Press Release, Dam Site - Jalud
January 11 2000
NBA ACTIVISTS OCCUPIED THE MAHESHWAR DAM SITE
THOUSANDS ARRESTED FROM DAM SITE
Inspite of heavy police protection, as planned earlier, the NBA
activists walking throughout the night occupied the destructive
Maheshwar dam site today morning at 6.45 am and stopped the work on the
dam. Among the 4000 odd affected people and activists who captured the
site, senior NBA activist Chittaroopa Palit, noted writer-novelist
Arundhati Roy, veteran Gandhian Jyotibhai Desai, prominent film makers
Pradip Kishen and Jharna Jhaveri and large number of supporters from
Delhi, Bombay, Kerala, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Indore are also there.
About 1500 people were prevented by the police on the way itself from
moving towards the site.
More than 1500 people, who were on dharna at dam site and before police,
were arrested at about 1.00 pm with force by the Madhya Pradesh Police.
Police also misbehaved with the people including Arundhati Roy, Jharna
Jhaveri and Chittaroopa Palit. Also, Padhri Verma and Annapurnabai of
village Pathrad and Chandrashekar and Chandu of village Sulgaon were
terribly beaten up by police inside the bus while taking them to the police
Earlier at 6.45 am the people started dharna at the site with slogans
and songs and the officials including the Khargone District Collector
Mr.Bhopalsingh came forward to pursuade the activists to withdraw their
agitation. The talks went on till 10.45 am but without result. At about
1.00 pm about 1500 people including Arundhati and others were arrested
forcefully and taken to Mandaleshwar Police Station.
It may be recollected that for the past 3 years, a strong agitation is
on against the destructive Maheshwar Dam and it was exactly two
years back on 11th January 1998 that the Maheshwar Dam was occupied for more
than 20 days. That occupation has led the M.P.Governmentto set up the
Task Force. This Task Force after ten months study has recommended a
comprehensive review of the Maheshwar Project to reassess the cost-benefit
ratio and the viability and disirability of the Project. However,
instead of acting on this recommendation of its own Task Force the
Madhya Pradesh Government allowed the private company S.Kumars' to push
ahead with the project and supported it by unleasing repression on the
affected people. The occupation of the dam site
is to demand complete stoppage of work on the project and a
comprehensive review as recommended by the Task Force.
It is to be noted that, although the project will have a proposed
installed capacity of 400 MW, the average firm power will be only 82 MW,
and power production in the 8 non-monsoon months will not be more than
one-and-a half hours a day. Yet the cost of power from this project will
be prohibitively high - an average of Rs. 6 to 8 per unit, with the cost
of peaking power being Rs. 8 to 10 per unit at the point of production. It
may be recalled that the project was privatized in 1994 and handed over
to the S. Kumars, and that the S. Kumars have, even prior to the
financial closure, inflated the project costs by 5 times from Rs. 465
crores to Rs. 2000 crores in the course of just 5 years.
NBA along with its vast number of supporters from the state and all over
the country, warns the state government that truth and reality cannot be
suppressed through repressive method of forceful arrest, etc upon the
non-violent agitators and it will carry on strong agitation against the
destructive Maheshwar Project.
Delhi Contact: 6426783 & 6237724