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

Adivasis on Fast- First Phase of Satyagraha Begins;
Police Brutality and Maharashtra Government's Injustice Exposed


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

Giving false claims in May 2003 that all people displaced by the Sardar Sarovar Dam had been rehabilitated, the Gujarat government, along with the governments of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra gave clearance to raise the dam height to 100 metres + 3 metres (humps), and by now this construction has been completed. But this month, submergence has hit the Narmada valley, inundating homes and fields of several families, and exposing the lies of the governments. When the waters rose in the third Maharashtra village from the dam site, Chimalkhedi, police went in with full force and arrested 74 people, including the women and children of the village. Before they were released from jail and returned to their village, the government took some laborers from Gujarat and broke 20 houses in Chimalkhedi. After illegally pushing the dam height ahead, the government now wants to empty out the village using brute force. The Andolan greatly condemns this action, and at the same time, announces that the Satyagraha now begins in Chimalkhedi today. The adivasi brothers and sisters of Chimalkhedi return to their village today to face the next tough stage of struggle.

The Maharashtra Government-appointed Task Force reveals that at 100 metres height, the number of families who are affected but not yet resettled and are in their original village, is more than 1500 in Maharashtra. About 50 of these families are in Chimalkhedi, of which some are declared (their names are in the government's list) while others are still undeclared (names not in the government's list), but according to the Maharashtra Cabinet and other documents, they all need to be rehabilitated fairly. Per the Narmada Tribunal Award and the Supreme Court verdict, oustees must be rehabilitated six months before impending submergence. But through this illegal submergence, the government hopes that people will get scared and flee. The people of Chimalkhedi remained strong even when a sea-like submergence marooned them; they went to the Tehsil office at Akkalkua where they held a program. They were arrested, and beaten during the arrest. Now, their houses have been demolished. All of this very clearly shows the government's cowardice. If the government claims that all people affected at 100 metres height of Sardar Sarovar Project are rehabilitated, then why are they scared when houses get submerged and people still live there? How and why do they turn a blind eye to the rights to land and life as the adivasi displaced people claim? Demanding the answers to these questions, the Andolan has now moved to its next phase- the Satyagraha will begin from today.

In June, the Maharashtra government accepted all demands, but are yet to bring out an official Government Resolution (GR) to that effect. In this situation, the adivasis have not been able to bear the illegal submergence brought upon them, and have decided to fast. The relay fast has begun in Nimgavan in Akrani tehsil (Nandurbar district) and Chimalkhedi in Akkalkuwa tehsil (Nandurbar district). Today in Chimalkhedi, the fast was begun by Bijya Juya and Savita Vasave for 24 hours. Like the Andolan announced in its August 2nd Nandurbar dharna, if by the next submergence the government does not prepare the necessary GRA and resolve the resettlement conflict, then the Andolan will take the next step of the Satyagraha. The upcoming submergence will submerge even more homes and fields than the last one. Before deciding its next step, the Andolan gives another warning to the government that it use empathy not brute force, and treat adivasis with respect and understand their legal responsibility. They should join together with the people fighting for justice. We request all compassionate, citizens of this country to join the struggle with us.

Kirsingh Padve
Kevalsingh Vasave
Chetan Salve
Medha Patkar