Save The Narmada, Save Humanity! NBA Press Release                                                                                 August 14, 2000

First Ever Micro Hydel Project in Narmada Valley to Start On August 15th, As a Part of the Struggle Against the Mega-dams

While challenging the gigantic project like the Sardar Sarovar dam and the present development paradigm that only mega projects are viable to meet the needs of the people, a Micro Hydel project will start functioning in a hamlet in Narmada valley from the Independence Day of this year (Aug.15th) onwards.A micro-hydel project with an installed capacity of 300 watts will be inaugurated at the Satyagraha Centre at Domkhedi on August 15th at the hands of the main village activists, while veteran Sarodayi leader, Siddharaj Dhadda will be the chief guest at this occassion.

It will provide lights in every house (about 10 houses) at Kutaini-pada (hamlet) at Domkhedi, provided by a turbine generator made in Kerala by 'Peoples School of Energy' (PSE) group that costs Rs.15,000 including accessories. The people in the valley will be observing the Independence Day as a day towards Real Freedom.

Micro-Hydel:

In the rainy season small mountain streams near the village, running with flow of 1-3 Lt/sec., are guided by pipes installed along a hillock with 28 meters drop that provides the head to turn the generator throughout the day.

In the post monsoon season or when there is a dry spell the streams dry up, and water oozes out of the ground at a very slow rate of only 1 litre in 5 seconds. A check dam of 80 cm height has been built so as to collect this water every day. In the night the water collected is released in 3.5 hours through the same pipes and this drives the generator for lighting needs of the hamlet between 7.00 p.m. to 10.00 p.m. Thus the micro-hydel project will even be operated for 5 post monsoon months or so when there is just a trickle. Energy experts Anilkumar and Madhu who have installed 10 such micro-hydel projects in Kerala are constructing bunds to check the flow of water and prevent soil erosion in the water shed area of the stream. Due to these bunds the water will flow down the hill, thereby giving it more time to trickle into the ground. The ground waters thus recharged is expected to provide a perennial flow for the micro-hydel project in 1-2 years.

The people of Domkhedi are thrilled and build the project themselves along with those who have come to the Satyagraha in solidarity with the NBA. The masons are from the Nimad area in M.P., that is also threatened by the SSP. Not even a person, or any amount of agricultural land or forest will be submerged in this project. In contrast, Sardar Sarovar Project and similar big dams in the Narmada Valley will displace millions of people and submerge thousands of hectares of prime agricultural land and forests. Centralised production of electricity through big hydel and thermal project not only causes social and environmental destruction, but also the distribution of costs and benefits violate basic human rights and ideals of equity. Thus 55 years after independence we still have tens of thousands (currently a lakh) of villages with no electricity, 60% of rural households does not have electricity. Many a times, there are remote villages in hilly tribal areas like Domkhedi in the Narmada valley where people themselves are generating their own electricity while fighting the destructive Sardar Sarovar dam being built by affecting 1 million (affected by reservoir, canal, colony, sanctuary, afforestation, downstream-affected etc).

Another feature of this project is that since Aug. 10th it is bringing drinking water to the door steps of the Domklhedi residents. Women used to walk over half a kilometer every day up and down the hills carrying the water for their families. In the monsoon the Narmada water is very muddy and this is a pleasant change for everyone. Now the clear stream water flows to their house through the pipe. In the last few weeks there has been very little rain and the water from the micro hydel project is being diverted to the fields. This is possible due to the check dam and the 8 m head that the hills naturally provide.

Such micro-hydel projects can be installed in many villages of the tribal areas of Narmada valley by the village people, because small trickles of water and scopes of the hills are all that it needs. A survey is being conducted by NBA in Nimgavan and Sikka where the next micro hydel projects are planned.

The NBA Satyagraha this year is focussing on several nav-nirman (constructive) activities, along with opposing the unjust submergence and inhuman and irrevocable destruction the dam will cause. A pedal power generator with an installed capacity of 70 w is providing 3 lights since two months. 15-20 minute pedalling in the daytime runs a CFL for 1 hour in the night.

Towards New Freedom

Veteran Sarvodaya (Gandhian) activist and former minister in Rajasthan government, Shri. Siddharaj Daddha will be the chief guest in the programs related to the Independence Day, celebrated as " Towards New Freedom". Well known balladeers from Gujarat, Charul and Vinay of 'Lok-naad' (People's voice) will also be there. Smt.Suniti, editor of Marathi magazine 'Andolan', Philip Mathew (Tamilnadu), activists working in the field of water management in Karnataka, Neju George and Vargheese Koshy and others have also reached the valley.

Narmada Satyagraha 2000, which is completing one full month on August 15th, will be further intensified in the coming days, with a variety of activities and programs in the coming days. People are determined to face the rising waters, which will destroy their lives and livelihood.

M.K.Sukumar
Joe Athialy