| NBA Press Release
|| 29 July 2002
NARMADA BACHAO ANDOLAN
B-13, Shivam Flats
62, Mahatma Gandhi Road,
Madhya Pradesh - 451551
Satyagraha, The quest for 'Truth', Begins
The struggle to save the Narmada Valley would complete 17 years of perseverance, commitment, and challenge. 'Satyagraha' enters the eleventh year. The pledge for truth is a pledge to expose the blatant falsehood in the official claims but also the perverted perspective on not just Sardar Sarovar but development per se. Monsoon bringing the flood, rising of the waters behind the Dam posed a challenge first in 1991 and now with the Dam wall having reached a height of 95 mts, it's much more fiery, to be faced with an ultimate strength. That is what is looked forward to piercing the imposed vision of devastation, by those on the banks of the river, in their homes and at hearths, but also in a mass-action at Domkhedi (Maharashtra) and Jalsindhi (Madhya Pradesh). 'Satyagraha' as a truthful expression of our urge to save the bountiful river and life in Narmada but also readiness to sacrifice life, if it's not just flooded but flushed out, is on!
It was on June 30th that an informal yet a public inauguration of Satyagraha 2002 was to be held. The nature responded but with waters rushing in as if to salute the strugglers. The tributaries of Udhai and Khad were overflowing and our hopes to reach the 'pilgrim center'due to the same. Many of the guests-activists from various places including Mumbai & Delhi like Mansur Khan, film director, had to return after 2\3 hours walk, after meeting some village leaders but not the Satyagrahis. Others could reach after walking over for 5-6 hours through Satpuda ranges.
A larger gathering of adivasis occurred at Jalsindhi & Domkhedi on July 5th which was marked by a pledge to fight for rights to natural resources, but also communal violence. 'Violence, whether in the name of religion or development, will not be permitted' was the slogan which was expressed through a blow to a sack symbolising the violent force. Old & young came forward from the hundreds to express the same. In their speeches, Keshav Vasave, Bawa Mahariya, Noorji Padvi from Maharashtra & Madhya Pradesh didn't mince any words to criticise the unholy alliance between Narendra Modi and Digvijay Singh that led to the illegal push to the dam height from 90 to 95 mts. they were at the same time determined, as Dedlibai put it, to raise the question of life or death, on behalf of all the adivasis, dalits & other poor deprived or evicted by facing 'death by water'.
Janadhikar Sankalp Yatra
The message was carried out of Domkhedi through 'Janadhikar Sankalp Yatra' (July 8th to 12th) that was by 400 adivasis from the Valley & other villages in Satpudas & passed through Shahada to Jalgaon in Khandesh ending at Nashik, jointly organised by Punarvasan Sangharsh Samiti & Narmada Bachao Andolan. With Pratibha Shinde, senior activists & colleagues of the freedom fighter Venktanna Randhir & youths of Chhatra Bharati with Ratnadeep Shisodia of Shirpur, Pradip Patil & his energetic youth group of Chopda, Prof. Ashok Pawar & Gautam More, Bharati Gala & other activists of Amalner, Shambhu Patil & various political activists & cultural groups of Jalgaon & Pankaj Joshi, Hawker's union & 'Abhivyakti' from Nasik were the main orgnisers who made the Yatra a success. Common citizens, farmers, struggling laborers affected by globalisation, privatization policies & various people's organisations of adivasis, dalits, women & the downtrodden attended in large numbers in the public meetings, esp. in Shirpur.
A special event, however, was participation of senior politicians & activists of Maharashtra including Shri N.D. Patil (PWP), Prabhakar Sanzgiri & Kumar Shiralkar (CPM), Tanksale (CPI), Shripati Shinde (Janta Dal-Secular) and Yograj Khande (State Govt. Employees Association) & Kumar Saptarishi (Yukrand) who spoke extensively on the prolonged Narmada Struggle, its contribution, the larger issue of displacement, unemployment and the deteriorating role of the State in protecting the masses and unequivocally the distorted undemocratic process of development planning symbolised in SSP.
No dam without a fair and just rehabilitation was the common theme of their support. They are to ensure finalising of the Task Force survey report that has brought out the unbelievable discrepancy in the statistics of those to be displaced & rehabilitated exposing the false affidavits, flawed claims of Maharashtra & the reality of 'no land' and unpreparedness for rehabilitation and demand a clear position by GOM on no further construction. "This political support for a people's movement could set a wider global corporatisation & related impacts as also exploitation of the natural resource-based communities by misusing their land, water, forest for a disparity-based consumerist population. This is what the Narmada valley & the struggles hopes to achieve", Medha Patkar emphasized on the occasion. The Yatra ended at Nasik but with a banging programme of sit-in at the Commissioner's office where the officials present didn't come out to discuss the issues with the gathering and hence the adivasis refused a meeting with the delegation and instead handed over the memorandum with a warning: We will not budge, come what may. This was in the context of the forest dwellers facing evictions & brutality as in the event of the Collector resorting to false allegations & lathi charge against Pratibha Shinde, Sanjay Mahajan & others of Punarvasan Sangharsh Samiti at Ambabari. The reverberating spirit of the Yatra was declaration of a march from 'Narmada Bachao' to 'Desh Bachao', a wider national movement through an alliance of secular forces and movements. (electoral parties.)
Public Hearing exposes false claims of Madhya Pradesh Government
'Satyagraha' took a step forward through the Public Hearing held with an eminent group of panelists: Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat (Retd.), Mohini Giri (ex-chairman, National Commission on Women), Adv. Venkatramani & Usha Ramanathan, a legal expert; coming to the Valley & listening to the thousands of 'oustees' who are facing illegality and atrocities with no proper channel for redressal. About 1500 gathered in the plains of Nimad, and hundreds in Jalsindhi & Domkhedi-the tribal area- for the Public Hearing from July 13th to 15th, while tens of representatives spoke in an articulate manner, bringing to the people's forum, a great history of 17 years, the atrocious ways & means used by the State to snatch away their resources, why life and livelihood. Sajanbai, Shantabai, Kamlu didi, Chhagan Nathu, Shelarsingh, Ranya Gonja, Ashish Mandloi & others representing women, dalits, adivasis, youths were the vocal representatives who appeared to be the breathing life into the unique democratic process. The panelists who walked through the adivasi villages, crossed the river swollen into a reservoir, climbed the hills, witnessed the cultural ethos to the natural resource matrix & promised the people an early report & an extensive dissemination to raise the issues; as also propagate & pursue a way out to ensure justice. The report is expected to be out in a convention to be organised (mostly) in Delhi, soon.
Meanwhile, abundant local issues keep us on our toes.
Field Surveys and the reality of R&R:
Task Force Survey (jointly with NBA) and the resultant statistics and report has, in Maharashtra, shows the figure of 95 mts affected but yet to be rehabilitated, as 1000+ and not 17 families. In Madhya Pradesh too, such a process is crucial but not agreed to by the government. Indian Social Institute has been kind enough to agree to conduct such an enquiry. The same has been started.
In the Supreme Court, once again:
The SSP case will come before a new bench again, on the August 12th. There has to be a hope against hope that the apex court would not allow submergence and devastation of thousands of families without rehabilitation and land, violation of its own judgement! We also have to wait and watch the moves by Government of Maharashtra to take a strong and clear position against further construction during the case.
AT THE SATYAGRAHA SITES: UPCOMING EVENTS
With no rains & a fear of 4th year of drought hanging, Satyagraha is once again to pass through the phases of a series of activities of reconstruction till the flooding and fiery struggle. A number of short term reconstructive, educative programmes are to be held in the coming days while the completion of the second micro-hydel project at Bilgaon (on the Narmada bank, district Nandurbar, Maharashtra) will be the prime one. Shramdan by the adivasis who are to harness & utilise their 'own' natural resources through an alternative, non-destructive, participatory technology is on and the young committed engineers of People's School of Energy, Kerala- Anilkumar & Madhu- along with Champalal, young adivasi activist of NBA trained at PSE & the farmers themselves are to be the techno-activists.
August is to be the Month, no doubt! Jeevanshalas (12 in number, teaching the first learner generation of our adivasi children) will be the active centres and Satyagrahis, the actors.
Welcome to be with the fighters right into the struggle and the beautiful river valley. Confirm your coming over and convey, appeal, motivate others to join you! We await your arrival.
The Test case of Man exposes Digvijay Singh's brutality against Dalits again!
While this update was being prepared, and flooding of 8 to 10,000 families in the Sardar Sarovar dam affected area is challenged, a few hundred families, affected by Man Dam in the Valley are known to be facing hell. They were forcibly and brutally evicted from their land and homes by Digvijay Singh government all out to rage a war against these Dalits. Police atrocities lashed in Khedi, Khanpura and other communities include not just arrests but unjustifiable beating, stealing of ornaments and cash, killing chickens and destroying their property.
Men and women from the area, literally thrown out to the resettlement sites, are risen to the peak of the struggle and strength, proving the false propaganda of Digvijay Singh government as callous and cruel when it has neither land nor justice to offer to the adivasis. Would you keep quite or act? An indefinite dharna is going on in protest, at Indore.If you decide to, write urgently-
Kirsingh, Tukaram, Rakesh, Umesh, Vinod, Clifton, Himanshu, Jojo,
Devrambhai, Sukumar and Medha : the full time activists of NBA.