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India: Eminent Citizens from 15 states declare support to thousands of Sardar Sarovar oustees in Mass Land-Livelihood Convention

24 August 2015

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Rajghat Resolve passed at Narmada Jeevan Adhikaar Satyagraha

Nation and Nature are with Narmada Valley; not Narendra Modi

Eminent Citizens from 15 states declare rock-solid support to thousands of Sardar Sarovar oustees in Mass Land-Livelihood Convention

Sardar Sarovar: Symbol of Political Conspiracy and Corporate Loot

24th August, 2015: “We are with Narmada Ghati, Not with Narendra Modi”, declared eminent citizens and supporters from across the country who joined thousands of oustees from the Sardar Sarovar project affected regions on the 13th day of the indefinite Jeevan Adhikar Satyagraha on the banks of Narmada today. Sardar Sarovar, is one of the worst symbols of political conspiracy and corporate loot and we will intensify the 30 years long struggle to ensure justice to the lakhs of people and environment of the valley and also to assert our development paradigm, based on justice and equity, not “jhoot” and “loot”, declared the valley and the supporters, in a united voice during the Mass Convention on Land, Livelihood and Housing Rights organized at Rajghat, Badwani today.

Numerous representatives of people’s movements, political groups, social organizations, intellectuals, artists, activists passed the “Rajghat Resovle” in the middle of Narmada, in the presence of thousands of adivasis-farmers, fish workers, landless workers, potters etc, who have embarked on an indefinite struggle against the Sardar Sardar Project, with renewed strength as “owners” of their acquired lands and houses. Exactly a year ago, on 24th Aug, 2014; thousands of oustees declared that they are “owners” of the acquired properties as per the New Land Acquisition Act, since possession continues to remain with the people, since 10-15 years. Once again, today the people thundered that neither the Sardar Saroavar nor Sarkar can submerge their lands and villages. [Copy of the Resolve and list of all participants enclosed.

Talking to the thousands of oustees, Yogendra Yadav from Swaraj Abhiyan and Jai Kisan Andolan said that Sardar Sarovar is symptomatic of the obnoxious political culture of the country. “The illegality and inhumanity of the SSP, is now exposed in the Courts and on the field and the Govt. must stop installation of the gates of the Dam forthwith”, he demanded. He also stated that “Even as 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 Andolans of this country”. “This is not development, it is political arrogance”, he said. The politics of this country should learn from the Andolans, if it must be truly pro-people, he said,

Oustees from the three states of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat spoke their hearts out and demolished the claims of “rehabilitation”, and stated that even in 2006, when the dam height were raised to 122 mts, thousands were yet to be rehabilitated and even as on date, thousands of farmers-adivasis are yet to get alternative land, alternative livelihood is nowhere in sight for the landless, fish workers are being denied the fishing rights. Mr. Modi is 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, said Shanta behan and Shanno behan.

Senior Gandhain activist, Shri Anil Trivedi said that the 30 years struggle of Narmada is testimony to the fact that not just Gandhian thought, but the practical possibilities of non-violence struggle are still possible and even effective. The Andolan is a living University of non-violence and is both a re-invention of Gandhi and re-assertion of Ambedkar, at the same time. Adv. Aradha Bharghav, Kisan Sangrash Samiti, Chhindwada challenged the anti-farmer policies of the Central and state governments and said that the country can survive without Collectors and corporates, but not without the crops of the common kisaan.

Eminent Peace Activist and leader of Socialist Party (I) 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. What we need in these trying times are united struggle against the political malaise. He declared that the dam work being illegal, it must stop immediately and a review of the Project must be initiated.

Speaking on behalf of the entire adivasi belt, Ghokru, Noorji and Jikubhai from the 3 states accused the Govt. of betraying the fundamental constitutional values and committing mass atrocity on the tribals, by limiting the special protection to scheduled areas and PESA Act only to paper. We have not consented to the SSP, to the fraud land acquisition and R&R process. Sitting in the rally of 20 boats in Narmada, they said, “Narmada Valley is ours” Sardar Sarovar is yours”. Shivraj-Modi Go Back.

Activists Mahendra Kumar and Kamayani Swami saluted the struggle of the Narmada Valley spanning over 4 generations and said the entire country stands with the valley. CK Janu of Adivasi Gotra Sabha lashed out at Narendra Modi for his cruelty to the Narmada Valley and his approach in treating the people. She said the curse of the ordinary people of his country will hit him very soon. She equated the struggles between the adivasis at Kerala and Narmada and stated that the adivasis-dalits of the country must launch an intense battle to preserve their identities, dignity, right and resources in this country.

Subhas Lomte called for a joint action by the workers of the urban and rural areas to defeat the anti-worker approach of the present Govt. Modi will have to retract very soon, just as he did on the Land Acquistion Bill, he said. Raj Kumar Sinha and Navratan Dubey condemned the corporatization in the name of development and said whether Bargi, where the dam water is being diverted for nuclear plant or SSP, where water is give to Coca Cola, the anti-poor approach of the State is crystal clear and we must unite to defeat this hoax of development.

Medha Patkar questioned the reluctance of the Govt. in reviewing mega dam projects across the country, which have led to massive environmental degradation and displacement of millions of people, over the past 60 years. She pointed out to Sardar Sarovar as a classic example of failure of large dams and said the Govt. must be held accountable to the nation; not only for the 90,000 crores investment, but also for the sacrifice of 2.5 lakh people and its cozy relationships with the corporate. We will not allow the gates to be installed and we will fight with our life, she said. ’’Our challenge is greater than that of government’s’’ , she added.

Numerous students from different colleges in Delhi, (including Ramjass, Furguesson, TISS, Malegaon etc.) expressed solidarity and stated that what is not taught in colleges and universities is learnt from the Andolans of this country and therefore “we come again and again”, to gain strength, wisdom and learn from the people, the everyday life.

Supporters of the Andolan at Badwani including the Congress Party called for a Badwani Bandh today in support of the people’s struggle against the Sardar Sarovar. Towns and cities, dependent on the villages are now beginning to understand and support Narmada. The struggle will intensify in the days to come, declared the eminent citizens and activists unitedly, with the people.

People decided to take the satyagraha to its next phase of intensity from tomorrow and expose all the false claims of the Govt, the denial of rehabilitation, ownership rights, illegal submergence and installation of gates, corporatization of dam-benefits and the political arrogance of the Centre and States.

Rahul Yadav Pema bhai Sunita Kamal

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