Narmada Jal, Jangal, Jameen Haq Satyagraha starts on July 30 in Badwani
Narmada Jal, Jangal, Jameen Haq Satyagrah starts on the morning of 30th July, 2016 on the banks of Narmada alongside the Mahatma and Kasturba Gandhi Memorial in Badwani district of MP.
Thousands of displaced people will come together in a peaceful protest against gross injustice meted out to them in the name of rehabilitation for construction of the Sardar Sarovar dam in Gujarat.
As soon as the Modi government came to power in 2014, they took a decision to impose illegal submergence by authorizing to complete the dam to its full height of 138.68 meters, denying the Supreme Court's ruling that any expedition of construction is pre-conditional upon complete rehabilitation of the dam oustees.
As the dam construction stands completed with only the final closing of the gates left to be done, more than 45,000 families, mostly adivasis, across a total of 244 villages and the Dharampuri town in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat who are yet to be rehabilitated , face the grave risk of submergence of their farms and households.
On the eve of the Satyagraha, a press conference took place at India Coffee House in Indore today. Speaking at the press conference, water and dam specialist Major General Sudhir Vombadkere, from Mysore said, "I have observed that the long struggling People's Movement has been deprived of legislative, governmental, and bureaucratic support. I have written to PM Modi, but have received no response. All governments have been equally responsible, and all have exploitative developmental policies."
The claims about the irrigation and drinking water benefits have already proved to be unattainable with only 30-35 per cent irrigation canal network built over last 30 years since the project received clearance. The scale is also changing with the government's decisions on various kinds of diversions of forest and lands in favor of the corporate and industrial projects.
It is no more a concealed fact that the government of Gujarat has already taken a decision to de-command 4 lakh hectares of land from the Total Command Area, mostly in favor of Industrial Areas and Investment Regions; as part of the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC).
These planned projects including those of Adani and Ambani, being adjacent to the Canal Network, are obviously also going to be the first beneficiaries of the water supply from the dam. The government of Gujarat has entered into an agreement to supply 30 lakh litres of water per day to Coca Cola and 60 lakh litres to car industries at Anand, clearly indicating the parties who are the actual beneficiaries of the Sardar Sarovar dam.
RTI Activist Bharat Sinh Jhala from Gujarat said at the press conference, "It was told that all the Gujarat villages will get irrigation. We haven't seen it being provided to any villages or farmers. Water is available only to industries. Water may have reached till Kutch, but only for industries, not for farmers, or adivasis. 2000 plus villages in Gujarat have seen full droughts and partial droughts repeatedly in the last few years but Narmada water has not reached them. We now understand that Medha ji is not anti-Gujarat, but the development model of the government is actually anti-Gujarat."
It has been officially declared that the original outlay of the dam be increased from 4200 crore to 90,000 crore INR, an increase of cost by about 21 times! Even though the investment in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh runs into thousands of crores, they don't give them its rightful share of electricity.
Gujarat has asked to be compensated for the loss resulting from closure of the power house; however, MP continues to be unresponsive. In addition to submerging the natural wealth of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra and displacing lakhs of people, they are denied even one drop of the dam's water.
The High Court appointed Jha committee, which conducted an investigation lasting seven years into corruption charges against MP's rehabilitation process. The report highlights how many thousands of families were given false registry papers in exchange for their property and how many crores of rupees were wasted at the rehabilitation sites without even ensuring that they were inhabitable. This report has been handed over by the Supreme Court to the MP government only, preventing from revealing of its findings to the public.
BR Patil, Independent MLA from Karnataka, ex-deputy-speaker said, "Government has been deliberately misdirecting the issues using all means available to it. The Jha commission report needs to be discussed in the assembly. There needs to be public debate on it. Why is the government not doing it, what are the irregularities that it needs to hide. I demand that the Jha commission report be discussed in the assembly. Then the public will know about the thefts, corruption, and the pain caused by the dam."
Medha Patkar of Narmada Bachao Andolan said, "We have received a response from the PMO via Uma Bharti's office. It's a regurgitation of a report from year 2000. It even states that the dam will get completed in 2004! This is the degree of apathy with which the government is treating such grave problems in the lives of 45,000 families."
The fact is that Madhya Pradesh will have no right to a drop of water from the Sardar Sarovar reservoir and would only get 56 per cent of the total power generated, which is bound to be different from the projected power generation capacity. A few thousand adivasis from different R&R sites and about 100 in the original villages on the river banks, have started an agitation and have begun a relay hunger strike near the Dam site, in the project colony (Kevadia), in Gujarat since June 15 this year, which continues till date.
The Narmada Satyagraha rally begins on the 30th of July at Rajghat in Badwani district of MP to demand that the gates of the Sardar Sarovar dam shall not be closed and that they be properly rehabilitated on legally authorized land and rehabilitation settlements with all requisite facilities and alternative means of employment.
It would also demand that the findings of the Jha committee, which reveals large scale scam of corruption of 1000-1500 crores INR that took place in the MP rehabilitation process. Over 300 supporters from 15 States of India, including Karnataka, Kerala, UP, Odisha, Bihar, Jharkand, Uttaranchal, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Punjab, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Delhi have reached Indore today to demonstrate their support for the rally.
Biju Krishnan of Bhumi Adhikar Andolan from Karnataka, Kumar Prashant, Senior Gandhian and associated with Gandhi Shanti Pratishthan, Delhi, Dr. Sunilam of Kisan Sangharsh Samiti and former MP and Vimalbhai of Matu Jansangathan, Uttarakhand, Kailash Meena, NAPM, Rajasthan, D K Prajapati, senior activist working on labor issues are amongst the supporters, presently on their way to Badwani to join the Satyagraha starting tomorrow, covering a route of 150 kilometers around submergence affected areas of Khalghat, Dharampuri, Manawar and Badwani.