NBA Press Release
  01 January 2006
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

Narmada Valley celebrates Independence Day amidst tragedy: More water released from upstream dams.

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As the people in the Narmada valley celebrated the Independence day on Tuesday in Chikhalda, despite the colossal tragedy of the large scale submergence and displacement, another crisis is underway with the massive release of water from the upstream Tawa and Narmada Sagar dams. About 11,910 cumecs water from NSP was released, increasing the gravity of the submergence.

Thousands of tribal families from Maharashtra, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh villages have to bear the brunt of the submergence, thanks to the active support for the raising height of the Sardar Sarovar dam upto 119 meters, despite the serious violation of the laws and rules. The raised height has caused the unprecedented submergence in the villages in Maharashtra, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. All the claims regarding the magnitude of submergence proved to be false. As one instance shows, Dhankhedi was not supposed to be submerged and within four hours of the assurance from the officials, Bhamta Tadvi's house was submerged and he had to come out from the neck-deep submergence water and all his belongings were washed away. This has been the fate of hundreds of other tribal families.

There has been no help from the government, despite the loud claims by both the Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh governments. Rather the police tried to intimidate the people in leaving the villages. Medha Patkar and villagers observed a dharna and picket in front of police and later against the Deputy Collector on August 8 and 9, for demanding relief and rehabilitation. On the previous day, police 'arrested' about 140 Jeevan shala (schools of Andolan) children and their teachers and activists when the latter protested against unjust submergence.

The submergence waters washed away the celebrated micro-hydel power project which 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 had. A film 'Swades' was based on the project.

In the rehabilitation sites in Gujarat also, monsoon waters inundated the fields and destroyed crops. The water-logging has increased after the canal networks, in many places without adequate drainage, blocked natural drains. In many sites such as Karnet, Thuvavi etc water has entered into the houses! In Maharashtra, the waters entered in the houses in Vadchhil and Javda resettlement sites and one "nullah" burst destroying the houses and sown fields. And as the reports suggest, the Gujarat government has not released waters in the Main canal for the fear of breaches.

Despite all the tragic news, hundreds of people observed Independence Day at the Satyagraha place of Chikhalda, in Nimad (M.P.). They vowed to struggle for the true independence for the farmers and tribals whose rights are trampled with impunity.

Sanjay SAngvai
Medha Patkar