Save The Narmada, Save Humanity! NBA Press Release                                                                 September 26, 2000

NARMADA BACHAO ANDOLAN
Bargi Bandh Visthapit Evam Prabhavit Sangh
(Bargi Dam-Affected Organisation)
Village Chourai, Near Barrier, Bargi Nagar,
Jabalpur, M.P.
Tel: 0761-88641

FALCIPARIUM MALARIA CLAIMS TEN OUSTEES OF BARGI DAM IN ONE MONTH : HUNDREDS AFFECTED

About ten adivasi oustees from the villages affected by the Bargi dam in the Narmada valley, near Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh, died during September due to falciparium malaria caused by the stagnated water of the dam. Hundreds of other oustees families, living on the banks of Bargi reservoir, are in the grip of the disease. The district administration has dispatched medical help, but this is proving inadequate.

The disease became visible with the death of Renukabai (age 6 yrs.) on September 8, followed by Seetabai (8), Anjubai (8), Lotanbhai (38), Draupadi (8) and two more children within a fortnight in Binjha village. More deaths occurred and as recently as on September 25, Chandersingh (60), died due to this disease. Three deaths ocurred in Chourai (Madla). The victims had severe fever, headache, vomiting and cramps.

According to Babloo Patwa, one of the main activists of the Bargi Bandh Visthapit-Prabhavit Sangha (Bargi Dam Affected Organisation), in Chourai-Barginagar, "The falciparium malaria is caused due to the polluted water of the reservoir and the breeding of mosquitoes due to the stagnated water. The oustees are compelled to live near the reservoir, as there has been no worthwhile rehabilitation of the oustees of Bargi dam. In 1997 also same disease struck the oustees, claiming 150 lives in May-June. Though the doctors from Jabalpur are visiting the area, the extent of malaria affected people is much larger."

Bargi dam was completed in 1989 and water was filled in 1990. The dam has ousted about 100,000 people, submerging more than 162 villages. Due to the people's struggle for resettlement from 1992 onwards, the Madhya Pradesh government has handed over the fishing rights to the oustees federation. Also, the oustees fought for the right over the drawdown land. The Narmada Bachao Andolan along with Bargi Dam Affected Organisation has been cooperating with the state government for a just resettlement of the affected people. However, despite the best efforts, the just resettlement of all the people once ousted seems to be a difficult task.

We demand that the medical facilities provided by the government should be augmented and should be prompt enough to address the imperative crisis in the villages. We further demand that proper studies on the impacts of dam on health should be carried out immediately. Previous studies conducted by different bodies / institutions on this should be taken care of to arrive at a correct assessment. The study should also be extended to the other dams under construction in the Narmada Valley (Sardar Sarovar, Maheshwar, Indira Sagar and others), before furthering the work, to avoid an irreparable damage to human life in future. Further construction of these dams should be carried out only after full and participatory review of all aspects of the dams, including health impacts.

Rajkumar Sinha Rajesh Tiwari