Gujarat Oustees jump into Narmada Canal
Kashinathbhau Mohite, Wang Marathwadi dam affected activist, commits suicide
7th October, Narmada Dist/ Satara /New Delhi: False promises; snatching away of rights and even hope; continued mistreatment and harassment at the hands of police and administration; physical, psychological and emotional exploitation- these are not just sporadic instances but a common pattern of grave injustices seen where people have been displaced in the name of ‘development’.
On 6th October, 12 oustees of Sardar Sarovar Dam from Gadher village in Narmada district of Gujarat, jumped into Narmada canal to awaken the administration to their plight of 22 years. The official claim is that they were ‘rehabilitated’ in 1992, however in reality, they still have not been given alternate land and government job to one family member at the time of acquiring their land, which is clear and outright non-compliance of Narmada Water Dispute Tribunal Award 1979, Rehabilitation policy of Government of Gujarat and orders Hon’ble Supreme Court. After 22 long years, they still await justice and were left with no other option but to resort to this form of protest. On one hand, the Government of Gujarat has always justified Sardar Sarovar Project and glorified the Narmada Canal as the ‘lifeline of Gujarat’, but on the other, it turns a complete blind eye to its own people of Gujarat who have been so severely affected by the displacement caused by this very project. Why this apathy? Whose interests are being served?
Another unfortunate incident of death caused by displacement is that of Satara district of Maharashtra, where struggle against Wang-Marathwadi dam is on. The people affected by the dam, which is mired with irregularities and was pushed through without proper rehabilitation, have not received any compensation in spite of written assurances and approvals. For the last 4 years, the villages near the dam are getting submerged during monsoon and yet no relief has ever reached them. Amidst all this, there is continued harassment of the displaced persons for demanding their rights. For the last few months, Kashinathbhau Mohite, one of the most active members of the struggle, was facing harassment by administration over cases filed during peaceful and democratic protests held previously. Especially in the last 2 days and nights, he along with others, was being harassed at Dhebewadi police station. Today, he ended his life. Who killed this victim of ‘development’ without justice? How many more lives will be taken in the name of ‘development’?
We strongly condemn the State’s apathy towards the displaced persons and the continuous harassment and oppression at multiple levels. There must a complete stop to every kind of harassment displaced persons are subjected to either by the police or the administration. We demand full and complete compliance with court orders and policy documents, and promises related to rehabilitation and resettlement be fulfilled, so that justice is rendered.
Medha Patkar – Narmada Bachao Andolan – NAPM; Prafulla Samantara, Lok Shakti Abhiyan, Lingraj Azad – Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti and Samajwadi Jan Parishad, NAPM, Odisha; Dr. Sunilam, Aradhna Bhargava – Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, NAPM, MP; Gautam Bandopadhyay – Nadi Ghati Morcha, NAPM, Chhattisgarh; Suniti SR, Suhas Kolhekar, Prasad Bagwe – NAPM, Maharashtra; Gabriele Dietrich, Geetha Ramakrishnan – Unorganised Sector Workers Federation, NAPM, TN; C R Neelakandan – NAPM Kerala; Saraswati Kavula, P Chennaiah – NAPM Andhra Pradesh, Bhupender Singh Rawat – Jan Sangharsh Vahini, Rajendra Ravi, Sunita Rani, Seela M, Madhuresh Kumar, Kanika Sharma – NAPM, Delhi;Faisal Khan– Khudai Khidmatgar NAPM Delhi/Haryana; Arundhati Dhuru, Richa Singh – NAPM, UP; Sister Celia – Domestic Workers Union, NAPM, Karnataka; Sumit Wanjale – Ghar Bachao, Ghar Banao Andolan, NAPM, Mumbai; Manish Gupta – Jan Kalyan Upbhokta Samiti, NAPM, UP; Vimal Bhai – Matu Jan sangathan, NAPM, Uttarakhand; Vilas Bhongade – Gosikhurd Prakalpgrast Sangharsh Samiti, NAPM, Maharashtra; Ramashray Singh – Ghatwar Adivasi Mahasabha, Jharkhand; Anand Mazgaonkar, Krishnakant – Paryavaran Suraksh Samiti, NAPM Gujarat; Kamayani Swami, Ashish Ranjan – Jan Jagran Shakti Sangathan, NAPM Bihar; Mahendra Yadav – Kosi Navnirman Manch, NAPM Bihar