NBA Press Release
  15 April 2005
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

Huge rally by Indira Sagar Project affected families: Gates cannot be closed until rehabilitation is completed

NARMADA BACHAO ANDOLAN
2, Sai Nagar, Mata Chowk
Khandwa, Madhya Pradesh
Tel: 9425056802, 9425087827
Email: nobigdam@sancharnet.in

Over 2000 people from the villages to be affected by the Indira Sagar dam demonstrated today at the Khandwa District headquarters. In this rally organized under the aegis of the Narmada Bachao Andolan, the dam-affected people expressed their anger at the injustice being meted out to them. All of them demanded that the gates of the dam be kept open till every single oustee has been rehabilitated. The affected people held a public meeting at the Gandhi Bhavan and held an impressive rally along main roads of the town. District Collector, Khandwa, Superintendent of Police, Khandwa and General Manager, NHDC came to the venue of the public meeting to receive the petition of the people. Representatives of the Maheshwar, Man and Upper Beda participated in the protest program and expressed their solidarity.

Addressing the public protest being held at the Gandhi Bhavan grounds, Ms. Chittaroopa Palit, senior activist with the NBA said that it is surprising that people are being asked to evict the villages even though the rehabilitation and resettlement is incomplete. Thousands of houses between the Full Reservoir Level (FRL) and the Backwater Level (BWL) have not even been acquired by the government (as required by law) and are going to be submerged without due compensation. If the reservoir is filled to capacity this year, then an even bigger tragedy than that at Dharaji is certain to occur, and this will not be an accident but a criminal conspiracy for which the entire responsibility lies with the Government and NHDC.

Shri Alok Agrawal, prominent activist of the NBA, said that whatever the affected people are asking today, is rightfully theirs by law. The Narmada Waters Dispute Tribunal's Award, Supreme Court judgments, clearance by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Policy etc. -all clearly state that full resettlement and rehabilitation has to be necessarily completed six months before submergence can take place. In a recent judgment, the Supreme Court reiterated once more that submergence cannot be allowed to take place until the entire rehabilitation work has been completed. Today, when numerous villages have not been resettled and even land acquisition hasn't taken place, filling the reservoir with water and submerging these areas will be completely illegal.

Affected people from every village gave vivid descriptions of how the provisions for their rehabilitation were still incomplete. In some cases, acquisition of lands and houses had not taken place, in others resettlement sites had not been prepared. They gave instances of villages where people had yet to receive their compensation and others, where the resettlement grants had not been distributed. The dam-affected people also complained about rampant corruption and other irregularities, as also about the low rates at which their land had been acquired. They averred that they were steadfast in their resolve to not vacate their lands, houses or villages till they have been fully rehabilitated. They all demanded in unison that until each and every person in their villages has received their rightful dues, the gates of the dam should remain open and the reservoir not be completely filled.

The Narmada Bachao Andolan announced at the meeting that today onwards, from 15 April to 15 September, a continuous vigil will be kept and all the dam affected villages will be monitored. A group comprising of well-known intellectuals, former Judges, social activists, lawyers, writers, etc will tour the affected villages from time to time and ensure that all the dam-affected people are being granted their lawful rights, and are not being subjected to any oppression or exploitation.

The District Collector and the Superintendent of Police were present at the venue of the gathering. After the meeting, the General Manager of NHDC joined them in listening to the memorandum addressed to the Chief Minister, and accepted it from the affected people. Following this, the dam-affected people took out an impressive rally through the streets of Khandwa and expressed their resolution to press on.

The meeting was also addressed by Harakchand Sand and Sama Bai from Harsud, Nandu Patel from Gehalgaon, Shri Nandlal from Hathnora, Gajendra Narayan from Cheech, Kamal Singh from Sindhkheda, Nabu Singh from Chalpi, Hanu bhai from Purni, Kamal Singh from Bijora, Satanand Tiwari from Somgaon, Kamal Baba from Kashipura, Mohan Bhai from Mohanya, Padma Singh from Kasaravad, Dayaram Bhai from Piplani among others.

Dharamraj Jain
Radheshyam Verma
Shalini Gera