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Indian Villagers Resolve to Drown in Protest Against Dam

PLEASE NOTE: EARLIER INSTRUCTIONS ON HOW TO RESPOND TO THIS ALERT WERE PROBLEMATIC. THAT PROBLEM IS RESOLVED NOW, SO PLEASE TRY AGAIN. THANKS.

To: hayduke@redwoodtree.net
From: URGENT-ALERT@edf.org
Subject: EDF_Action_Network alert: Indian Villagers Resolve to Drown in Protest Against Dam
Date: Tue, 17 Aug 1999 16:03:11 GMT
Reply-To: alert-response@actionnetwork.org

Here's what this alert is about:

Indian Villagers Resolve to Drown in Protest Against Dam

----------------------

To: All EDF Activists
From: Deborah Moore, Co-Director, EDF International Program
Date: August 17, 1999
Subject: Indian Villagers Resolve to Drown in Protest Against Dam

At this moment, villagers in central India are vowing to drown in the waters rising behind the $8.1 billion Sardar Sarovar Dam in western India rather than leave their ancestral homes and lands. More than 12,000 people living in 60 villages are currently at risk of losing their lands to the rising water caused by recent construction on the dam. We need your help now to urge the Indian government to stop this man-made tragedy.

"We will drown, but we will not move!" Since June 20, activists and villagers of the Narmada Valley have been occupying two houses on the lowest reaches of Domkhedi and Jalsindhi villages, determined to brave the rising floodwaters. On August 11, heavy rains caused the level of the reservoir waters to rise rapidly, and more than 60 activists stood for several hours in waist-deep water in Domkhedi. They were eventually arrested and beaten by the police. After their release from jail, the protesters returned to the riverbanks to continue their vigil.

This past February, after a four-year moratorium on construction, India's Supreme Court allowed the height of the Sardar Sarovar Dam to be raised 5 meters. The decision was based on falsified reports by the three affected state governments, which argued that the people displaced by the dam to date have been satisfactorily rehabilitated and that sufficient land was available for resettlement. After officials were questioned, however, it was found that no land was available for resettlement. Thus, if the dam is completed, it will force the relocation of more than 500,000 people from their homes, destroy fisheries, and forests.

Your help can make a difference! This past April, EDF activists sent more than 1,000 faxes to India and helped win major concessions on several other dams along the Narmada River. The Madhya Pradesh state government accepted the majority of the demands of the Save the Narmada Movement (NBA), a group that has led the opposition to dams on the Narmada and has worked with EDF for many years.

Please take a moment to support the Save the Narmada Movement, and demand that further construction on the Sardar Sarovar Dam be stopped immediately. Please fax, mail or e-mail our letter to the Indian Ambassador in Washington, D.C. for forwarding to the President of India.

Thank you for your help!

Websites with further information about dams and the Narmada River:

Narmada River Home Page: http://www.narmada.org
International Rivers Network: http://www.irn.org
EDF - Dams Around the World Website: http://www.edf.org/programs/International/dams/
World Commission on Dams: http://www.dams.org

----------------------

PLEASE FAX OR MAIL THIS LETTER IF YOU CAN:

Ambassador Naresh Chandra
FAX: (202) 483-3972
Embassy of India
2107 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20008

INSTRUCTIONS TO RESPOND VIA EMAIL:

Responding via email to this alert is easy. You can copy and paste the letter below into a new email message and mail it to:

amb-washington@indiagov.org

Include the following letter in your response starting with "---BEGIN COPY HERE---" and ending with "---END OF LETTER---".

We STRONGLY encourage you to make edits directly to our sample letter below, and put the alert talking points into your own words. An individualized letter is worth ten computer generated letters. Of course, hundreds of unedited letters will still create a large impact, so please reply even if you don't have time to personalize the letter.

Your letter will be addressed and sent to:

Ambassador Naresh Chandra

---BEGIN COPY HERE---

I am writing in support of the residents of the Narmada River Valley, who are currently facing the loss of their villages, homes, and lands because of the Sardar Sarovar Dam. I urge the Indian government to put a permanent stop to the construction of this dam and take all necessary steps to prevent any more damage from rising waters during this monsoon season.

The Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) and other dams along the Narmada River pose serious threats to the lives, culture, and health of the people living in the valley. As a result, the affected people are determined to drown rather than leave their lands, insisting that life in a resettlement site is not worth living. The Indian government has failed to provide adequate consultation, recognition, or rehabilitation to those affected by the SSP and other dams. The high costs, negative social and environmental impacts, and mass opposition to the project are good reasons to initiate a full review of the project plans.

I urge you to stop this project. Several alternatives offer more humane, democratic, and sustainable ways to irrigate the land and generate electricity. These should be fully explored and utilized in India.

Please convey this urgent message to President K. R. Narayanan, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and other colleagues at the highest levels of India's government.

-------END OF LETTER-------------------------

This alert was sent out to me via EDF's Action Network. You do not have to be a member of EDF to participate. You may pick and choose which alerts you will respond to, and they have an automated system that converts your e-mail into a fax. To signup to receive these alerts yourself, sign up at:

http://www.actionnetwork.org/EDFAction