INDIA: Persons ousted by the Omkareshwar Dam start Jal Satyagraha
26 August 2012
250 persons standing in the raising waters of Omkareshwar Dam willing to be drowned should their legitimate demands are not met. It may be noted that the water level of the Omkareshwar dam has been kept at 189 meters. In spite of the fact that thousands of the persons evicted for the project have not been rehabilitated, the government decided to fill the dam up to a level of 193 meters. In protest of this decision the satyagraha in Ghoghalgaon has been going on since 16 July 2012.
The protesters have pledged that they will sacrifice their lives if need, and that they will not move without realising their rights. In spite of this, late yesterday evening when the water level was raised by 1.5 meters, around 250 men and women entered the water and began their jal satyagraha.
Attempt to submerge lands and drive away people without rehabilitation: The High Court and the Supreme Court have both stated that, the state has not adhered to the rehabilitation policy, for the people affected by the Omkareshwar dam. On the basis of these orders when people filed their claims to the Grievance Redressal Authority (GRA) the GRA stated that the rehabilitation policy had not been implemented for the people affected by the Omkareshwar dam and they should be compensated with land for what they have lost for the dam. This however is yet to be realised. Thousands of families are yet to get their land, house plots, rehabilitation grants and in fact hundreds of houses in the area of submergence are yet to be acquired, thousands of landless families are yet to be given resources whereby they can earn dignified livelihood.
The Supreme Court has held in its judgment concerning Omkareshwar dam, that the rehabilitation should have been done before the construction of the dam. As per many other Supreme Court orders the rehabilitation should have been completed 6 months before the submergence. Therefore it is clear that the government is acting in violation to all these orders and it is the government's intention to drive away people without rehabilitation by submerging their lands and houses. The persons evicted for the project have resolved that they will not give in to these tactics of the government and would rather drown than be driven away.
Lower the water level and rehabilitate the persons evicted for the Omkareshwar dam: Thousands of people sitting in dharna (protest) with those 250 who have undertaken the jal satyagraha have demanded that the level of the water should be lowered to 189 meters in the Omkareshwar dam and all the affected people should be given land for land and other rehabilitation rights. Neelabai and Suresh Patel of Gogalgaon, Sakubai and Girjabai of Kamankeda, Antar Singh and Santoshbai of Village Toki, Nannibai Kailashrao of Ekhand village along with activist associated with the Narmada Bachao Andolan, Chittarupa Palit, and 250 men and women continue their Jal Satryagraha while 3000 people are sitting on dharna alongside.
Narmada Bachao Andolan warns the government that if the water level is not reduced immediately and no immediate steps are taken to rehabilitate the affected people, they will not hesitate to give up their lives and the struggle will be intensified.
Mr. Alok Agarwal
Mr. Radheshyam Tirole
Mr. Mansaram Bhai
For further details, please contact:
Narmada Bachao Andolan
2, Sai Nagar, Mata Chowk, Khandwa, M.P.
Tel: 0733-2228318, 09525928007
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