Save The Narmada, Save Humanity! NBA Press Release                                                                                 August 7, 2000

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"Fight For Peace, In A Peaceful way"

Over 500 boys and girls, were a part of the celebrations of the International Peace Day in the Narmada Valley on Sunday (6th August), as they sang the song to protect the Mother Earth from destruction - either by bombs or dams. As a mark of their life with peace and harmony, the first ever book of songs in their own Adivasi language, Pavri was also released on this occasion. Along with the children, about two hundred village representatives and the supporters were present at these celebrations.

On Sunday, August 6, the Satyagraha site of Domkhedi was rustling with the bright faces and vibrant shouts of the Adivasi children and their parents. Most of the students belong to the 'Jeevan-shaalas' (School of Life) run by the Narmada Bachao Andolan in the villages for last nine years. They came from the villages in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh like Nimgavhan, Bharad, Savariya, Jalsindhi, Turkheda etc., affected by the controversial Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP). The programme coincided with the ongoing Satyagraha against the impending submergence and displacement due to the dam.

Along with the school-children came the teachers of these Jeevan Shalas. Keval Singh Vasave, one of the veteran activists in the Narmada movement and a teacher in the Nimgavhan Jeevan shala chaired the function. He explained the propriety of the Peace Day celebrations in the village, confronting the submergence due to the dam. Keval Singh Vasave, made it clear that the dam has been threatening the adivasi society, their harmonious and relatively peaceful way of life. He described in details how enriched their life has been in contrast with the people languishing in the small apartments, slums and footpaths of the cities. He made it clear that, "We grow all type of crops and vegetables, some oilseeds needed for their good life and nutrition and never need hybrid seeds or pesticide and fertilisers. The cattle and poultry supplements our food, the pure air, river water and open vista to live on the plateau and valleys, which must be envy for the townspeople who live a miserable life in the small, dingy houses and surroundings". For him, this life of Peace and Harmony has to be safeguarded and nurtured, developed. Vesta Pawra, another experienced activist from village Sikka compared the dam with the bomb, waiting to be exploded on the lives of Adivasis. 'Like bombs, the dam is for the destruction', he said.

Among the supporters from outside the valley were Dr. Leo Rebello of Amrit Manthan, Dr.Nicky Sushiela Cardozo from Coastal People's Movement, Mr. Hemant Ugale, all from Bombay, Ravi, Aravinda from AID India, Dr. Naresh Dadhich, a scientist from Pune and Mr. Anilkumar and others from Kerala, who are working on Micro Hydel Power generation and presently installing one at Domkhedi, representatives from Samvada, Bangalore.

The peace day programme started with the song and a skit by the children on the dangers of the bombs, other arsenal and how it brings wound to the Mother Earth. While speaking Dr.Leo Rebello, who had been at Hiroshima last year, said that, "even after 55 years of the blast at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, people are still suffering from various ill effect of it reaction". On this occasion, the first ever book in Pavari language was released by Dr.Naresh Dadhich and Sadhana Dadichh. The book published by NBA comprises of village stories written by the Gurujis (teachers) of Jeevanshalas.

While concluding the celebrations Medha Patkar of Narmada Bachao Andolan said that, "the struggle in the Narmada Valley is not only the struggle against unjust and destructive developmental projects but a fight of Peace and happy, enriched life for all, in a peaceful manner".

There was an exhibition of photos showing the destruction caused by the atom-bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and a resolve/oath to fight for peace in a peaceful manner.

Joe Athialy