NBA Press Release
  12 July 2008
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

Thousands of Narmada dam Oustees March for Rights in Bhopal: Declare Satyagraha in Narmada valley



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Madhya Pradesh
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Email: nobigdams[at]sancharnet.in

Governor and Chief Minister assure steps would be taken for rehabilitation and compliance with Orders of High Court and Supreme Court

Chief Minister meets oustees to hear their grievances

Nearly ten thousand oustees of the Indira Sagar, Omkareshwar, Maheshwar, Bargi, Man and Upper Beda dams in the Narmada valley belonging to Narmada Bachao Andolan marched in Bhopal on the 10th and 11th of July 2008 in protest against the complete failure of the rehabilitation and resettlement process. The oustees demonstrated at the Narmada Bhavan at the offices of the NVDA and the NHDC and delegations of the Andolan met the Governor of Madhya Pradesh Shri Balram Jhakar, Chief Minister Shri Shivraj Singh Chauhan and the Narmada Minister Shri Nagendra Singh. The strong resolve of the oustees forced the State Government to take serious cognizance of the demands of the oustees and the Chief Minister had to come to meet thousands of oustees and listen to their grievances.

After protests at Bhopal spanning two days, as a result of which the State government promised to initiate immediate action, the oustees went back to the Narmada Valley with the declaration that they would wait to see whether the State Government fulfills its legal and constitutional liability towards the oustees, and would intensify their struggle by undertaking monsoon satyagraha in the Indira Sagar and Upper Beda dams, where many houses were expected to submerge without either R&R or compensation. The oustees also demanded that the State Government stop work on the Maheshwar dam with immediate effect until the preparation of a R&R Plan with land details as required as per the environmental clearance. The oustees stated that if the Government permitted work to continue on the dam in violation of law, the oustees would have to stop it themselves.

Meeting with Chief Minister

A delegation of the dam oustees along with Alok Agarwal, senior activist of the NBA met the Chief Minister Shri Shivraj Singh Chouhan with their demands. They informed the Chief Minister that the government itself has admitted that only 11% of the farmers who have been displaced on account of the dams were able to purchase lands. Thus admittedly, 90% of all displaced families were pauperized. The oustees pointed out that it was no wonder that thousands of angered villagers who had been pauperized and put on the streets have braved rain and storm to come to protest in Bhopal and demand that they be given their full R&R entitlements, before which the reservoirs could not be filled. The oustees also demanded that the Maheshwar dam should be stopped on account of the expensive electricity to be generated by the Project

Responding to the demands of the villagers, the Chief Minister stated that the State Government would ensure the implementation of the Rehabilitation Policy and the Orders of the High Court and Supreme Court. He also stated that the issues raised by the oustees would be examined and a process would be initiated under the leadership of the Narmada Minister to provide justice to all the oustees. He stated that he would also participate in the process, if required.

Chief Minister meet thousands of oustees to hear their grievances

The strength and resolve of the oustees forced the Chief Minister Shri Shivraj Singh Chouhan to come to the Railway Station to meet the departing thousands of oustees and to personally hear their individual grievances for nearly one hour. The men and women from various dam affected areas told Mr. Chouhan that they have been pauperized because of denial of agricultural land and demanded that all oustees should be given land and be rehabilitated with all rehabilitation entitlements before raising water in any dam.

Meeting with Governor

The representatives of the Narmada Bachao Andolan met the Governor Mr. Balram Jakhar and informed him about the displacement of thousands of oustees of the Narmada dams without rehabilitation and resettlement, the exclusion of thousands of families from the ambit of acquisition and non-payment of compensation, and the denial of special entitlements provided in the Rehabilitation Policy for Dalits, adivasis and small farmers by the State Government has led to the flagrant violation of fundamental and constitutional rights of the oustees.

The delegation also informed the Governor that the State Government has persistently refused to implement the Order of the Madhya Pradesh High Court dated 8th September 2006 directing that oustees should be resettled on R&R sites within a km. of their lands, and that 5 acres of agricultural land should be allotted to each adult son and adult unmarried daughter of land-holding cultivators. Thus, it is clear that there is no Rule of Law in the State, with the State Government itself refusing to comply with Orders of the judiciary. The Governor was extremely perturbed to hear this and said that he would immediately write to the Chief Minister asking for an answer to all these issues, and that it would be ensured that the oustees are properly rehabilitated.

Meeting with Narmada Minister : Demonstration at Narmada Bhavan

On the eve of the protest at Bhopal, on the 9th of July 2007, the Narmada Minister met the NBA representatives and assured them he would examine all the issues being raised and would initiate a process of resolution within the next one week. Then around ten thousand oustees demonstrated at the Narmada Bhawan - the head quarters of Narmada Valley Development Authority for 3 hours, and a 30 member delegation of the villagers from all the dams met the officials at the NVDA and presented their demands.

Struggle of oustees to intensify - Declaration of Satyagraha

Concluding the two-day protests in Bhopal, the oustees noted that their mass protest had forced the State Government to take serious cognizance of their demands. However, they stated that there was no question of satisfaction with mere verbal declarations, and they would continue to struggle until each and every oustee received her legitimate right. The oustees stated that they would in order to achieve this, they would intensify their struggle, and in the coming monsoon, would undertake Jal-satyagrahas in affected areas of the Indira Sagar and Upper Beda dams in the Narmada valley. The oustees also told the Chief Minister that if construction on the Maheshwar dam is not be stopped until a credible R&R Plan with details of agricultural land is prepared, the people would do so. The oustees vowed to continue with their struggle until their rights are accorded to them.

Chittaroopa Palit, Rajkumar Sinha, Radheshyam Tirole, Sushilabai, Rajendra Prasad, Ramkuwar , Bhagwan Mukati, Mangilal bhai, Bana bai, Munna bhai