Press Release: 30 Years of Narmada Struggle: National Convention 28 July 2015

Narmada Struggle is a National Struggle for Peace, Justice and Democracy

MPs, Eminent Citizens, Experts and Social Activists express solidarity at National Convention on 30 Years of the Narmada struggle

Call upon the Govt. of India to review decision on SSP and expedite rehabilitation as per law and judicial orders

Scientists, academics, students, activists, parliamentarians, lawyers and others declare their support, solidarity and participation in the Padh-yatra and Satyagrah to be launched in the Narmada Valley from the 6th Of August

28th July, 2015, New Delhi: That the struggle of the people in the Narmada valley is symbolic of the struggle of millions of common people across the country and is a united fight to sustain peace, justice and democracy in these trying times, was the conclusion that emerged out of a day long Convention, organized on the eve of 30 years of relentless struggle by the Narmada Bachao Andolan in the Sardar Sarovar project affected areas for their legal, human and constitutional rights.

Gathering at the Constitution Club in New Delhi, more than two hundred people including many present and former MPs, Retired Judges, senior social activists, lawyers, artists, film makers, writers, technical experts, environmentalists, academics and young persons participated and expressed solidarity with the resilient adivasis, farmers, fisher people, landless and thousands of other Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) oustees who have been challenging the illegality of the raise in dam height in violation of the binding norms of the Narmada Tribunal and the Judgements of the Supreme Court. Numerous supporters from the Left parties were proffered. The Bhumi Adhikar Andolan also participated in the Convention.

Com. D. Raja, MP, CPI, Com Shri Ragish, MP, CPM, Shri Swamy, MP, Rajya Sabha Former CPM – MP, Shri Hannan Mollah extending their solidarity, stated that their state and national units would provide increased support to the Andolan and would mobilize political support for the cause, both inside and outside the Parliament. They condemned the anti-people nature of the NDA Govt. and called upon the Prime Minister to act within the confines of law, instead of taking the side of big business.

Affected people from the Valley highlighted that there is not enough understanding of what happens after displacement, with or without Rehabilitation and Resettlement. As Sanobar bi from Chikhalda village said, women have been the worse affected. Alluding to the Modi’s favorite Swacch Bharat Abhiyan, she said “of what use are toilets for people who have no homes or livelihood?!”.  Representatives from 3 states spoke of their 30 years of struggle and the gradual disintegration of their culture because of displacement, lack of good land, poor state of resettlement sites, massive corruption etc.

Veterans Shri Kuldip Nayyar, Admiral Ramdas and Jst. Retd. Rajinder Sachar, heard the representatives from the three states of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, stated that the struggle in Narmada is emblematic of what is happening in the whole country. They conveyed their complete solidarity and assured that they shall raise the issue at every possible fora.

The Convention began with a presentation by Com. Hannan Mollah, environmentalist Soumuya Dutta, senior socialist leader Dr. Sunilam and reservoir expert Dr. Raj Kachroo, who shared their findings and feelings after their visit to the valley and mentioned highlights from their Fact-Finding Report. They stated that the decision to raise the dam has serious implications on the lives of thousands of people, while on the ground rehabilitation with land and livelihood is far from over. The recent issue of throwing 16,000 families “out of submergence” on the basis of wrong back-water calculations was decried and a review was called for as also rehabilitation of all these oustees.

Activists from Gujarat including Rohit Prajapati, Lakhan Musafir, Sagar Rabari and Krishnakant exposed the hoax of “development” by SSP in Gujarat and questioned the fact that when less than 15% reservoir water is utilized, less than 30% canals have been built, why is there an urgency, on the basis of illegality to push the dam ahead? It is only for companies that lakhs of hecatres of land are being de-commanded and millions of litres of water are being doled out at throw away prices to bottled water companies? Apoorvanand, Delhi University reiterated the problem with such a development model gaining momentum in the country.

Medha Patkar reflected upon how initial concerns of environment, the destruction of local economy and adivasi cultures have all come true in the past 30 years. Admiral Ramdass, an old supporter of the NBA reiterated that: law has been far too slow and often misleading for people.  Adv. Sanjay Parikh, legal expert for NBA reflected on how the growing perception that struggling for environmental justice automatically means being ‘anti-development’ has also influenced the Judiciary – which is a grave concern. Shri Prajapati echoed the sentiment of the hall and stated if the Govt. has declared war against the people, the People are ready to accept the challenge.

Com. Annie Raja, NFIW; Kavita Shrivastava, PUCL, Shri K.B. Saxena, Former Secy, Govt. of India and expert on land issues, Suhas Borker, senior media person and many others spoke during various sessions and questioned the legality of the present dam work in the light of massive legal and human rights violations and huge backlog of R&R.  Adv. Sanjay Parikh expressed concern over how the growing perception of ‘raising environmental questions means anti-development’ is influencing the Judiciary.

The Convention concluded with strong resolution of those in the parliament as well those in the villages, cities and streets to carry forward and intensify the struggle for justice. The Andolan declared that there would be a padyatra in the whole of the valley starting from 6th of August from Khalghat till the 12th of August, ending at Rajghat, where a Satyagrah will be launched.

Delhi Solidarity Group, National Alliance of People’s Movements, Bhoomi Adhikar Andolan

For more details contact Vimal @9718479517 or Shabnam @9643349452


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