Jan Sangarsh Morcha Press Release
  30 June 2004
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

Stop displacement of Narmada Sagar oustees in the shadow of guns; Blast the dam sluices or underground tunnel block to release waters and reduce submergence

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

The march past held by the Rapid Action Force yesterday at Harsud town in District Khandwa in Madhya Pradesh on the 27th of June 2004 and the state government and NHDC’s attempt to remove the thousands of families affected by the submergence of the Narmada Sagar dam by the use of state terror and the use of armed forces is inhuman, illegal and unconstitutional. The forum of the various people’s organizations of Madhya Pradesh – the Jan Sangharsh Morcha, the Narmada Bachao Andolan and the people of the Narmada valley condemn this attempt by the Madhya Pradesh government to terrorise the people who are being required to sacrifice their all in the name of national interest and demand that the Madhya Pradesh government immediately withdraw the all special armed forces and contingents of armed police from Harsud and the 129 villages of the Narmada Sagar area.

The Jan Sangharsh Morcha also demands that the state government provide land entitlements, rehabilitation and other resources to the affected people on a war footing, and that they explore and implement the possibility of blasting the sluices/other portions of the dam or the blockage of the diversion tunnel so that the submergence may be reduced this year. It is clear that no amount of concrete can be worth more than a single human life.

Based on their experiences in the Narmada valley and all over the country, the Jan Sangharsh Morcha and the Narmada Bachao Andolan wish to warn the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh Ms. Uma Bharati that the presence of these armed forces will inevitably result in the wrong and excessive use of forces and weapons, repression, sexual attack and violence on women and children. The developmental face of the new state government has been exposed by this attempt of the government to vacate Harsud and the NSP affected villages with the use of force and makes it clear that the state government has surrendered to the commercial interests of the National Hydro Power Corporation Limited ( NHPC) – the majority promoter of the dam that is flush with funds from foreign banks, even if it means crushing underfoot all legal requirements and the interests of the people of Madhya Pradesh who elected the government.

It may be noted that all families affected by the dam should have been rehabilitated in all respects 6 months before the submergence was to take place, as per the strict stipulations of the Narmada Waters Disputes Tribunal (NWDT) and the judgment of the Supreme Court of India. However the current and earlier government continued to build the dam wall without any stop since 2000-2001, displaying their indifference to the huge social problem of displacement in the Narmada Sagar dam, and flagrantly and openly violated these legal requirements. Now the submergence is taking place as the reservoir is rising but the families are yet to be fully rehabilitated. The Chanera rehabilitation site for Harsud town is still empty with only one or two hundred Dalit and other poor families who have been forced to leave Harsud. Most of these families have not even received their cash grants, etc and are being forced to live in incomplete tin-sheds, which have been damaged in the storms. The status of people in the villages is even worse. This entire situation demonstrates the criminal negligence of the NVDA and the NHPC authorities.

In 2001, after the struggle of the adivasis of Dhar district under the aegis of the NBA , the sluices of the Man dam – one of the 30 large dams in the Narmada valley were blasted and by the release of the waters, the area saved for another year. It may be possible to explore such alternatives in Narmada Sagar. The Jan Sangharsh Morcha demands that the government seriously consider the possibility of blasting the mouth of the diversion tunnel or the dam in order to reduce the water build up, and the state government and the people get another year for rehabilitation.

The Jan Sangharsh Morcha calls on the government to treat the oustees as human beings and realize the seriousness of the situation. People who have been asked to forego their homes and lands for national and state interest cannot be evicted with lathis and guns. The Jan Sangharsh Morcha demands that all armed police be immediately withdrawn from Harsud and penal action be taken against the responsible officials.

Alok Agarwal, Narmada Bachao Andolan
Anurag Modi, Shramik Adivasi Sangathan