NBA Press Release
  24 August 2002
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

Submergence Causes Large Scale Devastation in Narmada Valley; People's Lives Still in Danger; No Further Increase in Dam Height

B-13, Shivam Flats
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The recent submergence due to the Sardar Sarovar dam (SSP), in the Narmada Valley has caused enormous devastation and destruction of the houses and crops of the tribal families in the Narmada Valley. The people in the valley dared the submergence in Jalsindhi, Domkhedi and other villages, and are prepared to face the unjust submergence once again. Despite the unjust submergence due to the increased height of the dam, the Gujarat Chief Minister is shamelessly lobbying for more increase in the height of the dam, as a part of his electoral machination. We expect that Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh governments should not fall prey to the designs of this another anti-people ruse of Modi.

In Gujarat, rising waters have affected large tracts of standing crop in Mokhadi, Antras, Gadher, Turkheda and Hapheshwar. The ancient temple in Hapheshwar is half submerged. Land with standing lush green crop in every tribal village in Alirajpur and Maharashtra is affected, mostly 10-15 acres per affected family in these villages. This means massive loss of standing crops and threat of lurking famine. Titled land is affected in twenty villages in Maharashtra, including Manibeli, Sikka and Domkhedi. Many villages in Akkalkua tehsil are affected from where the details have not yet reached till the time of writing this note. In Madhya Pradesh Jalsindhi, Chikhalda, Bada Amba and Dubkheda of Alirajpur tehsil have lost titled lands. Others have lost non-titled lands. Seven houses in Domkhedi (including the centres of Satyagraha and NBA office) have been submerged and one flew away in Sikka. In Jalsindhi, Luhariabhai's house went under water, together with the Satyagraha house.

The submergence has occurred under the scandalous indifferences of the Madhya Pradesh government to the fate of the tribals. In Jalsindhi, Luhariabhai and his wife from the first house with the youngest child on her arms, braved rising waters ti the waters rose to their necks. In Domkhedi, Boliyabai, Dedlibai, Khiyali, stood in the Satyagraha house supported by adivasi activists Jayanti, Shobha, Tukharam as well as Suhas Kolhekar, Pratibha Shinde, Pravin Shivshankar and Jojo John. They offered resistance by facing the rising waters of Narmada in Satyagraha house till late night on 20th, when the villagers broke open the walls of Satyagraha house and moved them out of the neck deep water to the next house. Once again, when the waters touched Khiyalibai's house, it was announced as Satyagraha house and they stood in the rising waters till the morning of 21st at 8 am the district administration intervened and about 200 strong police force, arrested these 20 people. The Collector did not care to talk with the protesting people about their demands. Even after that another batch of Satyagrahis including Seetarambhai, Mohanbhai and myself, joined and stood in the Satyagraha place and did not move out in the waist deep water. Thereafter the water started receding.

This time the waters have not entered plains of Nimad, in Madhya Pradesh. But if the monsoon brings heavy rainfall in the catchment area, there is every possibility of Nimad villages being affected. The repeat of rising waters bringing unjust and illegal submergence without rehabilitation can occur any time and people are prepared to face that.

Dangerous Modispeak

As a sequel to the ghastly state-sponsored communal carnage in Gujarat, the Chief Minister Narendra Modi is bent on suppressing the vulnerable sections of our people, this time the Adivasis. His attempts for increasing the height of the Sardar Sarovar dam upto 100 meters or 110 meters is fraught with increasing danger for the lives and livelihoods of thousands of more families in the Narmada Valley. When the affected people below 95 meters are still in their original villages without rehabilitation, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh should not fall prey to the cynical game of Narendra Modi. Modi has been indulging in these gimmicks mainly because the future election in Gujarat and we expect Vilasrao Deshmukh and Digvijay Singh not to entertain him and his designs. The propaganda of releasing Narmada waters in Sabarmati is also equally misleading. The Narmada water could have been put into the Sabarmati even without SSP dam through pipelines and other means as is being done now! The people in India and particularly in Gujarat must realise this and defeat the fraudulent ways of Gujarat government.

Medha Patkar, Domkhedi