Save The Narmada, Save Humanity! NBA Press Release                                                                 September 07, 2000

Over 1500 People From Nimad, Alirajpur Take Out Rally In Bhopal

The Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh has admitted that the state has no land to provide for the oustees of the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP), and therefore, the government is giving the cash compensation for them. He however, agreed to stop all the work on the survey of the submergence area of 436 and disbursing cash compensation till the day long meeting on these issues after a week. He declared this in a meeting of over 1500 peasants and tribals from the Narmada valley in Bhopal on Tuesday (September 6), who questioned the illegal acts of the state government of disbursing the cash compensation to the affected persons by the controversial SSP. The people came in an impressive rally through the streets of Bhopal and laid a siege ( dharna) in front of the residence of the Chief Minister. The people were also agitated over the surveys the state government has been carrying out of the submergence of 436 feet, when the planned submergence is 455 feet.

Janakibai from Jalsindhi, the first affected village in M.P., pointed out that even the first oustee, Luhariabhai is not resettled according to the tribunal. The people expressed their anguish at the attempts by the officials to conduct the surveys and spread confusion in the villages by disbursing the cash compensations.

Responding to the questions by the Narmada Bachao Andolan activists Jagannath Patidar, Jagdish Patel, Gokhrubhai, Mahesh Patel and other villagers, the Chief Minister said that Madhya Pradesh has demanded a total review and new tribunal in the Supreme Court. That is the priority of the state government. If that does not happen, the next option is demand for height of the dam of 436 feet. When the people asked whether the state government has the land even for the oustees upto that height, the Chief Minister had no answer. When it was pointed out that disbursing the cash compensation in lieu of the land for land, amounts to the violation of the NWDT provisions, he repeated that, " if there is no land we will give cash compensation since M.P. is bound by the agreement between the states and has to do rehabilitate the people even if there is no land".

At this juncture people expressed their resolve that, " No land-No dam" and " No to 436 feet". The Chief Minister could not answer as on what basis the decision of 436 feet was taken and was there any possibility of the resettlement even at that height? He agreed that the state government would stop all the activities of the surveys of 436 feet, disbursement of cash compensation till a detailed meeting with NBA on these issues. The meeting would take place within a week's time.

Earlier, addressing the rally Medha Patkar made it clear that if the state government has no land to resettle it must stop all the work on the dam. She accused the state government of having colluded with Gujarat government to displace the people in the Narmada valley, even if with illegal means. Alongwith the men and women from the Nimad and Alirajpur areas of Madhya Pradesh, representatives of Maharashtra and Gujarat oustees along with the representatives from other dam affected people in the valley like Maheshwar, Tawa and Bargi too came in solidarity for the oustees of the Sardar Sarovar. Number of supporters from various parts of India too participated in the rally.