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

Maharashtra Administration Balks Despite Submergence Minister's Orders:
Tribals Launch Dharna at Shahada Facing Heavy Rains

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Close on the heels of the recently concluded dharna in Mumbai, the tribals in the Narmada valley are forced to undertake yet again a protest action, this time from August 2 , opposite the block office in Shahada (Dist Nandurbar, Maharashtra). Hundreds of tribals are braving the rains to demand expedite the sluggish resettlement process and complete the land purchase and declaring hundreds of tribals as "oustees". The dharna continued on August 5 (Tuesday).

The incessant rains along with the increased height of the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) has caused large-scale submergence in the tribal villages of the Narmada valley and yet the Maharashtra administration has been deliberately sluggish in the resettlement process, thereby endangering the life and rights of hundreds of tribal families. This is being done despite the specific assurances and orders given by the state Resettlement Minister Mr. Patangrao Kadam, on June 14-15, particularly for expediting the process of declaring hitherto "undeclared" oustees with minimal necessary evidence and procuring the cultivable land for resettling before the onset of monsoon.
However, despite the minister's orders, the process of declaring the affected villagers as oustees is still way behind, as the claims of almost 2/3 of the affected people are still remain to be assessed. The officials have been rejecting the claims on small pretexts. While the swirling water is engulfing the villages, the officials are still to procure the land even for the already "declared" oustees. The tribals had already chosen the lands at Vadchhil and Jawada, nearly a week ago. But the officials have yet not started the process of purchasing the land and distributing it among the oustees. This would result further destitution of the people as they will not be in a position to cultivate the land and stand on their own. The state administration has also not disbursed the compensation for the losses the people had to encumber due to the submergence without resettlement for last five years. Though the minister assured that the compensation would be delivered the next day , the Akkalkuwa officials maintain that they have not received any written orders from above. Thus the people are left again in the lurch.

The submergence water has entered in the tribal villages in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, including the Jeevan Shalas (village schools run by the Narmada Bachao Andolan). And hundred of villagers, including the activist Medha Patkar, Yogini, Geetanjali, Noorji and others are continuing their dharna in Shahada. It is yet another sad instance how the people have to face the tedious and humiliating process and the lethargy, arrogance of power and inefficiency of the establishment.

The Andolan appealed to the Maharashtra government not to test the patience and bring the oustees at the end of their nerves. It asked Mr. Patanga Rao Kadam, the Rehabilitation Minister to immediately intervene in the stalemate and expdite the resettlement process and justice to the tribals and farmers in the valley.

Sanjay Sangvai