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Sign on letter to protest Narmada Dam, India/LS (fwd)

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From owner-irn-safrica@igc.org  Fri Aug 13 12:40:21 1999
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Date: Fri, 13 Aug 1999 09:35:51 -0700
From: lori@irn.org (Lori Pottinger)
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Subject: Sign on letter to protest Narmada Dam, India/LS
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>Dear friends,
>The struggle continues in the Narmada Valley against the Sardar Sardovar
>As you may have read in the newspaper or in our first e-mail, the supreme
>court of India decided in February to allow the further construction of the
>Sardar Sarovar dam: an increase in the height from 81 to 88 meters. This
>would result in a submergence of an additional 2500 tribal families from
>about 50 to 60 villages in the three states of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and
>Maharashtra. Since then, the height has been increased to 85 metres. This
>means that twelve thousand people are now at risk of losing their homes and
>their lands due to submergence during the current monsoon.
>Aware that there are only totally inadequate rehabilitation schemes (or
>none at all), and unwilling to surrender their way of life to the idea of
>"development" the adivasis (tribals) and peasants of the Narmada valley
>have decided to resist  the dam and stay in their villages.
>For more information, see the latest press release of the NBA movement
>printed below.
>We ask you to express your opposition to this project and your solidarity
>with the people of the Narmada valley.
>We will send the letter below - along with all the signatures that we are
>going to receive - to the Prime Minister of India, Chief ministers of the
>States of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra and several Indian
>embassies in Europe and the USA.
> If you agree in sending this letter in your name or the name of your
>organisation, please sign and send to our email adress:
>playfair@asta.rwth-aachen.de  before August 19th.
>Thanks for your support,
>Play Fair Europe!
>2-NBA PRESS RELEASE 12th august 99
>Honourable Prime Minister Vajpayee, honourable Chief Ministers,
>        A few weeks ago, when we heard and read that women, men and
>children of the Narmada Valley were about to face submergence, that they
>would be drawn together with their villages, crops, cattle, worship sites
>and shrines, a freezing chill went down our spine. All these people are
>going to be uprooted, their livelihoods destroyed forever and will become
>oustees, foreigners in their own country. This is the reward they will get
>for having lived in harmony with their surroundings for centuries without
>harming anyone. Try for a moment to imagine how you would feel if from
>morning to night your house was torn apart, your family beaten up and all
>of you sent to different places where you would not know anyone and would
>have to start from scratch, unable even to speak the language or to
>cultivate   a  barren and useless land
>        We find it very hard to believe that you, the Prime Minister of one
>of the most bewitching nations of the  world , the political head  of
>Mother India, is able to inflict so much harm upon innocent people. Do you
>think, Mr. Vajyapee that this is the right way to treat human beings? We
>reckon that it is very easy for you to give your approval to a project that
>will take place many kilometers away from you, and  that will not harm any
>of your relatives and friends. Why donīt you go to the area you are
>planning to submerge and talk to the people and ask them for their opinion
>for once? Why  donīt you appreciate  the beauty of the Narmadaīs flow and
>the life that this river creates endlessly? We are sure that once you meet
>those people, once you talk to them and realise the amount of things you
>could learn from them, you would  stop seeing them as rats that  run away
>when they see their lives in danger. Maybe only then you would realise the
>extent of the crime you are about to commit. Maybe only then you would be
>appalled  by how easily you can make decisions that cause havoc to people
>and nature.
>        We will not start arguing about the pros and cons of this dam, we
>consider that its consequences would never justify its construction. We are
>outraged by the instrumentalisation that you make of people in
>drought-prone  areas  to justify a megalomaniac  project that will only
>benefit urban elites and rich farmers.
>We would like to remind you that as Gandhi said, harm itself is considered
>as a form of partial death. It includes not only physical injury, but also
>all forms of pain, including depriving persons of their livelihood or
>intimidating them. Violence could be committed personally, it could be
>instigated or aided, or it could be condoned by observing it without
>protest. And he was a defendor of ahimsa or the minimum or least possible
>violence. We would also like to remind you that the Mahabarata  recommends
>to follow a mode of living that is founded upon a total harmlesness towards
>all creatures.
>        We therefore request you to stop inmediatly the works on the Sarar
>Sardovar dam in order to avoid the suffering of so many people, and the
>submergence of so many communities, self-reliant livelihoods, cultures, and
>unique traces of ancient civilisations.
>2) NBA PRESS RELEASE 12th August, 1999
>   [Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!]
>        The tribals and peasants of the Narmada valley dared the swirling
>backwaters of the infamous Sardar Sarovar Project for over 15 hours  before
>they were arrested on   Wednesday evening ( August 11) by the Maharashtra
>police. About 62  satyagrahis including 19 women   were arrested along with
>the Ranya  Padvi, Devram Kanera and Medha  Patkar of the first batch of the
>samarpit dal (dedicated squad). The people were facing the rapidly
>increasing waters of Sardar Sarovar dam, which eventually went up to waist
>height. The police had
>to resort to dragging, beating to arrest the satyagrahis.
>        However, the satyagraha of Jalsindhi (M.P.) continued while  the
>water came perilously close to the satyagraha site. The people  with the
>veteran Sitarambhai, Luvariyabhai and Rehmat leading  the satyagrahis to
>face the water. By Wednesday evening the water level stabilised some two
>feet  below the satyagraha place. In  Domkhedi also, immediately after
>the arrest the new batch of  satyagrahis continued the action.
>         The backwaters of Sardar Sarovar  Project(SSP) started rising from
>the morning on August 10. At   Rajghat, near Badwani in M.P. in the
>upstream, the river level rose  from 118 meters to 124 and further 126
>meters within a few hours. This has been a result of the combined effect of
>the releases from the upstream dams of Bargi (30,000 cusecs), Tawa (28,000
>cusecs) and Barna (30,000 cusecs) some three days before. As a
>consequence, the water level at  the Satyagraha places of    Jalsindhi. At
>Domkhedi, by the  evening the backwaters reached   near the Satyagraha
>         After midnight, the water entered  in Satyagraha house. Soon the
>50-60 satyagrahis, including Medha  Patkar, Devram Kanera and the   veteran
>Ranyabhau Padvi were   engulfed by knee deep waters. The people shouted
>slogans against the   dam and the unjust submergence. They did not move out
>even when
>the waters reached to waste high by the morning. The "samarpit dal" (
>dedicated squad), of Medha, Ranyabhau and Devrambhai asked other people to
>move out of the submergence waters, but all of them stayed there. The
>police was nowhere to be seen till the next evening. During the whole day,
>the sayagrahis were facing the increasing waters while the  police were
>making merry at the higher camp and some indulging in  the liquor as it was
>the "gataari amavaas" ( dirty first-moon day).
>         After about 15 hours in the submergence waters, the higher police
>and administrative  officials from Nandurbar arrived in the evening of 11th
>August.They included Mr. Nimglohn, the Additional Inspector General of
>Police of Maharashtra, Mr. Koregaonkar, the District Police Chief, Mr.
>Shrimali, the infamous Collector of Nandurbar and other officials. Under
>their supervision the satyagrahis were dragged,  beaten and were arrested.
>In all 62 people including 19 women were arrested. They were taken to
>Dhadgaon. They were arrested under sections 68-69 of Bombay Police Act. The
>satyagraha area in and around Domkhedi was declared as prohibited area
>under s.144 of IPC.
>         As an aside, the Additional Chief Secretary of Maharashtra, Mr.
>Ranganathan and Rehabilitation Secretary Mr. Nandlal cam to  Dhadgaon to
>discuss the matters  with the satyagrahis. But the people refused to
>discuss the things when they were being arrested. The police asked the
>people to provide guarantee in writing that they would not attempt to
>commit suicide. The satyagrahis answered back that, it was the government
>which intended them to drown when they were in their house. Immediately
>after the arrest, the next batch of the satyagrahis took charge and resumed
>the satyagraha.
>                                        Sanjay Sangvai
>More information :http://www.narmada.org

      Lori Pottinger, Director, Southern Africa Program, 
        and Editor, World Rivers Review
           International Rivers Network
              1847 Berkeley Way, Berkeley, California 94703, USA
                  Tel. (510) 848 1155   Fax (510) 848 1008

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