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

Submergence started in Maan Affected Khedi village;
Indefinite fast of the four activists enters 25th day;
Activists in Jail Observe One Day Fast: Chain Fast Begun in USA

NARMADA BACHAO ANDOLAN
Jail Road, Mandleshwar
District Khargone, Madhya Pradesh
Tel: 07283-33162
Email: nobigdam@sancharnet.in

While the indefinite fast of four activists (Chittaroopa Palit, Ramkuvar, Vinod Patwa and Mangat Verma) entered the 25th day, and others locked inside the jail, the onset of monsoon has marked the beginning of the first ever submergence caused by the Maan dam. Last night farmlands in Khedi, the first village affected by the Maan dam were flooded. Over 5000 adivasi people from 17 villages are living in this region are living under the treat of submergence, without alternatives lands provided to them. People are firm with their resolve to fight for their rights, and stay in their homes without succumbing to the threats.

The State government has kept all the activists behind bars, shunning the avenues for dialogue and suppressing their voice. The police have not been able to locate the fasting activists who are underground since June 12th.

All the people in the jail are observing one day fast to protest against the unjust arrest and government's refusal to solve the issue through dialogue. The health of all the fasting activists has further deteriorated. After the initial boasts of the Addl. Superintendent of Police about clamping Sec.309 on Alok Agarwal, in the end all the arrested people (108 men and 75 women) were clamped Sec.151 CrPC, which amounts to apprehension of breach of peace.

Association of India's Development, "an organization comprising scientists, scholars, engineers and other working people of Indian origin in 30 cities of the USA & UK" has declared that "in solidarity with the Narmada movement, we, educated citizens of India will begin a chain fast today that will continue until proper rehabilitation for the displaced families of the Sardar Sarovar and Maan dam is provided according to the law." In a letter written to the Chief Ministers of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra and to all Judges of the Supreme Court, expressing concern over the plight of Maan and Sardar Sarovar dams, they further said, "In the tragic and unconscionable event of submergence without rehabilitation, we hold the governments and the Courts accountable and will further intensify our agitation."

Naomi Kanzaki of Fukuoka NGO Forum on the ADB, Japan has urged the Chief Minister "to intervene as the lives of the activists are at stake.They also requested "not to sacrifice the lives of these, other activists and the local people in the pursuit of 'development'. They warned that "we are watching what is happening from all The Advisor of the Bolivian Chapter on Human Rights, Jorge Cortés Fajardo, has conveyed the urgency "regarding the fate of tens of thousands of oustees of the Sardar Sarovar and the Maan Projects in the Narmada Valley." In a letter he expressed his "concern about the human rights violations to the people affected by your politics on dam projects." Sébastien Godinot of Friends of the Earth, France has also conveyed the seriousness of the issue to the Chief Minister.

While the state government is trying hard to crush people's non-violent struggle for justice, support for people's struggle is pouring in from various corners of the country. Several organisations and individuals have condemned the use of brute against a peaceful struggle. A protest sit in was held in Jabalpur in which more that 150 people participated. Some of the major organisations that participated in the dharna were The Council of Trade Unions, All India Mahila Federation, All India Trade Union, All India Yuva Federation, Sanza Sanskritik Abhiyan, National Federation of Telecom Employment submitted a memorandum to the Divisional Commissioner. They demanded that people arrested should be immediately released and the government should hold a dialogue with people to ensure that all the people should be provided land as per the policy requirement. All India Student's Association (AISA) has wrote to the Chief Minister expressing "shock and protest at the crackdown on the movement of the Maan dam affected people."

NBA demands that all the arrested people, including senior activist Alok Agrawal and several dam affected people to be released immediately. Immediate, unconditional release and urgent dialogue with the people can alone resolve the present crisis.

Amrita Patwardhan