Text first published in AID News, September 8th 1999. Photos added later for this blog.
This week 5 people from Aid-India/TNSF — Balaji, Kalpana and we, and
separately Srinu from Aid-Mumbai — went to the Narmada valley satyagrha.
* This year the monsoons have been low in many parts of India and in the
valley they are expecting only 10% of the usual harvest. They are thinking
of starting a grain bank. Joe/Medha told us that foot-pumps were tried but
were not of much help in trying to get water to the fields.
* The Navnirman work (or constructive work) is taking off slowly and a Yuva
Shibir is being held in the next couple of days. While we were there we
talked to people from Barad village on issues like dowry, money-borrowing
from money-lenders etc. We found that even in the valley the interest rates
are at least 75% per annum and everyone goes to the money-lender sometime
or the other. Likewise one person was quoting a recent marriage with dowry
of Rs 5000 and another marriage of about Rs 10,000.The people were
interested in trying a savings-loan program (like in United We Sit book,
Malar program and the Srikakulam project).
* Balaji and Kalpana presented Medha with a book on women’s health and
talked also on the health programs of TNSF.
* Srinu has taken 50 Narmada T-shirts designed by AID volunteers and
printed in Mumbai (thanks to Preeti and Venkatesh) to Baroda and Domkhedi
satyagraha. T-shirts are also available in Mumbai.
* We talked about the Narmada Sahayog Yatra and Balaji and Kalpana said
they would be able to help in Chennai along with AID/TNSF volunteers in
IIT-M etc. We are also helping with the over-all yatra organization and in
Mumbai leg. The T-shirts sales support the yatra partially.
* We talked a bit about the pedal-power project and about possibility of
lighting up a Jeevanshala (school) using pedal power. Also about the
possibility of having a conference/wokshop in the Narmada valley in last
week of December, first week of January.
* At the satyagraha we found that village people had campaigned against
corruption and sheltering of liquor in police camps. The govt has said it
will take action against the police. The people also passed a no-confidence
motion against one of the village panchayat sarpanches.
Ravi and Aravinda