Update from Taloon - Adivasis Assert their Right to Land


The adivasis affected by Sardar Sarovar dam have begun cultivating the lands they have occupied on July 13th in Taloon, near Badwani, M.P. 50 acres have been measured and divided among more than hundred families and they have started co-operative farming. 5 acres are set apart for fisherfolk families who were doing river-bed cultivation. More areas will be measured and cultivated in the coming days during this brave action to assert land rights.

Adivasis from Alirajpur (Jhabua district), who have been demanding lands in Madhya Pradesh, their own state (NWDT Award allows this choice) were offered either cash compensation or lands in Gujarat! All these years they have been denied this and were fighting for lands near their kith and kin. How long should they wait for their just, legally rightful demands to be met?

Khajanbhai and Vesta Dediya of Anjanwada, Ratanbhai of Sugat, Surban of Kakrana, Gokhru of Karya Badal, Kuman Singh of Bhitada and scores of others are determined to assert their right to life and land and send a message across to the insensitive authorities. Madubhai of Chikhalda and others have joined them as Nimad and Adivasi areas together initiate this land occupation action, integral to Satyagraha. Each day, villages in Nimad take turns in providing food at the Satyagraha site.

Today, the Collector, Badwani gave a statement that case will be filed against 17 persons on charges of violation of law and order and illegal occupation! Who will file a case against the governing authorities for violation of the fundamental rights of adivasis by illegally submerging their lands and houses for the last 13 years, without providing alternative livelihood? We assert that they deserve to be sued under the Scheduled Tribes Atrocities Act.

Farmers and peasants in Nimad have filed hundreds of applications at the Satyagraha site regarding the motor pumps which got submerged and destroyed due to sudden release of water from upstream dams. The National Hydro Power Corporation (NHPC) is responsible for this calamity.

The Chief Minister of M.P., during a press conference in Khargone stated today that “Narmada agitation is meaningless”. It is no surprise that people who have accumulated sufficiently and more to fill their bellies do not understand the meaning of the struggle for life and livelihood. But adivasis, dalits, fisherfolk, peasants and farmers do understand this painful fact.

With preparations to file cases against Satyagrahis and divert issue, it is obvious that this gap in understanding people’s real issues will intensify the conflict. We once again demand land-based rehabilitation and no more illegal submergence of people in the valley.

Ashish Mandloi Kailash Awasya Medha Patkar