NBA Press Release
  29 March 2005
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

Submerged then opened-up land came alive with colourful Holi; On the banks of the river Narmada,
traditional dances chimed to the tune of 60 drums

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On the banks of the river Narmada, in the villages of Jalsindhi in Madhya Pradesh (Jhabua district) and Domkhedi in Maharashtra (Nandurbar district), adivasis celebrated an enthusiastic, spectacular Holi on March 25. On this joyous occasion were also present, Shri Sanjay Parikh and Shri S. Muralidhar, eminent Supreme Court lawyers who fight for peoples’ rights, and along with them, journalists, supporters from Mumbai, Delhi, and Kerala including a large group of college students.

This year, the special thing about Holi was that it was celebrated on land that had been submerged but has just opened up again as the water have receded. Villages like Jalsindhi, Domkhedi and the other villages around them are affected and have been submerged at the present height of the Sardar Sarovar Dam, but thousands of families still live in the original villages since they have not yet been rehabilitated with land. To the sound of 60 large drums, more than a thousand men, women, children from the villages along with several visitors and activists celebrated this festival of dances. Adivasis from Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and even some from Gujarat came together and, according to their age-old traditions, created a rich and joyful atmosphere not just with their colourful clothes, but also with the different colourful decorations on their bodies. On this occasion, everyone won a prize in the drum contest that was carried out.

The other specialty was that the cases that had been filed by the people of Jalsindhi and Picchodi (Madhya Pradesh) in the Supreme Court, were decided and the verdict was presented by the Court on March 15, which was a huge victory for the oustees who were struggling and fighting, and the Holi celebrators expressed happiness at this victory.

On this occasion of Holi, the lawyers made it clear to the people that, according to the verdict of the Supreme Court, the governments of all three states- Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat, would have to allot 2 hectares of cultivable land to all major sons as well, and bring submergence only one year after rehabilitation has been done, otherwise not. Thousands of people are being denied their rights because of not even being on the record, tens of thousands of others have already been shown as rehabilitated purely on paper and this is how the dam is taken ahead. The people were angry at these practices and this violation of their rights, and they symbolically burnt these ‘untruths’ in the Holi fire, and took a pledge to ensure the victory of truth. Keshav Vasave, Dadlya Karbhai, Sarpanch Geeta Vasave, Pervibai Gulab, Kailash Awasya, Yogini, Chetan, Bawa Mahariya and the children of the Jeevan shalas presented the true situation and the pledge to struggle on, with emotive songs and speeches. At this occasion, the leader of the Narmada Bachao Andolan, Medha Patkar was also present.