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

"Land Rights will be granted" says Chief Minister
Government will take a pro-adivasi stand on Jst Daud Committee within 15 days

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Chief Minister Shri Vilasrao Deshmukh has declared that a favorable decision will be taken within 2-4 days in the issue of land rights of the adivasis in the 73 villages of Akrani district in Nandurbar district (including 24 affected by submergence in Sardar Sarovar project). He also declared that the Government would take a pro-adivasi stand on the Jst Daud Committee after calling a cabinet meeting within the next 15 days.

Apart from Medha Patkar, the NBA delegation was consisted of Pratibha Shinde, Clifton D'Rozario, Shobha Wagh, Noorji Padvi, Kesav Vasave, Jordar Pavra, Manglya Pavra and others. Shri.Mrinal Gore, Gopal Dukhande, Ulka Mahajan and Adv.Shiraj were also present as observers.

Senior Cabinet Ministers, Shri.Vilasrao Patil (Rehabilitation), Shri.Ganpatrao Deshmukh (Employment), Shri.R.R.Patil (Rural development), Shri Madhukarrao Pichad (Tribal Welfare), Shri Vijaykumar (Liquor Prohibition), Minister for state Shri.Ram Rajya Nimbalkar (Rehabilitation) and senior officials of all relevant departments and the Nandurbar Collector was present during the meeting.

The issue of land rights in the Nandurbar district is a burning one especially since the adivasis have been living here for generations while the Government still considers them as 'encroachers'. The due procedure of law including the basic settlement of land rights is due in as many as 73 villages and the regularization of forest cultivations are also due in hundreds of villages. NBA has been raising this issue for long. During the meeting the Chief Minister took the officials to task for their not following up the matter for so many years resulting in the denial of the basic rights of the adivasis. He declared that under no circumstances will this be allowed to continue.

During the meeting the Chief Minister accepted that the rehabilitation of project affected families in the Sardar Sarovar project is lacking. He clearly stated that whatever the costs, a pro-adivasi position will be taken on the Jst Daud Committee report.

On the third day of the indefinite fast by 7 representatives of the valley, including Medha Patkar, the condition of the ones who are on fast is weak, but are sound in spirit and determination.

During the past two days, many dignitaries visited the dharna place and declared solidarity with the people on fast and dharna. They include, the Minister of Maharashtra Government, Shri.R.R.Patil, leader of Republican Party of India, Shri.Ramdas Athawle, Socialist leaders Mrinal Gore, Gopal Dukhande, Senior leader of Maharashtra dam oustees, Baba Adhav, students from Bombay colleges like St.Xavior's and Nirmala Niketan.

The indefinite fast and dharna by hundreds of people from the Narmada Valley will continue. NBA will watch the Government and its actions on the promises made today. The future course of action will be declared depending on the developments.

Joe Athialy
Clifton D'Rozario