NBA Press Release
  03 June 2003
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

Fifth Day of Fast: Medha Patkar's Health Deteriorates; Struggle will Continue Despite Maharashtra Govt's Apathy.

62, Mahatma Gandhi Road,
Badwani,
Madhya Pradesh - 451551
Tel: 07290-22464
Email: badwani@narmada.org

"It seems that the Maharashtra government has decided not to concede its mistake of raising the height of the Sardar Sarovar dam up to 100 meters, despite the abject failure even to resettle completely the oustees well below 80 meters of the dam. If the government remains adamant, we too are resolved to continue our struggle to regain the and protect the right to life of the tribals and farmers in the Narmada valley", emphasized a weak and exhausted Medha Patkar on June 3 (Tuesday), the fifth day of her fast in front of the office of Divisional Commissioner in Nashik (Maharashtra).

The tribals from the 33 villages affected by the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) have been on the indefinite dharna from May 26, with a demand for the immediate action on the part of Maharashtra government for complete rehabilitation of over 3000 dam-affected people, threatened with the imminent submergence in the coming monsoon due to raising of the height of the SSP to 100 meters. As there was no response from government even after two meetings with the Commissioner and a ‘warning fast’ by five activists, Medha Patkar launched indefinite fast on May 30, 2003. The Andolan demands that the Maharashtra government should take accept its guilt and initiate immediate action for land-based rehabilitation on war footing, and following the directions of its own Task Force.

On the fifth day, Medha Patkar’s health has further deteriorated considerably. Despite the severe body-pain, vomiting, weakness and other serious symptoms, her determination remained firm. Medha along with the Narmada Bachao Andolan have been demanding that :

  1. The Government of Maharashtra (GoM) should explain the basis for permitting the raise in the dam height to 100 Meters on May 13, despite the fact that the Chief Minister assured on May 8 that the state government will not give consent any increase in the height unless land-based rehabilitation is complete.
  2. The GoM should explain the presumed estimate of families affected at 100 mts who are still in the submergence area likely to be affected, and whether or not they are rehabilitated as per the Narmada Water Dispute Tribunal (NWDT) award and the Supreme Court judgment.

  3. The Task Force Report that is official and signed by the Commissioner Nashik has brought out that there are more families (about 3000) in the villages than estimated. Out of these only 1/6th (i.e 568) of the families are declared while the others are considered undeclared. This is partly because even hundreds of these undeclared families, who have proof for their long stay in the villages and age as per the policy, also are left out of the records. There is discrepancy between the land acquisition records and the collector’s records. Now that the dam is pushed ahead, and imminent submergence is at their doorsteps, it is necessary that no distinction be made between declared and undeclared and all the families in the affected villages that will affected by submergence be included in the list. For those few who need to be investigated the responsibility should be with the committee chaired by the commissioner Nashik (as was the practice before) with a few members of the NBA. For this the terms of reference of the Grievance Redressal Authority(GRA) in Maharashtra maybe changed, as the GRA was unnecessarily interested with the work of declaring the New PAPs.

  4. Out of the 33 affected villages in Maharashtra, 25 were surveyed and hamlets to be marooned were identified. An interim report, giving the names of the families and the land to be marooned should be prepared in the list and added to the PAPs list immediately. The Balance (about 8 villages) should be surveyed at the earliest.

  5. A complete rehabilitation process, including land identification, purchase, allotment and other tasks should be planned to be carried out through the Rehabilitation Planning Committee (approved by the GoM in September 2000 with representatives of the NBA).

  6. The records of the land acquisition should be brought to the commissioner’s office and be checked to identify the left out PAPs, who need to be included.

  7. The dam height should not be raised until the resettlement of all Project Affected Families affected at the 100 Meters level is complete. In case any house/land is affected without rehabilitation, then compensation as per the market rates should be paid within 2 months of submergence.

We will continue our struggle till then, otherwise the Narmada tribals and farmers too will be faced with same wretched fate as the oustees already displaced in Maharashtra and other states. Meanwhile, various solidarity programmes, including mass actions, demonstrations, delegations and memoranda, were organized in various towns and district headquarters all over Maharashtra. Protest programmes were held in Sangli, Pune, Kolhapur, Malegaon, Chalisgaon, Dhule, Jalgaon, Thane, Aurangabad and Nagpur. The issue has now political proportion, as many political organizations and progressive parties are taking up the demands regarding the unjust displacement, submergence and just resettlement.

The Nashik town has responded to the protest action by the tribals in Satpuda ranges in a superb way. Hundreds of organizations those of organized, on organized workers, farmers, Dalits and backward classes, Adivasis dam-affected people, women’s organizations and veteran social-political workers participated in dharna and extended all help.

(Nashik Contact- 98226 26602)

Pratibha Shinde Geetanjali