NBA Press Release
  05 August 2006
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

THOUSANDS BRAVE HEAVY RAINS TO LAUNCH NARMADA SATYAGRAHA: ALL SET FOR PROTRACTED STRUGGLE

62, Mahatma Gandhi Road,
Badwani,
Madhya Pradesh - 451551
Tel: 07290-222464
Email: badwani[at]narmada.org

Mohini Giri, L.C. Jain, Yogendra Yadav, Shabnam Hashmi Extend Support

Even as the swirling waters of the Sardar Sarovar project is threatening the villages in the Narmada valley, over 3000 farmers and Adivasis braved the heavy rains, launched the Satyagraha against unjust submergence and displacement on Saturday (August 5) at Rajghat, near Badwani, Madhya Pradesh. Despite betrayal by the government and other institutions of democracy, they resolved to continue and strengthen their struggle for justice. Similarly, Satyagraha will be launched at Bhitada (District Jhabua, Madhya Pradesh) on August 6th and at Chimalkhedi (Maharashtra) on August 7th.

Despite the heavy rains, thousands of people came to Badwani, took out a rally and came to Rajghat on the banks of the Narmada. They were joined by the supporters and fraternal organizations from various states including Gujarat, Tamilnadu, Kerala, U.P., W.Bengal, Delhi and other states. The people decried the deliberate tactics by the Prime Minister's office and other bureaucrats to illegally increase the height of the dam and impose the submergence over 1,00,000 people during this monsoon, despite knowing the fact that at least 35,000 families need to be resettled with land for land before any such height increase. They also wondered about the Supreme Court's attitude of keeping mum on the outright violation of law, constitution and its own orders. Prominent activists like Keshav Vasave, Kamla Yadav, Jagannath Kaka, Bawabhai along with Medha Patkar and supporters like educationist Dr. Anil Sadgopal, Shri S.C. Behar, former Madhya Pradesh Chief Secretary exposed the fraud played by Union and State governments on the lives of thousands of people.

People ridiculed the totally false, dishonest and unprofessional report by the Oversight Group (OSG) appointed by the Prime Minister. Medha Patkar made it clear that " It is a joint offensive by the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), the corporate powers and multilateral financial agencies, to defeat the struggle by the Narmada valley's people, to push forth the larger neo-liberal agenda of corporatization of water, land and forests, including the controversial projects like river inter-linking and the special economic zones".

Keshav Vasave pointed out that not only the Madhya Pradesh government, but Maharashtra government too failed to provide any decent and legal resettlement to the tribal oustees in the state. "In the first rains itself, resettlement sites of Javda and Vadchhil in Maharashtra are inundated. There are no basic services like drinking water, fodder, fuel, cultivable land, protection from rains in these places. We are cheated and live a life of a destitute". The fields of Thuvavi, Parveta, Kamboikua and many other resettlement sites in Gujarat, more than ten to fifteen years old, are facing water-logging and crop loss during monsoon, for the last few years. Dr. Anil Sadgopal, while taking a dig at the OSG (Shunglu Committee) report, pointed out that even this committee had to admit that at least 25,000 families need to be resettled. This shows the enormity of the democratic and human rights violation that the Central government, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh governments are resorting to push ahead the dam.

Support from Delhi

Leading jurists, academicians, journalists and social-political activists including Dr. Mohini Giri, Kamla Bhasin, Shabnam Hashmi, Dr. L.C. Jain, Swami Agnivesh, Prof. Manoranjan Mohanty, Kamal Mitra-Chenoy, Yogendra Yadav, Kuldip Nayar, Thomas Kocherry, Nandini Sundar, Qamar Agha, Prashant Bhushan, Pamela Philipose, Praful Bidwai, Anand Patwardhan, Anil Choudhary, Achin Vanaik, Jai Sen and others extended support to the Satyagraha and expressed concern over "the increasing violation of human rights in the Narmada valley, due to the construction of Sardar Sarovar dam... We are saddened to note that the dam officials misguided the Supreme Court and the Prime Minister on the status of rehabilitation to get the dam going. We request the concerned authorities to hold these officials accountable for such gross callousness". While, at the same time the first bout of floods in the Narmada valley have fully encircled the legendary Manibeli village in the swirling waters of Sardar Sarovar dam on August 3 (Thursday). The impact was felt down to a hundred and fifty kilometers back in the fertile plains of Nimad. Thousands of people in the villages have not moved their houses or the government has not reached to these villages. The claims of compensation by the Maharashtra government are false. Meanwhile, despite heavy rains and agricultural work, the villagers are preparing for a long drawn struggle against the submergence and eviction and displacement. They are keeping vigil on the submergence and are ready to face that.

Ashish Mandloi
Rohan Joshi
Geetanjali
M.K. Sukumar