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

Narmada March Draws Fervent Support in North Maharashtra; Tribals expose
Reality of Displacement to Outside World

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The "People's March" by the tribals from the Narmada valley was accorded rousing welcome at various towns and villages in Northern Maharashtra and hundreds of villagers and organizations in the towns and villages expressed solidarity with the Narmada valley struggle against the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP). The people are proceeding towards Nashik, the divisional headquarters, to register their protest at the illegal and unjust displacement, submergence, and against the politics of making the dam-displacement inevitable.

Over three hundred oustees' representatives from the SSP-affected villages on the banks of Narmada, along with those from the resettlement sites in Maharashtra, launched the march on July 8 from Dhadgaon. They are on a campaign to expose the reality regarding the dam and the displacement-resettlement to the people outside the valley and garner support for their 17 year long struggle. Hundreds of people and scores of organizations, especially those of tribals, peasants, students, welcomed the Narmada people at Mhasavad, Shahada, Shirpur, Chopda and adjoining villages. Everywhere, the organizations made it clear that the Narmada valley has been the struggle of all the oppressed and victimized people, and the outcome of this struggle will have bearing on other struggles also.

The village representatives from Narmada valley highlighted the outright injustice meted out to them at the hands of the governments and even the judiciary. The oustees in the resettlement sites near Taloda, narrated how shabby was entire exercise has been, as hundreds of the "resettled" families did not get the land or got uncultivable land and their earlier livelihood was not restored.

They made it clear that the government raised upto 95 meters, violating all rules, the Supreme Court verdict and all precepts of justice and human rights. This increase in the dam height will result in the submergence and destitution of about 8,000 families during this monsoon. The Supreme Court has, once again, evaded the responsibility to safeguard the people's rights and lives despite the proofs of fraud by the governments. The government is out to deceive the project affected families (PAF) by under- estimating the number of PAFs, age of adult sons, denying land rights and updating of land records, distributing cash compensation illegally and in gross violation of the Narmada tribunal provisions. It is trying to evict the people through open threats and force and by giving a notice of mere 5 days without providing any land or basic facilities- - a veritable jal-hatya (killing with water).

The Narmada valley tribals appealed the people from outside to join their Satyagraha at Jalsindhi and Domkhedi. If there is a normal monsoon, submergence is inevitable at anytime. There will be three Public Hearings in the valley from July 13-15 regarding the truth about displacement.

People's March will have a major meeting in Jalgaon, one of the main centers in the North Maharashtra, on July 11. Leaders of the progressive parties, including Prof. N. D. Patil ( Peasants and Workers Party), Dr. Bhalchandra Kango (CPI), Com. Prabhakar Sanzgiri (CPM), Shripati Shinde (President state Janata Dal), Dr. Kumar Saptarshi ( Yuvak Kranti Dal), the leaders of the state government employee union and other trade unions, organizations will be participating in that meeting. It will be an important moment for the Narmada struggle, where the Left and progressive parties will be openly supporting on such a scale.

The march will then proceed to Nashik and people will hold a day-long dharna at the Divisional Commissioner's office.

Suniti S.R.
Pratibha Shinde
Geetanjali Chavan