NBA Press Release
August 16, 2000
Domkhedi Hamlet Self Sufficient in Electricity
Narmada Valley Celebrates the Independence Day with
A Call for the Second Freedom Struggle
Amidst the slogans of hammare gaon me hamara raaj ( our rule in our
village), respected Sarvodayi freedom -fighter, Siddharaj Dhadda unfurled
the national flag in the presence of over seven hundred representatives
from the valley, on the 54th Independence Day of India, August 15. The
adivasis in the Narmada valley, while asserting the right over the natural
resources, took the national oath in their own language, Pavri. The veteran
tribal leader of Narmada Bachao Andolan, Raniya Dahya (elder) Padvi
unfurled the flag of the Narmada Bachao Andolan. On this occasion, the
first ever micro-hydro power project was launched in Dokhedi.
Over three hundred children from the NBA's Jeevanshala (school of life)
participated in this ceremony which took place in the picturesque
Nimagavhan village, surrounded by blue mountains and green forest. The
Nimgavhan village along with over 50 villages in the valley are threatened
with submergence during this monsoon. The Independence Day marked another
major phase in the ongoing Satyagraha (non-violent resistance) against the
unjust and illegal submergence and displacement due to the Sardar Sarovar
The octogenarian freedom fighter Siddharaj Daddha, who was arrested in 1935
for unveiling the Indian flag against the British rule, saw the
Independence day as, "The clarion call for second freedom struggle is
echoing in Narmada as well as other places against the slavery brought in
by the globalisation. The villages which were never found in the maps of
the ruling class, are being submerged for the development of the elite and
when they are asked to sacrifice in the name of National Interest, nobody
took care to open a school for the children or for their primary health,
among other things", he said.
Jeevanshala teacher Girdhar Pavara paid rich tributes to tribal freedom
fighters and martyrs like Khajya Naik, Tantya Bhil, Birsa Munda and others.
Noted balladeers from Gujarat, Charul and Vinay of 'Lok-naad' (People's
Voice) enriched the program with many songs reflecting the struggle and
sacrifice of the people to protect their rights.
Earlier, over 700 people, from the tribal and non tribal affected areas in
Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat alongwith their supporters from
different parts of India took out a rally from the Satyagraha places of
Domkhedi and Jalsindhi early in the morning before the flag hosting and
Children, who gathered in large numbers, performed a skit depicting Mother
India suffering from the ill effects of greed, exploitation, excess of
industriaisation, communalism etc. It concluded with they taking pledge to
protect Mother India.
Children from the school who stood first in the higher exams in higher
standards outside the valley were felicitated during the public meeting.
They said that they have seen in cities many things, which normally is
called development, which brings in violence and dishonesty and never had
the peace of their villages. They assured the gathering that once they
finish their studies, they would come back and work for the true
development of their village.
Two teachers, who are supposedly running government schools in the
villages, visited the place during this time. Villagers questioned them
about their schools and their pupil. In the past one year this is the first
time they were seen by anybody in the villages, even after drawing a salary
of Rs.5900 every month from the education department. They even didn't know
the tribal language to communicate and instead were assigned the job by
Maharashtra government to teach English from the first standard. In
Jeevanshala, the preference and the place of dignity is given to the
people's own language, Pavri, over Marathi, the state language.
Micro Hydel Project Inaugurated
The Patel (village headman) of Domkhedi, Uliyabhai and Siddharaj Daddha
inaugurated the micro hydel project in Domkhedi village. During his speech,
Shri. Daddha said, "Gandhiji was not against machines but was against
subordination of human to the machines. He preferred the small scale
machines like cycle and sewing machine, which people can operate on their
own and which are not energy and capital intensive, caused little
disturbance in nature." Thus Domkhedi is credited to be the first village
in Narmada Valley which produces electricity for their own consumption.
Energy experts, Anil Kumar and Madhu from the 'People's School of Energy',
Kerala, applauded the determination and hard work of the people in making
this a reality. Two full time activists of NBA Chogalal Dawar and Champalal
Avasiya from the affected villages, who have taken special training in the
micro hydel projects, were also fully involved with the construction of the
project. Addressing the gathering Anil said about the need to protect
forest to save the small rivulets and only by that the village can be self
sufficient in power and irrigation.