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Press Release                                 October 03, 1999

Indefinite fast by Medha and others continues on 2nd day
Ninth day of Dharna

As the indefinite fast of Medha Patkar and her 5 colleagues in Dhule jail has entered the second day on Sunday (Oct.3), the jailed tribals from the Narmada valley have challenged the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Mr.Narayan Rane to come and show them the land for resettlement. Meanwhile, the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) will be serving a legal notice to the Chief Minister for defaming the Andolan and threatening the tribals' struggle.

Strongly reacting to the utterances of the CM that the Government has 2200 ha. of land for resettlement of the tribal oustees from Maharashtra, the tribal detainees asked him why is he not responding to the call of discussions on the basic issues of Resettlement and Rehabilitation of the oustees who are in the jail since Sept. 23. They reminded him that the Deputy Collector of Nandurbar had admitted on 19th March this year that there was no land for resettlement, and the resettlement officer in Rozva rehabilitation site, had given the same in writing in May '99. Despite these facts, they asked, on what basis the CM has been claiming about the existence of these mysterious 2200 ha? Pray, why is he talking all about it from Nashik, Mumbai etc.? Come to Dhule, and if you have the courage, show us the land and the amenities.

They also reminded the CM of the stand taken by his counter-part in Madhya Pradesh, where the latter has asked for the review of the Tribunal and stoppage of the dam citing the non-availability of the land for resettlement. The people lamented that the CM did not keep his oft made promise to come and inspect the status of resettlement and has been depended on the misinformation provided by the officials who have been acting as the agents of contractors.=

Legal Notice to Chief Minister

NBA has decided to issue a legal notice to CM, Mr.Narayan Rane, for his irresponsible and highly defamatory utterances regarding the Andolan made during the past week. He has alleged in his press conferences in Nashik and Pune that the NBA has appropriated the land meant for the project affected people. According to him, there is a foreign hand behind the agitation and Medha Patkar has been continuing the agitation for self-projection. The Andolan also deiced to issue notices under Section 3 of Prevention of Atrocities on Tribals Act. Mr.Rane has threatened of finishing of the Andolan in his numerous interviews. This is nothing but a direct threat to the tribals' movement struggling for their rights. Immediately after one of those threats the police had unwarrently beaten and arrested hundreds of tribals and activists in Dhadgaon on Sep.23rd. This incident has taken place immdiately after the CM had issued such a threat through a section of press. The Andolan had repeatedly challenged the CM to prove these charges and put all the informations regarding this charges before the public. It has charged the CM of trying to divert the focus on the issue of displacement and resettlement and of proving his claims.

The Dharna & Indefinite Fast

Meanwhile, one more detainee from Dhule jail has joined the indefinite fast against the injustice of the State Government. Ms.Komal Patidar, launched her indefinite fast on Sunday along with Medha Patkar, Sitarambhai Patidar (Kadmal), Doorsingh Vasave (Domkhedi), Naharsingh Pavara (Savariya), Mahadeo Patidar ( Chhota Barda) and Dadliya Munda Vasava (Domkhedi). Five others, Dedlybai Vasave, Geeta Vasave, Manja Padvi, Vanita Padvi and Shakuntala Kanera observed 24 hours fast inside the jail. This was complimented by relay fast by 4 comrades from the Narmada valley and outside participating in the indefinite dharna for the last 9 days outside the jail. The supporters from Delhi, Kerala, Gujarat joined the hundreds in the dharna today. Mr.Subash Lomte, the convenor of the union of agricultural labourers in the country, Mr.Vishnu Dhoble, president of state unit of Samajwadi Jan Parishad and others today expressed solidarity with the Narmada struggle. They condemned the utterances of Mr.Rane. They said that this showed the levels to which this person could stoop and that the Andolan should not take him seriously.

Maharashtra Governor Agrees to meet

The Governor of Maharashtra, Dr.P.C.Alexander has agreed to meet a delegation of representatives of NBA supporters in Mumbai on 6th Oct. NBA has been appealing to the Governor of the state and the President to use their prerogative under Schedule 5 of the Constitution - to protect the lives of the tribals and stop the work on the dam.

Sanjay Sangvai