| NBA Press Release
|| 13 October 2001
Farmers of Narmada took out massive rally:
NARMADA BACHAO ANDOLAN
B-13, Shivam Flats
62, Mahatma Gandhi Road,
Madhya Pradesh - 451551
More than 2000 farmers, labourers, adivasis from many villages of Badwani and Dhar districts of Narmada Valley took out a huge rally at Manavar to question and condemn the unjust, illegal and oppressive actions of the Madhya Pradesh State government in the submergence area of controversial Sardar Sarovar Project. The determined women & men, old and young led by Rajesingh Tomar, Mansaram Jat, Devendra Tomar, Devram Kanera, Kamala Yadav and Medha Patkar unanimously declared that they will not allow the dam to go ahead violating the policy and provisions of resettlement and rehabilitation stipulated in the Tribunal and Supreme Court Judgement.
In the name of survey the government was trying to intimate the villagers by entry and march into the villages by hundreds of armed police, arrests of prominent village leaders in Ekalbara after midnight and forcing them to sign blank papers while in custody and making a mockery of survey by measuring only the length and width of outer portion of some houses. The arrogant officials refused to listen to the villagers who raised their genuine and basic questions with regard to resettlement and rehabilitation and many villagers were beaten up and kept under illegal custody, charging various sections, for a few days without producing in the court. But the farmers and labourers of Nimad villages, like Chotta Badada, Pipri, Bagud, Bhavaria, Gopalpura, Kavati, Ekalbara, etc., expressed their wish in a peaceful manner not to allow any survey of their houses and defeated the designs of the state government by writing on the wall and cattle.
The farmers took out an impressive procession through the Manavar town and held a huge public meeting near the main bus stand. The Sub Divisional Magistrate (SDM) of Manavar who was in charge of police action in villages was compelled to com out of his office and give a patient hearing to the people but had no answers on the specific questions raised before him. SDM conceded that he was acting only on the orders of NVDA and Madhya Pradesh government. This itself gave the people the confidence in their belief and struggle.
Farmers and their families could vow to fight the battle against State terrorism, come what may, through a non-violent manner. People questioned the government stating it is unjust and illegal to bring submergence violating the Tribunal and Supreme Court order. Sajanbai, Rajkorbai, Mansaram Jat and other farmers of Nimad in their thunderous speeches reiterated that, if the government is not capable of rehabilitating the affected people with land for land, it has no right to increase the height of the dam beyond 90 mts, the present height, resorting to repressive measures, distributing cash and thereby destitutionalising people.
While addressing the public meeting, in front of the office of SDM, Medha Patkar said that the destructive Sardar Sarovar Dam which could not be raised more than 2 metres (from 88 to 90) during last one year is a proof of what the Narmada Bachao Andolan is saying for years. She also said that the true development of villages and the people of Narmada lies in saving their villages and farms from displacement, import of foreign farm productions, escalating power price.
It may be noted that, on 2nd September 2001 in a meeting with the Chief Minister, people have questioned about the forcible survey and illegal distribution of cash, violating the Tribunal Award and Supreme Court Order. While there is no land with the State for more than 3500 families who are yet to be rehabilitated under 90 metres height of the dam, there is no way one can talk about increasing the height to 100 metres. At the end of the day, the farmers returned home with a vow and reiteration to fight against State terrorism with more vigour in a non-violent manner.Devram Kanera