NBA Press Note

April 14, 2001

Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

B-13, Shivam Flats
Ellora Park,
Tel: 0265-282232
58, Gandhi Marg,
Badwani, Madhya Pradesh
Tel: 07290-22464

Narmada villagers stop fake survey;
M.P. police fire in air, beat and injure many;
Chikhalda people block highway

Continuing with the repressive tactics, the Madhya Pradesh police today (Saturday, April 14th) intimidated and beaten the protesting villagers in Chikhalda, affected by the controversial Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) and fired twice in the air. Undeterred, hundreds of men and women from Chikhalda and adjoining villages have blocked the Khandawa-Baroda Road for an hour. They have been demanding that the state government must answer their questions and follow the provisions of Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal (NWDT) regarding the displacement and resettlement. The officials and police went away after the partial survey.

The tension started when the officials of Narmada Valley Development Authority (NVDA) tried to conduct the survey of the households in Chikhalda (Teh. Kukshi, Dist. Dhar). The village will be affected by the backwaters of the 90 meters of the height of the dam, though it may be submerged at 95 meters. However, the government could not resettle anyone of the 4000 people from the villages. The Supreme Court, in its order in October, 2000, has also wanted the NWDT to be followed. The Tribunal clearly laid down that only after the people below the required height have been resettled satisfactorily for six months, that area could be submerged. However, the government has taken up the height of the dam up to 90 meters, when even those affected by 80 meters have yet to be resettled.

The villagers asked the NVDA survey team, whether the government has land for land to be given to the oustees according to the NWDT, where was the master plan of rehabilitation? The officials conceded that there was no master plan of rehabilitation ready and the government has no land to be given for the project affected people. Despite this confession, the survey team tried to continue the work next day only in a few people's house. The people asked that the government officials should give it in writing that the survey was incomplete as it had excluded majority of houses. However, the officials were not ready to accept this legal and reasonable demand and instead the got the police to beat the people with lathis (batons) and even the women were not spared. They were incensed when the police behaved improperly with the women protestors. Police official Mr. Pawar threatened one villager by putting pistol at his ear. Munna Mansoori and four others got injuries while one of the main activists, Ashish Mandloi was mercilessly beaten. In protest over 300 people from Chikhalda came out on the adjacent Baroda-Khandwa highway and blocked it for an hour.

Previously also, in other villages, the NVDA officials conducted only partial survey in face of the protests and questions from the people. " They have been collecting false data and estimates", said Ashish Mandloi and other activists. It again became clear that the government has no land for the resettlement and yet it is trying to start the displacement people and in that too it is trying to cheat the people. The officials have been deliberately underestimating the number of affected households. The Madhya Pradesh government has been playing with the lives of its own people and people have resolved that they would resist unjust displacement.

The Chikhalda incident has also shown the continuing repressive tactics of Madhya Pradesh government has been using against the people's movements. During last couple of months, the organizations working with the tribals have been targeted for the arbitrary arrests, firing and intimidation. While condemning the Chikhalda incident and the government's attempts to oust the people, we also question the anti-people role of the Madhya Pradesh government. we call unto the people and the organizations to keep watch on the developments in the state and ask the state government to desist from such undemocratic and anti-people ways.