Massive Rally Condemning the Judgment of Supreme Court in Badwani;
Thousands reaffirm their determination to fight against injustice and
protect the Narmada Valley
Medha Patkar and few others have declared protest fast at Bhopal from 25th
of October onwards, against the anti people judgment pronounced by
Jst.Anand and Jst.Kripal in the case of NBA Vs states of Gujarat,
Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh and others. Over 3500 men, women and
children from the West Nimad, a region in Madhya Pradesh to be affected by
Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) thronged the streets of district headquarters
of Badwani (Madhya Pradesh) today to condemn and challenge the Supreme
Court verdict allowing the dam-construction to proceed.
Black flags symbolising the shock and anger on the one hand and blue ones
of Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), symbolising sheer determination on the
other, was glaring at the rally.
Noted litterateur Arundhati Roy, senior Advocate and human rights
campaigner Nirmal Kumar Sooryavanshi, Sarvodaya leader Mahendrabhai Jain,
Sculptor Dasaniji, freedom fighters, academicians, social activists,
educationalists and others from Dhule, Malegaon, Pune (Maharashtra), Indore
(Madhya Pradesh), Delhi, Kozhikode (Kerala), Baroda (Gujarat),
representatives from Maheshwar dam affected and Adivasi Mukti Sangathan,
Madhya Pradesh and others too participated in the rally and public meeting.
This was the first public response of the people from the valley to the
judgment. Expressing their shock and anger at the betrayal of justice by
the Apex Court, the people locked the local Rehabilitation office of the
NVDA. When there is no land, no Master Plan for rehabilitation even after
20 years, on what basis did the Court order to chalk out a plan for
rehabilitation and land acquisition in the next 4 weeks?
Later, infront of the Sessions Court, they buried the Judgment by Jst.Anand
and Jst.Kirpal, describing it as most illogical, atrocious, anti-democratic
and anti-people verdict ever in the history of the Supreme Court. The
protest action was participated by all political parties and organisations
of traders in Badwani and Anjad towns, by not only extending full support
but also have submitted memorandums of protest to the Chief Minister of
Madhya Pradesh and Prime Minister through the District Collector. Many of
the shops in the town of Badwani was 'decorated' with black flags,
'mourning' at the death of democracy.
Medha Patkar, while declaring fast along with her comrades said, "like
convicting the innocents, the judgment has been proved to be the most
inhuman crime. The fast is against the conspiracy of the State and all its
arms to destroy the age old Narmada Valley, its culture, tradition and even
life". She added that the people are now compelled to be in the path of
struggle for ever. They will rise as one, with hundreds of people's
movements from within the country and across the boundaries to take
justice, which is rightfully theirs.
Arundhati Roy, in her hard hitting speech said, "The 'majority judgement'
of the Supreme Court will go down in history as an event in which the
highest Court I the country actually condones and encourages the violation
of the human rights of Indian Citizens. The Judges out to be made
accountable". Senior Advocate, Nirmal Kumar Sooryavanshi curbed the
judgement as "illogical and self-contradictory". He added, "We cannot agree
with the displacement of the tribals. The judgement is in violation of
Dalsukbhai, one of the oustees of SSP, said that the judgement is a big
blow to all people, who are denied justice by the state governments. "For
them, Court was the last resort now, with this betrayal, people know that
they are hand-in-glow with the State", he added. Rugminibhai, who braved
all State repressions, fighting the destructive project said, "The Court
too has betrayed us but we will not succumb to this. Till today we were
fighting against all governments, now we will fight against the judgement
One may recall that on October 18th, the Supreme Court in its majority
judgement in Narmada Bachao Andolan's Public Interest Litigation against
the SSP, has not taken cognisance of the serious issues regarding the
incomplete studies, displacement and rehabilitation, non-fulfillment of
environmental and other conditions which were put before the court. It has
refused to go into the issues of legal, constitutional violations by the
State, rather gave a go ahead to the project till 90 mts immediately and
further construction on the fulfillment of rehabilitational conditions of
the oustees according to the Narmada Water Dispute Tribunal Award.
It becomes clear from some of the observations contained in the dissenting
judgement by the third judge on the bench Justice S.P. Bharucha that these
issues were raised during the hearing by the NBA. While delivering the
dissenting judgment, he ordered no further construction of the dam at this
stage on the grounds that there is no clearance for the project. He
observed that the Environmental Clearance was granted without completing
the studies and that has lapsed; and ordered to apply for fresh environment
The court, thus, has betrayed the tribal and peasant communities in the
country at large and specifically, those in the Narmada Valley.
The majority judgment, written by Jst.Kirpal has refused to take any
cognisance of serious issues like the cost-benefit, environmental aspects
of the project along with the larger displacement problem. Not even the
sworn affidavits of Government of Madhya Pradesh was taken with full
seriousness and honesty. It, in clear terms, admits non-availability of
cultivable land to resettle the people who are affected by the already
built dam. It is clear that the dam is not going to benefit the drought
prone areas like Kutch and Saurashtra, in whose name the dam is being
pushed ahead. The decision of the court has done a great damage for
sustainable and equitable planning for water management in these areas.
Thus it has played with the future of the drought prone areas too.
The judgment, which in itself is a pile of contradictions, thus have only
helped the common man to erode the faith of our democratic system - its
ability to deliver justice.
People from different parts of the country and abroad have decided to
observe October 23rd as Black Day. Protest actions have already been held
in Bangalore, Thiruvananthapuram, Mumbai and many other places.
The protest rally which was in a shower of songs and slogans, have showed
the determination not to leave their houses and lands for the ill-conceived
project like SSP, even at this present adverse situation, where the highest
institution, which is considered to be the custodian of justice in the
country, have betrayed them. They summed up their determination in the slogan:
"Narmada Ghati Par Haq Hamara, Chahe Jo Kahe Kanoon Tumhara"
(We don't care what your law says, Narmada Valley is ours)