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NBA Press Note                                                 29th March 2000

Indefinite Dharna of Narmada Bachao Andolan Continues on the Third Day People Capture Collector's Office at Nandurbar

Hundreds of representatives of people affected by Sardar Sarovar Project from Akrani and Akkalkuva Talukas along with representatives from Dehli and Veerchak projects in the Tapi valley continue their indefinite protest in front of the Nandurbar Collector's office for the third day. There were detailed discussions with the Collector yesterday evening, but the indefinite action will continue until concrete decision on all the demands of the people are met.

The regularisation of forest cultivation-land in the tribal villages of Akrani and Akkalkuva is due as per the directions of the Supreme Court in 1995, in Pradeep Prabhu Vs. State of Maharashtra case. Cultivators prior to 1978 have right to get the title deeds and right over the land, which NBA claimed, is suppressed only to reduce their rehabilitation entitlements. People want justice in the issue of pending land settlement in 73 tribal villages in Akrani. They demand clear directions to start a proper survey in each village and a reply to the memorandum submitted, on land settlement to be completed in Akrani, by the Commissioner, Nasik. NBA has issued a legal notice to the Collector, Nandurbar and Commissioner, Nasik for violating the Supreme Court order. Mr.Bagul, chairing the district committees will come and have a discussion at the dharna, it is assured.

Employment guarantee programme in the drought affected villages in the Narmada and Tapi valley is another demand. We are disturbed with no response from the Collector to our applications for providing employment since Nov. 99. "We want projects to be cleared and sanctioned here and now", the people demanded. During the meeting with the Collector, it was pointed out that others from Dhadgaon gave a FALSE report stating that the work could not be started due to the opposition of people. The Collector agreed to start the surveys in the villages and provide work on afforestation, bunding etc. with immediate effect.

The problem of drinking water is acute in the villages. The Collector directed the concerned officials to start the approved work immediately in the 'water scarce villages'. A well or hand-pump is also to be provided in other villages and hamlets with the problem. People have given an ultimatum till 29th evening to get to the final position.

Displacement and rehabilitation in Sardar Sarovar region is another issue, the people have raised. It was pointed out that government's 'claim' of availability of sufficient land for all PAPs is false as a number of families are without land for cultivation in the R&R sites for years. The NBA stated that the proposal to acquire more forest land is problematic as large adivasi population is dependent on these forests for their livelihood. It was demanded that the Maharashtra government take a truthful stand in the Supreme Court and not allow further construction. People demanded that they should be shown land for all villages during agitation. Collector has finally agreed to take a team of representatives to the R&R sites to assess the real situation.

Veerchak and Dehli projects in the Tapi valley will cause gruesome displacement. People asserted their right to information about social, environmental, economic consequences of the Project along with a plan for resettlement. A meeting was organised at night with the Chief Engineer from the Tapi region. On the afternoon of 28th March, the Collector's office was thronged by women and men demanding clear resolution of above mentioned issues and execution of decisions. The battle continues.

Medha Patkar
Noorji Padvi