NBA Press Release

09 July 2001

Save The Narmada, Save Humanity! NARMADA BACHAO ANDOLAN
B-13, Shivam Flats
Ellora Park,
Tel: 0265-282232

58, Gandhi Marg,
Badwani, Madhya Pradesh
Tel: 07290-22464


People Lambast Vilification Campaign By Jamuna Devi and NCCL-Challenge to
Prove Allegations

Veteran social activist, Baba Amte launched the Narmada Satyagraha on Monday, July 9 against the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) with an invitation to the President Mr. K.R. Narayanan to visit Narmada valley and see the abysmal situation of submergence and displacement. He was addressing over 2500 representatives of villagers and supporters of the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) gathered near his house Nijbal on the Narmada banks in Madhya Pradesh. Earlier, similar Satyagraha was launched in the downstream villages of Domkhedi-Jalsindhi on July 5.

Baba Amte made it clear that this year's monsoon will be devastating due to the illegalities by the vested interests and due to the distorted vision of the development. He expressed the resolve that the people will not be intimidated by such submergence and they would confront the situation bravely. It should be noted that the submergence waters reached upto Baba Amte's house in the monsoon of 1994, when the height of the dam was 69 meters. Now the dam stands at 93 meters.

"The people in the Narmada valley will not allow the basic rights to be submerged. They have fought for that for last 16 years and will stake their lives to protect their life and rights", said Medha Patkar, braving the torrential rains. "The issues raised by the NBA have been for the equality and sustainable development and are a part of the movements throughout the nation for an alternative and people-centered politics of development". She explained the crass illegalities and injustice done by the authorities to take up the work on the dam upto 93 meters and displace the people with the threat of submergence. She also criticized the role of the Indian Supreme Court for condoning and encouraging such injustice and illegal acts.

Booker Prize winner litterateur, Arundhati Roy declared that she is fully with the people's movement.

Senior Gandhian activist, Siddharaj Dhadda said that, "The Satyagraha is not confined to only a dam, but it is a struggle against the injustice, corruption and destruction- both at the hands of government and judiciary. It is against the forces of globalization". Socialist ideologue Surendra Mohan, senior educationist Jyotibhai Desai, renowned crusader and critique from Maharashtra, Ms. Pushpa Bhave, feminist journalist Ms. Vidya Bal, Sanjay M.G. ( National Coordinator, NAPM), Mr. Vijay Asher from Saurashtra (Gujarat) and number of activists from Kerala, Maharashtra, M.P. , Bengal and other parts participated in the meeting. Kamla Patidar ( Maheshwar), Banabai ( Veda) and others also spoke.

The people and activists in the Narmada valley at this juncture challenged the defamation campaign being carried out by the pro-dam elements. Nimad leaders, Kashiram Kaka, Nanaksingh Gandhi, octogenarian Mangilal Vyas and senior activist, Alok Agrawal lambasted the Madhya Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Ms. Jamuna Devi and NGOs like National Committee for Civil Liberties (NCCL) for making baseless allegations on NBA and challenged to prove them. They asserted that the people^s movement has been thriving on the door-to-door contributions from the people in the valley and the supporters in India. Incidentally, the fund collection drive is currently on in the nearby towns of Badwani, Anjad and other areas in the valley.

Despite the torrential rains in the Nimad region, villagers from the plains of Nimad and from the tribal villages, alongwith the representatibves of the dam-affected people in Veda, Man, Goi and Maheshwar attended Monday's programme. Earlier, another leg of the Satyagraha against the submergence and displacement in Mann dam in the Narmada valley was launched on July 2.

Alok Agrawal
Ashish Mandloi
Sanjay Sangvai