Skip to main content

Footmarch against Narmada dam height begins, warns of "fraudulent" submergence calculation

By Our Representative
The Narmada yatra to protest the ongoing construction of the Narmada dam, which is being raised 121.92 metres to 138.64 metres, began at Khalghat in Madhya Pradesh on August 6 under the leadership of Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) leader Medha Patkar. Being carried out along the Narmada river, and targeting villages that come on way, padyatra participants warned villagers that the construction, when completed, will mean “watery grave” to them.
The padyatra or footmarch is being held against the backdrop of the decision of the Narmada Control Authority (NCA), the official body responsible for allowing different stages of construction of the dam on the basis of resettlement of the oustees, to calculate back water level (BWL) at 144.62 metres. This would mean that only those who would face Narmada floods up to 144.62 metres at Khalghat, for instance, would be resettled.
NBA said, “As per website data of the Government of Gujarat of March 2015, the BWL of Khalghat is shown as 149.84 metres.” It believed, with this calculation, at least 16,000 people would be exposed to submergence, especially during floods.
This is “as one of the biggest frauds of our times, it said, adding, "The NCA has in the name of 'revision' of BWL unlawfully and unscientifically thrown 16,000 families 'out of submergence', all of who were previously declared as 'affected' and were to be given resettlement benefits.” 
 To reach Rajghat in Badwani -- situated about 70 kilometres away, not very far from the borders of Gujarat -- on August 12, an NBA communique on the footmarch said, “As the Government of India races ahead to complete the monstrous Narmada dam upto 139 metres, with installation of 17 metres of radial gates, sounding the death knell of 2.5 lakh people in the Narmada valley, thousands of affected villages gear up for an intense struggle to face the rising waters and the might of the state, challenging the illegal genocide in the hilly and plain areas.”
Calling it “development without rehabilitation”, the NBA claimed, the “Jevan Adhikar Yatra” was getting support of “hundreds of women, men and children”, who are coming forward to welcome the footmarchers “with banners, slogans, drum beats, jingles, songs and dance demanded the 'Right to Life', questioning the destruction being forced upon them, by the submergence of living
communities in the name of progress”.
With plans afoot to begin an indefinite satyagraha on the banks of Rajghat from August 12, Sarvodayaist Chinmay Mishra told one of the meetings on way, marking Hiroshima Day on August 8, that, thanks to pressure from the people along Narmada river, the Narendra Modi government is considering to drop its decision to amend the Land Acquisition Act (LAA), 2013. The amendment required dropping crucial consent and social impact asssessment clauses from the LAA.
Patkar stressed, “After 30 years of resilience, the present phase of the struggle is the most crucial test for the NBA and the people of the valley.” She qualified it as “a battle between justice and injustice, between truth and lies, between development and destruction”, adding, “It is a choice between life and death, and we don’t have a choice, but struggle.” She administered a vow to the oustees of the Narmada protect to fight on with waters in their hands.
Senior anti-mining activist from the National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), Rajasthan, Kailash Meena, addressing villagers, stressed on the need to resist “the onslaught on the land, lives and livelihoods of the natural-resource based communities.” Chetan Salve, another activist, asked the oustees, majority of whom are adivasis, to cling on to their right to land and obtained land-based rehabilitation at resettlement sites, instead of getting cash.
The footmarch received support from volunteers of the Programme for Social Action, Delhi; Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan, Mumbai; and Ferguson College, Pune. During their interaction, said NBA, they “met and interacted with hundreds of farmers, landless, fish workers, shopkeepers and other oustees in the villages of Manavar and Dharampuri tehsils, encountering thousands of cases of denial of right to alternative land, house plots, alternative livelihood.”
“Most of them continue to remain in the original villages where schools, panchayats, temples, mosques, shops, countless trees exist, along with the agriculture and livelihoods. Very few families have shifted to the resettlement sites, where the civic amenities as per law are still unavailable or inadequate and many sites are still uninhabitable, with severe problems of water, health”, NBA added.

Comments

TRENDING

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Union budget 'mum' on relief to marginalised communities facing climate change impact

Counterview Desk  ActionAid, an international advocacy group which claims to work for a world without poverty, patriarchy and injustice, has wondered if the Union budget 2023-24, which is being acclaimed for providing succour to the middle classes, has anything to offer to the India's poor. In a statement, it said, while the budget may have "prioritised inclusive development", the financial outlay for ensuring it "does not show the zeal as hoped." Stating that the Finance Minister said Rs 35,000 crore revenue would have to be "forgone" due to a reduction in personal income taxes, "fiscal prudence is not enough to expand public employment, social security, welfare, education and health expenditures considerably." "The need of the hour is to raise revenues through the reduction of revenues forgone and innovative mechanisms such as wealth tax on super accumulation of wealth", it added. Text: The Union Budget 2023 has given significant

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

How lead petitioner was rendered homeless when GM mustard matter came up in SC

By Rosamma Thomas*  On January 5, 2023, the Supreme Court stayed a December 20, 2022 direction of the Uttarakhand High Court to the Indian Railways and the district administration of Haldwani to use paramilitary forces to evict thousands of poor families occupying land that belonged to the railways.  Justice AS Oka remarked that it was not right to order the bringing in of paramilitary forces. The SC held that even those who had no rights, but were living there for years, needed to be rehabilitated. On December 21, 2022, just as she was getting ready to celebrate Christmas, researcher Aruna Rodrigues was abruptly evicted from her home in Mhow Cantonment, Madhya Pradesh – no eviction notice was served, and nearly 30 Indian Army soldiers bearing arms were part of the eviction process. What is noteworthy in this case is that the records establishing possession of the house date back to 1892 – the title deed with the name of Dr VP Cardoza, Rodrigues’ great grandfather, is dated November 14

Why no information with Assam state agency about female rhino poaching for a year?

By Nava Thakuria   According to official claims, incidents of poaching related to rhinoceros in various forest reserves of Assam in northeast India have decreased drastically. Brutal laws against the poachers, strengthening of ground staff inside the protected forest areas and increasing public awareness in the fringe localities of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries across the State are the reasons cited for positively impacting the mission to save the one-horned rhinos. Officials records suggest, only two rhinos were poached in Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve since 1 January 2021 till date. The last incident took place probably in the last week of December 2021, as a decomposed carcass of a fully-grown (around 30 years old) female rhino was recovered inside the world-famous forest reserve next month. As the precious horn was missing, for which the gigantic animal was apparently hunted down, it could not be a natural death. Ironically, however, it was not confirmed when

Civil rights leaders allege corporate loot of resources, suppression of democratic rights

By Our Representative  Civil rights activists have alleged, quoting top intelligence officers as also multiple international forensic reports, that recent developments with regard to the Bhima Koregaon and the Citizenship Amendment Act-National Register of Citizens (CAA-NRC) cases suggest, there was "no connection between the Elgaar Parishad event and the Bhima Koregaon violence." Activists of the Campaign Against State Repression (CASR) told a media event at the HKS Surjeet Bhawan, New Delhi, that, despite this, several political prisoners continue to be behind bars on being accused under the anti-terror the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Addressed by family members of the political prisoners, academics, as well as social activists, it was highlighted how cases were sought to be fabricated against progressive individuals, democratic activists and intellectuals, who spoke out against "corporate loot of Indian resources, suppression of basic democratic

Kerala natural rubber producers 'squeezed', attend to their plight: Govt of India told

By Rosamma Thomas   Babu Joseph, general secretary of the National Federation of Rubber Producers Societies (NFRPS) at a recent discussion at Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, explained that it is high time the Union government paid greater heed to the troubles plaguing the rubber production sector in India – rubber is a strategic product, important for the military establishment and for industry, since natural rubber is still used in the manufacture of tyres for large vehicles and aeroplanes. Synthetic rubber is now quite widespread, but styrene, which is used in making synthetic rubber and plastics, and also butadiene, another major constituent of synthetic rubber, are both hazardous. Prolonged exposure to these even in recycled rubber can cause neurological damage. Kerala produces the bulk of India’s natural rubber. In 2019-20, Kerala’s share in the national production of rubber was over 74%. Over 20% of the gross cropped area in the state is under rubber cultivation, with total

Lack of welfare schemes, BSF curbs force West Bengal farmers to migrate far away

Counteview Desk  In a representation to the National Human Rights Commission chairperson, a senior West Bengal based activist has complained that villagers living near the border with Bangladesh are forced to migrate to as far away as Mumbai and Kerala because of lack of government sensitivity towards their welfare in original villages. Giving specific instances, Kirity Roy, secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), said, if the Border Security Force (BSF) had not put any restriction on agricultural activities, and if villages had properly implemented welfare schemes, these people would never migrate to other States. Text: I want to attract your immediate attention to the inhumane condition of the migrated workers of Gobra village, Swarupnagar Block in North 24 Parganas district of West Bengal to seek your urgent intervention to protect the rights of these people. Gobra is a village situated near the Indo-Bangladesh Border where the border fencing is about 500 meters i

Bangladesh 'rights violations': US softens stance, fears increased clout of China, India

By Tilottama Rani Charulata*  In December 2021, in addition to the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), the United States imposed sanctions on seven former and current officers of the force, alleging serious human rights violations. Benazir Ahmed and former RAB-7 commander Miftah Uddin Ahmed were banned from entering the US. RAB as an institution was also canceled the support it was getting from the US and its allies. At the same time, those under the ban have been notified of confiscation of assets held abroad. The anti-crime and anti-terrorism unit of the Bangladesh Police, RAB is the elite force consisting of members of the Bangladesh Army, Bangladesh Police, Bangladesh Navy, Bangladesh Air Force, Border Guard Bangladesh, Bangladesh Civil Service and Bangladesh Ansar, and has been criticized by rights groups for its use of extrajudicial killings and is accused of forced disappearances. The government of Bangladesh has been insisting about lifting the ban on RAB, but the US had till recen