Narmada Satyagraha launched in Jalsindhi-Domkhedi on july 5
People determined to dare submergence: It is larger struggle
The government wants us to flee like the rats as the submergence water
rises, as they have done all these years in the other dams. We are not
rats, we are human beings. We will resist the injustice and face the
submergence imposed by the government and the Supreme Court on the
Narmada valley. This is a test of the democracy and human rights in
India, declared Noorjibhai Padvi, Dedlibai, Bawa Mahariya and hundreds
of tribal, peasant villagers and activists while launching the Narmada
Satyagraha against the dam and submergence due to the Sardar Sarovar
Project (SSP) in village Domkhedi and Jalsindhi on Thursday (July 5) on
the banks of swirling Narmada.
Despite the threat of instant and increased submergence this year, the
atmosphere in Domkhedi and Jalsindhi was resolute and the people were in
a defiant mood. The submergence this year will be most unjust, illegal
and fatal and the people are determined to resist staking their lives. It
was a deliberate tactic by the politicians bureaucrat's to vacate the
villages to bring in submergence 90 mts + 3 mts level with a fatal impact
on the densely populated villages in the hills and in the plains of
Nimad. We are ready to sacrifice our lives for the protection of basic
rights of the downtrodden people. No land, no dam is the only just and
reasonable position. We demand an immediate announcement towards
indefinite suspension of a dam-work and a decisive dialogue and master
plan for rehabilitation of those already affected, declared Medha
Patkar of Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) on this occasion.
Hundreds of the tribals and peasants reiterated their resolve to resist
submergence due to the dam height going upto 90 meters with 3 meters
humps, as a result of Supreme Court judgement in October 2000 . The
increased height would affect about 5000 families from 70-80 villages in
the valley. Almost all of the tribal belt affected by the SSP would face
the specter of submergence during this monsoon. This was another leg of
Satyagraha in the Narmada valley. On July 2, Satyagraha was launched by
the oustees of Man dam at Khedi- Balwadi in M.P. The third leg of
Satyagaraha at Chhoti Kasaravad, near Badwani will be inaugurated on the
9th July. The octogenarian veteran social activist Baba Amte, will
inspire and lead the Satyagraha there.
Narmada, A Larger Struggle
The Satyagraha (non-violent mass action) against the submergence of SSP
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 also a striving for the alternative and humane
development, said the senior octogenarian Gandhian activist Siddharaj
Dhadda on this occasion. Fr.Thomas Kocherry, the President of World
Fishworkers Federation, made it clear that the Narmada struggle has
been a part of the larger national struggle against the Globalization and
for protection of the life, livelihoods and rights of the common people.
Mr. Bhai Vaidya, the President of Rashtra Seva Dal and ex- Home Minister
of Maharashtra declared that Narmada struggle is a symbol of the New
Development and a larger politics for the equality, sustainability and
democracy. RSD has made the Narmada struggle as one of its main focus
area and over 50 activists would participate in the Satyagraha.
Along with the villagers from SSP area, representatives from Gujarat
rehabilitation sites, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra were present.,
Sanjay M.G., national Coordinator of National Alliance of People's
Movements (NAPM), Ms. Ulka Mahajan of Shoshit Jan Andolan in Maharashtra
and a senior activists of various people's organisations from West
Bengal, Kerala, Tamilnadu, Delhi, Bombay, Pune, and other parts of
Maharashtra, were present to extend support and solidarity.
Representatives of villagers Maheshwar and Man projects, the destructive
mega dams on Narmada, along with the main activists Alok Agrawal,
Chittaroopa Palit were also present and spoke.
Rich tributes were paid to late Baliben Tadvi, senior activist of Narmada
Bachao Andolan from the Colony affected villages, who died on June 25th
in an accident. Symbolising the struggle and our vow to carry it ahead, a
torch was lit by Bhimabhai Tadvi from Gujarat and Dedlibai Vasave
More people joined the Satyagraha on July 6, including senior Socialist
ideologue Surendra Mohan, leader of Tawa Dam struggle Sunilbhai and
Agricultural Labourers leader P. Chennaih from Andhra, senior leaders of
National Fishworkers Forum.
Injustice By Court
We have seen them all the governments, the Supreme Court. Now we will
fight here on our land. It is a struggle of life and death Noorjibhai
made it clear. Alongwith the central and state governments, the Supreme
Court too came in for scathing criticism from the people and supporters.
The Satyagraha has again proves the absurdity and false premises of the
Supreme Court verdict allowing the increase in the dam height upto 90
meters plus the 3 meters humps, said Keshav Vasave, the tribal leader
from Nimgavhan (Maharashtra). The court had ordered the increase in the
height of the dam beyond 80 meters without ascertaining whether the
people will be resettled. It blindly believed on the false affidavits of
the governments. It believed the information provided by the accused
itself. This is strange justice. We reject this.
In Domkhedi and Jalsindhi, the Narmada waters were flowing nearby the
Satyagraha place. Due to the increase from 85 to 93 meters in the dam,
slight increase at the dam-site would threaten the villages and
Satyagraha places. In the monsoon of 1999, the submergence water rose
upto the chins of the Satyagrahis in Domkhedi. Yet they did not move out,
neither the hundreds of Satyagrahis went away.
Actions in support of the Satyagraha were held on July 5, in many places
including Mumbai, Pune. At Mumbai, the supporters gathered at Churchgate
for some hours raising the issue of thousands of families, who are
without rehabilitation and who will be forced to face submergence this
monsoon. In Pune, activists held demonstrations and pickets near the
Senapati Bapat Statue. In US, many sympathisers of Indian origin held
candle light vigil, appealing the governments not to let the flame of
life put out.
Senior social activists including Suniti S.R. of NAPM from Pune, Pratibha
Shinde,(Punarvas Sangharsh Samiti), Jacob Vadakkanchery, Shivprasad, Geo
Jose (Kerala), Gabriele D., (Tamilnadu) attended the inaugural program
held at Domkhedi.