Supreme Court completed the final hearing of the public interest writ petition filed by the Narmada Bachao Andolan on May 9, 2000, nearly six years after filing the petition. The Court, in the last leg of final hearing, heard the arguments about the environmental and other issues raised by the Andolan and did not confine it to the resettlement issue. Meanwhile, the court has asked the government of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra to establish the Grievance Redressal Authorities (GRAs) on the lines of Gujarat government. The GRAs were asked to ascertain whether the resettlement till this time in the respective states has been according to the Narmada Dispute Tribunal's (NWDT) provisions and secondly, whether there is land available for the remaining oustees and whether the resettlement of these oustees would be possible according to NWDT.
On this backdrop of constant struggle and challenge to the displacement and submergence, the height of the dam remained the same this year, despite the repeated efforts of Gujarat government to get the work on the dam restarted beyond 88 meters. However, though the height remains the same, last year the rains were below average. This year, the average rainfall would bring in the greater submergence than that of last year. There would be more destruction of houses and farms during this monsoon. The people have decided to challenge the imposition of unjust submergence, displacement by the government and demand for the complete review of the dam.
People will be observing the monsoon-long Satyagraha again this year as part of Satyagraha 2000, which will be launched on July 15, at Jalsindhi, Domkhedi and other villages in the valley. The details of the Satyagraha will be announced on the first day of Satyagraha in the valley. This time, along with the struggle, we will also pursue the constructive work (navnirman), surveying with the villagers the resources of the adivasi area, with village mapping and participating in the daily village chores or in the work of the people's school (jeevanshala).
Once again, the struggle is round the corner and at this decisive hour, we wish you to be with us, as comrade-in-arms, friends and witness to this non-violent assertion of the rights of the people of this country. The people in the Narmada valley once again call unto you to join in the Satyagraha and strengthen the resistance in the valley against the displacement and destitution. The struggle in the valley is a joint endeavour of us all against the repression and destruction in the name of development.
Please come to Jalsindhi (M.P.) and Domkhedi (Maharashtra), where the Satyagraha will be launched from noon on July 15th, 2000. Along with the people affected by the SSP, the people affected by canals, colony, sanctuary for the project and the people affected by the Maheshwar, Narmada Sagar, Veda, Goi, and Bargi dams in the Narmada valley would also be joining the Satyagraha. We appeal to the activists of organisations, youth, and affected people from various 'development' projects and other pro-people experts, citizens to reach Baroda or Badwani by the afternoon of 14th July.
We call unto you to be partner in this common struggle to protect the right to life, resources and democratic values.
Noorji Padvi, Luvariya Shankariya, Bawa Mahariya, Keshav Vasave, Dedli Bai, Prabhubhai Tadvi, Rasik Gajanan, Balibehn Tadvi, Jagannath Patidar, Devram Kanera, Mohan Patidar, Kamala Yadav, Mukesh Jat, Karuna, Kailash Awasiya, Clifton, Shobha, Pravin, Dr. Sugan Baranth, Nandini Oza, Alok Agrawal, and others
Directions to get to the Satyagraha
To reach the Satyagraha place, reach Baroda (Gujarat), which is well connected by rail and air or Badwani (Madhya Pradesh) and contact the NBA offices - the addresses are given at the end. Hapheshwar, which is some 4 hours drive from Baroda and Badwani, is the last point one can reach by road. Half an hour journey further by boat, is Jalsindhi and Domkhedi (opposite banks of the river Narmada).
Or to reach Domkhedi / Jalsindhi straight, please take bus from Baroda bus station towards Kavat. From Kavat, proceed by bus / private vehicle to Kadipani (or straight bus from Baroda to Kadipani, which is 140 kms). From Kadipani, Hapheshwar is 8 Kms. Either proceed on foot or wait for the NBA vehicle at the last bus stop at Kadipani. NBA boat is available at Hapheshwar. From Badwani, take a bus to Chhota Udepur. From there to Kavat-Kadipani (Badwani - Hapheshwar is 150 kms) and rest as above.
As it would be rainy season, come with the required protection - strong shoes/chappals, rain coats/umbrella, and lighter baggage. If needed, bring mosquito repellents and with some necessary medicines, torch etc.