NBA Press Release
  28 March 2006
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

Will another 'massacre as a game of numbers' played by the majority in Gujarat be allowed through the Sardar Sarovar Dam ?

62, Mahatma Gandhi Road,
Badwani,
Madhya Pradesh - 451551
Tel: 07290-222464
Email: badwani[at]narmada.org

Narmada agitators await Prime Minister's decision before taking next step!

The adivasis, farmers, labourers from Narmada valley by now know that development planning today is not only a game of numbers but also "a game of politics and profit".

On one hand, those who favoured pushing the project ahead always called the affected people who are presumed and expected to give us their age-old land, rivers, prime agricultural land, forest and community relations as well, as "a minority" to be pitted against "a majority" of beneficiaries. The farmer can always be neglected, questioned, challenged, attacked and even killed! This arrangement is not at all new and certainly not different from the communal one. Those who stand for secularism for not just diversity but also human life, livelihood and community rights can't, however, support the criminal murder of generations-old habitations of adivasis as well as thickly populated agrarian communities, even if the Dam or any other project is proven to be beneficial to any larger population. Can they? This is the question Narmada Bachao Andolan is raising on behalf of millions of displaced and to be displaced, why there are destitutionalised people, all over India; whether it is Posco in Orissa, Polavoram in Andhra Pradesh, Jaikwadi in Maharashtra or Ulai in Gujarat. We want a reply from the UPA government and the PM.

The sit-in at Jantar Mantar enters its 12th day of dharna and 5th day of relay fast by five representative "oustees" from the Narmada Valley. A group, representative of 35 000 families in the Jhabua, Badwani and Dhar districts of Madhya Pradesh (MP), Nandurban district of Maharashtra as well as the Baroda and Narmada districts of Gujarat, has been in the capital of the country since March 17th. Thousands and lakhs or their brethren await the decision on the on-going dam construction at Sardar Sarovar Dam that would drown them flooding their homes, schools, temples and mosques, but most importantly destroy their sources of livelihood. Their right to decide to stake their lives to save the live of the valley, in a way to wage a battle that is a part of the war that is on all over against the barbaric onslaught on the tribal, rural agrarian life as well as the "unorganised", informal sector of urban workers, poor and homeless, can't be snatched away, we assert! Our agitation will be stepped up if the Dam is allowed to rise up, digging a grave for lakhs of children, youth, women and men who live on natural resources and human power and not on money and markets.

While we are in Delhi, closer to the offices of power and authority for decision-making, we read the views of those who want to push the Dam ahead at any cost. While they need not be bothered about 19 000 crores already spent and 5 000 crores out of it spent merely on balance payments, or 200 000 crores yet to be spent, when money is not available for salaries as well as paying the contractors bills, no-one can ignore or rule out the social and environmental costs as if it is a mere "offering to the god of "damn development"". Those who are blaming Mr S. Soz, the Minister for Water Resources, for staying the decision don't know that neither are the human costs truthfully valuated nor is the rehabilitation monitored on the basis Narmada Tribunal Award or the Supreme Court judgements. Another argument, rather claimed by the dam builders is that there are a number of government agencies and inter-state authorities who are monitoring rehabilitation. A list of those with their composition and terms is also published in the 'Indian Express'. Mr. Y.K. Alagh, who has remained a part of government structure and system related to Narmada project and hence is a beneficiary, represents beneficiaries and damns the oustees by saying that no review of rehabilitation work and compliance is required, since there are so many authorities in place to take care of it. He sincerely believes that everything on paper is functional and factual, while the people cannot.

It is a plain fact to note that the Rehabilitation sub-group has not visited the Valley since November 2000! Nor has the Grievance Redressal Authority (GRA) visited the submergence area either in Maharashtra or in MP, except once. The orders of GRAs have almost always, especially in relation to compliance as well as decisions of the R&R sub-group, been dependent on the reports from the state governments officials who are biased and report to show compliance at the cost of truth, to save themselves and reduce the work. The Narmada Control Authorities Indore office sends one or two officials for the shortest possible time, but their 'sample checking' too doesn't bring out the true report. It is in this context that all claims of official monitoring, which is a pre-condition as per Supreme Court judgement, is almost totally absent, and lakhs of people are to be 'drowned' and doomed! We continue to fight and declare our next steps this evening or tomorrow morning. Please be with us, for justice.

Medha Patkar