NBA Press Release
  17 August 2008
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

Jal-Satyagraha of Indira Sagar oustees begins in Villages Gehelgaon and Donglighat. Jal satyagraha continues in UPPER Beda dam area

2, Sai nagar, Mata Chowk,
Khandwa,
Madhya Pradesh
Tel/FAX: 0733-2228418, 9425394606, 9425928007
Email: nobigdams[at]sancharnet.in

"If our villages are submerged without giving us our rights, we will submerge but not move"

Maha-rally of oustees in Khandwa on 12th of October

The program of Jal-Satyagraha was launched at Village Gehelgaon in Khandwa district of Madhya Pradesh affected by the Indira Sagar dam today. Nearly 2000 men, women and children affected by the Indira Sagar dam along with the representatives of Upper Beda, Omkareshwar, Maheshwar, Man dams gathered today at Village Gehelgaon to begin the satyagraha. In one voice, these thousands of oustees expressed their resolve to sustain and intensify their struggle until they achieved their rights. The oustees of all these dams announced that a Maha-rally of all the oustees of the dams of the Narmada valley would be held in Khandwa on the 12th of October. The oustees also gave a clear warning that if the State Government continued to behave in its present callous and unresponsive manner by denying the oustees their rights under the R&R Policy and Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, and continues to flout the Orders of the M.P. High Court and Supreme Court, they would have to face the grave consequences. Jal-satyagraha was also launched in Village Donglighat-Jhalwa in District Harda on the 15th of August.

Satyagraha commences, Maha rally in Khandwa on 12th October

The program of Jal-Satyagraha was launched at Village Gehelgaon in Khandwa district of Madhya Pradesh affected by the Indira Sagar dam today. Around 120 houses in village Gehelgaon are on the verge of submergence last year itself have been arbitrarily excluded from submergence. The oustees took out a rally to the river Narmada. Standing in the waters of the Narmada, the affected villagers took a resolve to face the submergence but not move without their rights. Addressing the satyagrahis, senior activist of the Narmada Bachao Andolan Shri Alok Agarwal said that the struggle in the Narmada valley is a struggle of the lakhs of affected villagers to protect their rights and their survival. The affected people are no longer prepared to endure force and fraud. On the 10th and 11th of July, in front of hundreds of oustees, the Chief Minister had given many assurances. But no action has been taken on these assurances till date. It is in the light of their unmet rights, that the oustees of the Narmada valley have arranged to hold a Mega-rally on the 12th October. If the State Government refuses to provide the oustees their lawful and constitutional rights by that date, they will have to face serious consequences. The public meeting was addressed by Shri Ramvilas Rathore, Indira Sagar dam affected villager from Harda, Shri Bhagwanbhai, activist, NBA, Shri Mangilalbhai of Upper Beda dam, Shri Radheshyam Tirole of Omkareshwar dam, Shri Gajraj Singh of Maheshwar dam and others. All the gathered people took a resolve that we are willing to risk our lives in order to protect our rights. If our villages are submerged without first giving us our rights, we will submerge but not move.

Jal -satyagraha begins in ISP affected village Donglighat on Independence day

Jal-satyagraha was also launched in Village Donglighat-Jhalwa affected by the Indira Sagar dam in the District Harda on the 15th of August, on independence day. Hundreds of oustees took out a rally to the river Ajnal, a tributary of the Narmada. Standing in the waters, the affected villagers took a resolve to face the submergence. Thereafter a pubic meeting was held at the satyagraha-sthal. It may be noted that a large number of houses in this village submerged last year itself, but are yet to be acquired and compensated by the authorities and the families yet to be provided proper R&R.

Jal satyagraha in Upper Beda dam area continues

It may be noted that on the 3rd of August, this year, Jal satyagraha was commenced in village Sonud of District Khargone in Upper Beda dam submergence area. Satyagraha has been going on since then with enthusiasm and resolve.

Thousands of villagers of the Indira Sagar dam yet to be rehabilitated

Thousands of villagers affected by the Indira Sagar reservoir, which is the largest reservoir in the country covering more than 2 lakh acres and submerging 249 villages, are yet to be rehabilitated. The State Government has hitherto refused to comply with the directions given by the High Court in its Order dated 8.09.2008, which includes the allotment of 5 acres each to the adult sons of cultivators, allotment of land to encroachers and their sons, creation of R&R sites in every village affected by back-waters where the homes in the submergence are being affected but not the land, increasing the land-bank of agricultural bank, etc. The Narmada Bachao Andolan has filed two Contempt petitions against the State Government and the NHDC on this issue.

BWL survey in ISP incomplete, scores of villages and thousands of houses excluded, GOMP prevents surveys

It may be noted that after the Order of the High Court a survey of back-water levels and Full -reservoir levels was begun by the Central Water Commission and the Survey of India in the complete submergence area of the Indira Sagar dam, for the first time. After these surveys, 2200 houses which had been arbitrarily excluded were identified to be in the submergence and acquired. Lat week the High Court ordered the acquisition of another 1000 houses which were in the submergence area but arbitrarily excluded.

In an reckless demonstration of impunity and in order to save the expenses of R&R, the Government of Madhya Pradesh is now preventing FRL and BWL surveys in the 38 villages which include the kasbahs of Handia and Nemawar which fall along the Indira Sagar reservoir between 55 kms and 84 kms from the dam site. This arbitrary prohibition of the Survey of India survey of these villages which was proceeding as per Court Orders by the State Government is likely to result in the death of thousands of unsuspecting villagers who live in these 38 villages as well as submergence of their lands, houses and properties without acquisition, payment of compensation and rehabilitation, in violation of their fundamental and constitutional rights.

Submergence of railway line in ISP reservoir, thousands of passengers under threat

It may be noted that the new Mumbai-Itarsi railway line was submerged by the Indira Sagar reservoir for four hours in the last fortnight. This was at a time when the water level in the Indira Sagar dam was at 246 meters. It is clear that when the dam is filled till 262 meters and there are high floods over and above that, the large parts of the railway line will be under water and the lives of thousands of passengers of the trains that travel from Mumbai to Calcutta and Delhi on this main route will be threatened. It may be noted that this new railway line which was affected last fortnight was freshly laid in 2004-05 when the earlier railway track was declared to be in the submergence of the Indira Sagar. However it is now clear that as with the villages, the railway line too has been affected by the wrong surveys. The NBA expresses shock at this criminal negligence and demands there should be a high level enquiry into the whole matter, the water level in the reservoir should not be permitted to rise above 255 meters, and should be decreased to 245 meters in the case of heavy rainfall, and the railway track be diverted and the guilty officials be punished for their criminal negligence.

Restrain reservoir level below 255 meters

The NBA demands that until the surveys, identification of affected properties and lands and families, acquisition, compensation and rehabilitation and resettlement, the reservoir should not be permitted to be raised above 255 meters. The people of the Indira Sagar dam have been fighting for their rights for the last 4 years, against the arbitrary actions of the State Government that has consistently been privileging the drive of the NHDC (Narmada Hydro-Development Corporation Limited) company which is a subsidiary of the National Hydro-Development Corporation (NHPC) for super-profits over the legal and constitutional rights and the survival needs of the oustees. Last year itself this Company made Rs. 454 crores in profits after taxes. Yet the oustees are being denied even their most basic entitlements. The people of the Narmada valley are determined to end this tyranny and this arbitrariness.

Bhagwan Mukati, Nandu Patel, Kalabai, Chittaroopa Palit