Conclusion of Narmada Satyagraha - September 17, Jalsindhi and Domkhedi
The Satyagraha in the Narmada valley against the unjust submergence and displacement has been made marked by the determination of the men and women from the villages in the Narmada valley. People, while confronting the dam and the government have taken up the issues of the Nav Nirman, constructive work for the new and sustainable life. Alongwith the discussions among the adivasis and peasants with the outside supporters who have been coming in the valley during the Satyagraha. It has also been a season marred by the overalarmist reactions by the Gujarat regarding the Saga of Narmada programme on August 24.
The Satyagraha-2000 was launched on July 15th, in the presence of Admiral (Retd.) L.Ramdas and Lalitha Ramdas in Jalsindhi (Madhya Pradesh) and Domkhedi (Maharashtra), two affected villages on the opposite banks of Narmada. Despite the agricultural season and drought in the valley, the people came in hundreds from the villages in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. Supporters from all parts of India and some from abroad came at different times. During the Satyagraha, the Narmada Bachao Andolan held Youth Camps and camp for constructive work, with the interactions between the valley people and outside comrades. On August 9, people celebrated Martyrs' Day, particularly remembering the tribal martyrs like Khajiya Naik and others. The Independence day, August 15, was marked by a novel experiment in Domkhedi. For the first time in 53 years of Independence, the people in Domkhedi had the electricity in their village - on their own, based on their own resource and efforts. A small stream near the village was utilised, with the micro-generator and expertise from Anilkumar and Madhusudhan from "People's School of Energy", Kerala, there was micro-hydel project of the village. Veteran Sarvodayi activist, Siddharaj Dhadda on August 24th, a special programme, "Saga of Narmada" was arranged to appeal to the conscience of the nation regarding the struggle and issues in the Andolan. Number of prominent persons and other supporters from many parts of India arrived in Baroda to proceed for the programme in M.P. and Maharashtra; over 500 people from Nimad too were proceeding. However, in a fit of madness that always overpowers Gujarat government in such circumstances, hundreds of police were deployed and no one was allowed to proceed towards the Satyagraha place. These people, including the noted human rights activists Just(Retd.) Rajinder Sachar, Haroobhai Mehta, Girish Patel, Veteran Sarvodayi activist Jyotibhai Desai protested against this hamhanded attitude, but to no avail. However, the programme went on as decided with over 700 people and supporters like noted author, Arundhati Roy and others making it on the time. All this showed the overalarmist and cowardly attitude of the Gujarat Government. During the Satyagraha, the people took out rallies and sounded the three state governments in Bhopal (Sept. 6), Nandurbar (Sept. 8) and in Rajpipla (August 28). It was a slap in the face of Gujarat government when over 3000 tribals expressed their democratic rights and took out a spirited rally against the Gujarat government's displacement and resettlement. They included the sanctuary affected people, the canal, colony affected and those who were duped into resettlement. The Mahartashtra people organised a People's Tribunal to highlight the grievances of those who had been already displaced. Hundreds of "resettled" people put forth their views and grievances.
The water in Narmada did not rise this time due to severe drought conditions in the valley. The crops were destroyed, many could not undertake sowing in the tribal regions. Paradoxically, there was no submergence of houses as that of previous year. The people have to continue the struggle for the next year also against the dam and for the survival, which has been adversely affected by the constant danger and uncertainty of displacement and submergence.
Narmada is still flowing. The dam had to stop where it is today - at 88 metres. This being a drought year, water hasn't risen as yet. But it may - in the coming month. The Supreme Court's decision and beyond is still a long story ahead and we all need your support. Your commitment, effort to reach us, hear the people and raise the voice and issues towards a new path and paradigm of development are a valuable asset and continue to be a support for the movement that is on.
Satyagraha in the Narmada valley, that was launched on July 15 against the unjust submergence and displacement, would continue till 17th September. There would be a concluding program pointing to the future path and strategy on September 17th in Jalsindhi and Domkhedi on this day. We call unto you to be with us on this day, and even after that, for a more determined fight for the rights and life of people of this country.....
Be with us on September 17, at Satyagraha place.
In Solidarity,Kewalsingh Vasave, Pravinkumar, Rukminikaki, Medha Patkar, Gitanjali Chavan, Baba Muhariya, Mohan Patidar
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