Narmada Bachao Andolan Press note : 26th August 2012
250 MEN AND WOMEN CONTINUOUSLY STANDING IN THE RISING WATERS OF OMKARESHWAR DAM
Around 250 dam affected people have started their jal satyagraha, in the continuously rising water of the Omkareshwar dam. It may be noted that the water level of the Omkareshwar dam has been kept at 189 meters. In spite of the fact that thousands of the oustees have not been rehabilitated, the government decided to fill the dam upto a level of 193 meters. In protest of this decision the satyagraha in Ghoghalgaon has been going on since 16th July 2012. The people had pledged that they oustees expressed their determination that they would give up their lives if need be, but that they would not move without taking their rights. In spite of this, late yesterday evening when the water level was raised by 1.5 meters, around 250 men and women entered the water and began their jal satyagraha.
Attempt to submerge lands and drive away people without rehabilitation
It may be noted that the High Court and the Supreme Court have both stated in their orders that, the state has not adhered to the rehabilitation policy, for the Omkareshwar dam affected people. On the basis of these orders when people filed their claims to the Grievance Redressal Authority (GRA) the GRA also stated in its recent orders that the rehabilitation policy had not been implemented for the Omkareshwar dam affected people and that affected people should be given land for land. The authorities are yet to give thousands of families land, house plots, rehabilitation grants, hundreds of houses in the submergence are yet to be acquired, thousands of landless families are yet to be given resources whereby they can earn dignified livelihoods.
It is also to be noted that the Supreme Court has held in Omkareshwar judgment that the rehabilitation should have been done before the construction of the dam. As per many other Supreme Court orders the rehabilitation should have been completed 6 months before the submergence. Therefore it is clear that the government is acting in violation to all these orders and it is the government’s intention to drive away people without rehabilitation by submerging their lands and houses. The oustees have resolved that they will not give in to these tactics of the government and would rather drown than be driven away.
Lower the water level and rehabilitate the oustees of the Omkareshwar dam
The thousands of people sitting in dharna with those 250 who have undertaken the jal satyagrah have demanded that the level of the water should be lowered to 189 meter in the Omkareshwar dam and all the affected people should be given land for land and other rehabilitation rights. Neelabai and Suresh Patel of Gogalgaon, Sakubai and Girjabai of Kamankeda, Antar Singh and Santoshbai of Village Toki, Nannibai an Kailashrao of Village Ekhand along with senior Narmada Bachao Andolan activist Chittarupa Palit and 250 men and women continue their Jal Satryagraha while 3000 people are sitting on dharna alongside.
Narmada Bachao Andolan warns the Government that if the water level is not reduced immediately and no immediate steps are taken to rehabilitate the affected people, they will not hesitate to give up their lives and the struggle will be intensified.
Alok Agarwal, Radheshyam Tirole, Mansaram Bhai, Sakubai, Kalabai, Radhabai