NBA Press Release
  01 August 2007
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

Fourth day of dharna in Badwani; medha begins fast in jail

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

Hundreds of adivasis and farmers filled the Badwani Court Hall and campus on 1st August as Medha Patkar was produced in Court from Indore Jail where she is presently detained. While she and Ashish Mandloi were granted bail on one pending matter due to which Ashish Mandloi was released, Medha Patkar was returned to Indore Jail and scheduled to appear in Court again on 3rd August in another matter where she is charged, among others, of causing damage to government property and government officials.

It is a matter of shame that such unbelievable and audacious charges are being framed against Medha Patkar by the government. These charges are in regard to a case filed against her and others in 2002. It is now plain and simple that the authorities are eager to ensure that she remains in jail for as long as possible, in yet another desperate attempt to repress the Narmada Bachao Andolan. Medha Patkar has begun a hunger strike since last evening protesting the brutal police arrest and in support of the demands being made in the Zameen Hak Satyagraha.

Meanwhile the Zameen Hak Satyagraha, which began on 13th July with land occupation in Taloon, followed by the arrest of people on 25th, is now continuing for the 4th day as dharna in Badwani, with hundreds of adivasis, farmers and fishworkers. The women who were released from Indore jail on July 31st evening, along with all others in the dharna, gheraoed the Badwani police station and filed a complaint seeking immediate investigation and action against the police for the violence and atrocities committed against the women during the arrest.

Click here for a slide show of scenes from Taloon land occupation site. Once you enter the page, just click 'play'.

Background note:

‘Zameen Hak’ (Land Rights) Satyagraha – Land Occupation Action from July 13th

The SARDAR SAROVAR affected families have begun the ‘Zameen Haq’ Satyagraha in Madhya Pradesh on July 13th demanding land-for-land rehabilitation instead of cash compensation and declaration of all those who are kept out of the list. Hundreds of affected adivasis and other farmers, including river-bed cultivators, have occupied 100 acres of government land in Taloon, reserved for seed farm, in Badwani district, Madhya Pradesh as an expression of a well known principle: expropriators must be expropriated. The Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal Award, The Supreme Court orders, Constitutional rights of citizens, all stand violated as submergence without rehabilitation continue to happen in the valley, year after year. 22 years of persistent struggle by NBA has achieved much in terms of rehabilitation and without struggle, the remaining populations will not get their due, especially in Madhya Pradesh.

Rationale:

We can't remain silent and peaceful anymore, when more than 2 lakh people are still residing in the submergence area of Sardar Sarovar Dam alone. When the state is callous and ready to drown us, we can't merely protest through this Satyagraha but also acquire what is our due. It's obvious that in spite of Special Rehabilitation Package (SRP), land for 11,000 families, 90 resettlement sites, right to 5 acres of land for each major son of affected family, which SSP-affected could seek through long struggle of past 22 years, much remains to be done and attained. No appropriate and sufficient land is in sight and hence the adivasis in the hilly areas who are determined to get land for land as their right, including mostly those who led the struggle with commitment and vision that is known to the world and all of us. The fight has to be on.

Main Demands:

1. Land-based rehabilitation for the dam-affected families. More than 2 lakh people still remain in the submergence area. 2. Adivasis already affected at 122 meters should be immediately given land-based rehabilitation. 3. Let the Dam be stayed at 122 meters. 4. Cancellation of Special Rehabilitation Package as it is illegal. 5. Take action against officials involved in Corruption while distributing Land and Cash. 6. Action against Violation of Law (NWDTA and SC orders), Contempt of Court through false affidavits.

Events leading up to the Satyagraha:

On July 4th, people had met the Collector Badwani. The issue of unjust displacement was once again raised during the big rally in Badwani. After more than an hour of road blockade, the people met the Badwani District Collector and expressed their concerns. Many new areas may be affected this year as the dam stands at 122 meters and the submergence may be unpredictable as the contour surveys were found to be incorrect in many places. With heavy rains expected during this monsoon, it is a dangerous situation as people already affected are not yet shifted, as either resettlement sites are not yet ready, unsuitable, far from the agricultural lands or families have not yet been declared.

On 5th July, the people affected from Sardar Sarovar, Omkareshwar, Indira Sagar to Bargi dams met the Governor of M.P. Dr. Balram Jhakar in Bhopal. He called the struggling displaced people as ‘freedom fighters’ of modern India, who are fighting for their lands and resources, which have been snatched away by State in the name of the so called development. He also took note of the huge corruption involved in the resettlement process (ref. Note on Land Scam circulated on July 3rd)

On July 10th, the adivasis in Alirajpur tehsil had earlier met the Collector of Jhabua (M.P.) who has called a meeting to discuss allotment of private lands to the Project Affected Families (PAFs). About 500 families still remain in these 26 villages, half of whom are still undeclared! The gross violation of their legal and human rights have not yet been considered.

Day to day Happenings:

July13th, SSP-affected people occupy government lands in Taloon, near Badwani

July 14th, 50 acres have been measured and divided among more than hundred families and they have started co-operative farming. 5 acres are set apart for fisherfolk families who were doing river-bed cultivation. Khajanbhai and Vesta Dediya of Anjanwada, Ratanbhai of Sugat, Surban of Kakrana, Gokhru of Karya Badal, Kuman Singh of Bhitada and scores of others are determined to assert their right to life and land and send a message across to the insensitive authorities. Madubhai of Chikhalda and others have joined them as Nimad and Adivasi areas together initiate this land occupation action, integral to Satyagraha.

Movement of the slum displaced from Mumbai, Nandurbar - Maharashtra, Indore (M.P.) sent their representatives to extend their support.

July 15th, the Collector, Badwani gave a statement that case will be filed against 17 persons on charges of violation of law and order and illegal occupation! On the other hand, the farmers and peasants in Nimad have filed hundreds of applications at the Satyagraha site regarding the motor pumps which got submerged and destroyed due to sudden release of water from upstream dams. The National Hydro Power Corporation (NHPC) is responsible for this calamity.

July 16th, a total 90 acres of land brought under cultivation since July 13, 2007. Adivasis from Kharay Badal village (District Badwani) have filed an FIR under Scheduled Caste – Scheduled Tribes/Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989 in Badwani police station against – Land Acquisition Officer (NVDA, Badwani), Rehabilitation Officer (NVDA, Badwani) and Collector (Badwani). Their land is destroyed, some houses submerged and yet no cultivable land is offered to them as yet. They have served a notice to the M.P. Government through the collector against the Rehabilitation Officer (NVDA, Badwani), Land Acquisition Officer (Badwani), Commissioner (NVDA, Indore) and Director of Rehabilitation, NCA, under Section 80 of CPC for destroying their main source of livelihood.

July 17th, Farmers of Nimad provide tractors for Adivasis to cultivate the occupied lands, Notice issued to Narmada Hydro Power Corporation (NHDC) by farmers who lost their motor pumps due to flash floods caused by sudden release of water from upstream dams.

July 21st, Satyagrahis blocked the road, stopped the Minister Vijay Shah's vehicle as he passed by. Bhitada and Karya Badal Jeevanshala children joined Satyagraha.

July 25th, A huge police force came and ransacked the Satyagraha pandal, destroying the tent and scattering people and cattle, in which 7 Jeevanshala children got missing, and finally put 65 men and 35 women in Jail, in Badwani and Indore respectively.

July 30th, Dharna (sit-in) begins in Badwani, demanding land-based rehabilitation of Sardar Sarovar Affected in M.P. and the immediate release of activists.

July 31st, All were released except Medha Patkar and Ashish Mandloi, against whom were framed old charges.

August 1st, Medha Patkar and Ashish Mandloi were produced in Badwani court. Ashish was granted bail, while Medha Patkar was denied bail.

Umesh Patidar Clifton