| NBA Press Release
|| 22 September 2001
Narmada Protestors Continue Fast on Sixth Day Despite Failing Health:
NARMADA BACHAO ANDOLAN
B-13, Shivam Flats
62, Mahatma Gandhi Road,
Madhya Pradesh - 451551
Medha Patkar and other activists on indefinite fast have blamed the Maharashtra government of dragging its feet on the firm commitment made by the Chief Minister in the meeting on 19th September and reiterated the resolve to continue the fast in spite of the falling health. The people affected by the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) from Maharashtra, have begun the indefinite mass action from September 11. This was further intensified with the indefinite fast by seven activists was started from 17th to demand the land rights for the tribals and the acceptance of the report of Justice Daud Committee on the displacement and resettlement of Maharashtra oustees of the Sardar Sarovar Project(SSP).
"It is strange that despite the commitment given by the Chief Minister himself, and the previous assurances of the Revenue Minister regarding the tribal rights, the government has resorted to delaying tactics. This amounts to the betrayal of the tribals who have been on the indefinite mass action for their life and death issues", said Medha Patkar.
In the 19th meeting the Chief Minister in the presence of senior cabinet ministers had agreed to fulfill the process of conferring land rights of adivasis in 73 villages in Akrani tehsil including 24 villages directly affected by submergence in the Sardar Sarovar project within 2 days. He also agreed to institute a committee to enquire into the regularization of 'encroachments' in Nandurbar district.
And yet, even after two days of the specific directions, the Revenue Minister Mr. Ashok Chavan has postponed the issue till 25th (Tuesday) for a meeting between him and the Resettlement Minister, Mr. Patil. Despite such delaying tactics, Mr. Chavan unwarrantedly accused the NBA about the adamant attitude. We wonder whether it is wrong to demand the legitimate rights of the tribals?
The state government also seems to dragging its feet on the issue of the Justice Daud Committee report. The Chief Minister and the Resettlement Minister accepted in the 19th meeting that there have been serious lapse in the resettlement of Maharashtra tribals. They also conceded that the officials have not reported correctly about the ground reality. However, even after such candid admission, the Resettlement Minister has not still discussed the issue of the resettlement with NBA as reflected in the Daud Committee report.
The State- appointed Jst Daud Committee has exposed the reality of the tall claims of the resettlement by the officials and the ground reality of the displacement. The Committee made clear that the resettlement hitherto has been done in violation of laws and regulations, including the Narmada Water Dispute Tribunal (NWDT) and there is no land for any further resettlement. It recommended that the State government should not endorse any further increase of height from the present 93m without resolving the outstanding basic issues. However, the State government has not taken any decision regarding the report
Instead of responding with concrete steps, the state government has maintained a silence these issues and served a notice through the Police that the fast should be ended in view of the falling health of some of the activists. Reacting sharply to the notice by the Azad Maidan Police Station, Medha Patkar maintained that, " The state government, instead of police, should respond to us and to the issues raised and agreed by the Chief Minister. Till any such response, our fast will continue and if the police tried to break it , the struggle will further intensified."
Number of organizations and movements were present at dharna site in Mumbai in solidarity with the mass action, including the Students Federation of India, Lokanche Dost and Rastravadi Vidyathi Sanghatana. From Maharashtra and Dalit Sangharsha Samiti ( Kernataka) and students from various colleges in Mumbai have been participating and working in the people's action.Clifton D'Rozario