Skip to main content

Iconic Irom Sharmila, Manipur human rights activist, backs anti-Narmada dam stir, wants Modi to rehab oustees

Irom Sharmila
By Our Representative
Some of India's top personalities, including iconic Manipur social activist Irom Sharmila, well-known right to information (RTI) activist Aruna Roy and filmmaker Anand Patwardhan, have asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi not to allow the Narmada dam's gates to be closed till completion of the rehabilitation of thousands of oustees.
Sharmila's decision to join the cause of the Narmada oustees is considered significant, as she – known as the "Iron Lady"or "Mengoubi" ("the fair one") was on hunger strike from November 2, 2000, to August 9, 2016, to protest against the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, which gives immunity to security forces from allegations of human rights violations.
Others who have signed a letter to Modi are Shankar Singh of the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan; Admiral (retd) L Ramdas, former Chief of Naval Staff; Lalita Ramdas, human rights activist; Harsh Mander, bureaucrat-turned-social worker; Maj Gen SGVombatkere, VSM (retd), Mysuru; Dr Sunilam, former MLA, Madhya Pradesh; and Suhas Kolhekar, National Alliance of People's Movements.
Asking Modi to engage with the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), which they say has been representing the Narmada dam oustees for the last 31 years, in a dialogue, “aiming to develop a just and complete rehabilitation plan”, the letter notes that, it is “with a heavy heart” that they want to bring to his attention the “plight of the communities affected by the Narmada dam.”
The letter says, “We are sure that you are conversant with a lot of facts about the dam, having relentlessly pushed the dam height as the chief minister of Gujarat, despite the rehabilitation far from complete, and having given clearance to complete the dam, with gates, on the 17th day of your Prime Ministership.”
“However”, it adds, “The fact is that there are thousands of families and a few lakhs of people residing in the villages, who yet to be rehabilitated”, something which either the officials are willfully concealing from him, or he failing “to take cognisance of.”
The letter underlines, “There are no less that 15,900 families who are declared to be outside the submergence zone (even after granting them part of the rehabilitation entitlements) with a stroke of a pen, that too after 30 years since the dam was planned and approved.”
Saying that this is “something which astonishes us to no limit”, the letter says, “Can the lives of our citizens be so valueless that a few bureaucrats can play around with their plight as effortlessly as this?”
“As a Prime Minister who ran an election campaign on anti-corruption plank, we expected you to take exemplary action against officials in Madhya Pradesh involved in the corruption as exposed by Justice SS Jha Commission, unearthing corruption to the tune of not less than Rs 1,500 crore in the fake sale deeds of land meant for the affected communities”, the letter says.
It adds, “Instead, we are witnessing an endorsement of the same, with you and the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh taking no action, and instead, letting to go the dam complete based on false records.”
The letter points out, “Hundreds of people displaced in 1960s because of the dam are sitting on a relay fast in Kevadia Colony since last June 15, demanding full rehabilitation and employment, yet the Gujarat government has taken no initiative for a composite dialogue.”
This is apart from hundreds of women and men affected by the dam is on a Satyagraha at Badwani, Madhya Pradesh since July 30, all of whom are also seeking to be rehabilitated, the letter says.

Comments

TRENDING

Telangana govt proposes to give unfettered powers to forest officials, 'help' corporates

By Dr Palla Trinadha Rao*
The Telangana Government is contemplating to replace the Telangana Forest Act 1967 with a new law - the Telangana Forest Act (TFA) 2019, trampling the rights of adivasis ensured under the Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 (FRA Act 2006) and Panchayats Extension to Schedule Area (PESA) Act 1996 both of which are central acts.

RSS, Hindu Mahasabha were 'subservient' to British masters: Nagpur varsity VC told

Counterview Desk
Well-known political scientist Shamsul Islam, associate professor (retired), University of Delhi, in an open letter to the vice-chancellor of the Rashtrasant Tukadoji Maharaj Nagpur University, Dr Siddharthavinayaka P Kane, has taken strong exception to the varsity decision to include RSS’ “role” in nation building in the syllabus of the BA (history) course, citing instances to say that the RSS ever since its birth in 1925 with its Hindutva allies like Hindu Mahasabha led by VD Savarkar worked overtime to “betray the glorious anti-colonial freedom struggle”.

British companies export 'deadly' asbestos to India, other countries from offshore offices

By Rajiv Shah
“The Sunday Times”, which forms part of the powerful British daily, “The Times”, has raised the alarm that though the “deadly” asbestos is banned in Britain, companies registered in United Kingdom, and operating from other countries, “are involved in shipping it to developing nations”, especially India. India, Brazil, Russia and China account for almost 80% of the asbestos consumed globally every year, it adds.

One lakh schools closed down, draft policy 'seeks' commercialisation: Whither RTE?

By Our Representative
A national consultation on the new draft National Education Policy (NEP) with senior experts, teachers’ association representatives and other stakeholders at the India International Centre in New Delhi on July 11, organised by the Right to Education (RTE) Forum, has expressed serious concern over curtailment in the budgeted expenditure on education year after year, even as closure of more than one lakh schools over the "last few years."

Beijing-based infrastructure bank 'funding' India's environmentally risky projects

By Our Representative
A new civil society note has questioned the operations of the Beijing-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a multilateral development bank that aims to support the building of infrastructure in the Asia-Pacific region, seeking to fund projects in India through the Government of India’s National Infrastructure Investment Fund (NIIF), calling it “a risky venture”.

Gender budgeting? Govt of India allocates just 2.1%, 0.73% for SC, ST women

By Rajiv Shah
The National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR), one of the most influential all-India Dalit rights networks, has taken strong exception to the manner in which the Government of India has undermined Gender Responsive Budgeting in the Union Budget 2019-20 for scheduled castes (SCs) and scheduled tribes (STs), pointing towards “wide gaps” between the goals and the situational reality of “the Dalit and Adivasi women on the ground.”

Universal healthcare? India lacks provisions to 'fight' non-communicable diseases

By Moin Qazi*
Universal health coverage (UHC) -- ensuring that all people receive proper and adequate health care without suffering financial hardship -- is an integral part of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. It enables countries to make the most of their strongest asset: human capital.

Include all workers exposed to silica dust in anti-TB programme: Govt of India told

Counterview Desk
In a letter, sponsored by well-known civil rights organization, Occupational & Environmental Health Network of India and signed by more than 60 professionals and activists*, Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, has been told that Indian policy makers shouldn't just acknowledge higher TB risk to mine and stone crusher workers, but also “other silica-exposed workers”.

Polygamy in India "down" in 45 yrs: Muslims' from 5.7 to 2.55%, Hindus' 5.8 to 1.77%, "common" in SCs, STs

By Rajiv Shah
Amidst All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) justifying polygamy, saying it “meets social and moral needs and the provision for it stems from concern and sympathy for women”, facts suggest the the practice is down from 5.7 per cent of Muslim families in 1961 to 2.55 per cent in 2006.

Mental health: India's 95% patients "deprived" of medical care, treatment gap 70%

By Moin Qazi*
Among the many challenges India faces, the most underappreciated is the ongoing mental health crisis. Mental illness is actually India’s ticking bomb. An estimated 56 million Indians suffer from depression, and 38 million from anxiety disorders. For those who suffer from mental illness, life can seem like a terrible prison from which there is no hope of escape; they are left forlorn and abandoned, stigmatized, shunned and misunderstood.