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

Legal Notice Served To M.P. Dy Chief Minister Jamuna Devi
By NBA and Medha Patkar : 'Apologise Or Face Legal action'

The Madhya Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Ms. Jamuna Devi was served a legal notice to publicly retract the baseless and untrue allegations levelled against Narmada Bachao Andolan and Medha Patkar and tender an unconditional apology within a week of the receipt of the legal notice. Failing this, the notice warned her of initiating the "appropriate legal proceedings including the defamation complaint". The noted lawyer Mr. Prashat Bhushan has sent the legal notice on April 11, 2001.

Ms. Jamuna Devi was reported to have made several defamatory allegations on Narmada Bachao Andolan and Ms. Medha Patkar, which were published in the Marathi daily, Lokmat (Dt.9.2.2001), at Kopargaon in Maharashtra where she addressed the press and the public. Ms. Jamuna Devi reportedly called Medha Patkar "a stooge of foreign powers to create barriers in the development activities in our country." She also false allegations of foreign funding on NBA and as a "shop to deceive the tribals".

The legal notice to Ms. Jamuna Devi made it clear that "the NBA has never received foreign funding in last approximately seventeen years of its existence. In fact the money associated with various national and international prizes conferred Medha Patkar had either been declined acceptance by my Ms Medha Patkar or donated by her for the benefit of general public purposes/causes". The NBA also has denied vehemently other reported defamatory allegations by Ms. Jamuna Devi, against the NBA and Medha Patkar as being false, baseless and untrue.

After the Supreme Court majority judgement of allowing the unfettered work on the Sardar Sarovar dam, the Madhya Pradesh government has been trying to displace the project affected families from the tribal and non-tribal areas, flagrantly violating the provisions of the Narmada Water Dispute Tribunal (NWDT). Though it has pleaded non-availability of the agricultural land for resettlement for the project affected people in the state, it is trying to evict them with the cash compensation. The state government, through the intemperate pronouncement and behaviour of elements like Ms. Jamuna Devi, has been trying to impose the displacement and submergence on the people. There has been increase in the defamatory statements and repressive tactics by the pro-dam elements to suppress the unrelenting struggle in the Narmada valley, which is continuing despite the adversities. The M.P. government has been trying to suppress the people's struggles for the justice in the state, including those in the Maheshwar, Mann and Sardar Sarovar areas in the Narmada valley, with the systematic campaign of defamation and police repression.

The pro-dam elements have tried, in past, to defame the NBA and Medha Patkar. However, the Gujarati newspaper 'Gujarat Samachar' had to retract its allegations and issue apology in early 1990s. The NBA filed a defamation case against the Indian Express and the so-called 'National Council of Civil Liberties' of Ahmedabad, who had given a defamatory advertisement in the newspapers.

The NBA will be confronting these repressive tactics and the struggle in the valley against the unjust, illegal displacement and destruction will further intensify despite these tactics of powerholders.

Joe Athialy