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

Maan dam oustees reach Bhopal after brutal eviction by local administration

NARMADA BACHAO ANDOLAN
Jail Road, Mandleshwar
District Khargone, Madhya Pradesh
Tel: 07283-33162
Email: nobigdam@sancharnet.in

After being brutally evicted from first village to be affected by the Maan Project Khedi- Balwadi on the basis of police force, around 200 adivasis who had been sitting on dharna in Indore for the last one week, reached Bhopal today and began their dharna at the Tin shed in Bhopal today. The affected adivasis marched to the office of the Grievance Redressal Authority and complained of the repression wreaked on them by the police and their forcible eviction from the village even though the process of rehabilitation is yet to be completed. The oustees demanded that they should be sent back to their village along with their belongings immediately and that their rehabilitation should be completed as early as possible.

It may be remembered that nearly 400 police men had entered , attacked and wreaking terror and repression on the affected people - especially women and children of village Khedi - Balwadi , had forcibly carried them off to camps at Aamkheda 40 kms. and Kesur 70 kms. away from their village. The belongings of the villagers were also seized and dumped in these sites. Many women suffered injuries due to the beatings that they received from the police. In fact as per the medico legal examination done at the MY Hospital at Indore after members of the State Women's Commission complained to the IG, Police, marks of wounds and concussions were found on the bodies of 6 women and one child. The police also looted the silver jewellery belonging to the women that constituted the family's life-time savings from their homes in the village. As per the First Information Report lodged at the Tukoganj Thana by the women, jewellery weighing nearly 14 kilos and cash worth around Rs. 20,000 has been looted by the police.

The adivasis , mainly women and children who had been dumped at the camps and kept under jail like conditions escaped from these camps to come to Indore and began their dharna there from the 25th of July, with their demands. During the course of their stay in Indore, they met the authorities thrice but their demands were not met. Therefore they began their dharna in Bhopal from this morning. The oustees marched to the GRA and met the Chairman of the Authority Shri Ravindra Sharma. They filed their petition at the GRA. They demanded that they should be taken back to their village along with their belongings, that officials responsible for the repression must be punished and that they should be rehabilitated with agricultural land as per the rehabilitation policy, as soon as possible.

It may be noted that after the long struggle of the Maan oustees at Bhopal from the 15th of May to the 18th of June, and the 29 day long fast by four activists , the state government had directed the Grievance Redressal Authority under the Chairmanship of Shri Ravindra Sharma to address the grievances of the Maan dam oustees and ensure their complete rehabilitation by the 31st of July, 2002. Senior journalist Shri Prabhash Joshi and Ex- Commissioner Scheduled Castes and Tribes Shri B.D. Sharma were appointed as experts to ensure the rehabilitation of the oustees. Both the experts toured the area for almost 10 days, held public hearings and have submitted their final report and recommendations to the GRA Chairman Shri Ravindra Sharma. The Chairman has also recently heard one round of hearings last week and will be going to the area once again on the 7th and 8th of August for further hearing. The oustees have demanded that the report of the experts as well as all documents relating to the displacement and rehabilitation of the oustees be made available for public scrutiny as the submergence and inundation is being justified in public interest. They have also demanded that the GRA immediately issue orders for the rehabilitation of the oustees and provide them with irrigated agricultural land as per the rehabilitation policy.

Alok Agarwal, Village Khedi
Antubai Ramkuwar, Village Khedi