NBA Press Release
  16 August 2001
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

Jeevan Yatra Flagged off from Narmada banks
SOS from Children of Narmada Valley to the President

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Octogenarian social activist Sadhana Amte blessed and flagged off the Jeevan Yatra from village Kasaravad, on the banks of river Narmada. About 70 children representing the thousands of children of Narmada valley, whose houses and fields will submerge in this monsoon in the monstrous Sardar Sarovar and Maan Dams, are travelling to Delhi to meet the President of India. This is to demand that the homes, schools and fields of the villages of Narmada Valley, be saved.

Along with the men and women of the Narmada valley children have always been integral part of the struggle and effort to challenge injustice and save the valley from devastation. This monsoon brings the threat of submerging Jeevan Shalas - schools started and run by the Narmada Bachao Andolan. Jeevan Shalas symbolize Valley's aspiration for sustainable and equitable society; hope for the future... It is in this context that the 'Jeevan Yatra' of the children becomes significant.

The children of 'Jeevan Shalas' (schools set up in the valley with local expertise and innovative syllabus) will travel from the Satyagraha venues to Delhi proclaiming their right to childhood, education and life itself. The children will invite the President of India to visit the valley and see for himself the truth. They will present him children's manifesto together with a 'basket of life' containing symbolic representation of all that the valley holds dear, and may lose forever.

Travelling via Indore, Bhopal, Gwaliar (Madhya Pradesh) and Mathura (Uttar Pradesh), the Yatra will reach Delhi on the 21st and return to valley on the 29th August via Jaipur, Bisalpur and Udaipur (Rajasthan).

The Supreme Court verdict of Oct. 2000 has spelled a death knell for the valley. Raising the height of the dam from 85 to 93 mts. (including the 3 mts. of humps) has put at least 5000 families, 11 Jeevan Shalas and the entire tribal belt in danger of submergence without any provision for rehabilitation, in this monsoon. Out of over 44,000 families to be affected by the reservoir less than 20 % have been relocated in last 20 years. Many displaced some 10 years back have uncultivable, less or no agricultural land at all. It has been demonstrated time and again that rehabilitation of all the people affected by the dam is impossible. Forcing people out of their homes and villages, without ensuring rehabilitation is not just illegal, but utterly inhuman.

Joe Athialy