Dam and Canal affected farmers and adivasis demand right to life and land

The indefinite Jeevan Adhikar Yatra taken up by the adivasis, farmers and fish workers of Sardar Sarvoar, Jobat Dams and Indira Sagar (ISP) and Omkareshwar IOSP) canals proceeded in full swing today, as it criss-crossed through various villages of the Narmada region, echoing slogans of “Narmada Ghati ko dubaane ka faisla radd karo” (Take back the decision to submerge the Narmada Valley) and “Rehne do Jeene do, Maa Narmada ko behne do”…(Let us live, let us stay, Let Mother Narmada flow in all her majesty). Read more

Thanking the villagers of Chhota Barda, who hosted them for the night, the andolankaris crossed the Narmada in boats and canoes and rallied into the villages of Semalda and Karoli in Manawar Tehsil of Dhar District that are facing the challenge of their prime agricultural land (which is already affected by the Sardar Saovar dam) being gobbled up by the huge canals of the Indira Sagar and Omkareshwar. The villagers asserted in unison that that they will not permit the Government to destroy their lands that is already irrigated by the Narmada and demanded an immediate review of the projects, as directed by the Jabalpur High Court.

Led by octogenarian Gandhian and Samajwadi leader Shri Shambunath Gupta from Hoshangabad, the rally marched on foot for the second day as well with the hundreds of adivasis women braving the heat of the sun and the might of the state to demand their rights. “Whether the Government will allow these struggling women and men to tread the peaceful path of Gandhi, Mahavir and Buddha or will it close its doors to dialogue, forcing people to challenge the State, the people of the valley and the nation demand an answer”, said Guptaji.

Addressing the farmers of Karoli, Fagram Bhai from Adivasi Kisan Sanghthan warned that the people will have to face the fate of the Tawa dam displaced who stand already submerged, without any land in return, where in fact new projects are coming up today if they do not stop this unjust and unnecessary displacement. “You still have time to wake up and it will be too late, if you don’t fight today, here and now, he said. He also questioned the sensitivity of the State which has projects and schemes to save tigers (which is certainly needed), but none to ensure that the displaced get land and regain their livelihood with dignity, which is unfortunate and in fact unconstitutional.

From Karoli, the yatra trucked towards Manavar tehsil where a huge public meeting was called, where many farmers affected by the SSP and the ISP-OSP canals spoke and affirmed their resolve to fight for their land and rights.

Prasad Bagve from Pune struggling against the Karla SEZ questioned as to how the State has thousands of hectares of land to dole away to profit-making corporates while it always gives a negative and even violent response to the adivasis demanding a patch of earth, their rightful share?!

Naani behen, fish worker from Kaorli roared, “Is the State so incapable that it cannot even guarantee to me my right of fish? Following her was Kunwar Singh, affected by the Jobat dam said, “After all these years of unjust displacement, we ask straight questions and demand specific answers from the State”, leading the gathering into loud slogans of “Sawaal lekar aaye hain ..Jawaab lekar jaayenge. Surbahn Bhilala from Kakrana in Alirajpur condemned the Madhya Pradesh Government that is going ahead submerging more and more people, without providing them land, after more than 15 years of submergence.

He rebuked the State that is sitting on a mountain of unchecked corruption by officials and touts, depriving the displaced.

The Jeevan Adhikar Yatra is on its way to address the villagers of Bakaner and Dharampuri tehsil and will then proceed towards Dhamnod where a large public meeting is to be addressed by various activists and members of people’s organizations today evening. The yatra will later proceed on foot and in trucks towards Rahu and reach GPO, Indore tomorrow morning where large a large gathering of supporters from Indore will welcome the march. The people will then walk towards Vijay Nagar to seek answers from the Narmada Control Authority and the rationale of displacing 2 lakh people when the costs of the dam have increased ten time with just 10% benefits.

The Indefinite action towards true development and against unjust displacement goes on.