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NBA Press Release
  02 October 2002
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

15,000 tribals and peasants participate in Jan Panchayat in Bhopal; oppose Asia Development Bank and World bank; Call for intensifying struggle for rights over lands, waters and forests

Jail Road, Mandleshwar
District Khargone, Madhya Pradesh
Tel: 07283-33162
Email: nobigdam@sancharnet.in

"The forests are yours and mine, they do not belong to the World Bank", Madhya Pradesh is not the fiefdom of the Asia Development Bank, it is ours , ours, ours ..", " India, withdraw from the World Trade Organisation", - these were some of the slogans with which the large Jan Panchayat of the farmers, adivasis and workers of Madhya Pradesh commenced this morning at the Yaad-gare Shahjahani Park in Bhopal. This Jan Panchayat had been organised by the Jan Sangarsh Morcha - the forum of the people's organizations of Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh.

At the outset of the program , Bana bai, an adivasi woman from Khargone garlanded the photograph of Mahatma Gandhi with a cotton garland. In the beginning, the All India General Secretary of the Samajwadi Jan Parishad- Shri Sunil spoke about the crisis of the domination of the choices before the country by corporate and global forces. Speaker and speaker after that outlined and opposed the policies of liberalization, privatization and globalisation that have cast a long shadow over the lives of the Indian people. After the speech of Shri Alok Agarwal, senior activist of the Narmada Bachao Andolan , the entire assembly opposed the massive increase in electricity tariffs in Madhya Pradesh that are part of the conditionalities of the Asia Development Bank loan to the Madhya Pradesh and the fragmentation of the Madhya Pradesh State Electricity Board and its proposed handing over to private hands. The assembly declared this as a conspiracy to snatch away electricity from the common people.

Viajy Bhai of Adivasi Mukti Sangathan initiated the discussion on the impact of WTO and other globalisation policies on peasants. Shri Walsingh of Dalit Jagrut Adivasi Sangathan and Shri G.D.Menve of Kisan Sangarsh Samiti, Multai said that peasants were on the verge of pauperization as their crop prices were falling due to "dumping" of commodities by the developed countries, as well as the increase oin input prices due to withdrawal of subsidies. They said that the Central government as well as the state government were both functioning as the agents of the multinational corporation and these banks. Shri Abdul Jabbar, senior activist of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangathan spoke about the complete lack of corporate accountability as evinced in the criminal behaviour of the Union Carbide in Bhopal.

The most passionate discussions in the Jan Panchayat revolved around the issues of lands, waters and forests. Anurag bahi of Shramik Adivasi Sangathan, Betul disclosed that the committee constituted by the Supreme Court on the issue of Forests had recommended large scale evictions from traditionally held forest lands, endangering the lives and livelihoods of those millions of adivasis and other forest dwellers whose living depends on these lands. Many adivasis who spoke on this issue, stated that they would resist any move to evict the adivasis from their traqditionally held nevad " forest lands. Peasants, fisherpeople and adivasis displaced by the Maan, Maheshwar, Sardar Sarovar , Bargi and Tawa dams in the Narmada valley , namely Rajesh Tiwari from Bargi, Phagram from Tawa and Mangat Verma, fisherman from Maheswar recounted their experiences of uprootment and dispossession, and demanded a moratorium on all further displacement, and rehabilitation and reparation for all those already displaced, none of whom have been rehabilitated till date.

The assembled villagers also exposed the tall claims of the Madhya Pradesh government sponsored Dalit agenda, and demanded that the land claims of Dalits and Adivasis need to secured and protected. They also opposed the wrong conditions imposed on the Tawa Matsya Sangh and the destructive Enron type Maheshwar Project.

Referring to the famine like conditions in large parts of Madhya Pradesh, there was a great deal of discussion in the Jan Panchayat on the Right to Work and on the need to enlarge and make more accountable the public distribution system. The Jan Panchayat also opposed the privatization of health and education services in the country and demanded the Human right to food, work, water, education and health.

The Jan Panchayat also condemned the violence and the divisive policies fuelling communalism and casteism in this country as well as the incidents of violence on women. The Jan Pnchayat condemned the increasing state repression on the common people of this state including repeated incidents of firing on peasants and adivasis.

Adivasis and peasants from Betul, Hoshangabad, Khandwa, Khargone, Dhar, Badwani, Jhabua, Harda and Jabalpur, Seoni, Mandla, as well as Rewa, Satna and other districts of Madhya Pradesh reached Bhopal early in the morning of the 2nd of October to participate in the Jan Panchayat in large numbers. These adivasis and peasants were member of the Shramik Adivasi Sangathan, Narmada Bachao Andolan, Kisan Adivasi Sangathan, Adivasi Mukti Sangathan, Jagrut Adivasi Dalit Sangathan, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangathan, Bargi Bandh Visthapit Sangh, Baghelkhand Kisan Mazdoor Adivasi Mukti Morcha, Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, Multai, Samajwadi Jan Parishad and other organizations in the state.

Around 15,000 people who participated in the Jan Panchayat today will stay in Bhopal tonight. Tomorrow, they will take out a rally through the streets of Madhya Pradesh, which will culminate in a large demonstration in front of the Lily Talkies where the decisions of today's Jan Panchayat will be declared and future decisions to challenge the anti-people development policies being followed in the state by the state and Central governments as the behest of the World Bank and the Asia Development Bank would be announced.

Shamim, Shramik Adivasi Sangathan
Alok Agarwal, Narmada Bachao Andolan
Convenors, Jan Sangarsh Morcha