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

MEDHA, SEETARAMBHAI, HIMMAT, ASHISH, GULABBHAI END FAST ON 11TH DAY
Maharashtra govt. Agrees for verification of resettlement claims with NBA participation:
Adopts 'no resettlement-no increase in dam height' position

NARMADA BACHAO ANDOLAN
B-13, Shivam Flats
Ellora Park,
Baroda-390007
Tel: 0265-282232
Email: baroda@narmada.org

62, Mahatma Gandhi Road,
Badwani,
Madhya Pradesh - 451551
Tel: 07290-22464
Email: badwani@narmada.org

As the Maharashtra Government agreed that it would verify the total number of oustees and the status of rehabilitation with the help of the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) and not allow the increase in the present height of the controversial Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP), Medha Patkar, Seetarambhai, Himmat Pawra, Ashish, Ganyabhai ended their indefinite fast on 11th day today (September 27, 2001).

"The state government could have done all this within a day by holding proper discussions with the NBA. But the tribals and peasants have to struggle with their lives for such small things. However, this is only one step forward. Now, by monitoring the government actions in Narmada Valley, mobilizing and strengthening the people's struggle in the valley, we will intensify our struggle against the unjust and iniquitous development, particularly against the so-called Globalization, in coordination with other movements", declared Medha Patkar while concluding one of successful phase in the 16-year long movement. She also warned against Maharashtra government succumbing to the pressure tactics by the moneyed powers in Gujarat in the just matter regarding the people's rights.

Though the Maharashtra government tried to skirt many important issues in 26th announcement, after the negotiations on Thursday with the Chief Secretary of Maharashtra Mr. V. Ranganathan, the state government agreed to the most of the points raised by the NBA. It agreed to constitute the Task Force to verify the status of resettlement in every SSP affected village in Maharashtra headed by the Divisional Commissioner with the Sarpanches of the resettled villages, representatives of the affected people in the villages and the representatives of the NBA and the Punarwasan Sangharsh Samiti (PSS). It will submit, within two months, the report regarding the oustees remaining to be resettled. The verification will be done for the dam height of 90, 95, and 100 meters.

The government also agreed to set up the secretary level 'Overview Committee' in a meeting between NBA, PSS and the Minister of state for rehabilitation, within 15 days. Also a 'Planning Committee' on ministerial level would be set up to prepare a master plan of resettlement. No ex-parte allotment of land would take place hereafter.

About the land rights of the 73 villages, the government will take positive approach and it will support the NBA's contention regarding giving the land rights in the Mumbai High Court. In fact the Advocate General of the state, Mr. Wahanvatty has already stated in the High Court that it agreed with the NBA's position.

It also announced that it will give Rs. 3000 per oustee per acre per year as grant, who has not received land for years on the resettlement site. Again this is an admission of the presence of such oustees, who were displaced to the sites without rehabilitation land.

After receiving the written communication from the Chief Secretary, the activists on the fast withdrew the fast at the hands of the experienced people from different fields. Large number of NBA supporters from Mumbai, Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra and other parts were present.

The support by the mainstream political parties like the Peasants and Workers' Party, Janata Dal, CPI, CPM, Lal Nishan Paksha, Samajwadi Jan Parishad, along with the scores of the organizations, including Shoshit Jan Andolan, National Fishworkers' Forum, Sarvodaya activists, Trade Unions, Students, artists and other people's movements were present. Senior Socialist leader Mrinal Gore, who has been with the NBA for all these years along with septuagenarian Com. Ahalya Ranganekar, Prakash Reddy, Mr. Bagal and others participated in the happy occasion for Andolan.

This ends the indefinite mass action in Mumbai by the two thousand people from Narmada valley from September 11. During the period, the people confronted the Congress Party functionaries for their backtracking on the promises made to the people in the valley. They held discussions with the Revenue Minister and the chief Minister. Scores of college students, youths, artists and organizations came in the support of Andolan.

Pratibha Shinde
Clifton D'Rozario