| NBA Press Release
|| 29 May 2003
Dharna in Nashik on Fifth Day; Indefinite Fast by Medha Patkar from May 30
62, Mahatma Gandhi Road,
Madhya Pradesh - 451551
On the fifth day of the sit-in (dharna) by the tribals in the Narmada valley at Nashik, five main activists observed a 24-hour fast to demand the immediate steps for resettling 3000 families likely to be affected by the 100 meters height of the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP). However, no relevant action was forthcoming on the part of the government despite the repeated pleas and explanations. Therefore, the Narmada Bachao Andolan was compelled to announce the indefinite fast by its main activist, Medha Patkar, from May 30.
Announcing this at the dharna place in front of the Divisional Commissioner's office, at Nashik, Medha Patkar clarified that the Andolan was constrained to take up such action, as the Maharashtra government has become so insensitive regarding even minimum legitimate demands by the tribals about their least entitlements. "This is a reflection of the recent acts of the new Maharashtra Chief Minister and the ruling class, against the values of equality and a definite bias for the corporate powers. The misuse, appropriation and the denial of the natural resources of the people is a highest kind of corruption", she said.
Meanwhile, the progressive trade unions, political parties and organizations in Nashik area will be demonstrating in front of the Divisional Commissioner's office on May 30, in support of its demands and compelling the government to start the process of the just resettlement. On Thursday (May 29), main activists including Pratibha Shinde, Khayali Vasave and Thobya Vasave and the supporters from Nashik Mrs.Sumitra Jhavar and Dr. Vijay Gawali observed a 24 hour fast demanding the immediate rehabilitation.
She wondered and expressed pain and anguish at the obdurate stand of the Maharashtra government regarding the resettlement of the tribal oustees, which has remained a problem due to its own intransigence and willful denial of the rights and entitlements of the tribals in the Narmada valley. "Why is the Maharashtra government not conceding that it had squarely failed to honour its own promises and the recommendations of the committees appointed by itself? We wonder why it is now unwilling to resettle the 3000 tribal families whose lives are endangered by its own act, knowing fully well - as we have been shouting hoarsely for last so many years, with facts and figures and with the law on our side? Does the government expects people to accept the destruction of the their lives without any alternative and keep quiet?"
The government was inactive regarding the recommendation of its own Task Force Report, which was submitted in July 2002. The report has exposed the serious anomalies regarding the number of the oustees, the false discrepancy between 'declared' and 'undeclared' oustees.
However, as the situation has unfolded, not a single day has to be lost if the rights and life of thousands of tribal people in our state has to be saved. The government therefore -must start acting at once for the just and proper rehabilitation of the over 3000 families that will be affected by the submergence due to 100 m. dam. It will be futile and meaningless to resettle the people in a scattered manner according to the different heights. It will be just and according to NWDT stipulations to resettle all the families as one unit at one place. There is a need to find such chunks of irrigeable lands to resettle at least 3000 PAFs in Maharashtra, show these to the people, purchase the land chunks they choose, finalize all the resettlement procedures and relocate all those below 100 meters.
"The time for a detailed investigation and enumeration has gone now; the government had deliberately lost it as it wished that people should bear the cost of its failures. We will not allow this to happen, often the governments had done so in the past. We want the governments to be responsible and accountable on all front. So, the process of resettlement of all the 3000 oustee families should be started on war-footing, but with proper procedure and diligence, must be completed on war footing, before the onset of monsoon and submergence. Hereafter, there should be no further increase in the height of the dam before all the oustees below that level are fully resettled at least six months before", she said.
Divisional Commissioner, Mr. Viijay Mathankar, Divisional Commissioner's Office, Nashik Road, Nashik (Maharashtra) Phone: 0253-2461909, fax: 0253-2461063.