NBA Press Note

November 5, 2000

Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

NARMADA BACHAO ANDOLAN
B-13, Shivam Flats, Ellora Park, Baroda, Gujarat.
Telefax: 0265-382232
58, M.G.Road, Badwani, M.P.
Tel: 07290-22464

NARMADA VILLAGERS TO LAUNCH LONG MARCH - 'CALL FOR JUSTICE' FROM NOVEMBER 6: DHARNA IN DELHI FOR PEOPLE'S RIGHTS: PROTEST ACTIONS CONTINUE ALL OVER

Villagers from Narmada valley would be proceeding towards Delhi with a "Call for Justice" (Nyay ki Pukar) to expose the recent judgement on Narmada issue by the Supreme Court and give a call for transforming judiciary to be truthful, committed to the Constitutional value of protecting the rights of the depressed classes and be accountable. The March would reassert the people's rights as against the rights of the corporate interests and power-holders. There will also be a public hearing on the Narmada issue in which many jurists and experts would participate. The Long March will also appeal to the President to use his powers to stop further devastation of the Valley and destitution of the people.

In the Long March Adivasis from the ranges of Satpuda from Maharashtra would come to Dhadgaon, the nearest tehsil place, on November 6 and demonstrate at government offices and then proceed towards Shahada and Taloda on 7th, District headquarters, Nandurbar and Jalgaon on 8th November. Next day (Nov. 9th) the people would converge in Mumbai (Bombay) alongwith the organisations and supporters from various parts of Maharashtra and South India, to confront the Maharashtra government. The role played by Maharashtra government in furthering the work on the dam has caused the submergence and the forcible displacement of the adivasi oustees.

Another group would leave from Badwani, in Nimad in Madhya Pradesh towards Indore. They will be holding the protest demonstrations at the office of Narmada Control Authority (NCA) on 10th November. Supporters and organisations from all parts of Madhya Pradesh will accompany them. The Supreme Court has assigned the job of deciding about the construction schedule to the NCA, which has failed miserably all these years to protect the rights of the oustees.

Both the groups would converge at Delhi on November 11. A dharna (sit in) will start on that day, with an appeal for the President of India to have a dialogue with the people from the Narmada valley and restore the constitutional rights of the people and the sanctity of the Constitutional values.

On November 14, a Jan Sunvai (Public Hearing) is organised on Narmada issue and the social, environmental and economic impacts of the Sardar Sarovar Project. People from the valley will present their case before a group of eminent persons from different walks of life. Government bodies will also be invited to present their case in the Public Hearing, organised by the Indian People's Tribunal, Bombay.

Meanwhile the people's organisations from all over India have continued their mass actions against the injustice by the apex court, expressing solidarity with the Narmada issue.

Protest Actions Across India, World

Madurai

National Alliance of People's Movements, Madurai, held a support action to condemn the murder of justice in the Supreme Court Judgement of 18.10.2000, regarding the SSP. About 200 people representing slum dwellers, workers in unorganised sector, small peasants, women, environmentalists, lawyers and a large number of students and intellectuals, attended the Struggle. About 20 speakers from different walks of life gave their perspective on the Narmada Struggle, the judgement and the situation of people's movements in today's situation.All the speakers condemned the murder of justice and the cynicism of the corrupted ruling classes denying the right to life and livelihood to lakhs of Adivasis and other small peasants. Local struggles like slum eviction, airport extension, ring road were also highlighted.

Maharashtra

In Nashik. Over 150 representatives of trade unions, other organisations took out a rally and a daylong dharna, fast against the injustice. Veteran Trade Unionist, Shantaram Chavan made an impassioned plea for the protection of the constitutional and democratic rights of the workers, adivasis, peasants and depressed classes against the onslaught of the capitalist powers. He lamented that the Supreme Court too has been conniving with these capitalist forces.

In Pune, the representatives of various organisations took out a Silent March by about a through the main city on October 28. Senior journalist and feminist writer, Ms. Vidya Bal, Dr. Vidyut Bhagawat, Taherbhai Poonawala and R.P. Nene alongwith young activists participated in the march. It started from the statue of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, the architect of Indian Constitution. The young activists made it clear that they consider the Narmada verdict by the Supreme Court as an attack on the Constitutional values adhered by Dr. Ambedkar. Norted jurist, Dr. S.P. Sathe also attended the protest march which was concluded at the statue of Senapati Bapat, the leader of the Mulshi Satyagraha, the first anti-dam movement in India in 1921. The activists also held demonstrations on October 31 in front of Collector office. They gave a memorandum in the name of Chief Minister of Maharashrtra through the Collector of Pune. The memorandum asserted that after the Supreme Court judgement, the Maharashtra government must protect the interests of its tribals and the interests of the state as such. They asked the Chief Minister to strongly protect the interests of Maharashtra oustees in the NCA, Chief Ministers' Review committee and if needed before the Prime Minister. Henceforth, Maharashtra government must not allow any more submergence and displacement, they said.

Abroad

Around 150 protestors gathered on October 31 in Parliament Square of London. The day began with a rally outside the House of Commons in protest at British involvement in the construction of the Ilisu dam in Turkey. Afterwards protestors made their way to the Indian High Commission in central London to demonstrate their solidarity with the Narmada Bachoa Andolan who are struggling to uphold the constitutional rights of people in the Narmada valley after the Supreme Court of India's recent ruling chose to set aside these rights.

Outside the High Commission protestors wearing T-shirts with different letters on them spelt out the words "STOP THE DAM" in a human chain for all passers-by to read. Speakers then spoke of the illogical and absurd reasoning of the majority verdict of the Supreme Court decision, written by Justice Kirpal and signed by Chief Justice Anand. The verdict, said one speaker, clearly ignores all the issues and has almost totally ignored all the points raised by the Narmada Bachao Andolan and the evidence presented by it. What sort of justice is that, it was asked?

28 people of Indian origin in United States observed solidarity fast from 25th-28th of October. This was the time when eight people from the Narmada Valley and outside were on fast, appealing to the civil society in the wake of the recent Supreme Court judgment. A few among the ones who observed fast are: Neerja Bhatt (SunnyVale, California), Payal Parekh (Boston), Aniruddha Vaidya (Santa Clara, California), Girish Bhatt (SunnyVale, California), Kiran Vissa (Maryland), Subbu Vincent (Fremont, California), Subbu Sastry (Madison), Mahesh Marina (Cincinnati), RaviShankar Arunachalam (Pittsburgh), Vinay Kumar (Boston), Vinod John (Schenectady, New York).

Protest actions are also planned in Canada in the next few days.

Sanjay Sangvai
Joe Athialy