NBA/NAPM Press Release
March 15 2000
"Water for life, not for death!"
Rally in the Narmada valley on the International Day against Large Dams
People in the Sardar Sarovar affected regions of Narmada valley along with
representatives of several people's organizations from all over the country
participated in a rally, held on the eve of the "International Day Against
Large Dams, and for rivers, life and people" in Badwani, Madhya Pradesh, India.
Hundreds of men and women, peasants, labourers and fish workers living on the
banks of Narmada gathered to express their resolve to fight against the
destruction of large dams and work towards equitable distribution of water and
energy through decentralized production and management of natural resources.
The colourful rally and a public meeting full of slogans, songs and resolve was
organized by Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) and National Alliance of People's
Movements (NAPM), welcomed and supported by the elected representatives, all
the organizations and social communities in Badwani town -- the Sardar Sarovar
affected district headquarters.
Three years ago, on 14th march 1997, during the first international meet of dam
affected people, this day was declared as the international day against big
dams and for right to life. Along with the Narmada valley, this day was
celebrated in over 19 different countries including Thailand, Japan, Korea,
South Africa, Pakistan, North America, Germany among others.
"Paani jeevan ke liye, mrutyu ke liye nahi" - "Water for life not for death!"
was the slogan of the people for this day. Representatives of movements from
12 states associated with NAPM wrote on a cloth scroll, the same message in
over 12 languages, expressing their opposition to large dams. Veteran Sarvodayi
leader Shri. Siddharaj Daddha, former Member of Parliament, Shri. Surendra
Mohan, Thomas Kocherry of National Fish Worker's Forum, farmer leaders Vijay
Javandia and Sunil bhai and Sanjay M.G. of Samjawadi Jan Parishad were present
on this occasion along with many others from more than 70 organizations working
in different parts of the country. Representatives of people fighting against
Tehri, Koyna, Gosi Khurd, Ramanjery, Koel Karo, Suvernarekha and Mahi-Kadana
dams, from across India were present along with others affected by Bargi,
Maheshwar and Veda dams in the Narmada valley. A statement against the large
destructive dams in the Narmada valley was issued on this occasion. The
statement signed by organizations and voted by voice in the meeting emphasized
the need to evolve sustainable and equitable ways of harnessing water and
energy by people. Devrambhai Kanera a small farmer of Kadmal, comparing the
meeting reminded the audience of a long history of our struggle, full of
perseverance and in depth understanding of complex issues that helped its
spread to multiple fronts village to the World Bank. Urmila Patidar a staunch
woman organizer for Maheshwar brought to the forum a clear perspective against
privatization of water resources benefiting a few at the cost of a majority.
Peoples right to natural resources land, water, forest and the right to plan
development, was asserted and role of people’s politics highlighted.
Referring to the critical stage of struggle in the Sardar Sarovar region during
last monsoon when people stood in rising water for 28 hours, Medha Patkar of
Narmada Bachao Andolan reminded every one that the struggle in the Narmada
valley is not just against Sardar Sarovar, or even all other large dams in the
country. "It is a struggle against the 'destructive' paradigm of development
and the anti-people, non-democratic planning that exploits people and nature.
We do not want Bill Clinton, or officials sitting in Delhi decide what is
'development' for the tribals and peasants living in the villages. We assert
power to people. It is towards this end that the struggle to save the Narmada
has to be fought, with a spirit of, and the preparedness for ultimate
sacrifice", she reiterated.
Revered social worker, Baba Amte, who has been living in a submergence village
on the banks of Narmada, sent a message saying, "March towards light. Refuse
to tolerate untruth. Primacy of conscience will ultimately goad the innocent
people to resist even the filling of water in dams. They will decide not for
themselves but for their children’s children such an ultimate action. If people
decide no power will ever succeed in filling the Dams. Justice will prevail."
Jagannath Patidar and Ashish Mandloi
Narmada Bachao Andolan
National Alliance of People's Movements