Counterview, Nov 29 2014, Badwani: Representatives of the Sardar Sarovar dam affected from three states – Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra – thronged the streets of Indore in Madhya Pradesh as part of their six-days yatra to “challenge” the “unlawful” decision of the BJP-led government in Delhi to raise the height of the Sardar Sarovar Dam by 17 meters. Saying that the Government of India decision “would lead to a watery grave of 45,000 families”, the anti-dam organisation Narmada Bachao Andolan’s (NBA’s) statement said, adding, “The oustees questioned the false claims of rehabilitation.”
Pointing towards the Rs 1000-crore corruption scam which is being investigated by a Judicial commission in Madhya Pradesh, the statement said, “Hilly Adivasis from Maharashtra demanded rehabilitation with land. Oustees from Gujarat challenged the lack of rehabilitation in the state and false claims of rehabilitation and resettlement (R&R), deprivation of land to hundreds of them. A strong demand was made to recognize the ownership rights of the oustees under the new Land Acquisition Act.”
The NBA said, “In the past six months thousands of oustees have been carrying out massive protests in Badwani, Dhar, Indore, Bhopal and Delhi demanding the government to recall its illegal decision and review the actual status of rehabilitation of the thousands of adivasis, farmers, fish-workers, potters, labourers etc also the actual costs and benefits of the Sardar Sarovar Project. Medha Patkar, walking along with the protesters, demanded immediate halt to the construction work at Sardar Sarovar and claimed that the decision is largely motivated by corporate thirst for Narmada waters and command area land, rather than the interests of farmers.”
Among those who participated in the rally included many senior social activists and progressive social organizations from Indore – senior Gandhian and advocate Anil Trivedi, Sarvoday Press Service’s Chinmay Mishra, Ashok Dubey, Roopankan, Ajay Lagoo, Pramod Bagdi, Jayaprakash bhai and others. “They stood in solidarity at the Regal Chouraha, where a homage was paid to Gandhi Statue, and the Prime Minister was reminded of the Gandhian approach to respect the lives and livelihoods of the villages, which is the heart of India”, the NBA said.
“Many elderly farmers, women and children walked the streets of Indore shouting slogans, distributing leaflets and exhorting the residents of Indore to standby the struggle in the Narmada valley since the issues of land and water management in Nimad and Malwa region are interconnected. Representatives of the Indira Sagar and Omkareshwar canal-affected farmers also participated demanding review of the canals and halt to Omkareshwar-Kshipra Link Project which is planned more in the interest of corporates rather than the rural masses”, the statement said.
The Yatra began at Badwani on November 28 paying homage to the freedom strugglers at Shaheed Stambh followed by a meeting at Anjad. The Yatra shall proceed to Ujjain and Ratlam tomorrow where also public rallies and meetings shall be held to raise awareness and gather solidarity on the issue. The Yatra will reach Delhi on the December 1, where Yatris would be joined by hundreds of oustees from the Narmada valley for a massive rally at Jantar Mantar on December 2.