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India: 09.08 Narmada Update

Narmada Bachao Andolan
B-13 Shivam Flats, Ellora Park,

NBA Satyagraha Update - August 8, 2003

Relay Fast enters fourth day - Official record checking begins - 'Shaheed Diwas' (Martyrs Day) to be observed on 9 August.

Satyagraha 2003 has entered the fourth day today as affected people are sitting on relay fast, both in Nimgavan (Akrani tahsil) and Chimalkhedi (Akkalkua tahsil). Every day two people sit on fast, in both places, demanding the written Government Resolution (GR) on Rehabilitation plan and action, of all those who are affected (more than 1500 families) at 100 meters.

In Nimgavan, Giridhar Pavra, Geeta Chauhan, Nirmal Kanera, Lotan Pavra, Bolya Daya, Boljia Kaka etc have so far sat on fast while in Chimalkhedi, Bijya Juglia, Savita Vasave, Noorji Vasave etc sat with great hope and determination to shake the moral conscience of the 'irresponsible' authorities. The first submergence saw water entering 28 houses in Nimgavan while in Chimalkhedi people had to face not only forced submergence, but also State repression in the form of police misbehavior, violence, arrests and harassment.

The Jeevanashala (school of life) in Nimgavan just escaped the first flooding by a whisker, so too other three Jeevanashalas (out of a total of 12) but the coming floods can be devastating as the monsoon will gain strength in the upstream regions.

Meanwhile, the Collector of Nandurbar had come with a team of government officials from three departments, to make the final assessment of the actual number of people affected in the submergence villages, beginning from Nimgavan. Yesterday they completed the record checking in Nimgavan and today it will be done in Chimalkhedi, in special Grama Sabha Meetings. This may lead to the fulfillment of a long-standing demand of the NBA for the official and actual acceptance of the Joint Task Force Report published in 2002 (and kept in the dark for almost a year). This will lead to the official acceptance of not only the declared families, but also all those undeclared PAFs including Major sons as having right to rehabilitation. All these realities vindicate the fact that under 100 meters of the dam, hundreds of families still live in the family, due to lack of just rehabilitation. Our claim will soon be vindicated once the official checking of records is completed.

In Madhya Pradesh, there are 12000 PAFs deserving rehabilitation at 100 meters. The government considers only those families who are fully affected i.e. loosing more than 25% of their land as deserving land-based rehabilitation (about 4000 PAFs), which is a total violation of the NWDTA and the Supreme Court order. They exclude all those who have been given ex-parte allotment i.e. without the consent of the PAFs, the Major sons and all those who are not in the government records (but actually living in the valley for generations). They also exclude the temporarily affected, claiming that they need not be resettled in a hurry. There is no consideration to give compensation for the illegal damage to houses and destruction of standing crops that had been going on and continuing in this monsoon flood also.

Any way, during the meeting with the eminent persons and the NBA representatives, the M.P. government had agreed to dynamically involve the Grama Sabhas in the actual assessment of the number of PAFs as well as to check the lands available for rehabilitation. People are waiting for a government order towards this, which is promised within a month.

The people demand nothing less than total compliance with the NWDT Award and the Supreme Court order. If the governments do not respond in the agreed upon lines in a swift manner before the next floods, whenever it may be, the Satyagraha will be intensified.

Tomorrow, 9 August, 03, Shaheed Diwas (Martyrs Day) to commemorate the Adivasi freedom fighters including Khajya Naik, Bhima Naik, Jantya Bhil, Rehma Vasave, will be observed.

On 12th, Raksha Bandhan will be observed with an appeal to save the life and livelihood of all who experience betrayal at the hands of their fellow human beings.

On 14th August, a mass gathering will be in Bilgaon, the site of the 15 Kilo watt micro-hydel project, with many guests and supporters participating in overnight drum beats and cultural celebrations, anticipating a regeneration of our Nation, from the present decay and chaos. The National flag will be hoisted at 12 midnight.

On 15th, the Independence Day celebrations will be held in Nimgavan Jeevanashala.

We earnestly appeal to you, supporters and sympathizers from all walks of life, to come to the valley, to share our sorrow, our hope, our aspirations at this time of great turmoil. Enable our struggle through articles, press statements, local meetings, fund raising and most important, to encourage more people to come and join us in this struggle for life and livelihood.

Noorji Vasave
Bolya Daya
Medha Patkar

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