NBA Press Release
  12 August 2004
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

SARDAR SAROVAR WREAKS HAVOC IN TRIBAL VILLAGES :
MAH. GOVT DOES VERY LITTLE: M.P.GOVT. DOESN'T MOVE

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

"The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh is reported to be coming to Sardar Sarovar dam site for launching the so-called hydro-power component of the dam. The Sardar Sarovar dam carries the tears and blood of the thousands of tribals and farmers displaced and made destitute by this project. Instead he and other ministers must first care about the people and their rights and come to the Narmada valley and assess the situation independently", appealed the people in the Narmada valley in a meeting held in Badwani on August 11 ( Wednesday), as the floodwaters rose upto 114 meters on the Sardar Sarovar dam, destroying hundreds of houses and farms in the tribal villages in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.

"The fateful submergence in the Narmada valley has destroyed the lives and resources of thousands of tribal and farmers families. The Prime Minister, who is committed to the human face of development, must not legitimize such a project based on large scale repression and outright violation of human rights and thereby legitimize the misdeeds of the infamous governments of Narendra Modi government of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh government headed by Uma Bharati. Besides the so called hydro-power units are so insignificant that they could hardly produce the electricity upto 30 megawatts", contended Medha Patkar of Narmada Bachao Andolan, as the organization was preparing for next action after the large scale submergence, which submerged all villages in Maharashtra and parts of tribal villages in Madhya Pradesh.

Thousands of tribals are destitute and are facing submergence. The swirling waters of the Narmada has reached upto 113 meters on the Sardar Sarovar dam site by the morning of August 5, submerging and devastating almost all the tribal villages in Gujarat and Maharashtra along with several villages in Madhya Pradesh. Villages including Manibeli, Dhankhedi, Chimalkhedi, Bharad, Domkhedi, Nimgavhan, Bilgaon and Bhadal alongwith the Madhya Pradesh villages like Jalsindhi, Anjanwara were fully or partially submrged and water entered in Bilgaon, Kakrana and other villages of Sodul stretch in M.P.by August 9. The four Jeevan Shalas (schools) Manibeli, Bharad, Bhadal and Danel also were submerged.

The Maharashtra government failed to provide resettlement nor had shifted the affected people before the submergence. All that the Maharashtra police did was to arrest the people in some villages and cramped them in dingy and wet sheds with water running ankle deep. Their condition is still miserable, as there are no medical services as people are facing outbreak of diseases, nor they have any food and housing. The Nandurbar district administration has started moving as late as on August 10. As the rising dam waters assumed proportion of a tornado, and all one could see unending sea-like water, there was no trace of any government assistance or even empathy. While the Bharad people had to fend for themselves in the presence of the police who stood as rather enjoying the plight of the people, in Nimgavhan they were relishing a game of cricket. Otherwise the police was busy in arresting the people in deliberately in fours and sixes, to dissipate the unified effect and avoid any responsibility. It is not providing any food-help for the distressed people. Whatever food-grains were distributed was through Andolan's own efforts.

The government is also not providing the barge- the large boats as only means to enter into the sea-like waters of Narmada for an access into the Maharashtra villages. Obviously, the Maharashtra government has been indulging in outright falsehood by claiming that all people have been shifted to safer places. Nandurbar district administration has very slowly started any process of `declaring' the oustees as `affected persons' and purchasing the cultivable land for their resettlement after the five-day dharna at Shahada (August 1-5). There are instances of large scale corruption. The people who lost their crops and houses in last year's submergence were not given any cash compensation despite the assurances by the government.

Madhya Pradesh

And though Madhya Pradesh has largest number of the people those will be hit by the submergence, the Uma Bharati government is not taking any cognizance of the tragedy at all. Hundreds of oustees from Anjanwara and several other villages in Alirajpur block in M.P., made the Resettlement officer and other officials on August 10, at Kakrana, to check the lists and found out large-scale discrepancies and fundamental flaws. Names of over 1000 people were not included as oustees and there over 580 tribals were given uncultivable land. was no preparation for land based rehabilitation. They opposed the so called ex-parte allocation of lands. The District Collector of Jhabua one Mr. A.K.Bhatt did not have the patience to wait for the people. The submergence and lack of rehabilitation is causing untold miseries to the people - as increase in diseases like gastroenteritis and viral and water-borne diseases; the mobility is hampered as the paths and roads were cut along with lack of food. People demanded the mobile dispensaries, ration shops and river-barges for transport, and of all the resettlement with cultivable land on the war footing. Like their brethren in Maharashtra, the Madhya Pradesh people are preparing for arduous struggle for their rights and resources.

Chetan Salve
Kailash Awasiya
Ashish Mandloi
Deepti Bhatnagar