Jan Sangarsh Morcha Press Release
  23 November 2002
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

Thousands of Tribals-Farmers Protest Against Proposed Electricity Tariff Hike as Rally Reaches Burhanpur

Jail Road, Mandleshwar
District Khargone, Madhya Pradesh
Tel: 07283-33162
Email: nobigdam@sancharnet.in
Near Bohra Masjid, Betul, MP
Tel: 07141-33971

The "Bijli Bachao Azadi Bachao Yatra " received a warm welcome in the in Burhanpur today. Over three thousand people participated in a rally in the town and a subsequent the public meeting, strongly opposing the proposed hike in the electricity tariffs. The people demanded that not only should the current petition of MPSEB for power increase be rejected, but also that the power tariff hike granted last year, which was proving unbearable for the people should be reviewed and the tariffs drastically reduced. The people also warned the Government that if the it remained adamant on raising the tariffs at the behest of the foreign agencies, then an agitation would be launched through out the state.

It may be recollected that the MP State Electricity Board (MPSEB) has recently filed a proposal with the MP Electricity Regulatory Commission proposing (MPERC) a 1.5 to 6 times hike in the power tariffs. If this proposal, filed at the behest of the Asian Development Bank, is accepted it is certain that the farmers and the commerce of the state will come to a grinding halt and the people will be reduced to destitution.

Jan Sangharsh Morcha - a front of 15 mass organisations of M.P. has launched the Bijli Bachao Azadi Bachao yatra from 15 Nov. 2002 to protest against this price hike. The yatra which started from Indore, reached Burhanpur today via Dewas, Ujjain, Nagda, Ratlam, Dhar, Manawar, Badwani and Anjad, Kasrawad, Badwah, Khargone. It has received massive support from the common people all over the state.

On 20th Nov. over 5000 farmers and tribals had welcomed the yatra in Kasrawad (Dist. Khargone). In the public meeting organised there by the Nimad Malwa Kisan Majdoor Sangathan they unanimously declared that they will not accept the slavery to the foreign agencies and will not allow the tariffs to be hiked. A rally was organised in Bediya later on in the day.

On 21st Nov., the yatra reached Badwah town (Dist. Khargone) and over 500 people participated in the rally and public meeting here. On 22 Nov. the yatra reached Sanawad town and after a rally there, reached Khargone. A rally and public meeting was also organised in Khargone. Hundreds of people participated in this and expressed strong support to the demands.

In Burhanpur today (23rd Nov.) over 3000 people welcomed the yatra and took out a rally in the main parts of the city. A public meeting was organised in the Gandhi Chowk. Addressing the meeting, Shri Ratan Singh of Adivasi Ekta Parishad said that tribals were already facing the problems due to drought, now they were not ready to accept the load of the power tariff hike. He called for the tariffs to be reduced, and said that these should be waived in the drought-affected areas. District Panchayat member Shri Gansingh Patel said that disconnection of the single-point connection was an anti-tribal step and called for restoration of the connections. Shri Haji Mohammad Hanif, President of Power loom Weavers Association said that the tariff hike would sound the death knell of the over 40,000 power looms in Burhanpur and lakhs of people will be rendered unemployed.

The meeting was also addressed by Vijaybhai, seniour activist of Adivasi Mukti Sangathan, and Alok Agrawaal, senior activist of the Narmada Bachao Andolan and convenor of Jan Sangharsh Morcha.

The yatra now moves on to the districts of Khandwa, Harda, Betul, Hoshangad and then to Bhopal. Another yatra which is going on through the districts of Katni, Shadol, Dindori, Mandla, Balaghat, Seoni, Chindwada and Jabalpur will meet this yatra in Bhopal on 30th Nov. 2002, when a massive demonstration will be staged in culmination of both yatras.

Chittaroopa Palit
Shamim Baghani