NBA Press Release

06 July 2001

Save The Narmada, Save Humanity! NARMADA BACHAO ANDOLAN
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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 (Maharashtra).

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.

M.K. Sukumar
Joe Athialy
Ashish Mandloi
Sanjay Sangvai