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SARDAR SAROVAR
THE MAHESHWAR DAM
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Press Release                                 September 13, 1999

TOWARDS JUST AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
NEW PHASE OF THE ANDOLAN BEGINS
27-28 SEPTEMBER 1999 COME TO THE NARMADA VALLEY

Dear Friends,

The tribal people and peasant satyagrahis on the banks of the Narmada river are fighting not just against displacement, but injustice and destructive development. Not just against Sardar Sarovar but against all big dams in the Narmada valley and the devastation resulting from development planning which excludes people and their real concerns. The only way to stop all this is through strong determined and committed struggle.

The dangers of submerging thousands today and lakhs tomorrow, due to increased height of the dam was seen as a challenge by the Andolan. We questioned the process wherein false claims of the government misled even the Supreme Court. We did this to increase and maintain the dignity of and respect for the judicial system.

People from the adivasi hamlets and villages plunged into the satyagraha, through out the monsoons along with the men, women and youth of Nimad. While representatives of numerous peoples' struggles who participated in the satyagraha were a source of strength, writers, journalists, students and common citizens who came to Jalsindhi-Dhomkedi, didn't just express solidarity but participated in the satyagraha in every way. Many others from different parts of the country strengthened the satyagraha through marches, meetings, fasts, demonstrations and dharnas. The issue of the violation of human rights in the Narmada valley was raised on the international fora as well. All together have taken up the challenge to save not just the Narmada valley, but the country and society as well.

Hundreds faced submergence on 10th and 12th Aug. People stood in chest deep waters, houses fell, fields submerged - but the people did not move. Waters receded. People continued the satyagraha, determined to face a second round of submergence. Echoes of peoples' slogans, songs of the struggle and dreams of a new regeneration of the valley reverberated at the satyagraha, spread across the valley.

With the failure of monsoons, the full submergence did not take place - Narmada continued to flow silently. While the Satyagraha continued with the firm resolve to face the waters, the Narmada is witness to our determination to work towards bringing a fundamental change in our society. Another submergence did not come. Will the end of the monsoon bring a full stop to this struggle? No, the end of the monsoon satyagraha will be the beginning of a new phase of our struggle.

The matter is sub judice. Has the Andolan by debating democratically over issues obstructed the course of justice ? Has Arundhati Roy deliberately insulted the judiciary ? Is Jal Samarpan just a statement or a threat ? Our position is clear - we do not intend to insult the court, lower its dignity or obstruct the course of justice, but seek justice.

It has been our position that the dam should not go up and if it does causing unjust submergence, we will face the waters by Jal Samarpan. We will not move from our lands. We have also determined to take the struggle to a decisive phase. We are committed to the efforts of alternative development in agriculture, water conservation, health and education in the valley. Some work has begun but much needs to be explored, thought about and done.

We the life loving people of the valley are being forced into a death trap. We have our dreams - sustainable development. We have been fighting for these dreams for the last 14 years, and will continue to do so in the years to come. To help us carry the struggle forward at this juncture, we invite you to share your visions, ideas and strength.

DO COME TO JALSINDI AND DHOMKEDI on the 27th and 28th SEPTEMBER. On the 27th we will jointly evaluate the struggle, discuss its past and the future.

Many of you will remember that ten years ago thousands had gathered at Harsud. People from several dams on the Narmada and other river valleys, friends from struggles and organisations from Kerala to Delhi to Assam had gathered together in Harsud on 28th Sept. 1989. We all had together said - "We want development not destruction". It was not just a slogan but a goal and it still is. We will take stock of the decade long struggle against the Sardar Sarovar and discuss the past and the future of the struggle with all of you. We look forward to having a dialogue with you. We will meet for this in the lap of the Narmada - on the morning of 27th September. Friends of the Andolan - old and new - will gather to decide the future course of the Andolan. We will discuss and debate on shaping the future of the valley through struggle and reconstruction. Do come, to be with us.

In solidarity,

Nandini Oza    Shashank Kela    Kevalsingh Vasave    Noorji Padvi
Prabhubhai Tadvi    Bava Mahariya    Sugan Barant    Kamlakar Borole
Rukmini Patidar    Silvy    Jagannath Patidar    Ashish Mandloi
Medha Patkar    Vishram    Sanjay Sangvai    Rehmat    Karuna


NOTE : You should reach Baroda office by 27th early morning. For reaching the satyagraha, you will have to go to Kadipani, four hours from Baroda by bus. There are direct buses, or you can also go to Kawant and change. Our vehicle will meet you in Kadipani and take you to the place from where our boat will take you to the satyagraha. Please inform the NBA, Baroda office about how many people would be travelling and when they will reach.
The last bus to reach in time for the meeting on 27th is at 9 am from Baroda, but we will prefer if you take the earlier one at 6.45 am. Plan on arriving in Baroda accordingly.