October 02, 1999
FIVE MORE JOIN MEDHA IN INDFINITE FAST IN DHULE JAIL
NBA DARES RANE TO PROVE CLAIMS AND CHARGES
As four more villagers joined Medha Patkar in an indefinite fast in Dhule jail
from today ( Saturday, Oct. 2) the people in Narmada valley dared the Chief
Minister Mr. Narayan Rane to prove charges of foreign funding to the Andolan.
The people once again challenged the state government to prove that the land
for rehabilitation of Maharashtra oustees was available within 48 hours.
Sitarambhai Patidar (Kadmal), Doorsingh Vasave (Domkhedi), Dadliya Karbariya
(Domkhedi), Naharsingh PAvra (Savariya), Mahadeo Patidar ( Chhota Barda) have
decided to fast alongwith Medha Patkar.
A large protest meeting was organised today near the jail. The participants
challenged the Chief Minister to prove the charge of foreign funding on the NBA
and invited him to elaborate the "foreign hand" behind the Narmada struggle.
They also called upon Mr. Rane to prove within 48 hours that the 2200 hectares
of land for the rehabilitation of Maharashtra oustees was available. Otherwise
he must admit that he was lying and make an affidavit to this effect in Supreme
Court. "We will expose the irresponsible utterances of the Chief Minister in and
out of the court. These bureaucrats and politicians should not play with the
life of us adivasis in such a manner", said Pinjari Bai, a senior activist
from Akrani tehsil in the valley.
"The Andolan has been built us on our own resources, from our friends from all
over India. We had not taken a paisa of the two international awards the NBA
has received", said the main activist, Luwarya bhai from Alirajpur tehsil.
Mansarambhai from Nimad ridiculed Mr. Rane's statement, coming from the
government, which is dependent on money from the World Bank and multinatonals.
"Hundreds of the displaced families in Maharashtra have been without the
houses and the allotments of land. The displaced people have been given
the land which has been cultivated by other adivasis, which has led to conflict
between adivasi communities" said Pratibha Shinde of the Punarvas Sangharsha
Samiti. She challenged the Chief Minister to resettle the families who have
already been displaced and then talk about the availability of the land and
decried his plans to take away the land of the 'encroachers' in the name of
Shripad Dharmadhikari of NBA has given a detailed account of the fraud that was
being played by the governments, including the Maharashtra government by filing
the false affidavits in the Supreme Court about the rehabilitation and land
availability. The court had allowed the resumption of the work on the dam on
the basis of these claims, when even the first village near the dam site could
not be completely resettled. He described the abysmal state of rehabilitation
of the Gujarat villages and said that hundreds of resettled families have gone
back to their original villages. However, rehabilitation is not the only
aspect, it is linked with the very "public purpose" of the project which
NBA has been challenging through the 14 years of experience and analysis, he
The people's struggle in the Narmada valley has spread in other parts
challenging the Maheshwar, Man, Jobat, Narmada Sagar and other such dams,
raising the issue of sustainable use of the resources. NBA has also exploring
the alternative water and land management patterns, which are a part of the
Task Force report of the Government of M.P., of which NB has been a part, said
Alok Agrawal. Rajkumar Sinha of the Bargi oustees struggle narrated the woes
of the peasants ousted by the Bargi dam, the first dam on Narmada, for last
ten years. The struggle in Bargi calls unto other prospective oustees not to
leave their land and resources. Once you are ousted from your land, no amount
of efforts and struggles could restore your life and dignity, he cautioned.
Mr.Desharath Patil, the veteran socialist, presided over the meeting. He made
it clear that the Sardar Sarovar Project would not benefit the Maharashtra
state, but would devour the 10,000 hectares of forest of the state, displace
5000 adivasi families in Mahrashtra. The representatives from support
organizations from Nagpur, Malegaon, Kerala & Bengal also expressed the
solidarity and condemned the Maharashtra government for cheating the court and
About five hundred people were present at the meeting including the college
students in Dhule, the workers of Hamal Mapadi (manual workers) union,
Chatrbharati, Satyashodhak Vidyarthi Sangathana, Rashtra Seva Dal, Socialist
Women's Organisation and others. A band of villagers affected by Gosi-Khurd
dam in Vidarbha (eastern Maharashtra) along with trade unionist Com. Ms.
Chandra, Mohan Kothekar and others from Nagpur came to participate in this
protest rally. Hundreds of villagers from the Nimad villages and from the
tribal belt of Akrani-Akkalkuwa tehsil came despite the pressing agricultural