New Delhi, January 5 : Its more than six weeks now Adivasis, ousted from their land for 15 years now, of Sardar Sarovar and Jobat Dam project have been holding on to a piece of land which is rightfully theirs, given that government has failed in all aspects to compensate for their loss of livelihood and dignity. NAPM salutes the steely resolve of the project displaced and their struggle for justice to carry on in light of adverse conditions for past 26 years. The Adivasis of Alirajpur and Badwani districts have faced illegal submergence of their land, crop and houses since 1994, due to the SSP, but have not yet been provided cultivable, irrigable, unencroached farmlands and house plots in developed resettlement sites as per the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal Award, M.P. Rehabilitation Policy and various Judgements of the Supreme Court.
For many years now, the oustees have refused to accept uncultivable / encroached land from the Government Waste Land Bank or meager cash compensation and have been demanding cultivable land and real rehabilitation, as per law. After numerous rounds of applications, litigation, court orders, dialogue, agitations, fasts, arrests, lathi-charge not leading to actual land allotment, the oustees have at last decided to ‘occupy’ government land at the Jobat Agricultural and Seed Production Farm and have begun cultivation on the same. This is the alternative to government’s apathy and in the tradition of Jo Zameen Sarkari Hai who Zameen Hamari Hai.
NBA has engaged in peaceful action for many years now and constantly put government on backfoot. It is because of their constant struggle that the Sardar Sarovar Dam remains incomplete till date. The claims by project authorities that all the PAFs have been resettled falls flat since nearly 200,000 people are still there in the submergence zone and huge corruption in rehabilitation scheme unearthed by NBA is being investigated by S C Jha Commission.
We urge the government of Madhya Pradesh that notwithstanding binding legal and judicial directives and its own commitments before the Apex Court to purchase private land on priority, it is the moral duty to rehabilitate the oustees. It is extremely unfortunate that the Government of Madhya Pradesh has not made any sincere efforts to provide cultivable land to the affected families. Having lost their main source of livelihood since 15 years and cut-off from mainland due to the huge reservoir, the hilly oustees have been living in a situation of acute poverty, deprivation, hunger, malnourishment and ill-health since a decade.
We also urge the Ministry of Social Welfare and Justice and Tribal Affairs that dignity of Adivasis are restored and justice done to them. If the development needs of the country are to be met then it can’t be continued to be built on the altar of sacrifices made by the Adivasis. It’s time the debate on development was reinvigorated and the obsession with the 9% growth is given up.
Sandeep Pandey, Prafulla Samantara, Gabriele Dietrich, Suniti S R, Ulka Mahajan, Roma, Arundhati Dhuru, Sister Celia, Maj. Gen. (Retd) Sudhir Vombatkere, Geo Josh, Hussain Master, P Chennaiah, Ramakrishna Raju, Vimal Bhai, Rajendra Ravi, Anand Mazgaonkar, Mukta Srivastava, Madhuresh Kumar