Press Note 21-6-99
Narmada Satyagraha Begins
Fast by Samarpit Dal from 4-12 July.
Declaring a fight to face unjust submergence, the Narmada Satyagraha
began in the Domkhedi village of Maharashtra and Jalsindhi village of
Madhya Pradesh on the 20th of june. Hundreds of tribals and pesants from
the Narmada valley and representatives of peoples organizations from all
over the country lined on the bank of the narmada and pledged that "We
will not leave our homes and lands for an ill conceived project." They
reiterated that the decision to raise the height of the dam by 8 mts,
i.e. upto 88 mts. is unjust and will cause great destruction to their
property, lands, homes and forest. People pledged by lighting hundreds
of lamps and offering them to the Narmada that they will fight and face
waters when they rise and enter their villages and homes.
Inaugurating the satyagraha at Domkhedi, senior Sarvodaya leader Shri.
Sidhraj Daddha emphasized the need to establish the control of villages
on the life supporting resources like water, forests and land. He
questioned the development program of the Government which drives
thousands of families to destitution for the benefit of powerful few. He
conveyed the support and solidarity of Sarva Seva Sagh to the
Senior village representatives, Dadla Karbhari, Keshav Vasave, Bawa
Muharia and others, reiterated their resolve to fight with weapons of
non-violence and satyagraha, against the betrayal of the State. Women
and children of the valley too joined hands with a determination to
fight to save the Narmada valley from destruction.
Pratibha Shinde and Jordar Patil of Punarvas Sangharsh Samiti exposed
the claims of the Government that all was well in the rehabilitation
sites. Tribals already displaced in Gujarat from the first nineteen
villages that were affected in Gujarat and those displaced by Kevadia
Colony and canals also joined the satyagraha to prevent their brothers
from facing the same fate as theirs.
Medha Patkar while addressing the gathering announced fast and maun
(silence) by Samarpit dal and supporters in the satyagraha hut from 4th
to 12th of July. She called upon the people of the country on behalf of
Narmada Bachao Andolan, to observe a day's fast on the 12th of july in
support of the satyagraha.
Supporters and representatives of peoples organisation from Kerela,
Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, Karanataka, West Bengal and
Rajasthan, joined the hundreds in the valley. Youths from the different
parts of the country have also arrived at Domkhedi to participate in a
week long youth camp to understand the life, culture and struggle of the
people of the Narmada Valley. This camp will be followed by a padyatra
in the villages that are to be affected by submergence from the 29th of
June to 3rd July.
Just a few months ago, Supreme Court of India, gave permission to raise
the height of the dam by 8 mts. after a long stay on the construction of
the dam, depending upon the false affidavits submitted by the State
Governments. This increase in height by 8 mts will affect 50-60 tribal
villages, drowning lands and homes of about 2,000 tribal families. That
the Governments of all the three States have failed to resettle even
those displaced below 80 mts is a fact and that lands are not available
to rehabilitate those to be displaced further cleaR. The submergence
this year will render hundreds of people in the Narmada valley homeless
and yet the people in the valley have decided to fight this unjust
submergence with all their might.
The struggle in the Narmada Valley has been going on for 14 years now,
but this monsoon it enters its toughest phase of fight. For the people
of the Narmada valley, "We shall drown but not move" was never just a
slogan but a resolve and a pledge. It is with this pledge that hundreds
of men, women and children are sitting in their homes though their
homes, lands and villages will be flooded in a few days time.