NBA Press Note

March 26, 2001

Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

NARMADA BACHAO ANDOLAN
Jail Road, Mandleshwar
District Khargone, Madhya Pradesh
Tel: 07283-33162
Email: nobigdam@vsnl.com

Man Project Affected Adivasis Take Out Protest Rally In Dhar

Hundreds of adivasis, farmers and peasants took to the streets of Dhar today, protesting the arrest of Man project affected adivasis on the 21st of March from the Man project site. The rally passed through the main streets of the city ending at the Collector's office where they submitted a memorandum for the Chief Minister Shri Digvijay Singh. Besides those affected by the Man project, hundreds affected by the Maheshwar and Sardar Sarovar projects were also part of the rally. Representatives from the Adivasi Mukti Sanghatan and respected citizens from Indore also expressed their solidarity with the displaced people by being part in the rally. In the memorandum to the Chief Minister the project affected people have demanded the immediate unconditional release of those arrested on the 21st of this month, stopping the construction of the dam immediately and the undertaking of rehabilitation processes as stated in the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal Award and the government orders. The people have warned that if this is not done, they will intensify their struggle.

The Man project is one of the 30 large dams envisaged in the Narmada Valley Development Project. 17 adivasi villages are going to be affected by this project. 993 families will be affected this year if the construction of the dam continues. In other words, about 5000-6000 adivasis are slated for displacement with all their legal rights violated and no rehabilitation provided. Inspite of the clear provision of providing agricultural land in rehabilitation, the government has failed to comply and submerging their rehabilitation rights.

On the 21st of this month, hundreds of adivasis affected by the Man Project in Dhar district, stormed and occupied the dam site stopping any further construction of the dam. The affected families have declared that until the State government completely rehabilitates all the affected families by allotting them cultivable agricultural land as per the policy, work on the dam will not be permitted. 213 of them were arrested and held in Dhar Jail. Today is their 6th day in jail. The government has filed many false cases against Chittaroopa Palit and many others. Protesting the callous attitude of the government, hundreds of Man project affected adivasis along with those affected by other projects on the Narmada Valley, demonstrated on their streets expressing their anger and disgust.

At the sabha held outside the Collector's office, Shri Chandersingh of village Khedi said, "This government that keeps talking of the development of adivasis is today, insistent on displacing us. Those adivasis whose rehabilitation should have been done already have been placed in Dhar jail instead! We will not tolerate this and, to protect our rights, we are ready to even sacrifice our lives." Shri Devisingh from village Gotegaon said, "It is shameful that the government has filed cases of atrocities on adivasis on those activists who are fighting shoulder-to-shoulder with us for adivasis rights! The fact is that the government is guilty of trying to forcibly displace us without rehabilitating us. Therefore the government should be charged for atrocities on adivasis." In the sabha, Madhuriben from Adivasi Mukti Sanghatan, representatives of those affected by the Maheshwar and Sardar Sarovar projects, committed Samajwadi Shri Deviprasad Moy, Educationist Smt Krishna Rawal, Shri Vineet Tiwari, Shri Surendrasingh from Yuva Bharat and Smt. Manisha spoke out strongly against the State's attitude towards adivasis. They demanded that the government immediately release those arrested and complete all rehabilitation before venturing to construct the dam. Everyone present warned the government that if these demands were not met then the struggle would be intensified at the State and National level.

Alok Agarwal
Govindsingh Ravat
Gendalal Mandloi
Mangat Verma