| NBA Press Release
|| 02 October 2001
Massive Youth rally on Gandhi Jayanti at Mandleshwar
NARMADA BACHAO ANDOLAN
Jail Road, Mandleshwar
District Khargone, Madhya Pradesh
Five thousand young men and women took out a rally on the 2nd of October, 2001 and announced the formation of a new youth organization in the Narmada valley - the "Narmada Yuva Shakti". These thousands of young men and women thronging the streets of Mandleshwar in the district Khargone of Western Madhya Pradesh resolved to save their villages and their country, to strive to protect its independence, to stop irrational and destructive Projects such as the Maheshwar dam and the other large dams on the Narmada as well as to fight to build a more humanitarian world transcending the barriers of caste, gender and class. Tribal youth from the villages of Badwani, Khargone and Dhar affected by the Goi, Veda and Maan dams also announced the formation of wings of Narmada Yuva Shakti in their areas. They were joined by young men and women from the Bargi and Sardar Sarovar. The rally was also attended by Anand Shintre of the All India Youth Federation, Madhya Pradesh and Shri Raghav of Focus a Mumbai based organization fighting globalisation.
The public meeting began with the garlanding the portraits of Ma Narmada, Mahatma Gandhi and Shahid Bhagat Singh. Speaking on the occasion, Shri Alok Agarwal of the Narmada Bachao Andolan and leader of the struggle in the area said that that the last two decades have seen protracted struggles in various parts of the Narmada valley. This struggle for survival has created a social churning and out of this new forces for change have emerged. One such new force will be the strength of youth. This new organization formed by the youth of the valley the Narmada Yuva Shakti will not only struggle against the destruction to be wrought by destructive and irrational Projects such as Maheshwar which will take electricity out of the hands and homes of the common people of this country. It will also challenge the larger forces of globalization that seek to convert all our rivers, lands and forests and our livelihoods into profits and to barter away our peace to keep their war machines running.
He said that our first concrete challenge will be to oust the Asia Development Bank from attempting to control the economy of the state. It is because of the conditionalities of the Asia Development Bank that the power tariffs have been raised last week, and that power was not being made available to common people despite large surpluses being available in the country. The Madhya Pradesh government which is unable to buy power from the NTPC at Rs. 1.75 per unit , will never be able to buy power from Maheshwar Project at Rs. 7 per unit and the state will become bankrupt because of suicidal agreements.
Urmila Patidar, activist from Village Pathrad said that the people of the Narmada valley have successfully challenged the World Bank on one hand and multinational companies on the other. The last four years of struggle in Maheshwar has compelled all the US and German power utilities to withdraw from the destructive Maheshwar Project whose power would be more expensive that even that of Enron Project and that would produce electricity that no single person would be able to buy. However today, the Project promoters S.Kumars were seeking over Rs. 2000 crores of public funds from the Indian public financial institutions. As a result of the pressure of the people of the valley, the Indian financial institutions had promised to hold public meetings in the valley along with the people before taking any decision about funding. However, on the 27th of last month, officers of the IDBI and the IFCI came to the dam site along with the S.Kumars but refused to talk to or listen to the affected people. Instead, on seeing the popular opposition, they slipped away to Indore. Trying to gag the people's voices, on the 27th itself, the S.Kumars personnel then abducted and brutally assaulted two youth from Village Lepa
Mangat Verma of Village Lepa said that it is clear that officers of the Indian public financial institutions and industrialists such as S.Kumars have connived to siphon off and loot hundreds of crores of rupees of public money money that is the lifetime saving of common Indian citizens. He warned the institutions and the Project promoters of this privatized Project the S.Kumars that the youth of the area would not stand for the unleashing of senseless terror by the S.Kumars and that it is time for the S.Kumars to withdraw from the Project. He also warned the Indian financial institutions that the people would expose the conspiracy between these officers and the industrialists.
Jagdishbhai, activist from Village Gogawan stated that the youth of today cannot be allowed to wallow in hopelessness or consumerism. They have to be challenged to forge new paths to justice. Kamlakar, working on water alternatives in the Narmada valley said that all over the country today, the control of tribals, farmers and the common people over their lands, forests and water is being wrested from their hands by multinationals. The youth of today is the future of tomorrow. We have to come together to challenge this situation.
Shripad Dharmadhikary, senior activist associated with Narmada Bachao Andolan in India welcomed the formation of the youth organization -Narmada Yuva Shakti in the Narmada valley. He said that it is timely that the youth of this area have taken the initiative to start an organization .He said that the youth have the potential to fight for justice and peace- and they must do so on the basis of information, determination and their energy of the youth.
The rally was also addressed by Parvati by the Maan Project in Dhar, Kailash Awasia affected by the Sardar Sarovar dam ,representatives of people affected by the Lower Goi Project in Badwani and Upper Veda Project in Khargone , Sheru Kahar of Village Mardana, Bhagwan of Village Bhatiyan, Gaju of Village Pathrad and Vania, senior activist of Khedut Mazdoor Chetna Sanghat, Jhabua.
Lighting the lamps of peace, all the young women and men present at the meeting resolved to fight to build a society that would erase differences based on caste, class and gender and that would be based on justice and respect for all. They passed a resolution against the police crack down on the struggle against the Sardar Sarovar in the Nimad area, including the beating up of a 13 -year old girl and said that no force on earth could cow a people fighting for justice and the truth. They also passed a resolution against the climate of terror and war that exists today all over the world, and that has not only caused the deaths of thousands of innocent US citizens recently in New York, but also the dispossession and death of millions of people and children in Iraq, Sudan, Palestine and many other countries of the Third World at the instance of the American government as well as the continuing terrorist actions in various parts of India. The youth present at the gathering called on the Indian government not to extend Indian resources for this war, bur rather actively strive to increase peace. The meeting was followed by the inauguration of the Shahid Bhagat Singh Pustakalaya and Vichar Kendra and the Iqbal Masih Bal Pustakalaya at Village Pathrad.Chittaroopa Palit