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PMO flooded with NBA solidarity letters

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Apr 14 (UNI) The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) has been flooded with letters of support for the Narmada Bachao Andolan ahead of tomorrow's meeting of the Review Committee of Narmada Control Authority to reconsider the decision to increase the height of the Sardar Sarovar Dam.

According to NBA leaders, 34 individuals and 42 organisations from all over the world have sent letters to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh demanding justice for the affected people.

The identical letters say, ''...this is a blot on your government... the Narmada struggle is a reaffirmation of the Indian constitution's commitment to democracy and justice''.

The organisations include Friends of the Earth (Australia), Assembly of the Poor (Thailand) and Focus on the Global South (Thailand and the Philippines), Center for Economic Justice (US) and Nodo Bolivar Del Observatoria Desc Amazonia (Venezuela).

Support has also come for the indefinite hunger strike of NBA leader Medha Patkar and two others from the nook and corner of the country. Solidarity meetings have been held in places like Itarsi, Hoshangabad, Bhopal, Indore, Thiruvananthapuram, Mysore and Mumbai.

Scientists, writers and common people took part in a sit-in staged in Bhopal yesterday while a 'kavi sammelan' was the attraction at the protests in Indore.

In Kerala, hundreds of villages are observing fasts and staging dharnas expressing solidarity. Badwani, barely 4 km from the Narmada river, is close to several submergence villages in Madhya Pradesh and also the NBA headquarters, observed a bandh on April 11 in solidarity with the struggle.

The bandh was total, and brought together varying groups including Jain community, NSUI, ABVP, several college students, and all the merchants association of this town.

''Although the Madhya Pradesh government claims that Badwani is not in submergence even at 138 meter, the life and existence of Badwani depends on the villages around it, which are on the verge of being drowned without rehabilitation,'' contend the NBA leaders.

Several of these submergence villages, such as Chikhalda, Kadmal, Ekalra, Ekkalbara, Bhavariya, Kavti that are affected by submergence are observing 'chulhabandi' where the entire village observes solidarity fast.

This was also observed in Vadchil, the Maharashtra resettlement site, where families of Nimgavhan, Domkhedi and Surung were resettled two years ago. In the submergence village Kakrana, all the children of the 'jeevanshala' (school) there observed a fast on April 9. The villages of Nimad are also daily carrying out 'deep daan', where they release diyas (lamps) into the Narmada river. The largest 'deep daan' as yet has been done by the people of Nissarpur, in special support of Bhagwati Patidar from their village, who is also on her 16th day of fast.

The Narmada Control Authority had decided to raise the dam's height from 110.64 metres to 121.9 meters on March 8. As many as 35,000 families would lose their homes and livelihoods due to submergence.

Meanwhile, the indefinite fast by Ms Patkar, who has been admitted to the AIIMS here, entered its 17th day today.

Yesterday, Ms Patkar had offered to furnish bail bonds to come out of police detention at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).

Ms Patkar and Mr Jamsingh were forcibly shifted to the AIIMS on the night of April 5 on the 8th day of their hunger strike. Police have also slapped a case against her for attempted suicide.

The NBA has criticised the authorities for unilaterally deciding to increase the height of the dam even before rehabilitating the oustees of the dam project.


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