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

Massive Submergence Destroys People's Schools, Micro-Hydel Plants: Govt. Unprepared for Rescue and Relief

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

The massive submergence in the Narmada valley has left the tribal villages devastated and the unprecedented rains have devastated the Madhya Pradesh villages and sent the rivers in spate. The Satyagraha in three places in the valley has been continuing with determination despite the submergence and the tribals in Chimalkhedi gheraoed the police and officials to demand the resettlelement lands and compelled the government record the large scale of destructions of houses, grains, cattle and other belongings along with the damage to the farmlands.

The turbulent submergence waters crossed the 127 meters mark on the dam site on August 7. The impact of such a massive water pondage was felt up to Nimad in Madhya Pradesh, over 120 kms from the dam site. The Rajghat bridge near Badwani was submerged on August 6. The backwaters of Sardar Sarovar dam submerged almost all villages of Maharashtra and the people lost their cattle, grains and saw their valuable belongings washed away in the swirling waters. The backlash of the submergence waters was such that even those villages which were not supposed to submerge, like Savariya in Maharashtra, were either submerged or became islands. The heavy rains have devastated the new resettlement sites in Maharashtra ^ Vadchhil and Javda, where the waters of the nullah entered into the sites.

However there has been no trace of the Government and police help for the submerged people. Rather the police tried to intimidate the people in leaving the villages. Instead the Andolan and its supporters are rushing the food grains, medicines and In Chimalkhedi, on Thursday (August 10), the Satyagrahi tribals stopped the Deputy Collector Mr. Ajay More from Nandurbar district and demanded from him the allocation of the land at Kumbharkhan, near Akkalkuwa. This resettlement at Kumbhakhan could have been done even before the submergence, had the government not dragged its feet from its commitment for the land-based rehabilitation before of the submergence. Medha Patkar and 200 activists observed a dharna in front of police on Aug 8.

On previous day police 'arrested' about 140 children and their teachers and activists when the latter captured the police barge as a mark of protest of unjust submergence. It is obvious that the Maharashtra government has been bluffing on the 'preparations'. In Madhya Pradesh also, the government was nowhere to be seen. In Bhitada or in other villages the government machinery is not at all geared up to face the crisis.

The submergence waters washed away the walls and construction of the well-known micro-hydel power project of Bilgaon in Maharshtra; only the turbines of the plant could tolerate the onslaught of the submergence. The Bilgaon plant has been a model of the self-dependent and decentralized development, initiated by the people themselves with the judicious use of the natural resources they have. The power plant has become a model for the pro-people and environment friendly development, and it is learnt that a Hindi film 'Swades' was based on that.

Rohan
M.K Sukumar
Umesh Patidar