| NBA Press Release
|| 17 May 2002
Police reign of terror in Maan dam affected villages in Dhar; Electricity cut off, hand pumps extracted, Five schools bulldozed
NARMADA BACHAO ANDOLAN
Jail Road, Mandleshwar
District Khargone, Madhya Pradesh
The police and administration let loose a reign of terror in the Maan dam affected villages of Dhar yesterday as the officials of the local administration and those of the Narmada Valley Development Department accompanied by several trucks of armed police force roamed through Khedi Balwadi, Khanpura, Rehtiaon, Kacchauda, Gadhagahat, Badlipura the villages of this area, extracting hand pumps, seizing and dismantling transformers, cutting of the electricity in all villages except two, cutting down trees and bulldozing five primary and medium schools in the area.
Even as 150 adivasis from the Maan area are today on the third day of the dharna, raising questions as to why they have not received agricultural land and rehabilitation till now although submergence is a mere three weeks away, on the other hand, the administration has let loose a reign of terror in order to break the unity of the adivasis and compell them to flee without any rehabilitation whatsoever. The Narmada Bachao Andolan condemns this atmosphere of terror being created by the police and administration and demands that the affected people must immediately be rehabilitated as a community along with irrigated agricultural lands of their choice within fifteen days.
It may be known that the Maan Project is one of the thirty large dams in the Narmada valley. This dam will be completed this year and as per the gazette notification of the state government, the lands, homes and livelihoods of over 5000 Bhil and Bhilala adivasis living in the 17 villages in this area will be completely submerged. There are only three weeks to submergence yet nobody has been given agricultural land and rehabilitated. When the waters will come, then these people will have no place to go to except the streets of Indore and Bhopal. This is inhuman and is a complete violation of their legal and human rights.
In the last week, the administration had come to the area with a large contingent of police in order to cut down the trees but the affected people had gathered together to stop them. Even yesterday, faced with police and government intention to cut down the trees, the people resisted and even the children climbed and clung to the trees, but they were roughly picked up and thrown off by the police. Trees are being cut down in four villages as of now.
Five primary school buildings were demolished in Villages Kachaada, Khanpura, Rehtiaon, Badlipura and one middle school in Kachhauda. Two pucca storehouses were also demolished in Village Kacchauda yesterday. Seven hand pumps that met the water needs of Villages Khedi, Khanpura, Rehtiaon, Gadhghat and Badlipura were extracted and taken a way by the administration. This morning, a school building was demolished in Khedi Balwadi and a handpump extracted. Apart from this transformers belonging to all seventeen villages barring two were also taken down and away. As per information when the people of Khanpura resisted this, the police took recourse to a lathi charge. Armed police is roaming the area and spreading terror at the instance of the state government.
The people of the Maan Project area and the Narmada Bachao Andolan clearly demand that the people of the area should be rehabilitated as a community with irrigated agricultural land, or that the dam should be broken in order to minimize submergence. They also demand that the police presence must be immediately removed from the area, that all tree felling must be immediately stopped. The NBA demands that the government must continue to run schools in these villages, that hand pumps must be re established, and electricity must continue to be given to these villages.
Many significant people's organizations, trade unions and cultural fronts of Bhopal sent a letter to the Chief Minister today in protest against the happenings in the Maan area. They urged the a government that makes claims to good governance must respect and ensure the legal entitlements and rights of the affected adivasis and immediately put a stop to such anti- people actions on part of the state. They asked the state government to ensure that there is no police presence in these villages, and that the demand of the people to be rehabilitated before the monsoon must be met. The signatories to this letter included Shri Pramod Pradhan, CITU, Shei Anand Pande, AITUC, Asha Mishra of the Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti, Jabbarbhai of Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sanghathan, Balram Gumasta of Janwadi Lekhak Sangh, Ramesh Sharma of Ekta Parishad, Shri Kishor Umrekar of Tulika Samwad, and others.
Bondri bai, Village Khanpura
Vesti bai, Village Khedi