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

Further Decline in Health of Fasting Activists;
Government Tries to Wash-Off Responsibility: Uninterested in Resolving Crisis

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

"Oustees of all Narmada Valley Projects will Join Hands to Fight Displacement and Destitution", said Medha Patkar as the dharna enters the 33rd day and the indefinite fast enters into the 27th day . Despite deteriorating health, the fasting activists have continued their fast underground, not letting the state government to diffuse the struggle by forcefully ending the fast. In case of Chittaroopa Palit, Vinod Patwa and Ram Kuvar vomiting continues and critically high acetone levels are detected in their urine. The health of Ram Kuvar, the tribal activist from Khedi village affected by Maan is most critical.

Despite the fast and the beginning of submergence in the Maan affected villages, at the very out set of monsoon, the government has not taken any concrete steps to resolve the crisis to ensure that people will be resettled as per the government policy. Heavy monsoon rains in last 3 days have in the Maan affected area has resulted in creation of a small reservoir. Fields of adivasi peasants in Khedi were partly submerged. It should be noted that despite the terror tactics of the government to destroy hand pumps, electricity connections and schools in these villages about a month ago, people continue to stay in their homes. According to the information received from the field, police force has been sent to the affected villages. Yesterday people refused to let the police force enter their villages. The land acquisition officer visited Khedi and threatened people and abused them when they refused to move out of their homes. He threatened to bring in bulldozer to break the homes.

Members of Parliament, Shri.M.A.Baby, Shri.Varkala Radhakrishnan, Shri.Chittaranjan, eminent Constitutional expert Adv.Rajeev Dhawan, former Advocate-General of Kerala Adv.M.K.Damodaran, CPM Central Committee member, Shri.Suneet Chopra, noted political analyst Shri.Ninan Koshy and a number of legal experts gathered at the All India Lawyers Union Biennial Conference in Kochi, Kerala and has appealed to the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Shri. Digvijay Singh that, "any damage to life in the process of a non-violent struggle will be a blot not just on your government, but we are afraid that it will amputate one's confidence in the democratic and non-violent process." In a fax message they sent to Shri.Singh, they continued to say, "we request you to kindly constitute this (independent) committee headed by Jst.(Retd) P.B.Samant. It will not only show your openness but also satisfy the agitators. We hope that formation of the committee will pave way for an early resolution, the people on fast will end their fast and justice will be done."

Yesterday the District Magistrate sent a letter to Alok Agrawal that the government has learnt from the press reports that the health of fasting activists has deteriorated and hence they should be admitted in the hospital, if not their responsibility will be personally on Alok Agrawal. In his reply, senior activist of NBA Alok Agrawal wrote that they went on fast by their own choice and on some pressing demands. They had declared that once the demands are met, they will withdraw the fast. The reason for going underground is the police high handedness on the night of the 12th. Hence, by writing a few lines telling that the life of the ones on fast is the responsibility of Alok Agarwal, the state government cannot wash-off the hands. If the lives of the people is not the concern of the state - that of the ones who are losing their lives and livelihood in the coming submergence, and that of the ones who are on fast, who were forced into that because of the insensitivity of the state- then whose is the responsibility?

Senior activist of Narmada Bachao Andolan, Ms.Medha Patkar has reached again today at the Dharna site in Bhopal. Addressing the press, she reiterated that all the people of Narmada valley- whether affected by Maan, Sardar Sarovar, Maheshwar or other dams- will fight together till justice is done to the people.

Representatives of people's organisations in Madhya Pradesh continue to be in Bhopal to extend solidarity and support the struggle. Sunil bhai of Samajwadi Jan Parishad and Anurag Modi of Shramik Adivasi Sangathan are notable among them. Samajwadi Jan Parishad will hold a rally and dharna at Bhopal on the 19th in support of the ongoing agitation.

Amrita Patwardhan
Alok Agarwal