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

CALLOUS ATTITUDE OF THE GOVERNMENT TOWARDS THE STRUGGLE BY DAM-AFFECTED PEOPLE CONTINUES: CHILDREN’S RALLY ON 2ND JULY

62, Mahatma Gandhi Road,
Badwani,
Madhya Pradesh - 451551
Tel: 07290-222464
Email: badwani[at]narmada.org

Since the mid-1980s, the Narmada Bachao Andolan has been struggling against large dams all across the 1312-kilometre length of the Narmada River and her tributaries. The dharna and hunger fast being waged by the brave people affected by the Omkareshwar and Indira Sagar dam-affected families in Khandwa right now, in this era of neo-liberal onslaught, is very significant and is a chilling reminder of how India's entire social fabric is slowly eroding, how farmers who feed the nation are being starved of food and justice.

The people affected by the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP), the furthest downstream dam in the series, watch in horror as familiar scenes replay upstream. The sight of the inhuman flooding of Gunjari, the pain of empty stomachs but high hopes of the fasters after 22 days of anshan, the news of the morally-bankrupt state's only response being sending the police to inflict further violence, the loud rallies of tens of thousands of men, women and children through the cramped lanes of Khandwa, the legal dramas as government lies are repeatedly exposed in court and in civil society, to no avail.

We demand that the dialogue is initiated by both the State and Central Government with agitators on the issues of rehabilitation and its linkage with the filling of dam reservoirs immediately. We also expect that the Central authority - NHPC and NCA will play their monitoring role effectively and not allow the State Government authorities i.e. NVDA and NHDC to violate the law and the policy.

The SSP-affected families, ranging from the adivasis still living in the Vindhya and Satpura ranges on the banks of the ever-rising reservoir, to those still living in populous thriving villages in western Nimad and awaiting submergence any day with nowhere to go, provide their wholehearted support to fellow "oustees" upstream. They are united by decades of nonviolent struggles for justice, countering the callous language and attitude of the government towards people losing their lands, homes, livelihoods to irresponsible projects.

THEY WILL START A SATYAGRAHA SOON TO CHALLENGE THE SUBMERGENCE WITHOUT LAND BASED REHABILITATION. A CHILDREN'S RALLY ON 2ND JULY WILL QUESTION THE GOVERNMENT'S CALLOUS AND UNJUSTIFIABLE MOVE TO SHIFT THE SCHOOLS TO VACANT R&R SITES, WHEN 25,000 FAMILIES CONTINUE TO STAY IN THE SUBMERGENCE AREA OF 122 METRES HIGH DAM TODAY.

While the country bows down to secretive decisions being made behind closed doors in Delhi and Washington, while the violence and brutality in the Nandigrams and Kalinga Nagars reluctantly creeps into front pages, while dreams of linked rivers, special economic zones and 9% economic growth are spun by those in power, the people of the entire Narmada Valley watch in knowing despair.

The people of the Narmada Valley join in as the agitation against unjust displacement of Omkareshwar and Indira Sagar dams have issued a dire warning to communities all across the country, from Nandigram to Dadri, from Kashipur to Plachimada. "Do not give your land, your resources, your livelihood and your security to the ever-hungry brutal state. The state does not have the ability or the political will to rehabilitate you justly. The state has nothing to offer you but lathis."

The only thing we can do, the people all affirm, is to continue to struggle together.

Narmada bachao! Maanav bachao! (Save the Narmada, save humanity!) Ladenge! Jeetenge! (We will fight, and we will win!)

Ashish Mandloi,
Kailash Awasya,
Kamla Yadav,
Medha Patkar