NBA Press Note

October 29, 2000

Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

B-13, Shivam Flats, Ellora Park, Baroda, Gujarat.
Telefax: 0265-382232
58, M.G.Road, Badwani, M.P.
Tel: 07290-22464

Narmada Andolan, now for safeguarding the constitution of India; After Bhopal, a sit in at Delhi; Non co-operation in the villages; Intensification of the struggle;

The injustice delivered by the Supreme Court has not frightened the people of the Narmada Valley. Men, women and children have once again expressed their resolve and conviction. After the rally at Badwani, leaving behind the festivities of Diwali, we have brought to the streets of Bhopal the darkness from the villages and bastis and lives of the poor and downtrodden of this country. Here we are at this square in Bhopal - brothers and sisters, farmers and adivasis, after 15 years of struggle this new challenge has given a new opportunity to the Andolan to express its strength, to consolidate its thoughts, and to strengthen its relationship with all other people's movements of this country.

This 5-day fast on the occasion of Diwali has inspired us to move on. While the work on the dam is to be started with a lot of pomp on the 31st, we have decided to intensify our struggle. This is not a matter of opposing Gujarat. This is same Gujarat where 14% of the population that is adivasis are suffering from deprivation from resources, where Col.Save, the leader of fisherpeople fighting against displacement due to globalisation is killed, where the drought prone areas of Kutch and Saurashtra are not given the water that is locally available to them but fed on the dreams of Narmada water only. The issues of the adivasis, dalits and farmers of the same Gujarat of Gandhi are our issues. In their minds and thoughts they are with us, inspite of the false promises and propaganda of the Government. The drought affected may today have some temptation for the Narmada waters but tomorrow when they wait in vain, they will be with us.

Today we ask them to demand from the government the information in every village about how much water, to how many and which families, and in which year they will get it. Ask the government to put up boards with this information in every village so that tomorrow people can keep a monitoring eye.

Till date our struggle has been against the corrupt systems, the false concept of development and the undemocratic planning. In this struggle with injustice from the judiciary in our hands, there is no other way for lakhs of men and women but to take strong steps on all these three issues. If we do not fight today, it is imminent that the dreams of those who want to destroy the farmers, workers and adivasis of the Valley by the sheer power of flooding waters will be fulfilled. Inspite of the judgement of the court, will this unconstitutional step be acceptable to any society?

In this the first sacrifice will be of adivasis, just like it has been happening in the history of "development". In the 5th schedule of the constitution the adivasis have been assured of "peace and good governance". But today development is defying the constitution by destruction of their society that is based on unity and equality, their self-reliance that is free of the government, . . . everything that is theirs. With the destruction of the tribals, the governments are forcing farmers and workers to commit suicide. Nowhere can one see any effort of taking the rural society towards self-governance. The government is selling the life giving resources of the people to the global market. This is not only a game of the global market. Our politicians are also hand in glove in this for their own vested interests. By talking of constitutional amendments the government is trying to distract people's attention from its actions that has been defying the constitution. We will not let this happen. The Narmada struggle will now be a struggle to safeguard the constitution. If neither politicians nor the administration and now not even the judiciary is able to protect the constitution, how will the common people of this country do it? That is what this movement will take on now.

  • Tomorrow, on the 30th evening, we will light torches and candles not only to keep a vigil on Sardar Sarovar and the other large dams in the Narmada Valley but also to protect the constitution. Support groups of NBA will do the same all over the country.

  • While the 20,000 hectares required to rehabilitate in all the three states is not available (not even a single hectare is available in Madhya Pradesh) and the government is ready to proceed with the work on the dam even beyond 90 meters, the innocent people of the valley will not sit silent. We will move on from here - take strength from the valley - not only the strength of numbers but also of ideas of people oriented development - and reach Delhi on the 11th of November. The contempt of the issues raised by the Narmada movement by the Court is a contempt of all people's movements and of the common people of this country. To give a jolt to the centre of party politics and the anti-people system, thousands of tribals, farmers and workers from the valley will reach Delhi. We will go in two groups via) Nandurbar - Mumbai and Badwani - Indore and camp in Delhi. Alongwith the people from the Sardar Sarovar affected area, there will be people living alongside the Narmada in the Maheshwar, Bargi, and other dams in the valley. Fellow-supporters from others states will also be with us. The strength from the lanes of the villages converge in Delhi. They will call - No political power, we want people's power. No large dams, we want a just water policy.

  • This will not only be a show of strength in Delhi, we will also have a People's Hearing on the issue of Narmada. We will call for answers not only from the administration, from the President, but also from the representatives of civil society.

  • The Andolan has already said that we do not want to reject the judiciary. Rather we want it to become a protector of Constitution that is in favour of people's rights. Although we reject the confused, illogical verdict of the court, we will still file a review petition on the verdict in the very same court.

  • With this, the movement will be stronger in the valley. Narmada is not a product for the market. Water is not a saleable thing. Narmada is the name of a culture and water is a part of nature. These are governed by the laws of nature - that is above all. If the drought and flood affected people of the country and the people from the Narmada Valley discuss with open minds all will agree to this. In this context, people in all villages in the Narmada Valley will give a call of non-co-operation to the government. People will not allow the government to enter the villages for any dam related work. The alternative politics of the Narmada movement, with co-ordination with all other people's movements, will be non-electoral. It will still remain a politics of people's movement.

Medha Patkar
Devram Kanera
Kamala Yadav
Kamalabai Patidar
Alok Agrawal
Mohan Kumar