NBA Press Release
  01 May 2006
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

NBA to challenge the defamation and 'official' propaganda on 'rehabilitating' the 'rehabilitated'!

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

The one month long agitation, including a dharna and fast was over, keeping the battle on, while the governments, disturbed with the 'polkhol' the 'expose' campaign of the governments' illegality and falsehood related to rehabilitation itself, resorted to a deliberate 'defamation' campaign against NBA involving their supporters.

These include a corporate man in Gujarat, associated with various politicians and trying to defame us by hook or by crook since years, without success. This man is also facing a criminal case for involvement in the attack on Medha Patkar and media persons (NDTV reporter, Pravin Joshi, and others) in the Sabarmati Ashram, during a peace meeting after Gujarat riots. His latest charges, as were the past ones made through advertisements in 2000, are false and ill-intended. He has charged NBA of foreign funding worth lakhs of rupees, which is a fake, manipulated allegation, which we are to contest in the court, filing a defamation case. As the same person (whose propaganda has received space on India TV) accuses, NBA is not a registered organisation and hence has no credibility.

We know, however, that never was Gandhi's or Bhagatsinghs or Jaiprakash Narayan's freedom movement ever 'registered' and so not NBA either. Our constructive activities, however, are run under registered organisations and we are open, transparent about our very limited resources, our voluntary donations, our free services received from advocates to owners of the office premises, our friends and families of oustees to activists. We are ready to take up the challenge of proving the false accusations and the motive behind them, since all this is a part of our struggle against the communal, criminal state and we will fight it out.

Another attempt to defame NBA and, by corollary, prove government officials, their claims and statistics, and their report, right is also on by way of stories planted in the newspapers, especially the Indian Express. While NBA can, if it decides, put in thousands of stories of officials resorting to corruption, violent repression, betrayal against Adivasis and farmers in relation to Sardar Sarovar, we have not done this so far. Nor are all cases of violations of the Narmada Tribunal Award and contempt of Supreme Court judgments filed in the Supreme Court by the thousands of oustees, facing injustice as yet.

But the story of nine Adivasis from Bhitada village, Alivajpur tehsil, Jhabua district, published on the front page of the Indian Express can be a highly interesting 'eye opener' only if the readers happen to investigate into the total reality with no biases and no half cooked evidence or 'inventions'.

Bhitada is one of the twenty-six Adivasi villages, of Jhabua district, to be affected by Sardar Sarovar and it has been partially affected since 1999, when houses and/or farms of at least 4 Adivasi families in Bhitada faced submergence and in later years all, that is almost 100, did face the same. What people should know is, these 100% Adivasi villages are generations old communities, mainly of Bhilala Adivasis, where the governments has never set ^ up any school, dispensary, ration shops or haven't even built a road over decades, and yet the Adivasis live a more or less self-reliant life with land, river and rain waters, forest produce and their own hard work. Bhitada has, today, a school run with NBA's help from 1st to 4th standard, started as the 15th Life School (Jeevanshaala) in the Valley, managed with voluntary donations and a local committee, a local teacher; a ration shop which NBA i.e. the Adivasis and activists together, got started after much struggle; while the v illages have a successful, traditional water harvesting with gravity with no machine, for most of its agricultural land. The villages in Jhabua never wanted to be displaced and hence were worried, uninformed, and were never even consulted during the ten years long Tribunal sittings or, thereafter, till NBA with other local activists of Kedut Mazdor Chetna Sangh, reached them, enquired and informed. They were not for leaving their villages but slowly got to know about the dam.

Bhitada families, as hundreds of others in Jhuhua, were presumed to 'opt' for rehabilitation in Gujurat even without giving them the option to exercise their legal right to choose resettlement in their own state. This led to about 50 families of Bhitada to accept some land in two of Gujurat's resettlement sites, who all faced problems and at least 25 decided, under no influence of NBA, not to shift till land is exchanged. It is very clear that others in Bhitada always wanted to stay in Madhya Pradesh.

The government of Madhya Pradesh has shown all affected families in Bhitada as already rehabilitated, including those affected at 110m and 122m. None in Bhitada is 'non affected' as per the government even today while at least 50+ families, claimants, are yet to be declared as oustees and at least another 50 declared families are yet to be rehabilitated. It was from amongst the latter 50 that 15 Adivasis were taken to show the land in Chikalda village, Madhya Pradesh, one, which is known to be bad land. The worst is, the entire deal from identification of the seller to registration of sale, everything done by the officials has been a case of betrayal of the 9 adivasis who chose to take land (6 adivasis refused). All their monetary compensation for land, house, house plots, have been used by the government for purchasing the land. Now they have been told not to ask for anything more; no R&R site with all civic amenities, no houseplots, nothing... which is totally illegal.

Most shocking is that the farmers who sold the land have in collusion with the officials, removed their irrigation pumps and pipes, denying the adivasis irrigation, which was previously promised.

Six out of fifteen PAFs, therefore, have refused to take the 'deal' and nine who have accepted, are stunned. Even if the government succeeds, it is only through cheating. NBA is attacked by the 'story tellers' and 'story takers' since both of them are unconcerned of the tribal interests and are buying the argument of 'public interest at any cost'. NBA challenges this in favour of a humane, just paradigm but also honesty and integrity, by the state and the society, both.

Medha Patkar
Dipti Bhatnagar
Khajan Chupa
Jamsingh Nargave