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Rise in One Voice, Save One of the Oldest Civilizations of the World: Medha Patkar

Medha Patkar 01 Jul 2017
The situation at one of the oldest sites of human civilisations – the Narmada valley of Madhya Pradesh is today worse than a battlefield where the humble, hard working farmers, fisher folk, potters and labourers are struggling day in and day out to simply survive against the onslaught of the Sardar Sarovar Dam built on the Narmada river in Gujarat. 

Narmada protest
Image: A.M. Faruqui
 
 
They have resisted the dam for the last 32 years which was planned to drown their lands. Even then, they fought to get their due rehabilitation and compensation that was denied to them. Today, they are pushed to the brink of a crisis that seems overwhelingly difficult to tackle.

Electoral Gimmick
According to the Supreme Court, the finalisation of dam should be undertaken only after the completion of all rehabilitation and compensation work among the Dam Affected People. The Supreme Court did give a deadline of July 31. The governments of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh in cohorts with the Central government have unilaterally taken the decision to close the gates of the dam well before rehabilitation work has been completed, or even the court deadline has been met. It is said that the decision to forcibly close the dam gates is another one of BJP,'s tactics planbed keeping in mind the upcoming state elections in Gujarat sceduled later this year.


Corruption  & Coercion 
Completely corrupt practices are underway in the Narmada valley in the name of rehabilitation and compensation. 
 
-  Even after the significant findings of the Jha Commission that pointed out huge irregularities in the disbursal of compensation monies, the elected governments completely swept the report of the commission under the rug. People who lost out due to corruption still await justice. The present trend consists of ‘secretive’ administrative visits and giving a "clean chit" to every aspect of the incomplete work of rehabilitation and compensation. Each day, the villages under threat of Submissions, see visita by engineers or patwaris who are conducting random surveys and changing the lists of affectedlists persons on a whim. People in the submergence area don’t even know if their name is still on the list or not even if they live right there, in the submergence areas. The entire Narmada valley is rife with such cases where people, esspecially the poor and the landless, find no mention in the lists and have nowhere to go. Tens of thousands of people are still inhabiting the submergence zone as they have not got compensation or rehabilitation.

-  Even those who have received paltry compensation are not enough to survive. Rehabilitation sites are marked by extreme government apathy. In some places there is no clean drinking water.

-  The entire state and machinery of Madhya Pradesh is more interested in the forcible eviction of people than to cooperate with the citizens of this country whose rights are being undermined. Administrative officials and police are busy trying to cover up the stains their political masters have created.

State Repression
-  In order to curb the syrong voice of emerging dissent, the government of Madhya Pradesh has enacted the Rajya Suraksha Kanun (RASUKA) (Gazette Notification May 25) on the lines of National Security Act to declare any protest illegal which, in effect means, a complete suspension of human rights in a place which is hit by a man-made disaster (submergence due the dam). These people have not received their due and are not ready to leave their lands, homes, cattle, community centers. Their entire life and livelihoods are at stake.

Narmada Bachao Andolan,(NBA), at the forefront of the struggle of the farmers, farm labourers, fisher folk, potters, adivasis and women of the Narmada valley calls out to all democratic forces of the country and outside to raise their voice against the illegal injustice against a river, a valley and its people. As believers in non-violence, we rest our hope on the Constitution and collective will of the people of India who have earlier gained Independence through satyagraha to come together once again. 
 

Rise in One Voice, Save One of the Oldest Civilizations of the World: Medha Patkar

The situation at one of the oldest sites of human civilisations – the Narmada valley of Madhya Pradesh is today worse than a battlefield where the humble, hard working farmers, fisher folk, potters and labourers are struggling day in and day out to simply survive against the onslaught of the Sardar Sarovar Dam built on the Narmada river in Gujarat. 

Narmada protest
Image: A.M. Faruqui
 
 
They have resisted the dam for the last 32 years which was planned to drown their lands. Even then, they fought to get their due rehabilitation and compensation that was denied to them. Today, they are pushed to the brink of a crisis that seems overwhelingly difficult to tackle.

Electoral Gimmick
According to the Supreme Court, the finalisation of dam should be undertaken only after the completion of all rehabilitation and compensation work among the Dam Affected People. The Supreme Court did give a deadline of July 31. The governments of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh in cohorts with the Central government have unilaterally taken the decision to close the gates of the dam well before rehabilitation work has been completed, or even the court deadline has been met. It is said that the decision to forcibly close the dam gates is another one of BJP,'s tactics planbed keeping in mind the upcoming state elections in Gujarat sceduled later this year.


Corruption  & Coercion 
Completely corrupt practices are underway in the Narmada valley in the name of rehabilitation and compensation. 
 
-  Even after the significant findings of the Jha Commission that pointed out huge irregularities in the disbursal of compensation monies, the elected governments completely swept the report of the commission under the rug. People who lost out due to corruption still await justice. The present trend consists of ‘secretive’ administrative visits and giving a "clean chit" to every aspect of the incomplete work of rehabilitation and compensation. Each day, the villages under threat of Submissions, see visita by engineers or patwaris who are conducting random surveys and changing the lists of affectedlists persons on a whim. People in the submergence area don’t even know if their name is still on the list or not even if they live right there, in the submergence areas. The entire Narmada valley is rife with such cases where people, esspecially the poor and the landless, find no mention in the lists and have nowhere to go. Tens of thousands of people are still inhabiting the submergence zone as they have not got compensation or rehabilitation.

-  Even those who have received paltry compensation are not enough to survive. Rehabilitation sites are marked by extreme government apathy. In some places there is no clean drinking water.

-  The entire state and machinery of Madhya Pradesh is more interested in the forcible eviction of people than to cooperate with the citizens of this country whose rights are being undermined. Administrative officials and police are busy trying to cover up the stains their political masters have created.

State Repression
-  In order to curb the syrong voice of emerging dissent, the government of Madhya Pradesh has enacted the Rajya Suraksha Kanun (RASUKA) (Gazette Notification May 25) on the lines of National Security Act to declare any protest illegal which, in effect means, a complete suspension of human rights in a place which is hit by a man-made disaster (submergence due the dam). These people have not received their due and are not ready to leave their lands, homes, cattle, community centers. Their entire life and livelihoods are at stake.

Narmada Bachao Andolan,(NBA), at the forefront of the struggle of the farmers, farm labourers, fisher folk, potters, adivasis and women of the Narmada valley calls out to all democratic forces of the country and outside to raise their voice against the illegal injustice against a river, a valley and its people. As believers in non-violence, we rest our hope on the Constitution and collective will of the people of India who have earlier gained Independence through satyagraha to come together once again. 
 

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