NBA Press Release
  06 December 2004
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

Tribal villages in Sardar Sarovar Submerged as Floods Reach 113 m.; Miserable Condition as Babudom Continues with Game of Deception

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

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 and Bhadal alongwith the Madhya Pradesh villages like Jalsindhi and water entered in Bilgaon, Kakrana and other villages by Wednesday (Aug.5 ) morning. The four Jeevan Shalas (schools) Manibeli, Bharad, Bhadal and Danel also were submerged alongwith hundreds of houses and farms. Even the tin-sheds were engulfed into the raging waters. The Maharashtra government failed to provide resettlement nor had shifted them before the submergence. The people are facing the submergence, as their lands became tapu (island) for over a week. All that the Maharashtra police did was to arrest the people in some villages and kept in open, without any shed. The condition is miserable, as there are no medical services as people are facing outbreak of diseases, nor they have any food and housing.

Thus all the governments, their police, financiers, political parties and vested interests have drowned yet another tribal tract in India, with its houses, farms, its history and life, making its people destitute. Even at this juncture, the Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh governments are dodging their responsibility to resettle the people. The Madhya Pradesh government has already washed its hands from any kind of land-based resettlement of its own people, while the Maharashtra administration has been deliberately dragging its feet from resettling the people. Next in line are the well-settled villages in fertile plains of Nimad in Madhya Pradesh. Here too the Uma Bharati government has washed off its hands from any responsibility or accountability.

In Maharashtra, the Nandurbar district administration has virtually stopped any process of ‘declaring’ the oustees as ‘affected persons’ and purchasing the cultivable land for their resettlement. 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. The government did not respond to the five day long dharna by the tribals at Shahada, launched on August 1, demanding resettlement process to be completed on war footing. The Maharashtra officials are deliberately avoiding to take any cognizance of the gravity of the matter. It was clear as the Divisional Commissioner Mr. Gajbhiye did not see it fit to try to have a dialogue on this issue with the protestors even as he was in district headquarters Nandurbar for the entire day having series of meetings on various other issues except the resettlement.

On August 5, the Deputy Collector called on the activists and assured them to sort out the matter within 6 weeks. Though the people were not satisfied with mere assurance, the submergence and the miserable condition of the people facing submergence made them to conclude Shahada action and rush for the villages. Activists including Medha Patkar, Noorji Padvi, Chetan, Geetanjali, Yogini left immediately for the submerged villages and distressed people immediately.

Meanwhile, heavy rains have caused large scale damages in the main canal as it submerged over 700 houses in villages like Bhorda and others. The floodwaters of Hiran river entered in Narmada canal and wrecked it may places.

Philip Mathew
Sanjay Sangvai