NBA Press Note


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

The Satyagraha : A challenge to people and the government
"Ban NBA" move by an unholy alliance against democracy

A fiery fight with the rising waters is what thousands of tribal families in the Vindhya-Satpudas and farming communities in the West Nimad are prepared for, this monsoon. The impending submergence being absolutely illegal and immoral, against every human right and constitutional guarantee of life and livelihood, the struggle is not only inevitable but totally justifiable as a people's movement against the destruction and destitution of farmer communities let lose by the State and allied forces. Sixteen years long battle by the people in the Sardar Sarovar affected region, now spread to other big dams ^ Man, Maheshwar Bargi, Veda, Goi, supporting those affected by Narmada Sagar in the Narmada ^ and all over the country allied with similar thinking people's movements across the world feels proud to announce 'Satyagraha to Nyayagraha' at Jalsindhi (Jhabua), Domkhedi (Nandurbar-Maharashtra) beginning from July 5th and Chhoti Kasaravad (Baba Amte's residence) to be inaugurated on July 9th with thousands of people participating. Baba himself has taken a pledge 'not to move' and be the first Satyagrahi.

Amidst State repression, taking away not just the market space for local agricultural produce or land and other resources or livelihoods, but even life, as witnessed in Kashipur (Orissa), Koel-Karo (Jharkhand) and Dewas (M.P.), the perseverant struggle challenges the concerned state and the central government to dare flood the homes and farms of 5000 + families. The same is being imposed without even land for rehabilitation, with skewed distribution of benefits to the Ahmedabad-Baroda at the cost of the drought affected in Kutch, Saurashtra or even the Narmada Valley and with an unjustifiable social, environmental costs as also economic extravaganza.

A colossal waste with a human cost: the game of 'power'

The politico-economic vested interests, in India least bothered about a permanent solution to drought and deprivation of the large majority of natural resource-based communities, continue to neglect 162 major dams and 74 extension schemes left incomplete since 2nd five year plan onwards requiring a colossal sum of 79,000 + crores. They are bent upon stating New gigantic projects with old vices which are sources of huge corruption - much more serious than tehelka and misappropriation of water and power by the elite population as evidence in Enron. Sardar Sarovar, that will cost not less than 2.5 lakh rupees per hectare of irrigation and 3 to 4 crores per MW of power is 'another Enron', to be exposed and admitted sooner or later. Madhya Pradesh state is not fulfilling its duty, neither towards the citizens in the bountiful Valley of Narmada nor the population at large. The costliest electricity (much of which SSP will produce for less than 10 to 15 years and much less than estimated) 56% of which is the only benefit for MP to be obtained at the cost of life of the Valley.

No land, No dam

On the displacement front, while it's more than proved that there is no agricultural land and no adequate & appropriate sites for resettlement of 32 to 35000 families residing in the affected zone of SSP, as there is no land even for the 3000 + tribal families to be affected by Man (another of 30 big dams in Narmada), the SSP dam construction has had to be stopped again, in spite of the Supreme Court's verdict at 90 metres. As Jayanarayan Vyas, Sanat Mehta, Urmilaben Patel and other ex-ministers of Gujarat has now admitted, the Supreme Court Judgement has not been the final word as they expected. NBA never expected it to be one since the judgement has exhibited ignorance of the ground reality and deliberately concealed the facts well presented before it.

NBA, the people in the Valley, inspite of the politicians bureaucrat's tactics to vacate the villages have stayed put and fought the untruth, proving that the submergence at 90 mts + 3 mts level (full height 138.68 mts not reached) yet will come and come with a fatal impact on the thickly populated to vast stretched communities both, which will be faced as a movement does, with the onslaught on life of the living populations. Large rainfall this year would certainly prove the truth, even if through a likely sacrifice for the same. 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.

Ban NBA move of an unholy alliance against democracy

The exposure of the misdeeds and falsehood in the big dam propaganda and strength of the people's struggle has, however, disturbed the peace of the political and economic interests who appear to be at their worst, leading to a malafide and vicious campaign against not the vision and values, facts and issues posed by NBA but NBA itself. The commercial means of advertisement, used by one Mr.V.K.Saxena, sponsored apparently by some industrialists, is only such move. Who is behind this waste of lakhs of rupees on ads. All the allegations in those are either fake, distorting the facts or deliberate concoction of linkages between NBA and its supporters. NBA can't be proved to be violent, based on a long list of false cases clamped upon it by the State during its agitational programs. Our alliance with international people's organizations and NGOs and submissions to the multinational companies, lenders or export credit guarantee agencies is perfectly justifiable in the present context of global power's encroachment on people's life and resources, hand in gloves with the State, misusing our laws and indigenous agencies. We are unregistered people's movement, as was the first freedom movement of India. Our actions to accounts are not only legal but constitutional. We have therefore filed a criminal complaint against V.K.Saxena and Indian Express in the Delhi Magistrate's Court, to be heard on July 17th. We are issuing notices to other dailies too.

Jamunadevi's public campaign trying to incite people against NBA is non-sensical and motivated with petty political gains. She seems to have given a commitment to Gujarat to sacrifice the interests of the people of MP and especially Nimad which she will have to pay a heavy political cost for, if not today, tomorrow.

The latest move by ex-chief ministers of Gujarat and Jamunadevi with her stooges in MP is nothing else but a nexus symbolic of the unholy alliance politics dominant in the country. It's also an expression of the State's attempt, in the privatization era to take away the space for people's protest and be intolerant to any democratic dissent. The special area Securities Act of MP and moves by some other states as also the easy resort to repression indicates this. NBA will expose the attempt to do away with non-violent but strong people's organizations while the corrupt communal and criminal political outfits are let lose. Digvijay Singh must make his arms and the party's position on this clear or will be proved to be a party to this!

At one level, such politics and its accusations such as NBA is responsible for human rights violation is to be ignored as immature and a game they always play, it's also simultaneously a warning and an appeal to all democratic forces, especially working with the downtrodden, to come together and fight to protect the space for protest against valueless politics. We can't even be trapped under the Unlawful Activities Act, except through lawlessness by the rulers. What is more dangerous and to be challenged, however, is valuelessness. While the Summit comes closer, when it's a great statesmanship and openness, love for peace with the neighbourhood and non-violence is what the Prime Minister is posed with, NBA would like the people to also judge this government from their attitudes and actions towards the inside protesters, its own people.

Medha Patkar