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SARDAR SAROVAR
THE MAHESHWAR DAM
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Press Release                                                 09 March 2000

People continues to be in the Jail
Chittaroopa Palit enters the second day of her nir jal fast

Over 350 men and women, assaulted and arrested by the police at Maheshwar yesterday continue to be in different jails, at Badwani, Khargone and Maheshwar. NBA leader Chittaroopa Palit enters the second day of her nir jal fast without food and water. Her condition is said to be deteriorating. Others who are in jail are high in spirits, though they have been cruelly assaulted and manhandled by the police yesterday.

Meanwhile, protest letters and resolutions are pouring in from different parts of the country and the world. Notable among them are the National Alliance of People's Movements, Samajwadi Jan Parishad, Association for India's Development and others. Janpat Panchayat of Mandaleshwar, Zilla Panchayat member from Khargone Shri Shanker Patidar and BJP Mandal of Maheshwar have faxed their protest statements to the Governor of Madhya Pradesh.

Around 5-6 foreigners, who later identified themselves as officers from Asea Brown Boveri (ABB), visited the dam site today. When activists Karuna and Mangat went to meet them and tried to talked to them, the henchmen of S.Kumars pushed and dragged them and later took them away in a car and dumped them at a far off place. It is now clear that the action carried out by the Government yesterday is to make the visit of these ABB officers 'smooth' and to appease the corrupt S.Kumar company; to hide the fact that dam affected people are strongly opposing the project, and are not willing to leave their land and villages at any cost. Manhandling the peaceful agitators and misbehaving with women on the International Women's Day, cannot be the way to placate the national and international exploiters.

A protest rally was taken out in Badwani by the people affected by the Sardar Sarovar Project today. The notable include Mohan Patidar, Jaganath Patidar and Medha Patkar. They marched to the Collectorate and urged him to convey their strong protest against the inhuman and irrational action of police yesterday at Maheshwar, demanding unconditional release of all the arrested people and implementing the Task Force report. It should be noted that since last 24th, Narmada Bachao Andolan - men, women and children, who are affected by the monstrous Maheshwar Dam - is on a peaceful dharna at the gate of dam site. The demand of the people on the indefinite sit in includes the stoppage of the work on the project and revoking the environmental clearance to the project. This demand is based on the recent report of the Ministry of Environment and other Ministries, which clearly accepts that there is no land for rehabilitation of the project-affected people. This report of the Ministries recommend that in order for the ministry to take a decision on whether to revoke the environmental clearance, the project authorities must be asked to identify and demonstrate sufficient agricultural land for the rehabilitation of the oustees within three months. We also demand that the Government of Madhya Pradesh should cancel the project and implement the alternatives recommended by the Task Force constituted by the Government itself, some months back.

The people are determined to take the struggle ahead, inspite of all the repressive measures of the Government. From all these, they will strengthen their resolve to fight till the land and houses of thousands are saved and the state and country is saved from the clutches of national and international forces.

Alok Agrawal