NBA Press Release
  01 October 2004
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

Harsud oustees demonstrate against NHDC tyranny, for rehabilitation rights and dignity

62, Mahatma Gandhi Road,
Badwani,
Madhya Pradesh - 451551
Tel: 07290-22464
Email: badwani@narmada.org

NHDC officials refuse to answer, flee office

Yesterday on the 30th of September 2004, exactly three months after the people of Harsud were inhumanly and forcibly evicted from their town ^ on the 30th of June, around one thousand people, of which a large proportion were poor, Dalit women affected by the Indira Sagar dam gathered to demonstrate against the tyranny and the highhandedness of the NHDC and for their rehabilitation rights and dignity. This demonstration held under the aegis of the Narmada Bachao Andolan and the Narmada Shakti Dal at the NHDC office represented the beginning of a turn-around for a people that had been pulverized by the dam building machinery, through a combination of lure, police intimidation and threat of the reservoir waters. Unable and unwilling to face the oustees, the NHDC officials locked the office and fled. The oustees then submitted a 31-point demand charter to the Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Chanera, and warned that if action is not taken immediately on these demands, the struggle of the oustees would be intensified.

Yesterday, oustees living in New Harsud took out rallies from the different sectors against their lack of rehabilitation. These rallies then merged into a huge public meeting in front of the NHDC office. Addressing the public meeting, the speakers told their story of displacement and said that even today there are no proper public facilities available. Ashabai, oustee living in Sector 7 of New Harsud said that there could be no greater irony that the people who were evicted as a result of the rising waters of the dam, were not receiving even drinking or nistari water today. Meenabai of Sector 2 of New Harsud said that women oustees were facing the greatest of difficulties, due to toilet facilities not being available on the site. Shri Radheshyam of Sector 8 said that the oustees were facing a huge problem of unemployment on site, and would face hunger and starvation in a few months when the compensation money was over. Shri Dharamraj Jain of Harsud said that the problems of Harsud and Chanera would be taken to the Courts as well as resolved through struggle. Chittaroopa Palit, senior activist of the Narmada Bachao Andolan said that the jungle raj of the NHDC could continue so long because the oustees were not organized. This struggle is not only for our rehabilitation rights but also for our dignity. Political parties and the men have failed, now women will have to resist the tyranny and lead this struggle.

Shri Alok Agarwal, leading activist of the NBA said that the NHDC and the state government have flagrantly violated the policy and the legal provisions for the rehabilitation of the affected people of the Indira Sagar Project. As per legal provisions, all oustees should have been rehabilitated six months before submergence, by 31st December 2003, but this has not happened till today. This injustice will not be tolerated any further and the voices of the oustees will be conveyed all over the state and the country. The public meeting was also addressed by Shri Jagdish Patidar of Maheshwar dam area, Shri Bhagwan Mukati, oustee of the Sardar Sarovar Project, Ms. Seema of 'Spandan', Rashmi behn, Shri Kapil and others.

At the closure of the public meeting, in the afternoon, when the oustees sought to enter the NHDC premises with their issues and complaints, they were informed that the officials had locked the offices and left. The police and revenue authorities also sought to stop the oustees from entering the NHDC premises by locking the gates but the oustees entered the premises nevertheless. The air was rent with slogans as after months of torture and humiliation by the NHDC, the ISP oustees were able to speak openly for the first time about the dictatorial attitude and the corruption of the officials. "NHDC ka tanashahi nahi chalegi, nahi chalegi. NHDC ka rishwatkhori nahi chalegi, nahi chalegi" were some of the slogans that rent the air. The oustees expressed their ire that the officials should all be absent from their office on a working day and even after they had been given previous intimation.

After this the oustees handed over their 31 point demand to the SDM, Chanera, demanding that adequate water should be provided for drinking water and house-building purposes, that toilets should be erected at every sector, employment or employment allowance should be given to every oustee family until the city is re-erected, that markets should be re-started, that public transportation should be started on site, and that the compensation for houses must be given at raised rates, that oustees living in tin-sheds must not be evicted, and that all civic amenities must be made available to people still living in Sectors 9,12 and 13 in Old Harsud. The oustees also demanded that there must be a stay on the installation of gates of the dam, until the rehabilitation of every oustee is completed.

The SDM, Chanera promised to fulfill the demands of the oustees regarding water availability, markets, public transportation etc, on which the administration could play a role. The oustees also warned that they would intensify their struggle if their demands were not met within a specified time-period.

It may be noted that the NHDC (Narmada Hydro-Development Corporation) is a profit making corporate body that is a joint venture between the NHPC (National Hydro- Power Corporation) and the state government. The NHPC is notorious for its cruel and callous treatment of the oustees it seeks to displace all over India and is today a major site for investment for private foreign banks all over the world. The people of the 119 villages and Harsud town affected by the Indira Sagar dam had been ousted with the use of bulldozers and police force, where as another 130 villages were slated to be submerged if the gates of the dam are erected in the next few months.

Suresh Verma
Rupesh Reddy