NBA Press Note

November 8, 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

No Land For Oustees: People Protest Against the Unjust Submergence And Displacement

LONG MARCH STARTS EXPOSING THE CLAIMS BY MAHARASHTRA GOVT DEMONSTRATIONS IN SHAHADA, NANDURBAR: MUMBAI DHARNA ON NOV. 9

The tribal oustees from Maharashtra once again exposed the false claims of land availability by the government of Maharashtra, this time in the presence of the prominent persons and the Secretary of Union Ministry of Social Justice. In a public meeting at the resettlement sites near Taloda (Maharashtra) on Tuesday (November 7), the district administration had to admit that it had no land for the oustees that would be affected by the 90 meters of the height of the dam, as ordered by the Supreme Court. It was again revealed that even the oustees displaced due to the 80 m height of the dam, have not been resettled fully.

Over seven hundred oustees' representatives from Maharashtra villages started the Long March with a Call of Justice (Nyay ki Pukar), on November 6 from Dhadgaon. This is one of the two batches of the people from the valley proceeding towards Delhi to put up their grievance before the nation. The other group of the villagers from Madhya Pradesh would be proceeding from Indore. The Maharashtra part of the Long March was flagged off from Dhadgaon, the headquarters of Akrani tehsil and the people held rallies in Shahada and Taloda, before proceeding to hold the dharna at Nandurbar on Wednesday (Nov. 8). Number of tribal and other organisations outside the valley joined the demonstrations at these places. Everywhere, the people understood the tribal oustees' point regarding the injustice by the Supreme Court order.

The campaign is undertaken 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. 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.

Submergence Without resettlement

The claims regarding the resettlement of the Maharashtra government was once again exposed before the hundreds of oustees and the Secretary of the Social Justice Ministry, Ms. Asha Das. The oustees from the submergence zone and those on the rehabilitation sites confronted the Collector of Nandurbar on the availability of the land for the new oustees. The already displaced oustees, below the 80 meters of the dam height, were not given the land for last 4 to 7 years. There was no land for the oustees that are being affected by the increased height of the dam. The Supreme Court has ordered to take up the height of the dam up to 90 meters, when even those below the 80 and 88 m height could not be resettled in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh as yet.

The villagers on the bank of Narmada asked the Center and the state government to take note of this reality. They made a forceful plea not to increase the height of the dam and cause further submergence, which would be at the cost of the life of the tribal oustees.

After day-long demonstrations at Nandurbar (the district headquarters) and after confronting the officials, the March would proceed towards Mumbai, where the people would question the Maharashtra government about the displacement and submergence, on November 9. They would be meeting the Maharashtra Governor, as the Constitutional Protector of the tribals' rights.

From November 11, the Maharashtra oustees and the Madhya Pradesh oustees coming over via Indore, would launch a dharna in Delhi. Number of organisations from all over India, along with noted jurists, social and political activists and academicians, would join Narmada Bachao Andolan in Delhi along with the citizens who value democracy and people's rights.

Sanjay Sangvai
Joe Athialy