Badwani, 28th August, 2014
Hindi Press Release in PDF and word attached
3 Day Narmada Ghati Adhikar Samvaad Yatra concludes – August 23rd to 25th
More than 2000 oustees and 200 supporters from across India gather at mass rally and public meet at Badwani
Government Go Back: The Narmada Valley is ours
Not a inch of land or a single brick can go under the dam waters !!
Thousands of Sardar Sarovar oustees declare right to ownership of the acquired land and houses as per New Land Acquisition Act, 2013
Ultimatum to Modi Govt: Struggle to intensity if decision to raise dam height not revoked by
The 3 day Narmada Ghati Adhikaar Samvaad Yatra, held from 23rd to 25th August, 2014 in the presence of 2000 people from the Sardar Sarovar Project affected villages and 200 supporters from across 15 states concluded with a big bang and an announcement that is sure to shake up the Narendra Modi Govt, which has illegally permitted to raise the dam height by erection of 17 mts high gates. The declaration, made during the massive public meeting at Badwani asserted that as per the New Land Acquisition Act, 2014, thousands of families living in the villages, where their land and houses have been acquired for the Project, have now become owners, since they have either not accepted compensation or have not given possession of their lands and houses, even 5 years after acquisition. With this declaration, a new phase of struggle begins in the valley and the Government cannot submerge even an inch of land or even a brick and, if necessary, will have to start the entire acquisition process afresh. The people of the valley, as on date, are once again owners of their lands and houses!
The declaration was made in the presence of more than 200 supporters from across the country including an internationally acclaimed hydrologist, representatives of various social movements and organizations, trade unionists, lawyers, writers, journalists, teachers, students, artists, film makers and social activists from Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Delhi, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Telangana and West Bengal, who joined the farmers, agricultural, labourers, adivasis, women, the young and the old of the valley. The sitting MLA of Badwani, Ramesh Patel and Former MLA of Dharampuri, Panchilal Meda also expressed solidarity with the struggle. The oustees celebrated the declaration with a plough, cart wheel, unfurling of banners, as also with the songs of well-known musician and writer Swanand Kirkire.
The oustees and supporters demanded that the destructive step of increasing the height should be immediately revoked. They openly challenged the Central and the state governments on the decision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to increase the height of the Sardar Sarovar Dam on illegal and undemocratic grounds. Medha Patkar, addressing the large gathering stated that the struggle on Narmada, which is to complete thirty years in 2015 has once again become vibrant and rejuvenated with this new declaration. In the long history of thirty years, the movement has challenged the state powers and the World Bank, at several junctures. The Morse Committee Report against the World Bank is a significant example. From time to time, the illegal raise in the height of the dam, without rehabilitation was questioned through the pressure of the movement and the solidarity attained from across the country and the world. We will face every challenge from the Govt, she said, with an endorsement of applause from the oustees, who also addressed the gathering.
If the height of the dam is increased, it implies the large-scale submergence of the thousands of hectares of most fertile land yielding best of wheat, maize, sugar cane, fruits, chilly, vegetables, cotton, bajra. Thousands of farmers, agricultural labourers, fisher folks and shop-keepers and several others are not yet rehabilitated and Govt. has to answer people’s questions before even thinking of any further project work. More than 2.5 lakh people from 245 villages from three states (Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat) continue to live in the submergence area. Despite numerous Supreme Court orders, High Court orders and Narmada Tribunal Award and the states’s promises for rehabilitation, thousands have not yet been rehabilitated. Thousands of these un-rehabilitated families are living under the present dam height of 122 mts. Massive corruption is being inquired into by the Justice Jha Commission since 5 years and thousands of cases are under inquiry, exposing fake claims of rehabilitation, but the government is hell-bent on raising the height of the dam, violating all constitutional guarantees.
In every village, be it Khalghat, Pipri, Chhota Barda, Chikalda, Nisarpur etc. the team witnessed that rehabilitation is a fraud, review of Back Water Level is a huge game of numbers and that the Govt. is pushing the dam for ulterior purposes, not for Kutch and Saurashtra, but for Ambanis and Adanis. Internationally acclaimed hydrologist, Raj Kachroo, while addressing the meetings said that the government should stop being dishonest to the people and demanded that the project-affected and their experts should also be part of any further decision making process including real assessment of back water impact. Thousands of affected people and the large number of persons supporting the cause from across the country have strongly resolved to intensify the struggle of Narmada Bachao Andolan.
At every village, hundreds of oustees met the group of supporters and informed them of the lack of rehabilitation. On 23rd August at Khalghat and 24th, August, at Rajghat more than 300 people gathered on the banks of Narmada, at the Gandhi Samadhi, Rajghat for the Prathana and Sankalp. On 25th August, the team visited the hilly adivasi village Manibeli, one of the first villages in Maharashtra affected by the SSP, which was the centre of intense Jal Satyagraha for many years. The reality of lack of rehabilitation and basic civic amenities to more than 1200 tribal oustees was presented here. Oustees, along with activists from Gujarat had also come to Manibeli and narrated as to how the rehabilitation even in Gujarat is far from complete and that hundreds of more families are likely to affected with the Sardar Patel Tourism Project and the Garudeshwar Weir.
At Manibeli, the fish workers co-operatives of traditional displaced fish workers that has been recognized by the Government of Maharashtra for the first time was inaugurated, in the river itself, with boats, banners and buntings and fishing nets. The team also witnessed the struggle and resilience of the children of the Narmada Jeevanshalas. They interacted with the oustees on the issues and challenges in the hilly areas. The oustees have issued an ultimatum to the Modi-led NDA Govt. that the struggle would be intensified, if the illegal decision to raise the height of the SSP is not revoked y the .
Kamla Yadav Mukesh
Narmada Bachao Andolan,
Narmada-Ashish, Off Kasravad Road,
Ph: 07290-291464; Fax: 07290-222549
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