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

Former CM of Maharashtra Opposed to Raise of Dam Height without Rehabilitation

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The former Chief Minister of Maharasthra Mr Vilasrao Deshmukh expressed his disapproval of the way the present Maharashtra government has agreed to raise the height of the dam.

On the fourth day of indefinite fast, June 2 Monday, a delegation of NBA (Narmada Bachao Andolan) and supporters in Nashik met the former Chief Minister, who also happens to be the General Secretary of the ruling Congress Party. It was Mr Deshmukh who had formed the Task Force and conveyed to the Narmada Control Authority that there would be no further increase in the height of the dam before full resettlement of the affected people. Apparently Mr Deshmukh expressed surprise and displeasure about the way in which the consent was given to the rising in the height. He also assured that the delegation that he would discuss the matter with the present Chief Minister, Mr. Shinde, about the height.

Several organizations and individuals extended solidarity and support to the dharna and the demand of complete resettlement of the oustees of Maharashtra on warfooting before the impending monsoon. Various proletariat organizations along with representatives of Katch development associations from Bombay, Mr Damgi Bhai Ghata, the farmers’ Union leader, Vijay Javandhia, and scores of other activists joined the Dharna and extended their soidarity.

Dam-oustees’ organizations in Maharashtra to join Narmada Dharna from June 5: Police, Officials start threats and extorts Adivasis.

The Irrigation Ministry of Maharashtra government had invited the organizations of the oustees of the large dams in the state including those in Jayakwadi, Tapi, Gosi Khurd, Lower Penganga, Sapli, Pench, Upper Wardha, Wang-Marathwadi, Totladoh, and Punarvasan Sangharsha Samiti along with Sardar Sarovar affected people, for a discussion on the issues pertaining to displacement and resettlement, on June 4. However, the organizations informed that such ameeting should be held at Nashik Dharna place only. Immediately after that the state government cancelled the meeting on some the pretext of the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday. The organizations shot back a letter to the state government that the meeting should be held as per scheduled by May 5, failing which all of them will be joining the indefinite mass action at Nashik dharna.

Of Threats and Extortion

While the Nashik mass action for the just resettlement is still, the Maharashtra police tried to intimidate the tribals in the Chimalkhedi village in Akkalkuwa tehsil on May 29,on a flimsy pretext. The police also threatened the people that they will be forced out of their villages by demolishing their houses on the banks of Narmada. Earlier, the government had issued notices through police, warning them to vacate the villages in the wake of submergence. Now the police is amassing at the Molgi Police station for any eventual onslaught on the villages. In a strongly worded protest letter to the Rehabilitation Minister of Maharashtra, Mr. Vilas Kaka Patil, the tribal leaders of Narmada Bachao Andolan Noorji Padvi, Keersingh Vasave alongwith Medha Patkar condemned these intimidatory tactics and warned of real confrontation in the villages.

The NBA also alleged that the Resettlement officer in Taloda has extorted bribes of Rs. 10,000 each from many farmers willing to sell their barren lands for the resettlement, at Tarhawad resettlement site. “It seems that the Gujarat pattern of rehabilitation with bribe will be repeated here. The farmers are ready to sell off their uncultivable lands for the resettlement of Narmada oustees. This is but crass injustice”. It is also repeated that the Forest department officials and employees are exhorting over Rs.4000-5000 from each oustee family for transporting their belonging to the resettlement site. Without the money the officials do not issue passes. The NBA warned that the fraud and extortion should stop with immediate effect of face stiff resistance.

Meanwhile, the indefinite dharna and fast is receiving increasing support from the number of organizations and movements from Nashik and adjacent region. Number of senior activists from Maharashtra involved with the Anti-superstition Movement participated in dharna on Saturday. The tribal Member of Parliament from the region, Haribhau Mahale assured to take up the issue at center and state level. The Nashik-based people’s organizations will have a campaign of corner meetings in entire city and compel the government to initiate the immediate actions for the just resettlement.

Narmada Bachao Andolan