NBA Press Note

November 24, 2000

Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

True Face of a Patriot - Response to an Advertisement

The Indian Express, dated November 10 & 11, 2000 carried an advertisement titled "True Face of Ms. Medha Patkar and her Narmada Bachao Andolan" by an Ahmedabad based National Council for Civil Liberties (NCCL) which is defamatory for both myself and my colleague Chittaroopa as well as a people's movement, Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) in more than one way. We have through our advocate, Prashant Bhushan, served legal notice to both Indian Express and NCCL, which has asked both of them to "retract these allegations and imputations and publish an apology ... with the same prominence and with same number of insertions within a week of receipt of this notice". The advertisement has alleged that "NBA is passing on confidential documents relating to projects of national importance to the foreign people..." and that the NBA is funded through hawala transactions. Hawala is well known to the politicians, both in power and outside than to any other people's movements.

Here are some allegations and the truth:

What the Advertisement says

1. "NBA is passing on confidential documents relating to projects of national importance to the foreign people with sole objective to halt the progress of the nation."
"(E-mail sent by Ms. Chitraroopa Palit (Silvi) of NBA to Mr. Kurt Voegele and Mr. Hansruedi Pfeiffer of Switzerland on 09/09/99 regarding Shri Maheshwar Hydel Power Project of Madhya Pradesh.)"

The Truth

The letter is handwritten and it's obviously not an email, as is mentioned in the very letter of Chittaroopa.

The said "risk analysis" was prepared by NBA. NBA has always prepared independent analysis of the Project and its different components and have circulated for wider discussion, awareness and action.

As you all know, Maheshwar Project is being financed by the Multinational companies like ABB, Ogden, Siemens etc. 76% of its investment is from foreign sources. If the Government is roaming around the globe with a begging bowl for different destructive projects, how and why can people not challenge by disseminating the information on the facts and ground reality to all concerned, including the investors ?

What the Advertisement says

2. "NBA is not a registered body."

"Why ? Because once an NGO is registered with the Registrar of Society and or with the Charity Commissioner, it is bound to submit its audited accounts every year to these authorities, which can expose the names of donors/sources of income /expenditure."

"How is the show run so successfully by NBA for the last 10 years ?"

"Yes! Through the Hawala Transactions. NBA has established various support groups in different names and parties are pursued to donate to such support groups instead of NBA directly."

The Truth

Why should a people's movement, who oppose the destructive projects of the government get registered? People's movements cannot and shouldn't be controlled and certified by the State!

Yet, we believe we should be and we are accountable to the wider society and anyone who has genuine interest and concern. We also know that all our transactions are legal. Otherwise the forces we are fighting against would have finished us long back.

NBA, which is opposing the gigantic Sardar Sarovar Dam, has manifold ways to raise funds for its activities. The foremost is the collection of grains during the harvest from the affected villages itself. People from different walks of life artists, writers and other professionals have contributed to the cause. Village contribution and voluntary donations are the main sources of funding for NBA. Sale of literature, momentos, etc too are done from time to time.

The amount of foreign awards (totaling nearly Rs.32 lakhs) was never accepted by NBA.

"Letter of Lok Samiti and its receipt".

Here they reproduce the letter written by the Lok Samiti of Malegaon, for receiving some amount for NBA from a person in Ahmedabad which is not 'out of India'. Also, NBA has been appealing through its newsletters and other special appeals for funds to send the contributions directly to NBA account in Mumbai or for those who want to avail of tax concessions, to Lok Samiti, a registered body.

V.K.Saxena, one who is pained by the 'Hawala transactions', himself came to Malegaon, praised NBA and gave a cheque for Rs.40,000. Lok Samiti naively and promptly sent the receipt and letter, which shows honesty and good record keeping than anything else. But the cheque couldn't be encashed and got bounced. On enquiry, the Bank reported "The account doesn't exist". The cheque, please note, came from Lalbhai Group. What is the connection between Lalbhai Group and V.K.Saxena? Who among them is more 'Patriot'?

Lok Samiti accounts are recorded and audited. All the offices of NBA too have the record of accounts.

Act of a coward, not a Patriot

Not addressing the issues raised by the movement for the last 15 years and coming up with fake stories like 'Hawala Transactions' are examples for cowardliness and not of patriotism. One, who is following the sordid tactics of Government of Gujarat, its history of human rights from Dangs to Umbergaon and mortgaging the people and their resources before Bill Gates and Wolfensohn, knows who is behind this.

Medha Patkar