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Archive for September, 2010

25 years of Struggle and Reconstruction in Narmada Valley

Invitation : October 22-23, 2010 in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh

Narmada has been a witness to the 25 years long struggle by the communities reared in its laps over generations. Adivasis in the mountain ranges of Stapuda and Vindhyas, farmers, labourers, fish-workers and potters in the plains have stayed put and challenged Sardar Sarovar, other large dams and canals destroying prime agricultural land, the rich horticulture and hilly as well as densely populated habitats. The saga that began in 1985 has completed 25 years of the battle which came to question, not only dams but development, displacement and disparity growing with the presently imposed paradigm of development. Our battle and navnirman (reconstruction) has continued through the Jeevanshalas (life schools), through micro-hydel projects, bio-gas plants, organic farming and raising issues of rights and responsibilities. Over these years we have driven away the World Bank and many other international financiers from the valley, and compelled the governments to rehabilitate thousands of adivasis with land, and contributed to the building of alliances such as National Alliance of People’s Movements.

Much water has flown through Narmada in spite of many dams being built at enormous human and environmental costs, but over estimated benefits remain unattained and the mockery of rehabilitation exposed. The undemocratic state using the ‘divide and rule’ policy, corrupt nexus of agents-officials, money and market continues to push the destruction, violate laws, manipulate the processes of sanctioning and monitoring, yet the Dam remains stalled at 122 mts and the people continue in the movement mode, resisting the atrocities, fighting prolonged battles in the courts from local to Supreme, and surviving the continued betrayal over two decades and more of various governments. The life flows in these villages as the river Narmada in full jest and gaiety. The struggle for justice has spread over to Maheshwar, Omkareshwar, Maan, Jobat, Indira Sagar, Veda dams and canals areas.

We the Adivasis and farmers, with activists and all our supporters have to come together this far and look back and look forward at this juncture of 25 years completion. It can’t be a mere celebration when the sword is still hanging, full justice is still to be achieved, large dams are still being pushed and challenged. We can’t even get over our grief since Ashish, Sanjay, Shobha and others colleagues have left us forever. Yet, however, we can’t but take the torch forward … which was lit by them, carried by thousands and thousands of people across the country and beyond borders.

People in the Narmada valley would like to come together with you all who have joined us on the long path during last 25 years at some point during our actions, testing times, crises and celebrations. All those who stood by us, spread the message and extended support are invited to the valley on the occasion of ‘Reflections from Narmada : 25 Years and Beyond’.

Come be with us at opportune moment with your colleagues, comrades and friends on

· October 22nd at Dhadgaon, district Nandurbar, Maharashtra and

· October 23rd at Badwani, district Badwani, Madhya Pradesh.

Reach Dhadgaon on 21st evening or 22nd morning and your journey from Dhadgaon to Badwani, through the river in boats would be our responsibility. Rallies and public meetings at both the places amidst adivasis of Nundurbar, Alirajpur and farmers in the plains of Nimad would be graced with your presence and reiterate our commitment to the common cause. We are also planning other initiatives on this occasion and would urge you to take lead in marking our struggle in your own areas, regions, countries, institutions, organisations or wherever in any befetting manner. You will be hearing from us over this in next while… 

Narmada has been a witness to the 25 years long struggle by the communities reared in its laps over generations. Adivasis in the mountain ranges of Stapuda and Vindhyas, farmers, labourers, fish-workers and potters in the plains have stayed put and challenged Sardar Sarovar, other large dams and canals destroying prime agricultural land, the rich horticulture and hilly as well as densely populated habitats. The saga that began in 1985 has completed 25 years of the battle which came to question, not only dams but development, displacement and disparity growing with the presently imposed paradigm of development. Our battle and navnirman (reconstruction) has continued through the Jeevanshalas (life schools), through micro-hydel projects, bio-gas plants, organic farming and raising issues of rights and responsibilities. Over these years we have driven away the World Bank and many other international financiers from the valley, and compelled the governments to rehabilitate thousands of adivasis with land, and contributed to the building of alliances such as National Alliance of People’s Movements.

Much water has flown through Narmada in spite of many dams being built at enormous human and environmental costs, but over estimated benefits remain unattained and the mockery of rehabilitation exposed. The undemocratic state using the ‘divide and rule’ policy, corrupt nexus of agents-officials, money and market continues to push the destruction, violate laws, manipulate the processes of sanctioning and monitoring, yet the Dam remains stalled at 122 mts and the people continue in the movement mode, resisting the atrocities, fighting prolonged battles in the courts from local to Supreme, and surviving the continued betrayal over two decades and more of various governments. The life flows in these villages as the river Narmada in full jest and gaiety. The struggle for justice has spread over to Maheshwar, Omkareshwar, Maan, Jobat, Indira Sagar, Veda dams and canals areas.

We the Adivasis and farmers, with activists and all our supporters have to come together this far and look back and look forward at this juncture of 25 years completion. It can’t be a mere celebration when the sword is still hanging, full justice is still to be achieved, large dams are still being pushed and challenged. We can’t even get over our grief since Ashish, Sanjay, Shobha and others colleagues have left us forever. Yet, however, we can’t but take the torch forward … which was lit by them, carried by thousands and thousands of people across the country and beyond borders.

People in the Narmada valley would like to come together with you all who have joined us on the long path during last 25 years at some point during our actions, testing times, crises and celebrations. All those who stood by us, spread the message and extended support are invited to the valley on the occasion of ‘Reflections from Narmada : 25 Years and Beyond’.

We are also planning other initiatives on this occasion and would urge you to take lead in marking our struggle in your own areas, regions, countries, institutions, organisations or wherever in any befetting manner. You will be hearing from us over this in next while…

Come be with us at opportune moment with your colleagues, comrades and friends on

· October 22nd at Dhadgaon, district Nandurbar, Maharashtra and

· October 23rd at Badwani, district Badwani, Madhya Pradesh.

Reach Dhadgaon on 21st evening or 22nd morning

and your journey from Dhadgaon to Badwani, through the river in boats would be our responsibility. Rallies and public meetings at both the places amidst adivasis of Nundurbar, Alirajpur and farmers in the plains of Nimad would be graced with your presence and reiterate our commitment to the common cause.

As always you are welcome to come and spend more time with us, work with us, volunteers with us or just be travel with us in this journey.

Reach Dhadgaon on 21st evening or 22nd morning and your journey from Dhadgaon to Badwani, through the river in boats would be our responsibility. 

Rallies and public meetings at both the places amidst adivasis of Nundurbar, Alirajpur and farmers in the plains of Nimad would be graced with your presence and reiterate our commitment to the common cause.

The Celebrations will be followed by the 8th Bi-annual Convention of National Alliance of People’s Movements at Badwani, MP from October 24th to 26th. Do stay with us for this important occasion too. We are sending you the invite for the same separately. napmindia@gmail.com | http://www.napm-india.org | 9818905316

Do inform us of your arrival, so that we can make adequate arrangements … You can reach us by phone or write to us on nba.badwani@gmail.com , 25yearsofnba@gmail.com

In Solidarity,

Devram Bhai Kaneria, Kailash Awasya, Mohan Patidar, Noorji Padvi, Kamla Yadav, Bawa Mahariya, Yogini, Chetan, Bhagirath, Siyaram, Ratan, Shrikanth, Medha Patkar and many others…

 

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National Consultation on the Proposed Land Acquisition (Amendment) Bill and Resettlement & Rehabilitation Bill (draft)

September 23, 2010, Indian Social Institute, New Delhi

Dear Comrades / Friends / Colleagues,

Greetings !

Struggles against Land Acquisition have in fact become the most common phenomenon of our times. People across the country have been opposing efforts by the state and corporates to dispossess and displace them from the natural resources, esp land and forests, they possess. Movements have been also struggling to retaining the right over the land they have occupied, resisted attempts at evictions or displacements due to large infrastructure projects, submergence by dams or deprivation / landlessness by any means. The demand for a comprehensive Development planning legislation, that will not have forced displacement has been ongoing for close to two decades now. Despite that, there has never ever been a serious effort by the Government to bring about a national legislation that will replace the colonial Land Acquisition Act nor bring about a new era where people will not be made oustees in their own land.

There has been numerous consultations, meetings, dialogues, demonstrations in Delhi and all across the country however, the government has failed to address the genuine concerns in all these years. In the wake of the recent protests by farmers against unjust acquisition of land in Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh, there has been again a vociferous demand made by different political parties to bring in the Land Acquisition (Amendment) Bill, and Resettlement and Rehabilitation Bill.

However, it needs to be noted that the agitation by farmers in Aligarh and elsewhere in Uttar Pradesh are not isolated incidents. Struggles against unjust land acquisition have been intensifying across the country. The only response of the government has been a brutal suppression of these struggles using its police force. In July this year, the Government of Andhra Pradesh fired at, killing three persons, and lathi-charged hundreds of peaceful protesters in the Sompeta Mandal of Srikakulm district, who were resisting the forcible and unjust acquisition of land for the 2640 MW thermal plant by Nagarjuna Construction Company Ltd. In mid August then private goons of Jindal Steel and Power Ltd. beat-up villagers who were peacefully protesting the forcible acquisition of land, in Tapranga, Raigarh district of Chhattisgarh, by the company for coal mining. There are innumerable instances of such acts of harassment, exploitation, dispossession all across the country. In the whole adivasi belt of central India, land acquisition is being masqueraded by anti-movements repression and the infamous ‘Operation Greenhunt’.

The Land Acquisition (Amendment) Bill and Resettlement and Rehabilitation Bill were tabled by the UPA government during the winter session of 2007 and just a day before the monsoon session of 2009 ended. Introduced purportedly to strike a balance between the ‘need for land for development’ and other purposes and protecting the interests of the persons whose lands are statutorily acquired, both the Bills in fact facilitate the handing over the land, rivers, forests, minerals to the big corporations, both public and private, for mining, big dams, thermal, nuclear and other power projects, SEZs, etc., without effectively addressing the fundamental issues that have been raised by the resistance movements that are raging across the country. If enacted, both the Bills will have far reaching impact on the lives on millions of people across the country, their livelihood and access to natural resources—land, water and forests.

The issues of both Land Acquisition and Resettlement and Rehabilitation have been discussed and debated for several years now. The government has brought forth several policies, especially on the latter issue. However no process of thorough stock taking has yet been initiated by the government. In fact even the most basic information, which is crucial for determining the areas and direction in the laws and policies that need to be formulated and amended, is not available.

The earlier consultations by several civil society groups and movements culminated in a draft that was later used by the National Advisory Council to form the basis for the ‘National Development, Displacement and Rehabilitation Bill’, which was passed by the NAC in 2006. Since then the draft remained pending with the Central Cabinet on the excuse that there were questions and barriers to be faced and clarified, before it could get its sanction. Further, the present draft Bills were introduced in complete negation of this draft and the consultations with people’s movements and groups at different levels.

We do hope you will be able to join us for a National Consultation on September 23rd, Thursday, at Indian Social Institute, Lodi Road, New Delhi with your colleagues in the movements and groups so that we can discuss all these issues in detail and work on a better draft of the Comprehensive Act.

In solidarity,

Ashok Chaudhary, Prafulla Samantara, Medha Patkar, Gautam Bandopadhyay, Sandeep Pandey, Anil Chaudhary, Dr. Sunilam, Ajit Jha, Dayamani Barla, Guman Singh, Mamata Kujur,  Simpreet Singh, Roma, Vimalbhai, Rajendra Ravi, Anand Mazgaonkar, Bhupendra Singh Rawat, Vijayan M J, Madhuresh Kumar and others…

Delhi Contact: 6/6, Jangpura B, New Delhi – 110014; Mob: 9818905316/ 9582862682

Ph: 011- 26680883/26680914; Email: napm.madhuresh@gmail.com; bipincc@gmail.com

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