| NBA Press Release
|| 21 July 2002
Villages Evicted with Police Terror Tactics
NARMADA BACHAO ANDOLAN
B-13, Shivam Flats
62, Mahatma Gandhi Road,
Madhya Pradesh - 451551
Yesterday, on 20th July 2002, about 400 policepeople entered the Man dam project affected village Khedi-Balwari (Dist. Dhar, M.P.) and forcibly evicted the village using terror tactics. The women and even children were severely beaten up, the houses looted and the people were picked up and dumped at the so called "resettlement" site Kesur, 75 kms away, where they remain under a virtual arrest with large number of police guarding them. The whole Khedi-Balwari village is now under the control of the police. Preparations are under way for similar action in village Khanpura, another submergence village. Since today morning, bulldozers are being sent to the village and the people are being threatened and forced to dismantle their houses. Narmada Bachao Andolan condemns the forcible eviction of oustees with the use of police repression and demands that till all the oustees are resettled, the sluice gates of the dam should be opened and the submergence be prevented. It also demands that the resettlement of the oustees should be carried out on a priority basis.
It may be noted that after a 35 day long dharna and a 29 day long fast by the Man oustees in the month of May-June 2002, the Government of M.P. had asked the Grievance Redressal Authority (GRA) for the Narmada Projects to ensure the full resettlement of the Man oustees by 31 July 2002. For this, the Government of M.P. has nominated former Commissioner for SC/ST, Govt. of India, Dr. B.D. Sharma and senior journalist Shri Prabhash Joshi as experts to advise the GRA. Dr. Sharma had visited the affected areas in the first week of July for 4 days, and later, along with Shri Joshi from 12 to 18th July 2002. They visited the villages and met the people, and also heard and recorded grievances of individual oustees at the Rest House at the dam site. The oustees told them how attempts were being made to forcibly evict them with the use of force. The people urged the experts that their resettlement should be carried out as per the policy on a priority basis and till this, the sluice gates should be opened and the submergence of the area prevented.
Immediately after the experts' committee left, the administration carried out this callous and barbaric action on 20 July 2002. Even though the Government was aware that the oustees have not been resettled and that people are still living in the villages, the sluice gates of the dam were closed about 15 days ago and the filling of the dam was started. Yesterday (on 20th July), as there was some rainfall, the police used this to raise the bogey of submergence and about 400 police rushed into the village Khedi Balwari.
When the people came out to see what was happening, the police, without any warning, started pulling, and dragging the people into the vans. The people were severely beaten and the male police dragged and manhandled the women. After this, the police entered the houses, started taking out the belongings and looting. The life time savings of many people in the form of silver were looted by the police. The people and their possessions were then taken to the so called "resettlement site" at village Kesur, about 75 kms from Khedi and dumped there. The police have taken over the Khedi village and are terrorising the remaining people.
As this is being written, the police had started demolishing the houses including the one that houses the NBA office. Many family members of those taken to Kesur have been left behind at Khedi including some infants of 2, 5, 7 months. Their mothers were beaten up , dragged and taken away to Kesur. Many cattle are also missing. Preparations are also underway for similar action in village Khanpura.
NBA condemns in strongest of words this barbaric action of the Govt. of MP in forcibly evicting the affected people without any resettlement. While on hand the resettlement has not been done, on the other hand, as the canals too are not ready, there is no justification or rationale for closing the sluices and filling the dam. The forcible eviction, use of repressive measures and police force on the tribal oustees without waiting for the report of the expert committee appointed by the Government itself shows a clear intention on part of the Government to deliberately throw out the tribals.
NBA demands that the sluice gates should be immediately opened so that the submergence is avoided and the people are not affected till their resettlement is done. All the oustees should be brought back to Khedi from Kesur with their belongings and a proper resettlement, as per the state policy should be taken up on a priority basis. Unless this is done, the Man dam affected people will be forced to launch an indefinite struggle action once again.Alok Agarwal