Save The Narmada, Save Humanity! NBA Press Release                                                                 Sept 08 2000

'SHOW THE LAND' - TRIBALS CHALLENGE MAHARASHTRA GOVT. AGAIN
SIEGE ON AKKALKUA TEHSIL CONTINUES : OFFICIALS MISSING

Over one thousand Adivasis (tribals) from the Maharashtra villages affected by the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP), laid a siege on the block office at Akkalkua in Nandurbar district on Thursday (September 7), challenging the state government to show them the lands that were claimed to be available. No responsible official was seen in the office till the late evening and therefore, the people decided to sit-in indefinitely till they get the answer from the officers.

The Akkalkua action comes closely on heels of the Bhopal rally on September 6, by the SSP affected people in Madhya Pradesh. The Maharashtra Adivasi oustees took out an impressive rally on Thursday through the Akkalkuwa town. Apart from the people affected by the reservoir, people affected by the compensatory afforestation and catchment area treatment for the dam and also those who were displaced but are left without land and resettlement.

The people are challenging the unjust displacement of the people under the threat of the submergence, which in turn is illegal and unjust. They are also protesting against the non-recognition of the rights of the tribals on the land. In the meeting at the block (tehsil) office, the people alleged that the Government of Maharashtra has violated its own regulation of 1978 and the Supreme Court decision in 1995 regarding giving the right over the lands the Adivasis have been cultivating.

Keshav Vasave, Vesta Pawra , Noorji Padvi, Medha Patkar and other activists accused the state of government of persisting with the false claims regarding the land availability, in the affidavits in the Supreme Court and before the Grievance Redressal Authority. They challenged the state government to show them the land which it has been claiming as available ( zamin dikhao). People called for an assessment of the claims of the government. They also protested against the snatching away their ancestral lands for the sake of compensatory afforestation for the Project.

The officials in Akkalkua were nowhere to be seen till the late evening. The people are determined to confront the officials and get the answers to their basic questions regarding the land and livelihood. They are ready to stay and wait for the government to answer them.

Sanjay Sangvai