Letter From Prime Minister to Medha Patkar, dated September 22 1999. This was delivered when Medha and 386 satyagrahis were being held in Dhule jail !Medha Patkar's reponse can be found here.
New Delhi, September 22, 1999.
I have been disturbed by the recent reports in the media that you and your colleagues in the Narmada Bachao Andolan have expressed the intention to offer Jal Samarpan (sacrifice by drowning - ed) in an attempt to focus attention on the rehabilitation and Resettlement (R&R) measures to be taken by the party states to the Narmada dispute.
As you are aware, the R&R measures for the Project Affected Persons are primarily the responsibility of the concerned States. However, keeping in view the enormous human problems associated with large-scale displacement, a number of mechanisms to monitor the implementation of the R&R measures have been put in place. An independent Grievance Redressal Authority headed by Shri.P.D.Desai, retired Chief Justice of Calcutta, Himachal Pradesh and Mumbai High Courts is also reporting to the Supreme Court on these measures.
No one can dispute that the displacement of people from their lands and their communities leads to tremendous upheaval in their lives. Hence there is a need for great sensitivity in conceptualising and implementing appropriate R&R schemes. While it is not easy to do this to the complete satisfaction of the affected people, we are trying to ensure the best possible rehabilitation package for them. I assure you that we will continue this process.
You will agree with me that the issue of the Narmada project is highly complex and is not amenable to any facile solution. At this juncture, we need the continued involvement of dedicated social activists such as you. I would appeal to you not to undertake any course of action which could involve risk to your life or to the lives of your colleagues.
With best wishes,