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Narmada project is symptomatic of "obnoxious" political culture, Yogendra Yadav tells anti-dam rally

By Our Representative
In a move that may invite strong reactions in Gujarat, well-known academic Yogendra Yadav, who leads the nascent political outfit, Swaraj Abhiyan, has declared that the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) “is symptomatic of the obnoxious political culture of the country”. Yadav was addressing an anti-dam Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) rally in Badwani, Madhya Pradesh.
The top academic-turned-politician told the dam oustees, protesting against the ongoing construction of the dam from 121.92 metres to 138.64 metres, “The illegality and inhumanity of the SSP, is now exposed in the courts and on the field and the government must stop installation of the gates of the Dam forthwith.”
Throwing his weight behind the NBA, Yadav said, “Even as we have to resist the height of the SSP and weight of the political bigwigs tooth and nail, we must also move towards strengthening an alternative political culture and system, based on the cherished values of the movements of this country”.
“This is not development, it is political arrogance”, he declared, adding, “The politics of this country should learn from movements, if it must be truly pro-people.”
Oustees from the three states, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat, were present at the rally, where the effort of the NBA was to disprove the “claims of rehabilitation” being made by the respective state governments to state the need to take the dam height to the full reservoir level.
 Medha Patkar, who has already thrown her weight behind the Swaraj Abhiyan, which broke away from the Aam Admi Party (AAP) early this year, questioned the reluctance of the Government of India to reviewing mega dam projects across the country, which she said have “led to massive environmental degradation and displacement of millions of people, over the past 60 years.”
Patkar said, “Sardar Sarovar is a classic example of failure of large dams”, adding, the government “must be held accountable to the nation; not only for the Rs 90,000 crores investment, but also for the sacrifice of 2.5 lakh people and its cozy relationships with the corporates. We will not allow the gates to be installed and we will fight with our life. 'Our challenge is greater than that of government's.”
The rally, which took place at Rajghat, on the banks of Narmada river in Badwani, off Gujarat borders, saw participation from activists from several civil society organizations, political groups, intellectuals, artists, ending after passing a Rajghat Resolve. The “resolve” reminded the authorities that the oustees were in fact the real owners”of their acquired lands and houses.
“Exactly a year ago, on August 24, 2014, thousands of oustees declared that they were the owners of the acquired properties as per the new Land Acquisition Act, since possession continues to remain with the people, since 10-15 years”, an NBA statement said.
Speaking on the occasion, activists NBA activists Shanta behan and Shanno behan, both oustees, said Modi was “busy rehabilitating those who have supported his party in the elections, including Adani, Ambani and Coca-Cola; but there is no rehabilitation or rights for us.”
Senior Gandhain Anil Trivedi said that the 30-years struggle of Narmada was “testimony to the fact that not just Gandhian thought, but the practical possibilities of non-violence struggle are still possible and even effective.”
Advocate Aradha Bharghav of Kisan Sangrash Samiti, Chhindwada, said the protagonists of the anti-farmer policies of the Central and state governments should know that “the country can survive without Collectors and corporates, but not without the crops of the common farmers.”
Peace activist and socialist Dr Sandeep Pandey, who just returned from the Veda Dam affected areas, stated that “in dam after dam and state after state, the issues, challenges and political insensitivity is similar”.

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