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Press Release                                 September 27, 1999

Kisan Sangharsha Samiti Questions Sharad Joshi's Stand
Dharna Continues

Kisan Sangharsha Samiti the peasants organisation from Madhya Pradesh today came out in support of the struggle in the Narmada valley against the large dams.

The displacement has also been an issue of the farmers and the farmers organisations must take stand against the displacement and destitution, said Dr. Sunilam of the oragnisation while addressing the indefinite dharna (sit-in) on the third day at Dhule on Monday (27th). The people in the Narmada valley reiterated their resolve to intensify the struggle in face of injustice.

The statement by the Kisan Sangharsha Samiti came in the wake of the reported decision by Mr. Sharad Joshi of Shetakari Snagathan (Farmers Organisation) in Maharashtra, to lead the campaign in support of the controversial Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP). Dr. Sunilam questioned the propriety of Mr. Joshi declaring his support for the dam even before knowing and analysing the displacement and rehabilitation and other aspects of the dam. The large projects in the name of development have made the farmers destitute and destroyed their means of production like land and other resources. Such projects are a result of the needs and ambitions of the bureaucracy and the urban elite, he said in a statement here.

He appealed that the leaders of farmers organisations like Sharad Joshi, Mr. Tikait, Prof. Nanjundaswamy to go the Narmada valley and speak with the farmers affected by the large dams like Bargi, Tawa, Narmada Sagar, Maheshwar and Sardar Sarovar. They should see the production base and relative well being of these agrarian areas. Only then they will be able to come at proper conclusion about the dam and displacement. The previous experiences of the displacement must be taken into account. The issue of supporting a project should not break the peasants solidarity, Dr. Sunilam said. Accordingly, he will be organising a meeting of the farmers organisations in Multai (Betul), in M.P. to bring about a consensus about the agenda of farmers organisations soon.


The representatives of the support organisations who have come to Dhule dharna have met the Collector of Dhule and demanded the serious discussions with the people in the Narmada valley. They included the organisations from Kerala, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Mumbai with an activist from the U.K.

The representatives said in their memorandum that, people who are opposing the illegal, unjust submergence of 55 villages of the of the Narmada valley, of which 33 are in Maharashtra, have been put in jail. Is this the answer our Government gives to people peacefully seeking a dialogue? Is jail the best resettlement our government has to offer?

Organisations in Dhule too met the officer and made similar demands, further warning the government that they all would be part of the intense struggle in the valley failing the government's cognisance of the demands of the Narmada people. Rashtra Sev Dal, Hamal Mapadi Sangha, Chhatra Bharati, Samajwadi Mahila Sabha, Narmada Solidarity Forum and other organisations joined in the delegation.

The people in the dharna took out a rally to collect the assistance for the people of the valley in form of cash and kind from the citizens through the streets. There was a spontaneous response from shopkeepers, professionals and common people in town. The government, instead of helping the people in the drought situation and later in the event of the flood and submergence in the adivasi area, has neglected the plight of its own pople. Therefore we approach to the society, the civil society for survival said Prof. Shyam Patil, the convenor of the Dhule Narmada Solidarity Forum.

Meanwhile, a revision petition against the arrests of the satyagrahis at Dhadgaon, last week, was filed in Nandurbar district court on Monday. It could come for hearing on Tuesday (28th). Number of solidarity programmes have been organised in various towns and cities in Maharashtra, including Nagpur, Nashik, Pune, Mumbai, Madurai in Tamilnadu and other cities.

Sanjay Sangvai
Shripad Dharmdhikari
Joe Athialy