30 Years of Narmada Struggle: Jeevan Adhikar Satyagraha, Badwani, Madhya Pradesh
By National Alliance of People’s Movements
19 August, 2015
The Narmada Bachao Andolan has begun an indefinite Jeevan Adhikar Satyagraha amidst thousands of oustees at Rajghat, Badwani against the illegal displacement and destruction by the Sardar Sarovar Dam. They have resolved not to move even in the event of rains and a rise in the reservoir level, until the key questions raised by the Andolan on the displacement and rehabilitation of 2.5 lakh people are answered.
The Government’s claim that all the SSP-affected villages on the banks of Narmada have already been acquired and rehabilitated is incorrect and is nothing but a blatant lie.
Narmada Bachao Andolan, after a six-day yatra (August 6th – 12th, 2015) across 25 villages in Madhya Pradesh continues to question the false declarations, irrational policies and unlawful decisions of the government authorities, in particular, the decision to raise the height of the dam by 17 mts which is in violation of the Award of the Narmada Tribunal and the Supreme Court judgement on this matter in 2000 and 2005. The people began the yatra in order to assert their right over their resources and decision-making as per the PESA Act and New Land Acquisition Act and demand complete rehabilitation of the affected people including, Land for Land, Sustainable Alternate Livelihoods.
Hundreds of people affected by the Sardar Sarovar Dam participated in the yatra and mobilized thousands of farmers, fishworkers, land less labourers, artisans and many others for the Andolan’s future actions.
The Jeevan Adhikar Yatra culminated with the beginning of the Satyagraha since 12 August, 2015 where the Andolan has declared its resolve not to move from the banks of Narmada at Rajghat, Badwani until the government resolves their issues. Many people from different walks of life are continuing to visit Badwani in order to express their solidarity with the Andolan including Former Members of Parliament, Academicians, Social Activists, Environmentalists, Artists, Journalists, Students and many others.
The government’s decision to raise the height of the dam upto 138.68 mts will lead to the submergence of 244 villages and the huge township of Dharampuri. The majority of this population comprises of tribals, landless, fishing and other socio-economically marginalized population. These villages would cover a population of nearly 2, 50,000 people who will be submerged along with approximately 13,300 ha of pristine forest rich with flora and fauna. In fact, the total number of displaced families by the SSP in three states will be much higher, since more than 90,000 kms of total canal network in Gujarat will require over 1lakh hectares of land.
It has been alleged in the last few years that there have been serious and continuous discrepancies in the process of rehabilitation and resettlement of the Sardar Sarovar Project and much of which is exposed and established by Govt’s own records. The people’s intervention on this account has led to the appointment of a Judicial Commission headed by Justice (Retd.) S.S Jha in August 2008 to enquire into these discrepancies and widespread fraudulent practices. The report of the commission is awaited.
Many of these discrepancies are clearly visible a glaring example of which is the recent reduction in the back water levels, due to which the Government now claims that 16,000 families who were stated to be ‘affected by submergence’ are now ‘not affected by submergence’. According to Prof. Raj Kachroo, a surface water hydrologist, the Central Water Commission, Government of India declared in 1984 that the flood level at Gazipura/ Khalghat reached 150.34 mts, 148.40 mts in 1994, 146.64 mts in 2013.Whereas the same CWC set the backwater level in Gazipura/ Khalghat at 144.92 mts. (Source: Drowning a Valley: Destroying a Civilization. Fact Finding Report. June 2015).
This is not only a question of mass displacement, submergence, rehabilitation, and resettlement, but points to larger questions of rule of law, justice and accountability.
As the country celebrates its 69th year of Independence we continue to assert our rights and through democratic struggle we fight for a true sovereign, socialist, democratic, secular republic.
The indefinite Jeevan Adhikar Satyagraha has begun where people have resolved to not move even in the event of rains and rise in the reservoir level, until the key questions raised by the Andolan are answered.
The schedule of the Jeevan Adhikar Satyagraha, over the next few days is as follows :-
21st August-Fishworkers’ Convention
24th August-Right to Land, Housing, Livelihood Convention, Rajghat, Badwani.
25th August- Representatives of Peoples’ Movements across the country will be present in solidarity of the Satyagraha
We urge everyone to participate in the Satyagraha in solidarity with the struggling people.
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