Jairam Ramesh promises Narmada visit on 10-11 April

Jairam Ramesh, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Environment and Forests, Government of India, has assured the affected communities to visit them in Narmada valley on 10-11 April 2011. Jairam Ramesh has made a mark as Environment minister by taking pro-people stands on many issues. However Jairam's support to the proposed Jaitpur Nuclear Power Plant in Maharashtra, India, has sent a negative signal.

A few hundred representatives of the villages affected by or to be affected by the Sardar Sarovar and Jobat Dam Projects as well as the massive canal network of Indira Sagar and Omkareshwar canals, where thousands of hectares of prime agricultural land is at stake reached the doorstep of the Ministry of Environment and Forests, flagging banners and shouting slogans expressing their indomitable strength and seeking accountability from the Ministry.

After a day long protest in the scorching heat by about two hundred adivasis, farmers and fish workers and an ultimatum to the MoEF, seeking firm decision of halting these destructive projects on the basis of the reports by the Ministry's own Expert Committee concluding total non-compliance on various clearance conditions, the Minister, Jairam Ramesh himself came down to the Ministry's gates and met the people at 6 pm in the evening.

Villagers Devram Kanera (village Khaparkheda), Gangabai (Village Nisarpur), Jalalbhai (Village Mandil), Rajendra (Village Taloon), Jagdish Patidar (Gogawa), Mansarambhai (Village Kothada), Karan Yadav (Village Pipri), Vijay, Manya, Oresing (Maharashtra) and many other women and men narrated their woes to him. They also submitted detailed memoranda on various issues pertaining to
SSP and ISP-OSP canals and also a demand letter to stop the destructive sand mining in the Narmada region. Taking forward the dialogue, Medha Patkar questioned the Ministry's silence and inaction on the crucial issues of the Dams and canals despite, repeated Court orders and clearances.

Having listened to the people in anger and anguish, the Minister promised to visit the Narmada valley on the 10th and 11th April, 2011 to see and assess the situation in order to initiate further action. The Minister also promised that the MoEF would take a final decision on the Narmada canals issue by the 15th of April and assured a hearing to NBA before passing final orders. The people thanked the Minister for his assurance and look forward to strong and truthful action to him.

Eminent persons and supporters who were present at the Dharna and addressed the gathering include Shri Devinder Sharma, prominent agricultural analyst, Shri Himanshu Upadhyaya, public finance researcher, environmentalist Mr. Gopal Krishna, Vimalbhai of Matu Jan Sanghathan and others.

Medha Patkar, Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) 

Published in:
Citizen News Service (CNS), India/Thailand 
Elites TV News, USA