| NBA Press Release
|| 10 July 2007
Indefinite fast continues for the 35th day: Illegal Submergence in the affected regions
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Representatives to meet Narmada Minister Nagendra Singh tomorrow
Progressive Writers and Social Activists join dharna in support
Agitation will continue till just rights are achieved
The indefinite dharna of the Indira Sagar and Omkareshwar dam affected people continued in Tin Shed, Bhopal with full vigour. The indefinite fast by two senior activists of Narmada Bachao Andolan - Chittaroopa Palit and Bhagwan Mukati entered its 35th day. Inspite of failing health and low energy, they continue with their fast with a deep commitment and unwavering resolve.
Supreme Court negates allegations on the Narmada Movement
In a significant move today, the Supreme Court dismissed the petition filed by Gujarat based organization National Council for Civil Liberties (NCCL) in which it had accused the Narmada Bachao Andolan of taking foreign money, resorting to violence and disrupting development. After hearing both the sides, a bench comprising of Justice Altamash Kabeer and Justice CK Thakkar said in its order that the accusations made against the Andolan were baseless and hence the petition was being dismissed. The Court also ruled out the petitioner's demand of conducting a CBI inquiry against the Andolan. In fact the Court directed the petitioner to submit an amount of Rs 5000.00 as penalty.
The NCCL had filed the said compliant against the Andolan in the year 2005. Today's Supreme Court decision has not only put a full stop to the series of baseless allegations being hurled at the Andolan. It has also upheld every Indian's right to freedom of expression and right to organize to demand ones rights, as guaranteed in the Constitution. In addition to the Andolan, the said petition had also made the Central Government, and the state governments of Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh as involved parties. The Central Government had earlier clearly stated in its affidavits that the Home Ministry on scrutiny had found no trace of foreign funding and no discrepancies in the account-books of the Narmada Bachao Andolan or its associate organizations.
Illegal submergence starts in the affected regions
The recent spate of heavy rains has started the havoc of illegal submergence in the affected regions of the Indira Sagar and Omkareshwar dams. According to information reaching Bhopal, villages Khardana and Unva that were supposed to have been submerged at a reservoir water level of 262 metres, have submerged houses at the present reservoir water level of only 249 metres. Similarly, many houses have been totally inundated in village Haneefabad and others have been turned into an island, trapping people in them. These reports have once again proved how wrong and false the claims of the state government and National Hydro Development Corporation (NHDC) are. Since the people living in these houses have not been given any compensation or relief as yet, this submergence is totally illegal.
With the monsoon setting in, as the water level in the dam reservoirs continue to fill-up, more and more houses in other villages too will be similarly affected without any compensation. To add to the gruesome situation, as the Indira Sagar dam reservoir fills up, water will be released into the Omkareshwar dam – causing flash flooding in the Omkareshwar affected region. This will cause rapid submergence of many villages and the houses in them without any rehabilitation or compensation. It is this callousness of the government and NHDC that is a cause of fury in the affected population. The struggle in Bhopal surges on: Meeting with Narmada Minister tomorrow
Meanwhile the dharna of thousands of people affected by the Indira Sagar and Omkareshwar dams continued in Tin Shed, Bhopal. The last two days saw heavy downpour in Bhopal, as also in all parts of MP and affected the dharna site by flooding the place were people were sitting. Inspite of all these hardships, people continued to brave the rains, cold weather and sickness and stood there ground. Today, the in-flow of people from the valley started again, after the rains subsided partially. In the past week, inspite of two rounds of talks with the Narmada Minister Nagendra Singh and one round with the Energy Minister Kailash Vijayvargiya, the only thing that the government offered was to "look into" certain matters. It is a matter of grave concern and raises serious questions as to why the government is dilly-dallying decisions on matters of rehabilitation that are either according to the law and the Rehabilitation Policy of the state or pertaining to implementation of Court orders. Tomorrow representatives of the Andolan will meet the Narmada Minister Nagendra Singh again. The Andolan hopes that the government would have completed its "looking into" relevant issues and will come up with concrete and clear decisions. The Andolan remains firm in its resolve that it will return to the Valley only once the displaced people are given their due rights.
Bhopal Struggle gains Support:
The Bhopal struggle is receiving support from various parts of the country – far and near – and beyond. Today, Member of Parliament from East Delhi – Sandip Dixit – visited the dharna site and extended support of the struggling people. He assured the Andolan that he would take up the issues with the relevant ministries in Delhi. A large number of the intelligentsia also held a demonstration at Indore in support of the Bhopal struggle. Yesterday, National Secretary of Progressive Writer' Association Shri Kamala Prasad and Shri Kumar Ambuj, member of the MP Progressive Writers' Association Chair Council visited the dharna site and extended their support to the agitating people.
Earlier, Himanshu Thakkar of the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People wrote to the Chief Minister, Madhya Pradesh saying that it was the responsibility of the government to allot cultivable land to the affected families and also honour the High Court order granting allotment of cultivable land to the adult sons and unmarried adult daughters or give them the benefit of Special Relief Package. An overseas supporter – Shri Anirudh S. Vaid wrote to the Prime Minister apprising him of the issues and asking for justice for the affected people. Others to write in large numbers in support of the Bhopal struggle include Magsaysay Award Winner and National Alliance of People's Movement activist Sandeep Pandey, Geeta Ramakrishnan of National Federation of Unorganised Sector Workers, D. Gabriele of Women Hawkers' Organisation, Tamil Nadu, Sister Cleya of Domestic Workers' Union, Karnataka, Ulka Mahajan of Sarvahara Jan Andolan, Rohit Prajapati of Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti, Gujarat, P. Chennaiah of Andhra Pradesh Agricultural Labours' Union and Pranab Banerjee of NAPM, West Bengal.Kailash Chauhan