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Narmada dam oustees of 3 states to begin protest march on May 27, reach Bhopal for public hearing on June 4

By Our Representative
Starting along the banks of Narmada river off the Sardar Sarovar dam in Gujarat, the dam affected people of three states – Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra – will begin a week-long on May 27. Seeking to highlight the plight the displaced people, the march will reach Madhya Pradesh capital
Bhopal on June 4, where a public hearing is proposed to be organised.
To pass through Khalghat on May 29, Indore on May 31 and Sehore on June 2, rally organizers, the anti-dam Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), which has been fighting for resettlement and rehabilitation (R&R) of the dam oustees for three decades, has said that, apart from the farmers who have been uprooted because of the Sardar Sarovar dam, fishworkers and forest workers too would take part in the rally in large numbers.
“Farmers, including people dependent on nature and animal husbandry, fishworkers and forest workers will demand for debt free status and to get right the price for their produce. They will also demand withdrawal of false cases foisted upon farmers in the aftermath of Mandsaur killings”, the NBA said.
The rally is being organized a year after farmers' protest at Mandsaur in Madhya Pradesh, which began on June 1, took a violent turn on June 6, when five persons were killed in police firing.
NBA said, “Once again crisis looms large over land, agriculture, water and forests of the Narmada Valley. After uprooting millionsby building dams like Bargi, Indira Sagar, Omkareshwar, Maheshwar and Jobat, destroying fertile land, centuries old traditional villages, adivasis, farmers-agricultural workers, fishworkers and artisans have not been rehabilitated even until now.”
It added, “Sardar Sarovar oustees after struggling for 32 years have managed to get a few benefits but thousands of affected people of Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh have still not gotten justice. To challenge the unprecedented displacement in the name of development, once again, thousands of people will set out from the Valley.”
Among the demands the NBA-led rally has decided to put forward include restoration of the “rights of the gram sabhas of those displaced” to choose the type of development they want, an “independent, transparent and unbiased study” of the socio-economic effects, as also financing and long-term benefits of big projects, and “justifiable share from progress” to the affected people.
The statement said, the conditions of all rivers of the country are in the same condition as Narmada: Destruction of forests, attack of big dams and illegal sand mining, making the rivers die, denial of farmers and workers their right to resources and livelihood.
The statement said, “The impending elections have prompted chief minister Shivaraj Chauhan to promise enough water for Malwa along with 70 other cities”, at a time when “in downstream areas in Gujarat (areas below the dam) the youth are in anguish for deprived of land, water and jobs.”
“After pushing the three states into quagmire in the name of development, the Modi government and state governments of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh have only tried to gain political mileage in the name of Narmada waters”, hence the need to save Narmada, or “Narmada Bachao”, said NBA.
It further said, “Farmers, agricultural workers, fishworkers, cattle rearers, tribals and forest dwellers sustaining on forest produce, who will participate in the rally, will be demanding complete loan waiver”, adding, “In Madhya Pradesh, five farmers commit suicide every day. The state which gives loan waivers worth crores to corporates bears the moral responsibility to extend its support to farmers.”
“We demand minimum price of farm output as 1.5 times of cost, in food grains as well as cash crops and on vegetables, on fish and forest produce, and on milk. Cost should be fixed taking into account value of land and natural resources along with family labour that goes into farming”, NBA added.
Also taking exception to the Chutka Nuclear Plant and 13 thermal power plants, being built along Narmada, NBA said, “This means more diversion of waters and choking the river with ash.”

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