Save The Narmada, Save Humanity! NBA Press Release                                                                 September 18, 2000

NARMADA SATYAGRAHA CONCLUDES WITH A CALL FOR JUSTICE AND STRUGGLE AGAINST THE DESTRUCTION: PEOPLE ASSERT RIGHT TO CREATE A NEW LIFE

'Sataygraha se Nyayagraha tak; sangharsha se nirman tak and vinash se vikas tak' (from the insistence on truth to insistence on justice, from struggle to the recreating life and from destruction to the development) were the catchwords that summed up the people's resolve on the banks of Narmada on Sunday, September 17. In the presence of over a thousand villagers from the valley and the supporters from various parts of the country, the two-month long 'Narmada Satyagraha' against the unjust submergence and displacement was concluded in Jalsindhi-Domkhedi. The people resolved to resist the Sardar Sarovar dam, the government's attempts to force the displacement and submergence on them and to recreate the new life.

Despite the severe drought for second consecutive year, the men and women representatives in Adivasi and non-adivasi areas from Maharashtra, Gujarat and M.P., affected by the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP), were present in a large number. They were accompanied with the people resisting the Maheshwar project in the Narmada valley and the SSP oustees resettled in Gujarat and Maharashtra. People referred to the failure of rains as one of the reasons why the submergence water did not rise upto their villages. However, they made it clear that the 'Samarpit Dal' (dedicated squad) of the Narmada Bachao Andolan is prepared to sacrifice their lives, if the government goes ahead with the work on the dam without any review, submerging more area and people.

"How can we allow to sacrifice our life, our forest, lands, our cattle, the schools we have created, our own small hydro power plant, our own books in our language, heritage and culture. We are creating a new life with the new education, development and safeguarding our resources while resisting the atrocities by the governments", the main village leaders asked in the programme organised in the twin Satyagraha villages, Jalsindhi and Domkhedi. "The struggle here is the struggle for the rights of the people and safeguarding our environment all over India in face of the growing threat of the national-multinational capitalism, unbridled consumerism, inequality and exploitation. The Satyagraha has again highlighted our resolve and determination," they said.

Hundreds of activists, youths from all parts of India from Delhi, Rajasthan, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamilnadu, Kerala, Karnataka, U.P., Jharkhand, Bengal, Bihar participated in the Satyagraha. The academics, activists of U.K., U.S.A., Germany, Netherlands, Canada also took part in various programmes in the villages.

Struggle And Nav Nirman

The Satyagraha-2000 was launched on July 15th, in the presence of Admiral (Retd.) L.Ramdas and Lalitha Ramdas in Jalsindhi (Madhya Pradesh) and Domkhedi (Maharashtra), two affected villages on the opposite banks of Narmada. Despite the agricultural season and drought in the valley, the people came in hundreds from the villages in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. Supporters from all parts of India and some from abroad came at different times. During the Satyagraha, the Narmada Bachao Andolan held Youth Camps and camp for constructive work, with the interactions between the valley people and outside supporters. Children of Jeevan Shaala (School of Life) run by the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) celebrated the World Peace Day on August 6, For the first time, two small books in their own language, Pawari, were released. On August 9, people celebrated Martyrs' Day, particularly remembering the tribal martyrs like Khajiya Naik and others.

The Independence day, August 15, was marked by a novel experiment in Domkhedi. For the first time in 53 years of Independence, the people in Domkhedi had the electricity in their village - on their own, based on their own resource and efforts. A small stream near the village was utilised, with the micro-generator and expertise from Anilkumar and Madhusudhan from 'People's School of Energy', Kerala, there was micro-hydel project of the village. Veteran Sarvodayi activist, Siddharaj Dhadda On August 24th, a special programme, 'Saga of Narmada' was arranged to appeal to the conscience of the nation regarding the struggle and issues in the Andolan. In a fit of madness that always overpowers Gujarat government in such circumstances, hundreds of police were deployed and no one was allowed to proceed towards the Satyagraha place. All this showed the overalarmist and cowardly attitude of the Gujarat Government.

During the Satyagraha, the people took out rallies at the police camps in Jalsindhi and Domkhedi and confronted the administration and police about the submergence and the dam. There were village meetings in during these days. People sounded the three state governments in Bhopal (Sept. 6), Nandurbar (Sept. 8) and in Rajpipla (August 28). There came the formal Grievance redressal Authority of Justice (retd.) Kurdukar in the villages on August 7 and 8. However, the people had a strange experience of the GRA ands were dismayed.

In an appeal to the people all over India, the main activists, including Norji Padvi, Bawa Muhariya, Kaladidi, Pravinkumar, Medha Patkar, Kewalsingh Vasave, Mohan Patidar have said, "Narmada is still flowing. The dam had to stop where it is today - at 88 metres. This being a drought year, water hasn't risen upto the lowest Satyagraha hut in Domkhedi. The Supreme Court's decision and beyond is still to come. We call unto you to be with us on this day, and even after that, for a more determined fight for the rights and life of people of this country....."

(M.K.Sukumar) (Sanjay Sangvai)