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Narmada Bachao Andolan carried out Bhumi Adhikar aur Punarvas Yatra
Narendra Ch | 09 Apr 2015

Narmada valley, the Sardar Saravor Affected villages witnessed a boom with new energetic mobilization, through 3 days long Bhumi Adikar Yatra led farmers- labourer- fish workers and with activists.

The Yatra inaugurated at and commenced from Rajghat (Badwani) on the bank of Narmada river-the tomb with ashes of Mathatma Gandhi, Kastuba, and Mahadeobhai Desai-and took the route of village Kasravad., Balai, Barda, Chichli, Khalghat, Dharampuri, Semalda and concluded at Chikhalda with a public meeting attended by large gathering.  In meeting, a few thousands villagers representing at least 50 villages buried a copy of the ordinance in the pot and planted a Neem tree on it.

They also burned a copy of the 12th June decisionn to raise the Sardar Sarovar Project dam by the government. Later hundreds of people went to Narmada bank and offered lamp to the mother river which floated on the water amidst local songs.

The public meeting covered various issues ranging from the latest situation in Sardar Sarovar project, the unlawful and unjust decision by the central government to raise the dam height to 17 meters and the challenge posed to the same by Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) in the Supreme Court. Farmer's representatives including women also raised the issue of Land Ordinance and expressed their anger over re-promulgation of the Ordinance.

Since the NBA as long back as in 1985-86, questioned the British Act of Land Acquisition and the principle and then struggled with other movements, through NAPM and otherwise, of the eminent domain, the people in the valley declared their unanimous opposition to the Modi government's anti-people move by bringing in the ordinance for the second time, again without the 2013 provisions for SIA, consent clause,  limiting acquisition of multi crop land and returning any land unused for five years to the original owners.

With these clauses continuing to be deleted, the second ordinance, NDA Government claims, is with 9th amendments made into the first one. In fact these amendments are 'fake' and indicates increased in forcible land acquisition with and additional provision of reserving 1km long area on each side of a highway and railway for corporate industries. If calculated, this area comes to be not less than 17% to 30% of the country's land mass. This can't also be the limit for the land acquisition in industrial corridor as the project and agreements are already on paper and formally approved. There is no indication of change on cancellation of the same and hence the promises made are false.

In the Chikhalda public meeting addressed by Devram Kanera, Mahesh Patel, Shantabai  Yadav, Rajan Maerdloi,  Bhagwan Mukati and Medha Patkar introduced the Charter of Demands which was read out by NBA activist Kailash Awasya which specifically demanded compensation for loss of crops due to untimely rains, to farmers and labourers, waving of electricity bills this time, and increasing the prices for agricultural produce. No forcible acquisition for private companies and entities and acquisition for government projects only with consent of the affected farmers and Gram Sabhas, the gathering asserted. Medha Patkar, narrated the unified process and collective decisions by more than300 famers, labourers and by the people's organization that have come together to oppose the ordinance and assert rights of the farming community facing inequity and suicides. She then asked the gathering to opine the NBA becoming a part of the Bhumi Andolan which is to be a nationwide, non party movement, when everyone agreed to join; a call by the Bhumi Adhikar Andolanto unite and gather on the streets of Delhi on May 5th was given. The crowd approved the same.