Press Release July 14, 1999
SOLIDARITY PROGRAMMES IN SUPPORT OF NARMADA SATYAGRAHA
IN VARIOUS PARTS OF INDIA
ORGANISATIONS DEMAND SCRAPPING OF SSP
Hundreds of people from all over India observed a day's fast along with
holding a variety of programmes to express solidarity with the struggle in the
Narmada valley against the Sardar Sarovar Project, and particularly with
the Satyagraha that is going on against impending submergence.
From the larger cities like Calcutta, Bangalore, Trivandrum, Mumbai,
Delhi to the smaller towns like Malegaon, Nandurbar, Badwani the people
came out against the violation of the rights of the tribals and peasants
in the Narmada valley. They asked the state governments and the centre
to stop the work on the dam and have a comprehensive review of the
entire Narmada Valley Development projects.
In Kerala, at least in five cities the dharana and solidarity programmes
took place. In Trivandrum, Tiruvalla and Ernakulam the students,
representatives of organisations observed fast. Justice (Retd) Krishna
Iyer participated in Ernakulam. In Kozhikode and Thrissur too the
meetings were held. In Trivandrum, noted political activist K.V.
Surendranath, noted literateur and president of Kerala Women's
Commission Ms. Sugathakumari addressed the meetings. Thomas Kocherry,
president of World Fisheries Organisation and National Co-ordinator of
the National Alliance of People's Movements felicitated the activists
visiting the Narmada valley.
In Tamilnadu, programmes were organised in Madurai, Nagercoil and
Coimbatore in support of Satyagraha. In Madurai, youths from number of
organisations have observed a day long fast and a dharna. The National
Alliance of People's Movements, has organised the video-programmes at
various places in Tamilnadu.
In Andhra Pradesh, at least in seven districts, the programmes were
organised in solidarity. On July 21st, a large torchlight procession is
organised in Hyderabad. In Bangalore, despite the prohibitory orders in
the city, the youths and representatives of various organisations held
a daylong dharna and fast and distributed pamphlets in support of
the people's struggle in the valley.
In Calcutta, about 200 people from 17 organisations, including the trade
unions, hawkers' and displaced people's organisations held a dharna and
observed fast opposite the Sealdah station, braving heavy rains. They
sent a memorandum to President, Prime Minister and the three Chief
Ministers about the impending crisis in the Narmada valley and need to
stop all the work on the dam. In Delhi, a Dharna was held by
organisations with fast. Swami Agnivesh, noted painter Vivan Sundaram
participated in the event.
In Mumbai (Bombay), the supporting organisations carried out a signature
campaign. Hundreds of people appealed to the Chief Minister of Maharashtra
to present the real situation regarding the displacement and
resettlement in the Supreme Court. They also demanded that the state
government to call for a stoppage on any further work on the dam. In
Pune, representatives of organisations observed a day fast and children
wrote the letters to the President of India. They appealed him to "save
the Narmada valley for their generation".
In Malegaon, a number of organisations observed fast and held dharna.
Dr.Sanjay Joshi ended his five day long fast on 12th. In Nandurbar, the
district headquarters of the submergence area in Maharashtra,
'Punarvasan Sangharsha Samiti,' an organisation of the already displaced
people in the valley, and other organisations held rally and
demonstrations, sit-in with the fast on 12th. The organisations pointed
out that those who have already been displaced could not be
resettled properly, the government has no right to submerge and displace
the other tribals.
In Jaipur, Rajasthan, Sarva Seva Sangh, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti
Sangathan (MKSS) and various organisations held a daylong dharna. The
representatives observed the fast. The organisations sent the memorandum
to the President asking him to intervene as he is the protector of the
tribals' rights according to the Indian Constitution. Letters were sent
to three Chief Ministers too.
In the Narmada valley, people are gearing up against the submergence and
displacement. About a thousand people took out rally in Badwani,
submitted a memorandum to the Collector and went to the office of the
Narmada Valley Development Authority (NVDA) office. The officials
confessed that there would be six villages of Nimad region in this
year's submergence. And, none of these were resettled. The people got this
from him in writing.
There were similar rallies in Manawar, where the project affected people
of Man and Veda projects joined the Sardar Sarovar affected people in
the protest. The Maheshwar dam affected people held a rally in the
town of Maheshwar and demanded scrapping of the dam. They collected Rs.
5001 for Kargil Victims Fund and gave Rs. 2001 for the family of
Rajendra Yadav, a soldier from Nimad, who died on Kargil front.
Abroad, in Ann Arbor, USA, volunteers of the Association for India's
Development (AID) held a 'candle light vigil' near the statue of Mahatma
Gandhi on the University of Michigan campus. AID volunteers in several
other cities of the US including Dallas and Washington, DC observed a
one-day fast in solidarity with the Satyagraha. They have also collected
signatures appealing the Indian President to protect the rights of the
tribals, and met with the Indian Embassy officials to put forward their
Meanwhile, an increasing number of supporters are arriving at the
Satyagraha places of Jalsindhi and Domkhedi as the Satyagraha enters the
25th day, to be with the people facing the submergence. A number of
project affected people's organisations too participated in the
Satyagraha. The latest contingent was from Vidarbha area of Maharashtra
where people have been struggling against the Gosi Khurd dam and urban
displacement. Senior Socialist thinker and president of Samajwadi Jan
Parishad, Kishan Patnaik, Sunil from Kisan Adivasi Sangathan from Kesala
stayed at these places in solidarity. In Jalsindhi, people from the
number of tribal villages in Alirajpur tehsil have been participating
in large numbers. The villagers have decided to confront the waters
in case the submergence occurs.