May 09, 2006

NBA turns vicious, takes on the law

Damn the law: Medha Patkar at a demonstration in New Delhi - PTI

NBA turns vicious, takes on the law

Pioneer News Service | New Delhi

A day after losing the legal battle to stop the construction work of Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP), the Narmada Bachao Andolan on Tuesday gave a call for a "fight to finish" and launched a vicious campaign against the Supreme Court, the Union Government and the media."

Displaying complete disregard for the judiciary, NBA leader Medha Patkar staged a demonstration outside the Supreme Court where her supporters raised noisy slogans against the court's verdict. The NBA leader was also joined by other rent-a-cause activists and NGOs opposing the construction of the SSP without addressing the issue of rehabilitation of the displaced persons.

Incidentally, when the apex court in October 2000 had rejected the NBA's plea to stop SSP work, Ms Patkar had similarly condemned the court. Not just that, the NBA had also buried the copy of the Supreme Court judgement in front of the Badwani district court on October 23, 2000 and raised a plank at the site with inscription: `Grave of Justice'.

In a press release on Tuesday, the NBA expressed "disappointment, shock and loss of faith" in the court, and also criticised the judiciary for "a host of anti-people and anti-poor judgements ranging from order for demolition of slums to eviction of hawkers." It was obvious that Patkar was trying to project her anti-dam movement as the larger cause of the poor.

An agency report quoted Patkar as also slamming some media organisations for being "puppets in the hands of industrialists" and publishing news reports "without verifying facts".

Taking on the court, the statement signed by Patkar and two others said, "even though the judgement is against truth and against us....we will continue to fight for justice, irrespective of what the Supreme Court decided."

In a separate press release, Patkar went so far as to attach a motive to the court's verdict saying, "Supreme Court violates its own former orders in favour of petty politics."

"The court's verdict is against the rights of the oustees who are protected by Article 21 of the Constitution. The verdict shows an anti-poor perspective. Development will now have not only an inhuman but also a brutal face and force," the NBA said.

"The Supreme Court has hidden behind an unbelievable reason - disputed facts - to postpone the decision on the raising of the dam height while ignoring the 'undisputed' facts presented by all the parties including the Governments on incomplete rehabilitation. It has also bypassed its own 'unchallenged verdicts'. When it became clear to every committee that visited the Valley before - World Bank's, Union of India's to that of Members of Parliament - that injustice was being imposed, and records and reports were flawed, the Court couldn't and didn't take the responsible task of investigation into the jumbling of not figures, but of families in thousands, nor a timely conclusion," Patkar said.

"The UPA Government has decided and conveyed to the country that in this globalised, liberalised era, development decisions will be made by the multinationals to the corporate interests with political distortion of the truth, all of which is obviously dominant in Sardar Sarovar and not mass-rooted democracy or the scientific or rational analysis of social, environmental and economic conditions," Ms Patkar said.

Alleging nexus between the Centre and the Guajrat Government, the NBA said, "the UPA Government has proved to be in alliance by favouring Modi's violent ways and means to development, and not Gandhi's 'Antyodaya'."

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