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NBA Press Release                                 24th August, 1999

The Satyagraha in the Narmada valley intensifies: Road Block at Rajghat bridge.

The Satyagraha in the Narmada valley intensifies as people of Nimad blocked the Baroda - Khandwa high way at Rajghat from early morning of 24.8.99 till 8.00 in the evening. More than 150 villages of Nimad are threatened by submergence through Sardar Sarovar Project, some of them in this monsoon itself. The Satyagraha to protest this submergence has been going on in the Narmada Valley since June 20th at Jalsindhi village in Madhya Pradesh and Domkhedi village in Maharashtra. To intensify the protest and to assert that people will continue to fight to save their lands and homes and villages men, women and children assembled at Rajghat bridge near Chikalda village and blocked the state highway. The people demanded that the Madhya Pradesh government should change its position on the Sardar Sarovar Project and demand complete stoppage and review of the project.

The largest submergence falls in the state of Madhya Pradesh with 193 villages to be submerged by Sardar Sarovar Project alone. The Madhya Pradesh government has no facility whatsoever to rehabilitate more than 30 thousand families affected in their state. The people of Nimad have been fighting or waging a non-violent struggle for 14 years now. The government of Madhya Pradesh in its response have demanded a reduction of the Sardar Sarovar dam height by 19 feet. This is totally unacceptable to the people of Nimad and today once again by blocking the state highway the people again declared their determination to fight tooth and nail for the protection of their right to life.

Many local leaders of the area and supporters of Narmada Bachao Andolan were present in this program. The assembly of people was addressed by Ratansingh Chowgde, Ashish Mandloi, Govind Patidar, Devendra Singh Thomal and Dr.Sugant Bharant. It was also declared by the people that if the Madhya Pradesh government allows any further increase in the height of the dam the people will further intensify their struggle by protesting against the government offices in the region. In a memorandum to the collector people also expressed anguish at the illegal submergence of fields and homes of more 25 villages on 10th and 11th of August. At Domkhedi, Tribal people, supporters and Medha Patkar stood in chest deep water for 18 hours with the determination to drown but not move. At Jalsindhi the rising waters caused devastation of fields and people Jalsindhi Satyagraha house continued to sit as the water rose to touch the Satyagraha house. The people have also demanded compensation for the damage caused due to this illegal submergence.

The Narmada Bachao Andolan expresses gratitude to all those who helped in making this program successful and also expresses regrets for the inconvenience caused to general public.

Rehmat