Press Note July 19, 1999
NARMADA WATER RISING
MEDHA AND SATYAGRAHIS DETERMINED TO FACE SUBMERGENCE
INCREASING SUPPORT FOR THE MASS ACTION
The 'Samarpit Dal' (Dedicated squad) of the Narmada Bachao Andolan
is determined to face the swirling backwaters of Sardar Sarovar Project
(SSP) as the water level in Narmada increased sharply on Sunday (18th
July) due to the increasing rains in the upper catchment. The main
activists of Andolan including Bawa Muhariya, Sitarambhai Patidar and
Medha Patkar and other villagers and activists are determined not to
move out even if they are drowned.
The distance between the Satyagraha place (Narmada) and the rising
waters is becoming shorter. On Sunday, the waters increased speedily as
there were rains in the upper catchment. The unmetalled road from
Kadipani to Hapeshwar, the main approach to the submergence villages
including Domkhedi (Maharashtra) and Jalsindhi(M.P.), was submerged
under the backwaters at many places. It is becoming increasingly
difficult to communicate with these and other villages.
At Rajghat, near Badwani, the water level on 17th morning was 113.760
meters, which rose up to 117.100 m. in the night, which later receded
marginally. At Hoshangabad, further upstream, the river water rose and kept
on fluctuating. There are no reports of opening up of the gates of Tawa
and Bargi dams. If they are opened, the water level would rise rapidly,
submerging the Satyagraha places and the other villages.
The construction work on the Sardar Sarovar has reached upto 88 meters
with the permission of the Supreme Court, when the resettlement of the
first few villages near the damsite also was not complete. The increased
height (85 m. plus 3 m. of the humps) would submerge about 60 villages
with 2000 tribal families. This year's submergence would hit the entire
tribal region in the Sardar Sarovar affected area. The people have
decided to challenge the unjust submergence and forcible displacement
that was imposed on them by the government machinations, with the help
of the false affidavits regarding rehabilitation, thus misguiding the
apex court in India.
However, the Satyagraha is continuing with various programmes during the
day. A number of supporter groups have participated in the Satyagraha during
this period. Prominent trade unionists from Mumbai, representatives
of various organisations from Thane and various activists went to
Domkhedi and Jalsindhi to express solidarity. Among them were Suryakant
Bagal (General Secretary, Hind Mazdoor Sabha), Datta Iswalkar and Mr.
Ghagh (Girni Kamgar Sangharsha Samiti), Jagdish Khairaliya (Samajwadi
Jan Parishad) and others. Artists from Bengal, social work students from
Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) participated in Satyagraha.
Mr. Kishan Patnayak, Socialist thinker and president of Samajwadi Jan
Parishad, Secretary Mr.Bhai Vaidya too visited the valley. From 15th onwards
there were meetings with the project affected organisations and
activists from Gosi-Khurd (Nagpur) and sanctuary affected areas.
People from Nimad, Gujarat and Maharashtra
resettlement sites have also been converging at the Satyagraha
places. The people in Jalsindhi protested against the callous manner in
which the M.P. government has been dealing with the submergence and
resettlement issues They asked the Sub-Divisional magistrate to provide
them all the information regarding the impending submergence and
resettlement status. The information is still to come. The people in
Domkhedi Satyagraha and the supporters marched to the police camp in
the village and later to the Nimgavhan camp. They also challenged the
discrimination towards the village students in the 'Jeevan Shala', run
by the NBA, by not allowing them to take admission in higher classes.
Meanwhile, the preparations are on for the "Rally for the Valley" of
hundreds of people from Delhi and elsewhere in India, with the
initiative of the renowned literateur Ms. Arundhati Roy. A number of
artists, intellectuals and other prominent persons from various parts of
India will be participating in it. The Rally would start off from
Indore (July 30), and travel through the valley before it reaches to
Jalsindhi satyagraha site on August 2.