Sep 10, 2013

Historic Civil disobedience movement by oustees of Indira Sagar dam

: Jal satyagraha ongoing at 6 places in three districts : Delegation of oustees meets Mrs. Sushma Swaraj : Oustees should also be beneficiaries of development projects : Since the last ten days, a historic civil disobedience movement is being carried out by thousands of oustees of the Districts Dewas, Khandwa, and Harda of Madhya Pradesh affected by the Indira Sagar dam which has the largest impoundment in the country. Although the State has tried to crush the movement by declaring S.144 on the waters of the Indira Sagar dam, but in all three districts, thousands of oustees have broken S.144 and offered arrests, and spread Jal satyagraha further. Thus Jal satyagraha is being carried out in 6 places with full vigor and determination. The Narmada Bachao Andolan demands that instead of using police force on the people, the State Government should fulfill their legitimate demands and undo the historic injustice that has been wreaked on them.

It is noteworthy that 254 villages are affected by this dam causing the largest submergence in the country. Despite there being a land for land policy, not a single oustee was offered land, and the oustees were evicted after giving pittances in the name of compensation. As per government figures, 85% of the farmers whose lands were acquired were unable to purchase any land, and became landless. The landless were also evicted after being given pittances, and were rendered paupers. In addition, the acquisition of lands and homes falling in the submergence and the rehabilitation of thousands of families is pending. Despite stay orders of the Hon’ble High Court and the Apex Court staying any reservoir filling above 260 M, the water level in the reservoir was filled up to 262.13 m, because of which houses in the villages of Lachora, Kalisaray, Piplani and many other villages became submerged, and 2000 acres of land became islands.

Delegation of representatives meet Sushma Swaraj

 A delegation of representatives from the three affected districts of the Indira Sagar dam along with NBA activist Ms. Chittaroopa Palit met Ms. Sushma Swaraj, and apprised her of the grave situation of submergence, the health of the affected persons and the Jal satyagraha.  Ms. Swaraj heard the oustees with seriousness and assured that she would converse with the Chief Minister and a decision would soon be taken.

Jal Satyagraha: Civil disobedience by displaced persons

On the 1st of September, Jal satyagraha was started in the three districts of Khandwa, Dewas and Harda in the villages of Barkhalia, Mel-Piplia and Uwa respectively. However instead of considering their demands, the State invoked S.144 in the submerged area and began arresting hundreds of satyagrahis. However the satyagrahis accepted the challenge and began a civil disobedience movement by repeatedly breaking S.144 and entering the waters. Senior activist of the movement, Ms. Chittaroopa Palit and displaced persons from Barkhalia were arrested and sent to jail. Hundreds of men and women oustees from Mel Pipliya were arrested and 67 were sent to jail.  In Harda district, the satyagrahis were arrested first in Uwa, then Bichola, then Kalisaray and Saktia. However the resolute satyagrahis continued with their satyagrahas which is now ongoing at 6 places. Today the Jal-satyagraha is ongoing with great vigor and vitality in villages of Malud, Nandana, Piplani and Lachora in District Khandwa, Village Hanifabad in District Harda, and Village Mel-Pipliya in District Dewas.

Health of satyagrahis dwindles, but spirits soar

The satyagrahis are gradually becoming weaker and developing fever, boils, allergies.The skin of many satyagrahis is falling off, and blood is seeping out, Thie r bodies are being eaten by animals who live in the reservoir. Since the water is polluted, grave diseases are apprehended. But despite these adverse circumstances, their spirits are high. Today, 14 women satyagrahies had to be hospitalized from Malud Satyagrah.

Largest displacement in the country

The Indira Sagar dam on the Narmada has caused the largest displacement in the country. More than 50,000 families or 3 lakh persons have been affected by this project. The rehabilitation policy enacted for this project has been completely violated and the oustees were evicted without giving a single oustee land for land. Today these oustees are fighting for their rights. The oustees demand (1) the water level in the Indira Sagar dam should be brought down to 260 m. (2) Land holders should be provided land for land with a minimum of 2 ha of land or assisted to purchase the same. (3) Landless persons should be given a grant of Rs. 2.5 lakhs so that he can arrange for his livelihood at the new place. (4) Thousands of farms and houses affected by the submergence should be acquired and the concerned families rehabilitated and resettled. (5) Bridges and roads be constructed to create access to the islands formed by the reservoir.

Oustees must be beneficiaries of development

Any development project based on exclusion of and injury to thousands of oustees cannot be called a development project. It is essential that the oustees must be included and benefit from the process of development. It is a matter of shame in this democracy, that the oustees are being compelled to rot their bodies in the reservoir created over their own lands, only in order to obtain their rights. The Narmada Bachao Andolan appeals to the general public to support the movement of the oustees, and demands that the State Government must immediately provide the required rehabilitation to the affected people. Gandhiji had taken the path of civil disobedience for the freedom struggle. Today the oustees have also chosen the path of civil disobedience. The oustees are determined that they will obtain their rights by placing even their lives at stake.

Press release, 10.09.13

Narmada  Bachao  Andolan
2, Sai Nagar, Mata Chowk,
Khandwa, Madhya Pradesh -450 001

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