NBA Press Release
  25 September 2007
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

Jabalpur High Court Order - Victory for NBA, Affirms Affected People's Right to Agitate

62, Mahatma Gandhi Road,
Badwani,
Madhya Pradesh - 451551
Tel: 07290-222464
Email: badwani[at]narmada.org

• M.P. State Government Guilty of Violating the Fundamental Rights of the Satyagrahis

• State Government to pay Rs. 10,000 each to the 91 Satyagrahis who were illegally arrested and kept in Jail

• Victory of Truth and Satyagraha – Assertion of Affected People’s Right to Agitate

A bench consisting of the Chief Justice A. K. Patnaik and Justice Ajit Singh of the Jabalpur High Court today gave its final order on the PIL filed by Medha Patkar. Based on the letter which she wrote to the Chief Justice from Indore Jail on 25th July, regarding the violent and illegal arrest and detention of 26 women, 65 men and a child, who were peacefully agitating for land rights at Taloon, a PIL was admitted and the hearing completed a few weeks ago.

The Court has, today, ordered the State Government to pay Rs. 10,000/each to all the 91 Satyagrahis who were illegally arrested and kept in Jail, violating their fundamental rights on the basis of Article 19 and 21 of the Indian Constitution. A total of Rs. 9,10,000/- should be paid to the Satyagrahis as compensation. Apart from this, Rs 10,000 should be paid to the petitioner Medha Patkar, towards expenses incurred. The 25 page order of the Court states that the State government may recover the total compensation from officials found responsible, after conducting a special enquiry, or pay the amount directly.

On the evening of 25th July 2007, a huge police force came down on the adivasis, fishworkers and farmers who were peacefully agitating as part of the Zameen Hak Satyagraha (DETAILS GIVEN BELOW). During arrest, many Satyagrahis were beaten up, women were molested, cattle were beaten and the individual and collective property of the Satyagrahis was destroyed.

In the reply petition, the M.P. state government has argued that Satyagrahis has attempted to manhandle the officials which resulted in the arrest. The police also charged the Andolan for anti-national activities. On the insistence of NBA, the Chief Justice watched a CD (see link on You Tube) produced before the court by NBA and 5 CDs produced by the state government, where the truth was revealed before everyone’s eyes.

Today’s verdict is yet another victory for the Narmada Bachao Andolan and people’s movements at large. The verdict affirms the rights of the affected people to agitate peacefully and assert their right to land and livelihood. The peaceful and legitimate agitation by the Sardar Sarovar Dam affected people of the Narmada valley, for right to life and livelihood, continues irrespective of efforts by the authorities to sabotage and suppress the movement of the people.

Advocate N S Kale, one of the senior most advocates of Jabalpur who stood with issues of adivasis and activists always, pleaded the case for NBA and was assisted by Adv Bhowmik and Adv Raghavendra.

‘Zameen Hak’ (Land Rights) Satyagraha – Land Occupation Action from July 13th

The SARDAR SAROVAR affected families have begun the ‘Zameen Hak’ Satyagraha in Madhya Pradesh on July 13th demanding land-for-land rehabilitation instead of cash compensation and declaration of all those who are kept out of the list. Hundreds of affected adivasis and other farmers, including river-bed cultivators, have occupied 100 acres of government land in Taloon, reserved for seed farm, in Badwani district, Madhya Pradesh as an expression of a well known principle: expropriators must be expropriated. The Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal Award, The Supreme Court orders, Constitutional rights of citizens, all stand violated as submergence without rehabilitation continue to happen in the valley, year after year. 22 years of persistent struggle by NBA has achieved much in terms of rehabilitation and without struggle, the remaining populations will not get their due, especially in Madhya Pradesh.

Rationale:

We can't remain silent and peaceful anymore, when more than 2 lakh people are still residing in the submergence area of Sardar Sarovar Dam alone. When the state is callous and ready to drown us, we can't merely protest through this Satyagraha but also acquire what is our due. It's obvious that in spite of Special Rehabilitation Package (SRP), land for 11,000 families, 90 resettlement sites, right to 5 acres of land for each major son of affected family, which SSP-affected could seek through long struggle of past 22 years, much remains to be done and attained. No appropriate and sufficient land is in sight and hence the adivasis in the hilly areas who are determined to get land for land as their right, including mostly those who led the struggle with commitment and vision that is known to the world and all of us. The fight has to be on.

Main Demands:

1. Land-based rehabilitation for the dam-affected families. More than 2 lakh people still remain in the submergence area.
2. Adivasis already affected at 122 meters should be immediately given land-based rehabilitation.
3. Let the Dam be stayed at 122 meters.
4. Cancellation of Special Rehabilitation Package as it is illegal.
5. Take action against officials involved in Corruption while distributing Land and Cash.
6. Action against Violation of Law (NWDTA and SC orders), Contempt of Court through false affidavits.

Events leading up to the Satyagraha:

On July 4th, people had met the Collector Badwani. The issue of unjust displacement was once again raised during the big rally in Badwani. After more than an hour of road blockade, the people met the Badwani District Collector and expressed their concerns. Many new areas may be affected this year as the dam stands at 122 meters and the submergence may be unpredictable as the contour surveys were found to be incorrect in many places. With heavy rains expected during this monsoon, it is a dangerous situation as people already affected are not yet shifted, as either resettlement sites are not yet ready, unsuitable, far from the agricultural lands or families have not yet been declared.

On 5th July, the people affected from Sardar Sarovar, Omkareshwar, Indira Sagar to Bargi dams met the Governor of M.P. Dr. Balram Jhakar in Bhopal. He called the struggling displaced people as ‘freedom fighters’ of modern India, who are fighting for their lands and resources, which have been snatched away by State in the name of the so called development. He also took note of the huge corruption involved in the resettlement process (ref. Note on Land Scam circulated on July 3rd)

On July 10th, the adivasis in Alirajpur tehsil had earlier met the Collector of Jhabua (M.P.) who has called a meeting to discuss allotment of private lands to the Project Affected Families (PAFs). About 500 families still remain in these 26 villages, half of whom are still undeclared! The gross violation of their legal and human rights have not yet been considered.

Day to day Happenings:

July13th, SSP-affected people occupy government lands in Taloon, near Badwani

July 14th, 50 acres have been measured and divided among more than hundred families and they have started co-operative farming. 5 acres are set apart for fisherfolk families who were doing river-bed cultivation. Khajanbhai and Vesta Dediya of Anjanwada, Ratanbhai of Sugat, Surban of Kakrana, Gokhru of Karya Badal, Kuman Singh of Bhitada and scores of others are determined to assert their right to life and land and send a message across to the insensitive authorities. Madubhai of Chikhalda and others have joined them as Nimad and Adivasi areas together initiate this land occupation action, integral to Satyagraha.

Movement of the slum displaced from Mumbai, Nandurbar - Maharashtra, Indore (M.P.) sent their representatives to extend their support.

July 15th, the Collector, Badwani gave a statement that case will be filed against 17 persons on charges of violation of law and order and illegal occupation! On the other hand, the farmers and peasants in Nimad have filed hundreds of applications at the Satyagraha site regarding the motor pumps which got submerged and destroyed due to sudden release of water from upstream dams. The National Hydro Power Corporation (NHPC) is responsible for this calamity.

July 16th, a total 90 acres of land brought under cultivation since July 13, 2007. Adivasis from Kharya Badal village (District Badwani) have filed an FIR under Scheduled Caste – Scheduled Tribes/Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989 in Badwani police station against – Land Acquisition Officer (NVDA, Badwani), Rehabilitation Officer (NVDA, Badwani) and Collector (Badwani). Their land is destroyed, some houses submerged and yet no cultivable land is offered to them as yet. They have served a notice to the M.P. Government through the collector against the Rehabilitation Officer (NVDA, Badwani), Land Acquisition Officer (Badwani), Commissioner (NVDA, Indore) and Director of Rehabilitation, NCA, under Section 80 of CPC for destroying their main source of livelihood.

July 17th, Farmers of Nimad provide tractors for Adivasis to cultivate the occupied lands, Notice issued to Narmada Hydro Power Corporation (NHDC) by farmers who lost their motor pumps due to flash floods caused by sudden release of water from upstream dams.

July 21st, Satyagrahis blocked the road, stopped the Minister Vijay Shah's vehicle as he passed by. Bhitada and Karya Badal Jeevanshala children joined Satyagraha.

July 25th, A HUGE POLICE FORCE CAME AND RANSACKED THE SATYAGRAHA PANDAL, DESTROYING THE TENT AND SCATTERING PEOPLE AND CATTLE, IN WHICH 7 JEEVANSHALA CHILDREN GOT MISSING, AND FINALLY PUT 65 MEN, 26 WOMEN AND 1 CHILD IN JAIL, IN BADWANI AND INDORE RESPECTIVELY.

July 30th, Dharna (sit-in) begins in Badwani, demanding land-based rehabilitation of Sardar Sarovar Affected in M.P. and the immediate release of activists.

July 31st, all were released except Medha Patkar and Ashish Mandloi, against whom were framed old charges.

August 1st, Medha Patkar and Ashish Mandloi were produced in Badwani court and Ashish was granted bail, while Medha continues to be in Jail.

August 4th, Medha Patkar was released on bail, after kept in Jail for 10 days.

September 25th, Jabalpur High Court orders compensation for the arrested Satyagrahis and observes that the violent arrest and illegal detention has violated the fundamental rights of the Satyagrahis.

Ashish Mandloi
Kamala Yadav
Kailash Awasya
Umesh Patidar