NBA Press Release
  22 August 2003
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

Official Team of Ministers from the Government of Maharashtra Visits the Narmada Valley for the First Time on August 21.

62, Mahatma Gandhi Road,
Badwani,
Madhya Pradesh - 451551
Tel: 07290-22464
Email: badwani@narmada.org

A team led by Shri R.R. Patil, Rural Development Minister, visited the Maharashtra side of the Narmada Valley on August 21, 2003. He was accompanied by Dr. Vijay Kumar Gavit, Minister for Social Welfare and Public Administration, Member of Legislative Council Mr. Vinayak Mete, Sub Divisional Magistrate Mr. Ajay More from Taloda, a group of officials from Mantralaya, Mumbai, as also officials from the Narmada Valley Development Authority and the Sardar Sarovar Project and others from the Education and Health Departments. Professor Shyam Patil of Dhule, Shri Chinu Srinivasan of PUCL, Baroda, Pratibha Shinde of Punarvasan Sangharsh Samiti and some journalists were also present on this occasion as independent observers.

Sarpanch, Geeta Vasave, welcomed the group at Nimgavhan and Shri Keshav Vasave described the situation that currently exists in the submergence zone of the Narmada Valley in Maharashtra. Bavabhai updated the team on the current situation in M.P. Shri R.R. Patil personally checked and cross-checked the issues raised by Medha Patkar and the Narmada Bachao Andolan .

Education - At the end of his investigations, he ordered the dismissal of the non-performing school teacher of the government school in Nimgavhan. He appreciated the work done by the Jeevanshalas run by the Narmada Bachao Andolan and promised Government support for them via the provision of facilities including uniforms and meals.

Health – The horrendous situation in the valley during the monsoons – the myriad health problems made worse by submergence, convinced the Minister to immediately order the suspension of the government Doctor who was not to be seen in the villages at all. He is to be replaced by a lady doctor who has been treating the people on a voluntary basis ever since the submergence in July, at the behest of the Narmada Bachao Andolan.

Employment –The Minister promised to try and create job opportunities for those being displaced. Chimalkhedi looks as if it was hit by an Earthquake.The team was shocked at the state of havoc in Chimalkhedi, where instead of helping the people to be rehabilitated, the officials in charge of rehabilitation arrested the Project Affected Families and smashed their homes, broke their belongings, submerged the grain that was not yet under water and wrought further devastation in order to force them out of their homes permanently. Before submergence, the cattle were let loose into the fields to eat up the standing crops.

The shocked Minister assured the affected ‘adivasi’ population of Chimalkhedi that he would try and gain justice for them and their families and in no way would the government be able to state that rehabilitation was complete. Having seen things for himself, he would update the others in the Maharashtra government and ensure that false Reports were not relied upon.

Sanjay Sangvai M.K.Sukumar Yogini Khanolkar