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Press Release July 23, 1999


Noted economist K. N. Raj, noted environmentalist and Parliamentarian K.V. Surendranath, renowned architect Laurie Baker, literary stalwarts like O.V. Vijayan, Aiyapa Panikar, Sugathakumari have asked the President to intervene to stop any further construction on the Sardar Sarovar Project in the Narmada valley.

The prominent persons in Malayalam cultural and academic field have protested against the unjust submergence and displacement of the tribals and peasants due to the increased height of 88 meters of the dam. In a joint letter, they appealed to the President to fulfil his Constitutional obligation as the custodian of the tribals and stop the violation of their rights in the name of development. The other signatories include V.K.Madhavan Kutty (Journalist) A.P.Udayabhanu (Gandhian) Hradaydayakumari (writer and professor), O.N.V. Kurup (Poet), Guptan Nair, Vishnu Narayanan Namboothiri (Poet), Dr. Saradhamani (Economist).

Meanwhile, the level of the backwater, which rose alarmingly this week, is still fluctuating. The danger level of 95-96 meters near Hafeshwar, near the Satyagraha and submergence villages continued on Monday (July 23). The satyagrahis including Medha Patkar, Sitarambhai, Bawa Muhariya and other villagers are firm on their resolve to face the waters of submergence. The backwaters of the dam was hardly ten feet away from the Satyagraha place. The satyagrahis have reiterated their resolve not to move out and confront the submergence even at the cost of their lives. The increased water has partially submerged fields in Paula, Pipalchop, Bharad, Domkhedi and Nimgavhan, Jalsindhi. The sowing and crops of Jowar, pulses, maize, vegetables. In many instances, the land was submerged before the sowing could take place.

A Month Of Satyagraha

The Satyagraha in Domkhedi and Jalsindhi has completed one month. The Satyagraha was launched on June 20 by the senior Gandhian thinker, Siddharaj Dhadda, with the call for the decentralisation of the decision making processes. Over 50 youth from different parts of India participated in the youth camp,where they learnt house building skills from the adivasi experts. They held meetings and discussions with the villagers. The "Jeevan Yatra" ( March for Life ) from 27th June to 4th July with a series of village meetings in Akrani, Akkalkua tehsils in Maharashtra and Alirajpore tehsil in M.P.

On July 4, nine activists including Bawa Muhariya, Pankiya Vasave, Ranjit Vasave, Gulab Bhai Awasiya, Medha Patkar, Sitarambhai Patidar, Tarabai Patidar, Philip Matthew, started fast. Medha and Sitarambhai also observed moun (silence) during that period. The fast was terminated on July 11. During all these days, the people in Jalsindhi and Domkhedi took out the marches on the government and police camps, confronted the officials there. The satyagrahis at Jalsindhi discovered that the state government has issued the submergence notices to their villages on June 27, in the monsoon when there would be submergence at any time. Even after protesting and confronting the sub-divisional magistrate they could not get satisfactory answer to their basic questions. The government list did not contain the name of Luvaruyabhai,the first family which is going to face the submergence.The villagers in Domkhedi and Nimgavhan questioned the government officials about the issue of non-admission in higher grades of the students of NBA's 'Jeevan Shala' ( School of Life).

Increasing Support

Hundreds of activists from all over India and prominent social activists participated in the satyagraha. National Fishworkers' Forum (Kerala), Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (Rajasthan), Students Christian Movement, Samvada( Bangalore), Pennurmai Iyakkam, Centre for Social Studies ( both from Madurai, T.N.),Samajwadi Jan Parishad, Hind Mazdoor Sabha, Girni Kamgar Sangharsha Samiti, Nari Samata Manch, students of Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS, Mumbai),Hawkers Sangharsha Samiti, Shramik Parishad and various organisations aligned with National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), from Bengal and Maharahstra, the anti-dam struggle against Gosi Khurd dam in Mahartahstra and scores of others participated. The participation is onthe increasing scale. People from Nimad villages have been participating, apart from the villagers in Maharashtra, Gujarat and people from the resettlement sites in Maharashtra and Gujarat have been a part of Satyagraha.

On 11th July, Medha Patkar announced that if the work on the dam is allowed to go ahead of 88 meters without taking decision about the comprehensive review of the dam by appointing a new tribunal and with the public hearing, and without the full resettlement of those who have already been displaced including the oustees of canal, colonies and sanctuary, she and others of Samrpit Dal (Dedicated squad) would commit Jal samrpan (Sacrifice in the Water).

On July 12, hundreds of people all over India observed a day's fast and various protest programmes. Delhi, Mumbai, Jaipur, Caklcutta, Thiruananthpuram, Bangalore, Madurai, Varanasi, Badwani, Dhulia, Nandurbar, Shirpur, Shndakheda, Pune and elsewhere these solidarity programmes took place. In the US, students at University of Michigan held a candle light vigil in support of the Narmada struggle. On 19th July a number of solidarity programmes were held in Madurai, Bangalore and elsewhere.

Thus, with the swirling waters the support of the people from all over India and the determination of the Satyagrahis has been increasing.

Sanjay Sangvai