NBA Press Release
  03 June 2002
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

14th Day of Indefinite Fast; Consulting the Adivasis is a must: Dr B.D. Sharma. Rehabilitation Policy in the Presence of the Governor.

Jail Road, Mandleshwar
District Khargone, Madhya Pradesh
Tel: 07283-33162

The struggle of the Maan dam affected people at Bhopal is going strong today on the 20th day of the sit in and 14th day of the indefinite hunger strike. A delegation of the affected people met the Governor on June 1, 2002. The Governor, recognising the gravity of the situation invited the Deputy Chief Minister Shri Subhash Yadav, the Chief Secretary Shri A.V. Singh and members representing the affected people for a discussion.

Earlier, the delegation had briefed the Governor about the atrocities and demolitions being carried out in their villages in the Maan dam affected submergence area under police threat. They complained that the government was trying to scare and drive them out of their villages. They appealed to him to exercise his powers under the provisions of Article 5 of the Constitution of India to safeguard the rights of people belonging to the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes.

Later the same day, former Commissioner of the Scheduled Castes & Scheduled Tribes Commission Dr. B.D. Sharma visited the dharna site to express his solidarity with the struggling people and enquired about the health of the four people on an indefinite fast. While addressing the people on the dharna he said that today it is a necessity to consult the affected adivasis under constitutional provisions. He said that disrupting the supply of drinking water by a government that speaks about the rights of tribal people is a sin. The people who are being asked to pay the price of development should not be coerced with brute police force and bull-dozers but respectfully consulted about their choices.

The Governor of M.P. Shri Bhai Mahavir called a meeting yesterday regarding the rehabilitation of the Maan dam affected people. The government side refused in the meeting to abide by its own rehabilitation policy and give land for land. This was being asked for by the representatives of the dam affected people according to the policies. The meeting was attended by the Deputy Chief Minister Shri Subhash Yadav and the Chief Secretary Shri A.V. Singh and other officials on behalf of the state government. The dam affected people including Shri Chander Singh, Shrimati Bondri Bai, Shri Alok Agrawal, Dr. B.D. Sharma, and others were also present.

The dam affected people reported to the Governor how the rehabilitation policy was being flouted and they had not yet been provided with any rehabilitation. These tribals claimed the special protection as promised to them under the state rehabilitation policy as also the Indian constitution. They reported that they had themselves located land available in the state and all they wanted form the state government was that it purchases these pieces of land and helps them to resettle on them, complying with the rehabilitation policy. They also demanded that those young men who are becoming adults in the year of submergence should be considered as independent adults and given the benefit of affected families. These people also reported to the Governor the atrocities being meted to them by the district authorities by disrupting electricity and water supply, cutting down green trees and demolishing school and health centre buildings in their villages. They also reported that people had started to succumb to diseases due to unavailability of clean drinking water as the tube wells in these villages had been uprooted. This had also led to the death of a cow on the 28th of this month.

The Deputy CM Shri Subhash Yadav and the Chief Secretary Shri A.V. Singh clearly stated that the government was not prepared to go ahead of the cash compensation package that it had provided for. They said that if they provided for land for the affected population of one dam, they would have to do so for the others as well. The affected people complained that although the rehabilitation policy had provisions for irrigated land in lieu of submerged non-irrigated land, the government took into account only the rates of non-irrigated land while calculating the cost of land for the package. The former Commissioner of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes Commission Dr. B.D. Sharma said that the government should take the responsibility of providing land for the affected people instead of trying to help them with cash. He said that if that did not happen these people would be forced to join the huge population of 1.5 crores displaced tribals of this country. Bondri Bai of village Khanpura said questioned how long would the massacre of tribals go on in this manner? She said that if the government was not prepared to give them land and resettle them with respect, it might as well poison and kill them.

The Governor reacted sharply to the fact that schools, health centres were being demolished and trees cut down and tube-wells uprooted in villages in the affected area, while people were still living in these villages. He said that it was inhuman to deprive people of their source of drinking water as long as they are still living in those villages. He also reacted sharply to the humiliating, derogatory and objectionable behaviour of the local officers of the district toward the villagers. He said that if there is policy to give land for land then that should be followed by the government, whether it be the case of the Maan dam oustees or any others. He requested the government authorities to consider the just demands of the villagers and try to reach at an amicable solution.

The Narmada Bachao Andolan condemns the inhuman and unjust attitude of the government. To say that if land is provided to some affected tribals, others would also demand land, only shows the callous attitude of the government. It proves that the government is ready to drown its own people or evict them from their villages under brute force. Even when land for resettlement has been located by the people, the government's stand to not resettle them clearly shows that it has no intention to protect the rights of its citizens.

The health of the four persons on indefinite fast is declining constantly. Chittaroopa Plit, a senior activist of Narmada Bachao Andolan lost 10 kilos while Vinod Patwa lost 9 kilos and Mangat Verma lost 7 kilos. Ram Kunwar, an affected woman of the first village to be submerged by the dam lost 6 kilos from her fragile frame. A lot of letters of solidarity to the struggle were also received during the day today.

Rakesh Patidar
Alok Agrawal