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NBA Press Release                                 13th August, 1999

SSP BACKWATERS DESTROY FAMRS AND HOUSES: PROTESTS AGAINST THE SUBMERGENCE IN MANY PARTS OF COUNTRY
Arundhati Roy Joins Satyagraha At Jalsindhi : Medha and Others Back At Domkhedi Satyagraha Place

The rising backwaters of the controversial Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) in the Narmada valley has submerged hundreds of farms of tribals with standing crops and houses. The entire livelihood of hundreds of project affected famiies has been destroyed even when they did not move out and resisted the atempts to unjustly displace them. The Satyagraha against the submergence and displacement has been continuing despite the rising waters and police crackdown.

After being released by the Maharashtra Government, the sixty two villagers and activists including Ranya Padvi, Medha Patkar, Devram Kanera and Daldlya Karbhari were back at the Satyagraha place in Domkhedi. In fact, the sayagraha continued in the village despite the police action on August 11, as the next batch of satyagrahis stood in the knee high water. Meanwhile, noted author Arundhati Roy too participated in the Satyagraha at Jalsindhi. She rushed from Delhi to Jalsindhi via Indore, Badwani and Kakrana alongwith NBA's Chittaroopa Palit and filmmaker Anurag Singh. The water has been decreasing in these villages, leaving a number of houses and farms submerged. Wednesday's (11th) flooding submerged four houses in Pipalchp, two in Bharad, two in Sikka (all in Maharashtra), according to the primary observations. The Andolan has been conducting a detailed survey of the effects of the submergence.

In this context, the assertions by the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam, that there would be marginal submergence, is a trivialisation of the serious issue of the submergence, displacement and the height of the dam. According to him, the submergence would have no significant impact in the villages this year, while the reality is that the minor floods have caused the destruction of number of houses and farms on August 10-11. What must have happened in the villages downstream of Jalsindhi and Domkhedi has yet to be fully assessed. It is keeping with the dam builders' approach to trivialise the human and social cost to justify the dam.

Protests

Meanwhile, there were protests in different parts of India against the unjust submergence and callousness of the government in responding to the crisis. In Calcutta, a number of prominent persons from academic and art circles alongwith various organisations registered their protest. The Calutta organisations related with National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM) would hold a series of programmes to highlight the injustice in the Narmada matter. Similarly, a number of protest programmes took place in a number of places, including Thrissur, Ernakulam were organised by various organisations. Many former judges of High Court and jurists have written to the President of India about the injustice and that is being done in case of the tribals' and peasants rights and resources and asked him to intervene to protect the tribals' life as per the powers that are given to him in the Constitution. Similarly, in Bangalore, youth organisations and other constituents of NAPM took out a rally condemning the submergence and demanding the immediate review of the project. In Mumbai, number of organisations including representatives of NAPM, Samajwadi Jan Parishad, Rashtriya Yuva Sangathan, Mumbai Sarvodaya Mandal and Girni Kamgar Sangharsha Samiti and other social activists participated in the demonstrations near Churchgate station.They condemned the attitude of Maharashtra government in allowing increase in the height of the dam and more submergence.

Sanjay Sangvai