NBA Press Release
  29 July 2003
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

Adivasis Arrested Forcefully in Chimalkhedi;
Waters Rise Submerging Houses And Standing Crops;
Madhya Pradesh C.M. Agrees to Involve Gram Sabhas in Rehabilitation Process

62, Mahatma Gandhi Road,
Badwani,
Madhya Pradesh - 451551
Tel: 07290-22464
Email: badwani@narmada.org

Seventy four (74) people including 11 women and a number of children and activists Pratibha Shinde and Chetan Singh were arrested yesterday night from Chimalkhedi village. The people of Chimalkhedi who were marooned in their village that had turned into an island, battled with the police for the past two days, who tried to evict them forcefully, destroying crops and property. In the past three days, many villages on the banks of Narmada, affected by the Sardar Sarovar Project, have been converted into battlegrounds, where a battle is waged between villagers, the rising waters and the State.

In Maharashtra, with waters entering villages Manibeli, Dhankhedi, Dhanale, Mokhdi, Chimalkhedi, Bharad, Domkhedi, Nimgavan and other villages, and thousands of acres of land with standing crops being submerged, the falsity of the claim of the Maharashtra government that all affected persons at 100 meters had been rehabilitated, was exposed.

On the opposite bank, waters have entered the fully adivasi villages of Alirajpur in M.P. submerging atleast two houses in Jalsindhi and one in Sugat and several hundreds of acres of standing crops in villages Jalsindhi, Anjanwada, Kakrana, Jhadana, Bhitada, Dubkheda and Bada Amba. As per reports from last night, waters were just a few feet away from flooding the hamlets in Anjanwada, Dubkheda, Bhitada and Jhandana which are situated on plateaus, each hamlet having on average 30-40 houses at roughly the same level, and thus under the danger of being washed away. Pichodi, Bijasen, Sondul (the adivasi villages of Nimad) and Nisarpur, Chikalda, Rajghat, Kasrawad, the large villages of Nimad, with pucca houses and thousands of families are also under the threat of submergence.

This orgy of destruction was taking place while last evening Mr.Pradeep Bhargav of the NVDA claimed that all people below the present height of 100 m (+3 m humps) had been fully rehabilitated. The full impact of the increase in height of the dam is still to be seen, as this is only the beginning of submergence with the release of waters from the Tawa dam. The submergence of fields and houses only exposes the false claims of the government as to the completion of rehabilitation and exposes the real face of the government which is propounding the Dalit Agenda. Quite contrary to Dalits being made landowners here, they are being stripped of their land and being made landless.

In the meeting held yesterday, between eminent persons Shabana Azmi, L.C.Jain, Swami Agnivesh, Andolan representatives and the Chief Minister, it was agreed that the Gram Sabhas should be involved in the Rehabilitation process, especially the drawing up of the affected persons' lists and identification of agricultural land for rehabilitation. Thus it was decided that detailed documents of Project Affected Persons' lists, details of land acquisition, agricultural land available with the government for rehabilitation, entitlements of people according to NWDTA etc will be sent to each Gram Sabha and a special Government Order be passed directing the Gram Sabhas to send their detailed observations on the issues and documents. The eminent persons stressed that till this process was completed, the government should not give the nod to any further increase in the height of the dam.

The government acknowledged that there was yet no final list of affected people and that the names of thousands of adult sons need to be included. During the discussion the representatives of the Andolan also pointed out that the Special Rehabilitation package was not sufficient to enable the PAPs to get a minimum of 5 acres as per the NWDT Award. Many people have been unable to buy land. Also this package has been used as an instrument by the government to escape from its responsibility of establishing resettlement sites with all amenities, as the onus of identifying and buying land is placed with the oustee.

Finally, the earthquake with its epicentre near the dam site and the vast submergence created over the past two days only vindicate our claims that the dam was scientifically ill-planned and that the socio-economic costs were grossly under estimated.

Karuna Ashish Mandloy
Medha Patkar