Nisarpur, Madhya Pradesh | June 06, 2017: Thousands of Sardar Sarovar dam oustees gathered today for ‘Aam Sabha’ (general assembly) in the submergence zone village of Nisarpur as part of the 3-day Rally for the Valley that kicked off from Indore yesterday. Hundreds of students, activists, artists from all over India and affected-people from other destructive developments projects joined hands with the people of the Narmada Valley in their struggle against forceful displacement without proper rehabilitation.
It must be noted that the central government with Narendra Modi at its helm has been pressing for completion for the dam and closing its gates just to reap political benefits before the Gujarat assembly elections. Nita Mahadev from Gujarat Lok Samiti addressed villages in the Narmada Valley and exposed the lies that this government has been peddling in order to justify the need for completing the dam at such a short notice and before ensuring adequate rehabilitation of the affected people. Water that is currently being diverted from the dam to Gujarat is not reaching farmers but is being sold to corporations and cities. The blatant lie of electricity generation, one of the main reasons for closing the dam gates was busted by noted environmentalist Soumya Dutta who proved through data that our country already produces surplus energy and this extra electricity is not even needed.
Affected people from various parts of the valley marched on foot and reached the meeting spots in various vehicles. On their way, satyagrahis paid their homage to Mahatma Gandhi’s samadhi in Rajghat, Badwani and village Chikkalda.
The absence of national media was conspicuous but not entirely unexpected as it has become the national trend to completely invisibilize people’s true voices by giving space to only propaganda. However, various local media channels, and social media and new media experts joined the rally with their gear. Related content can be found with #RallyforTheValley online.
Revolutionary songwriter and singer Vinay Mahajan infused fresh burst energy into the movement and urged people to side with non-violence even in the face of brutal state terror. “On one side this government espouses Akhand Bharat and on the other hand is busy dividing the country on the basis of caste-class and religion”. He urged the people to see this hypocrisy.
A student of class 6 and resident of submergence zone village Nisarpur, Ankita Soni Pankaj, posed a question to the Prime Minister in the assembly. She asked, “You live in bungalows, wear suits worth lakhs, travel abroad…what do you have for us?” It’s heartbreaking that this government only has violent, brutal tactics to suppress the voices of lakhs of people, trees, animals and culture of the Narmada Valley, just the way it proved in today’s police firing against farmers of this country.
Surendra Singh Baghel, MLA, Kukshi and Gajendra Singh former Member of Parliament (Congress) pledged to take any police brutality upon themselves before their constituency.
Medha Patkar, Prafulla Samantara (winner of environmental Nobel, Goldman Award) and various people’s movements leaders charted the future strategy of the andolan taking cues from the experiences of Bargi Dam oustees (Kehar Bhai and Munna Bhai) and women from the Panam Dam oustees in Gujarat.
Jaswinder Singh Kaur, All India Kisan Sabha, Dr. Sunilam, Aradhana Bhargav, Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, Suniti SR, Madhuresh Kumar, National Alliance of People’s Movements, Shradhha Behen, Ekta Parishad, Tarulata, Panam Sangathan, Devgarh Sangathan, Vinod Sharma, Swaraj Abhiyan have also addressed the public meeting and extended their support and solidarity to the people of Narmada Valley.
Protesting crowds marched on to the river banks in Koteshwar where women of the potter families (Prajapats) broke clay pots made by them on the river bank in a gesture against violence.
It must be noted that apart from rehabilitating houses, community facilities, fields, cattle and trees, the government also needs to chart out a proper plan for rehabilitation of occupation.
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