| NBA Press Release
|| 11 September 2001
People Confront the Unaccountable Elected Representatives
NARMADA BACHAO ANDOLAN
B-13, Shivam Flats
62, Mahatma Gandhi Road,
Madhya Pradesh - 451551
The Vice President of Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee, Dr.Vijaya Patil was compelled to meet over two thousand people from the Narmada Valley. The people gathered in front of the Tilak Bhawan, the Congress party headquarters in Mumbai, to question them about the tall promises they made in their build up to the 1999 elections. Fed up by the unaccountablity of the elected representatives from the region falling under the Sardar Sarovar Project, people decided to confront the party which supported their cause fully till the elections. In 1999, the candidates for Parliament and Assembly, along with the top district Congress office bearers had given in writing that the District Congress Committee fully agree with the position taken by NBA with regard to Sardar Sarovar and other issues and agreed that no rehabilitation has been carried out, and further that the SSP is the most destructive project and no further construction should be allowed. They also demanded that the Government of Maharashtra should file a case asking for the review of the Project. Once in power, they have conveniently forgotten all this and have instead sided with the pro dam forces to push the dam ahead even without rehabilitating the affected families. People are on dharna in front of the Tilak Bhawan, asking for clarifications and implementations of their promises from the State Congress Committee in this matter. Election promises cannot be done in their whims and wishes.
Dr.Patil assured that she will get in touch with the top party functionaries and will let the people know about the stand of the party.
Earlier during the day, the thousands who came from the remote Adivasi hamlets of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh and the farmer representatives of Madhya Pradesh, - all affected by SSP, along with over 350 adivasis from the Rehabilitation Sites gathered at the statue of Senapati Bapat, the first non-violent anti dam leader of India. In the 1920s, Bapat had valiently led a struggle against the Mulshi dam in Maharashtra. People garlanded the statue and took pledge that they will continue to tread the path laid by Senapati Bapat in the struggle to protect their land, forest, water and culture. Senior Adivasi leader Raniyadia read out the pledge.
People from different walks of life were present during that time. Socialist leader Gopal Dukhande, Marathi writer Ramdas Bhatkal, representatives of people's organisations - Vittal Ghag of Mill Workers' Union, N.D.Kholi of National Fishworkers Forum and others were present. A few thousand Adivasi people from the valley of Narmada and the mountain ranges of Satpudas arrived in Mumbai early morning today, September 11th. They have come after concluding the two months long Satyagraha, challenging the rising waters behind Sardar Sarovar that would have submerged their lands to life. Partial drought and regulating the dam-water releases from Madhya Pradesh has no doubt saved much of it though hundreds continued to lose their crop since 1994.
With Satyagraha (Insistence on truth), since last 16 years, the struggling Adivasi and peasant communities are compelled to come to the streets, once again. While the Big Dam - Sardar Sarovar - is at a standstill today in spite of the Supreme Court's judgment just because even the Court's directives on rehabilitation and environmental works prior to construction can't be compiled with, the hanging sowd continues to be. So does the movement, now expanding to raise issues of right to land, water, forest by all esp. the Adivasis. No land, no rehabilitation and hence there can be no dam is people's verdict and the pledge to fight with.
Hundreds of project affected families, resettled to the sites in Taloda, Akkalkuva years ago are yet to get their entitlements. Will the governmnet prove its ability to govern and sensitivit to comply with the legal requirements, why just precondition for any displacement.
Challenge to the Progressive Forces in Maharashtra
While Adivasis face hell allover an firing in Orissa (Kashipur), Koel Karo (Jharkhand) Dewas (Madhya Pradesh) and Ahmednagar (Mahrashtra) those on the banks of Narmada are determined to fight,. Undeterred by the legal opposition and insensitive governments hands in glove with the Corporate and other vested interests, people living on land, water, forest are not to leave their natural wealth and assert rights and challenge the rulers.
Government of Maharashtra will have to respond or people will not leave but step up the agitation. The concrete questions posed by them are: -
When Jst. (Retd) Daud Committee Report has exposed the legal violations and social injustice done to the oustees, will the state government accept the recommendations in a systematic way or continue to mke false claims and adhoc plans at the cost of justice and fainess.
The land rights due to be granted to 73 Adivasi villages in Akrani are deied to them only to takeway to land acqisition and usurpation. This daylight robbery can't be tolerated. Will the government come forwad to release the 'pattas' to generations old cultivators, lietrally hidden in the reveue offices? Is there a political will to recognise, as per ILO convention 107 and Adivasi Self Adivasi rule Act.
How can SSP not be another Enron? The monstrous project costing not less than Rs.44,000 crores may give some power to Maharashtra but for a shorter period and at huge cost. Moves to privatise the power project of SSP warns of the same financial blunder as in Enron. Govt. of Maharashtra has appointed a study group to review the economics, why cannot the construction till investigations are completed and social - enviornmental - economic issues are resolved? Will the governmnet consider 'public intest' the uppermost?
People having come from a district, Nandurbar, famous for malnourishment deaths in spite of rich natural resources, Know SSP is just one of the conspiracies against the natural resource based communites. They continue to struggle on not just displacement but health, education, corruption too.Kesav Vasave