NBA Press Release
  25 July 2002
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

Maan Dam Affected People Start Dharna in Indore : Against State Repression and Demanding Full Resettlement

Jail Road, Mandleshwar
District Khargone, Madhya Pradesh
Tel: 07283-33162

Over 200 people affected by the Maan project (Dist. Dhar) started a dharna in Indore today to protest against the unleashing of state repression on them, demanding full and proper resettlement. The affected people staged a demonstration at the Commissionarate and met the Divisional Commissioner Shri Ram Sanjeevan and told him the details of the atrocities carried out against them by the state. Present during this meeting were eminent citizens, literary, social and political workers of Indore. After this, the people went in a rally and sat down for the dharna at the Regal Chowk in Indore. The people are demanding that since they have not been yet rehabilitated, the sluice gates of the Maan dam should be opened and their submergence be prevented. The people of Khedi-Balwadi, who were forcibly evicted last week and unceremoniously dumped at the resettlement site with their possessions should be brought back to their original village along with the possessions. The rehabilitation of all the affected people should be carried out immediately.

It may be noted that the people affected by the Maan dam have ben agitating for their resettlement since last five years. In May this years, instead of carrying out the resettlement, the state cracked down on these people, and using massive police force, cut down trees, uprooted handpumps, bulldozed the school and panchayat buildings and disconnected the electricity. The people were left with no source of water in the scorching summer heat of May. In protest against this, the people went on an indefinite dharna which lasted for 35 days, along with an indefinite fast that went on for 29 days. As a result of this intense struggle, the Government finally gave the Grievance Redressal Authority (GRA) under the Chairmanship of Shri Ravindra Sharma the task of ensuring the rehabilitation of the affected people and appointed an expert committee consisting of former Commissioner for SC/ST, Government of India, Shri B.D.  Sharma, and senior journalist Shri Prabhash Joshi to advise the GRA in this matter. The Authority and the Expert Committee has already started its work. The Expert Committee has toured the affected areas, has carried out detailed hearings of individual cases and has completed its enquiry. The Chair of the Authority is in the process of carrying out the enquiry related to the remaining cases. However, the Government has started forcible evictions of the people using massive police force and repression without even waiting for the work of the GRA to be completed and carrying out the resettlement as per their recommendations.

According to the Resettlement Policy of the State, when the rehabilitation of the people has not been carried out, the people cannot be allowed to be submerged. However, the Government has deliberately resorted to closing the sluices of the dam so as to initiate the submergence. On 20 July, using the light rains to raise the bogey of submergence, about 400 police entered the village Khedi-Balwadi, and without giving any intimation, started beating the people and dragging them to the waiting vehicles. The police resorted to looting the valuables, especially silver and cash of the people, and the remaining possessions were taken away and dumped at the "resettlement sites" of Kesur and Amkheda, about 75 and 45 kms away respectively. The police then put these sites under a siege and effectively transformed them into jails.

However, the affected people managed to escape form these sites and reached Indore, and have started the dharna in support of their very basic demands. The people have also written letters to the State Governor, the Chief Minister and the GRA giving the details of the repression and their demands. They are demanding that till they are fully and properly resettled, their village, fields and homes should not be submerged. They should be taken back to their original villages with their possessions, and the resettlement should be carried out as per the policy with land for land.

Large number of organizations have come forth in support of the dharna going on in Indore. These include the Narmada Bachao Andolan Support Group, Communist Party of India, Communist Party of India (Marxist), AIYF, Janwadi Naujawan Sabha of India, Sandarbh Documentation Centre, City Trade Union Council, Joint Trade Union Council, Progressive Writers Association represented by Vasant Shintre, Kailash Limbodia, Gauri Shankar Sharma, Anand Shintre, Prabhakar Tokekar, Chinmaya Mishra, Saroj Mishra, Ghanashyam Sahu, Ajay Bagi, Omprakash Jaiswal, Ramavatar Yadav, Rakesh Diwan, Brajlala Bhise, Mohan Nimje etc.

Alok Agarwal