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

Ramkuvar Sinking: Health of Others Critically Deteriorating:
Government Backed Off From its Own Proposal for Independent Committee:
Police Encircles Submergence Villages

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

As the health of the four fasting activists is critically deteriorating, and as huge police consignment started taking position in villages under the threat of submergence, especially Khedi, the first village to be affected by the Maan Dam, the government is backing off from all the efforts to find an immediate and mutually agreed solution.

Entering the 26th day of the indefinite fast, the condition of Chittaroopa Palit, Ramkuvar, Vinod Patwa and Mangat Verma has further deteriorated. The most precarious Ramkuvar, the tribal girl from Khedi village, having high acetone level, is sinking since late last night. She is vomiting, is shivering and is feverish. Chittaroopa Palit and Vinod Patwa too have high acetone levels and are vomiting since last evening. Mangat Verma is weaker and frailer. Nevertheless, all of them stand undeterred in their commitment and resolve to take the non-violent struggle to a logical end. The fast continues.

A process to find an amicable solution to the issue, and to end the agitation and fast reached a dead end at 12.30 am today (15.6.2002) when the Chief Minister, Mr.Digvijay Singh outrightly rejected to do anything on the issue. Earlier a messenger from the Chief Minister was in touch with the agitators since 13th night in the jail, and was negotiating. NBA took cognizance of the point raised by the government messenger that since there are two diametrically opposite views about the state of rehabilitation (while NBA says that the rehabilitation is not done according to the policy, government is saying that the policy has been followed) one should independently assess the ground reality. NBA, after deliberations, agreed to the suggestion by the government that a committee can be formed under the chairmanship of eminent jurist Jst (Retd) P.B.Samant (former Chairperson, Press Council of India). The committee was to look into the issues in 7 days time and give its directions, wh! ich will be implemented in a time bound manner.

The Chief Minister late in the night shamelessly backed out of this proposal and conveyed that he will not budge from his stand. Why is Digvijay Singh afraid of an independent enquiry? Is it because that his claims about the rehabilitation of Maan oustees will be exposed? NBA challenges the government to prove the claims regarding rehabilitation of the Maan dam affected through an independent assessment.

Hundreds of police have entered the Maan dam affected villages to intimidate and use force to dismantle houses and empty the village. The valley witnessing heavy rains and the water is slowly rising. However, the people are determined to face the submergence and prevent the police from the farce of saving them by arresting and putting them behind bars.

Yesterday evening all the agitators who were arrested on 13th afternoon were unconditionally released. The dharna is continuing at the same place, with renewed vigor.

Many people's organisations from Madhya Pradesh and other places have expressed unconditional support to the agitation here. In a statement released to the press today at Bhopal, Kisan Adivasi Sangathan, Shramik Adivasi Sangathan, Jagrut Dalit Adiavsi Sangathan, Ekta Parishad, Adivasi Mukti Sangathan, Bhopal Gas Pidit Mahila Udyog Sangathan and others said that the image of the pro-people, pro-environment, pro-dalit tribal Chief Minister is fully exposed. They declared that they will tour through the state and will politically drain him out.

Respected social activist from Maharashtra, Baba Adhav has asked the Chief Minister to immediately look into the issue of rehabilitation of the dam oustees. Noted Gandhians Thakudas Bang and Kumar Prashant and others too have expressed their concern about the state of rehabilitation and the condition of the 4 fasting activists.

Joe Athialy
Alok Agarwal