GUWAHATI, July 14 – Protests to mould opinion against construction of big dams in the North East reverberated through Guwahati with several thousand people — mostly peasants – taking to the roads under the banner of Krishak Mukti Sangram Samity (KMSS) daring those at the helm of affairs to change what they called was anti-people policy.
Leading from the front was renowned human rights and environmental activist Medha Patkar who launched a verbal attack on the nexus of the policy makers and the big private companies terming them as the ‘agents of destruction.’
The rally organized under the banner of KMSS saw over six thousand peasants coming together from various parts of the State at the Sonaram High School field to voice their protest against construction of big dams and also to assert rights (patta) on their land.
The protestors then carried out a procession to the DC Court to hand over the memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner, Kamrup (Metro) where large number of security personnel were already deployed.
This was followed by a tug-of-war between the DC Kamrup (Metro) Prateek Hajela and KMSS leader Akhil Gogoi.
While the peasant leader demanded of the administration to remove the barricade and asked the DC to personally appear before the crowd to receive the memorandum, the DC reciprocated by asking any five of the representatives to hand over the memorandum at his office.
Finally, the KMSS decided not to hand over the memorandum and the protestors dispersed from the area, with some of them making derogatory slogans against the administration and even throwing shoes inside the campus.
Earlier, addressing the gathering, Medha Patkar said that the destructive impact that the construction of big dams would have can never be compensated, and that power generation to suit the pockets of the big companies and the policy makers would never be tolerated.
“Our fight should not just be against construction of big dams but also corruption that is equally fatal for the cause of the common man,” the leader of Narmada Bachao Andolan stated.
“We are now talking about the Rs 1,000-crore scam but construction of big dams in the name of making the North East a power house is part of an even bigger scam,” Patkar said.
Referring to the expert committee report on dams, Patkar informed that even the report clearly pinpointed that the dams would leave unparallel destruction as its downstream impact.
“Let there be a round-table conference involving experts from both the Government as well as our side which would make things crystal clear,” she asserted, adding, “It is not just a movement against dams, rather it is nation-saving movement.”
She further urged all the Chief Ministers of the NE States to make a concerted move against construction of big dams “or else the agitation will reach its pinnacle.”
“At no cost will the construction of big dams be allowed,” she warned, threatening to further intensify the movement against anything destructive to nature.
KMSS leader Akhil Gogoi urged the people to gear up for the challenges that lay ahead.
“Big dams are lethal to our cause and movement against it would continue. Rights over our land too would not be compromised with,” he said.
Public activist Deven Dutta and organizations including AASU, All Mising Students’ Union, AJYCP, MASS, etc., expressed their support to the campaign.