| NBA Press Release
|| 11 April 2006
URGENT CALL TO THE NATION
62, Mahatma Gandhi Road,
Madhya Pradesh - 451551
URGENT CALL TO THE NATION
Come to Delhi to
Collectively Rise and Speak Out Against Unjust Displacement and Forced Eviction
12th April 2006 11 am - 4 pm Jantar Mantar, New Delhi
As you are aware, the last few months have witnessed an alarming escalation in the violence of "development" across the country. From the indiscriminate police firing on adivasis in Kalinga Nagar (Orissa) and the fishing community in Gangavaram (Andhra Pradesh) to the ongoing plunder of tribal lands and usurpation of natural resources, from the large-scale slum demolitions in cities to the ongoing construction of destructive large dams, from "urban renewal" plans and the construction of shopping malls and entertainment complexes on the land of the poor to the corporatisation of agriculture, the calculated scheme of forced evictions and rampant displacement of the poor in the guise of development is obvious.
The decision to raise the height of the Sardar Sarovar dam to 121.92 metres marks an extreme move in this direction. The ongoing construction of the dam is raising not only the height of the dam but also the voices of the displaced and to be displaced, not just in the Narmada Valley but across the country. The indefinite fast to demand a halt to the construction of the dam is on its 13th day with Medha Patkar and Jamsing Nargave continuing their fast in hospital and Bhagwatibai Patidar at Jantar Mantar. JNU professor Kamal Mitra Chenoy and others continue on the 6th day of their fast at Jantar Mantar, where across the street, people from Bhopal are also on dharna.
People across the country have rallied to express their support, and the outcry against this and all such injustices is growing. However, despite the ongoing fast and the international and national condemnation of this decision, the government is still deliberating over issues.
This perverse paradigm of profits at the cost of the poor has resulted in the deprivation and destruction of lives and livelihoods of millions across the country. The very survival of millions is at stake. The urban and rural poor as well as natural resource dependent communities are more vulnerable than ever before.
People's movements have been resisting such unjustifiable and inhuman paradigms of development for decades, but non-violent struggles are increasingly being targeted and the human rights of those who challenge injustice are being violated, as is evident in the recent firing of fisher folk protesting the Gangavaram port and the police attacks against Narmada Bachao Andolan activists in Delhi. We are at a very critical juncture in the course of Indian history. Peoples' lives are under constant threat.
The alarming course of current events and the disturbing nature of things to come, raises serious questions about the legitimacy of the Indian State and its willingness to function democratically.
Please join us urgently!!
WE MUST SPEAK OUT IN ONE VOICE: NO MORE FORCIBLE EVICTIONS!
Yesterday, the 24th day of the NBA dharna at Jantar Mantar was marked as a day of artists expressing solidarity with the people's struggle. An exhibition of children's paintings was installed at he site; while, at one group sang songs of social justice. Several singers, writers, photographers and filmmakers participated in the daylong programme. 'Films for Freedom' issued a statement signed by 212 artists. Sahmat also supported the programme.
The International and national support for the movement to stop further construction of the dam has been overwhelming, with dharnas, solidarity fast and letters pouring in. On Thursday marches in Bangalore and Plachimada were accompanied by a 24 hours fast. In Pune, with 50 organisations culminating in the submission of a petition to the Chief Minister of Maharashtra with almost 400 signatures. On Friday 150 people worldwide signed up for a one-day solidarity fast, while fasts were held in Chennai and Bangalore, Jalana and Auranagabad. Yesterday more than 200 people in Bangalore and more than 400 people under the banner of National Alliance of People's Movement in Kolkata undertook relay fasts. Actions were also held in Latur & Parbhani, Himachal Pradesh, Itanagar (Arunachal Pradesh), Mumbai, Raipur and many others.
So far, more than 2000 people worldwide have signed an online petition in protest against the construction of the dam, while an open challenge to Sardar Sarovar engineers has over 600 signatures.
A letter from the President of 'Right Livelihood Award' in support of Medha Patkar was also sent to the PM. Similar petitions, memorandums, and letters of concern to the concerned authorities have poured in, including from Rivers' Group, Water & Energy Users' Federation (Nepal), Arunachal Pradesh Citizen's Right, Childe Rights and You (CRY), Delhi University, Forum of Religious for Justice & Peace and International Farakka Committee.
As the NBA awaits the report of three ministers who have returned from the Narmada Valley, Dr B D Sharma who was also independent observer says, "The vally is setting with discontent. The false claims of rehabilitation on paper are clearly exposed when you see the ground reality
Affected people, their supporters, intelligentsia and civil society, while protesting in their own districts and states feel very strongly that the need of the hour is for us to come together and raise our voices jointly.
Please come in large numbers to Jantar Mantar, New Delhi on April 12th. We need you to be here to participate in this mass gathering to call for action against unjust displacement, forced evictions, and human rights violations!
There is no time left, so please make efforts to leave immediately and join us in Delhi!!!
Representatives from people's movements and their supporters including:
Dipti Bhatnagar, Yogini Khanolkar, Medha Patkar, Clifton Rosario, Kamal Mitra Chenoy, Mona Das, Awadesh, Vimal Bhai, Rajendra Ravi, Kavita Srivastava, Alok Agarwal, Kavita Krishnan, Bhupendra Rawat, S. Lahiri, Simpreet Singh, Om Prakash Sandhu, Nikhil Dey, Rakesh Rafiq, Ranvir Singh Rathor, Shivani Chaudhry, Kamala Yadav and others.