NBA Press Release
  16 May 2007
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

Lathi charge and teargassing on Maheshwar dam oustees, 40 oustees wounded

2, Sai nagar, Mata Chowk,
Khandwa,
Madhya Pradesh
Tel/FAX: 0733-2228418, 09425394606, 09425928007
Email: nobigdams[at]sancharnet.in

Collusion between administration and Company , Declaration of relentless struggle by oustees

The Police lathi-charged and tear-gassed the oustees of Village Lepa , the first village in the Maheshwar dam submergence today when they went to the dam site to protest against the blasting at the dam site that was causing their houses to collapse. 40 of the oustees were injured and 2 oustees had to be hospitalized. Lathis were hit on pregnant women as well. In this context, it may be mentioned that 75 families of Village Lepa had filed individual complaints in front of the Sub-Divisional Officer (Police) at Mandleshwar that if the blasting was not stopped, many houses would collapse, constituting a threat to life and causing damage to property. Some of the houses have already collapsed and there are cracks in most of the houses in Lepa.

In the last ten days, the blasting did not continue without any intervention from the government, and no action was taken by the administration on the complaints of the oustees, clearly establishing the collusion between the Company and the administration. In the end, the oustees were compelled to move to stop the blasting to save their lives and that of their children. This morning, when hundreds of oustees reached the pit on the left bank of the dam site, the administration and police without any attempt to talk to the villagers or even informing them, under the leadership of the SDO (Police) and SDM Kasrawad, the police began to lathi-charge the villagers. The police, situated on a higher level also started stoning the villagers in the pit, and tear-gassing the oustees. Pregnant woman Ladki bai was not spared. 40 oustees have been injured of which two people have been hospitalized.

The Narmada Bachao Andolan strongly condemns this barbaric act. It is clear from this action that the State government and the administration has subordinated public interest to the corporate interest of the private S.Kumars company. It may be noted that the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests had issued an Order on the 9th of June 2006 stopping the work on the Maheshwar dam because the Maheshwar Project authorities did not submit a Rehabilitation Plan along with details of agricultural land as required before the resumption of the work in late 2005. It may also be noted that the MoEF report had stated that no blasting should be done at the dam site before the villages of Lepa and Jalud are fully resettled and rehabilitated. R&R as stipulated by the Ministry of Environment means resettlement along with provision of agricultural land to landed and landless oustees However, the administration and the Company are openly and flagrantly violating the above recommendations. In the context of the struggle being conducted by the oustees under the aegis of the Narmada Bachao Andolan against the Maheshwar dam for the last ten years, the NBA asserts that the people of the Narmada valley will not endure this repression and injustice, and will continue this struggle without pause to stop injustice.

Alok Agarwal
Chittaroopa Palit