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

Indefinite Fast and Dharna Withdrawn
Expert Advisors Appointed in GRA to Ensure Rehabilitation of Maan Dam Oustees
to Guarantee Complete Rehabilitation by July 31st

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

Today, on the 29th day, the indefinite hunger fast by Chittaroopa Palit, Ramkuvar, Vinod Patwa and Mangat Varma was called off, as the government has asked Mr.Ravindra Sharma, Chairman Grievance Redressal Authority (GRA) of Narmada Valley Development Authority (NVDA) to look into the rehabilitation of the oustees of Maan dam, under the special advice of former Commissioner of SC/ST Commission, Dr.B.D.Sharma and veteran journalist Shri.Prabhas Joshi. The GRA will ensure that the rehabilitation of the Maan dam oustees is completed in a time-bound manner, no later than July 31st, 2002.

Thus, people from different villages affected by Maan dam, supported by the oustees of other dams in the Narmada valley like Maheshwar, Bargi, Veda and Sardar Sarovar, have returned back home on a note of success. The indefinite fast of 29 days and the dharna (sit-in) for 35 days witnessed many a hope and disappointment. One mutually agreeable solution or the other was over and again turned down by the politician-bureaucratic lobby, for whom the rightful rehabilitation of the dam oustees will make a 'precedence' of justice in other dams. Ultimately it was the victory of perseverance and determination of the people on fast and on dharna.

The fasting activists had to go underground because of the police high handedness on June 12th. Inspite of intense combing by the police, they were unable to trace them and they continued to fast till the end. At the time of withdrawal of fast, Ramkuvar, the 22 year old tribal girl from the first submergence village, Khedi, was at her lowest ebb. She hardly could talk and her organs are showing signs of damage. Chittaroopa Palit continues to have pain in the abdomen. Vinod Patwa and Mangat Verma have continuous vomitting and dizziness. Inspite of the danger of permanent damage to their vital organs, or even life, the satyagrahis (who are insistent on truth & non-violence) stood by their resolve of putting their own lives at stake to assert the rights of the people and justice. At the time of calling off the fast, senior activist of Narmada Bachao Andolan Ms.Medha Patkar and noted writer Ms.Arudhati Roy were present.

Different organisations from Bhopal as well as different parts of the country and abroad expressed precious support and solidarity with the ongoing agitation. While many organised programs like rally, dharna and fast (supporters in US and UK are still continuing with their relay fast), some have come down to Bhopal and joined the agitation here. We feel obliged to all of them who have borne the heat of the agitation here and who have been a part of this, since years, and taken up the agitations in their own forums. NBA feels confident that with the support and participation of all like-minded citizens and organisations of India and abroad, we will save the valley from irreversible damage and destitution.

Narmada Bachao Andolan demands that the water should not be filled till the committee ensures complete rehabilitation. NBA, while extending full co-operation to the committee, will face the submergence, in case the water inundate the houses and fields of hundreds of Maan affected families before proper rehabilitation, according to the rehabilitation policy.

NBA also reiterates that in other dams like Sardar Sarovar, where over 7000 families are left without rehabilitation, and who are under the threat of submergence this coming monsoon, people will face the rising waters and will challenge the injustice of the State.

Joe Athialy
Alok Agarwal