| NBA Press Release
|| 16 March 2008
Huge Rally of Maheshwar Dam Oustees: Many organizations and renowned individuals participate
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"We will fight till the last breath for our rights"
Today thousands of people affected by the Maheshwar dam marched through Mandleshwar in a huge rally. Over twelve thousand affected men and women, children, farmers , laborers, boats people and fisherpeople, of the Maheshwar Dam along with representatives of the oustees of the Omkareshwar, Indira Sagar, Sardar Sarovar, Man, Upper Veda, Tawa, and Bargi dam resolved to struggle to protect their rights till their last breath. In this Jan Chetna and Chetawani Rally, where, on one hand many grave questions are being raised about the Maheshwar Project itself, the people have demanded that a White Paper be issued on the issue of the Maheshwar Project. On the other hand, the affected people gave a clear warning to the State Government and the Company that they would not withstand the illegal direct purchase of land by the Company in place of rehabilitation of the oustees, and the violation of their rights. Many renowned persons and organizations from all over the Country participated in the rally. The rally was taken out through the main roads of Mandleshwar. The rally reached the Narmada ghats and keeping Narmada as a witness, took an oath that they will fight till their last breath. Later the rally changed into a huge meeting at the Mandleshwar bus stand.
Addressing the meeting, Shri Alok Agarwal of the Narmada Bachao Andolan said that before attempting to displace people in the name of development, the Government should establish the viability of the project. He said that very little power would be generated from the Maheshwar Project, and that too very expensive. The State will become bankrupt because of the agreements with the Company under which they would have to pay for the power produced by the project, for the next 35 years, even if it is expensive. He demanded that the State Government must issue a White Paper on the Maheshwar Project and put the truth of the project in the public domain.
Chittaroopa Palit, activist of the NBA said that the rights of the displaced person were protected under Article 21 of the Constitution, but the State Government and the Company are flouting the rights of the affected people with impunity. Addressing the thousands of women gathered for the meeting she said that the women must come forward to fight not only for their rights but also to free the country from the clutch of multinationals and companies who are trying to take over the resources of the common people.
Affected village representatives and leaders Sushila Bai, Radheyshyam Patidar, Radheyshyam Verma, Jagdish Patidar, and Karvi Bai stated that it is not yet known how much area will be actually affected. It is apprehended that large areas will be affected by the back-water. They cautioned the Government and the Company that the people of the Maheshwar area are not prepared to accept this destruction.
Shri Maujilal Akhadia of Omkareshwar dam said that the Madhya Pradesh High Court has established the land rights of the oustees. Now the Government must immediately comply with the Order of the High Court and farmers and adult sons of farmers must be given land for land with a minimum of 2 ha. of land immediately.
Participation of the Narmada dam oustees
Representatives of most of the large dams of the Narmada Valley from Sardar Sarovar to Bargi dam were present in the rally. Smt. Sushila bai of the Maheshwar dam, Shri Ashish Mandloi of Sardar Sarovar, Shri Radheyshyam Tirole of Omkareshwar dam, Smt. Krishnabai of Indira Sagar dam, Shri Govind Rawat of Man dam, Banabai of Upper Veda, Smt. Guliabai of Tawa dam and Shri Rajkumar Sinha of Bargi dam challenged the Government that the people of the Narmada Valley would resist this destruction.
Participation of many renowned individuals and organisations
Many individuals and renowned persons participated in the rally and public meeting, Magsaysay Prize Winner Shri Sandeep Pandey, the National President of Sarwa Sewa Sangh Dr. Sugan Barant, Senior educationalist Dr. Anil Sadgopal, Shri Bagde-President of Maharashtra Sarvodaya Mandal, Shri Dunu Roy, Senior Activist from Sanjha Manch, Mr. Anil Trivedi, Advocate, High Court of M.P, Shri Amulya Nidhi of Shilpi Kendra, Senior Journalist Shri Chinmoy Mishra addressed the meeting and said that the struggles of the Narmada Valley as a symbol for struggles in the entire country and we will take the voice of the struggle to the entire country. Representatives of Kisan Adivasi Sangathan, Abhivayti (Nasik), Yuva Bharat Nagpur, Shri Shirish Khare of Manthan Adhyayan Kendra and many other representatives were present at the meeting.
Renowned educationist, Dr. Anil Sadgopal said that the struggle is not only for the individual rights and entitlements of project affected people, but also to define and mould development as per the basic needs and aspirations of the common people of this country.
National President of Sarwa Sewa Sangh Dr. Sugan Barant, said that in the fights against corporates and the multinationals, we have to forego using the products of the foreign companies which are present in all our consumption items. We also have to start honoring and using Khadi and all such items which do not damage the people and the environment.
Shri Dunu Roy, Senior Activist from Sanjha Manch, said that we cannot depend on the Government to do much if we want to know the extent of submergence, we should do our own back-water surveys. It is up to us to create change.
Mr. Anil Trivedi, Senior Advocate, High Court of M.P., said that he had been watching the struggle in the Maheshwar area since its inception and we have to fight to stop the destructive project. He said that it's also clear that the government has not honored its promises in any of the other projects.
After the public meeting, the people handed over a letter of their demands to the State Government, in which they demanded that the work of the Maheshwar dam must be immediately stopped and a White Paper should be issued on the cost of power of the Maheshwar project, a back-water survey should be done by the Central Water Commission based on flows in both the Narmada river and its tributaries, a comprehensive R&R Plan based on the land entitlements of the farmers and workers of the area should be prepared and made available to the villagers, and the financial irregularities of the Project promoters should be investigated and the guilty persons should be punished.