NBA Press Release
  05 June 2007
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

Indefinite Dharna started at Khandwa : Agricultural land for farmers and landless

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Madhya Pradesh
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Huge gathering of Onkareshwar and Indira Sagar displaced

Thousands of displaced men and women affected by Indira Sagar and Omkareshwar projects, two large dams on the river Narmada, held a massive demonstration in the district headquarters of Khandwa on the 4th June 2007. Demanding that the State and the NHDC (Narmada Hydro-Development Corporation) give them their rights and entitlements immediately, more than twelve thousand oustees held a rally that covered all major streets of the town. The rally culminated at the NHDC office where the people held a demonstration and sought answers for their questions from the senior NHDC officials. After handing over a memorandum regarding their unmet demands - to the State government ,the people affected by the projects started an indefinite dharna near the Collectorate.

It is notable that despite the provisions of the relevant Rehabilitation policies, Plans and conditions of environmental clearances to protect the rights of the people affected by Indira Sagar and Omkareshwar Projects, as well as several orders passed by the Supreme Court and the Madhya Pradesh High Court, and, the NHDC and the state government have not allotted land to a single oustee family and instead forced lakhs of people to accept pittances by the way of cash compensation and move out of their ancestral villages under conditions of great hardship.

The oustees of the Indira Sagar Project are demanding that the farmers whose lands are freshly coming under submergence at FRL should be given land in lieu of the submerging land instead of cash compensation, as is their right under the Policy, and that the lands coming under the back-waters should also be acquired and replaced. They are also demanding that the adult sons and daughters of farmers also be given 5 acres of land each as "separate families", as required under the Rehabilitation Policy and by Orders of the Supreme Court. For the thousands of landless families displaced from the villages affected by the Indira Sagar Project, the Narmada Bachao Andolan is demanding that the each landless family be given an oustee identity card and be allotted temporary pattas for cultivation of the lands of the Indira Sagar reservoir which will open every year in the summer.

The Omkareshwar Project oustees are demanding that the Project authorities provide them irrigated agricultural land in lieu of their submerging land on return of the cash compensation forced on them, and land for the adult sons and daughters of farmers, as per the Rehabilitation Plan of 1993 and agricultural land for the landless as per the conditions of the environmental clearance for the Project.

It may be noted that the Madhya Pradesh High Court has asked the State government to submit the status of availability of land for the oustees on affidavit in a case of the Indira Sagar oustees. It may also be noted that the High Court has also recently passed a Judgment in the case of Omkareshwar Project asking that the provisions of the 1993 Plan be complied with, including the provision of allotting agricultural land. The oustees of both projects are also demanding land for the encroachers,the basic civic amenities in the rehabilitation sites, acquisition of the lands and houses of unlawfully left out families, and other rights pertaining to rehabilitation and to the right to life with dignity.

Addressing the public meeting held after the demonstration at the NHDC office, Mr. Alok Agarwal senior activist of Narmad Bachao Andolan stated that NHDC and the state governments have set aside even the minimum vestiges of humanity in dealing with the affected people and have reduced them to penury. The time has come when the displaced families with the support of the affected people have decided to revolt against this reign of terror and repression, therefore the people have decided to enter a phase of indefinite struggle.

Expressing his support to the movement, Mr. Anil Trivedi - Senior Advocate of the Indore High Court said that the struggle of the displaced of the Narmada valley is an inspiration for all the struggles against displacement in the country. He further said that land is not a saleable commodity. Selling the land means excluding the next generation from their rights. Mr. Rajeev Dhyani from Lucknow also extended his support to the people' struggle for their rights.

Expressing the determination of the displaced , Krishna Bai of Indira Sagar dam and Shri Vishram Singh Mandloi affected by the Omkareshwar dam said that people would continue their struggle until all their legal and constitutional rights are accorded to them. The representatives of the affected families of Maheshwar, Upper Veda, Man and other Narmada projects said that the struggle of the entire Narmada Valley is one , and that the struggling oustees will certainly succeed in their efforts.

Chittaroopa Palit, Bhagwan Mukati, Ramkuwar, Sushilabai