NBA Press Release
  24 September 2001
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

Maharashtra Organizations Hold Impressive Support Rally:
Govt. Continues To be Non-committal: Fast Continues on Eighth Day

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Hundreds of men and women belonging to the organisations of tribals and other depressed classes in Thane, Raigarh and Mumbai region expressed their solidarity with the demands of the Narmada Bachao Andolan on Monday (24th September) as the indefinite fast by Medha Patkar and others entered the eighth day. The organizations declared that the Narmada struggle is a part of the larger struggle for the rights of the tribals, dalits, fisherpeople, peasants and other depressed classes for the rights and the resources. " If the Maharashtra government fails to give the legitimate rights in to the tribals, the government would invite the statewide unrest" declared the organizations.

The resolve to continue the indefinite fast till the government takes concrete steps regarding the basic issues of the displacement and rehabilitation and the land rights was reiterated in the discussions with the Minister of State for Rehabilitation, Shri.Ram Raje Nimbalkar. The villagers were agitated with the pretext of the 'procedural delay' for the granting of the land-rights, as told by the Minister. " Do you take 12 years for implementing the decision taken a decade back?" shot back the veteran Dadlia Karbhatri. Noorji Padvi asked the government to be bold enough to accept its failures and have a new survey of the outtees, see the land availability and prepare a master plan of the resettlement of Sardar Sarovar Oustees. " Till that time, no work on the dam should go ahead", he insisted.

The Minister, who visited the dharna site along with the Rehabilitation secretary, conceded that there has been procedural delay on part of the state Government on granting land rights to the tribals to the tribals of 73 villages in Akrani tehsil even if the Government basically agreed to confer land rights on the tribals.

On Monday's solidarity rally at Azad maidan scores of organizations of the tribals, dalits, displaced people, youth, women and others made common cause with the Andolan. They include, Shoshit Jan Andolan, Kashtakari Sangathan, Shramik Mukti Andolan, Jagruth Kashtakari, Sarvahara Jana Andolan, Shramik Mukti Sangathana, Kinara Bachao Andolan (Umbergaon, Gujarat), National Railway Mazdoor Union and others. The dignitaries include, socialist Mrinal Gore, Communist Party (Marxist) leader Prabhakar Sanjgiri, prominent Congress leader Shivaji Rao Patil.

Later in the evening a delegation of the Andolan and other organizations continued the dialogue at Mantralaya.

Joe Athialy
Sanjay Sangvai