Medha Patkar lends support to Musi struggle

HYDERABAD, DEC. 22. The Musi Bachao Andolan, launched by an umbrella group comprising representatives of 14 organisations, to protect the interests of about 20,000 living along the river bank, on Friday, acquired national status with Ms. Medha Patkar, leader of the Narmada Bachao Andolan, backing it.

Not only did she participate in a rally taken out by residents of three slums -- Shankar Nagar, Moosanagar and Kamalnagar -- but also addressed a public meeting in Moosanagar pledging her support to the struggle by the people affected by the proposed Nandanavanam Project, Shamshabad International Airport, Light Rail Transit System (LRTS) and cleansing of Hussainsagar nala.

Slogans like `vikas chahiye, vinash nahi' (we want development not destruction), `Narmada aur Moosi ki ladai ek hai' (Narmada and Musi struggles are alike), were raised at the meeting, where associates of Ms. Patkar from various States were present. Also present were Mr. S.G. Verghese Theckanath, convener, Musi Bachao Andolan and Charti, Mr. K.G. Kannabhiran (PUCL), and Prof. Haragopal, human rights activist.

Addressing the meeting, predominantly attended by women from slums, Ms. Patkar charged the Governments of Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh with displacing the poor from their dwellings in the name of development.

The gutsy Narmada Bachao Andolan leader stated that she had been hearing about the Nandanavanam Project and the Musi struggle for the last three years.

Ms. Patkar called upon the residents of all `bastis' to get united and pose a stiff challenge to the administration in its efforts to remove them from their roots. "You should have confidence in self and not rely on leaders."

Mrs. Savitramma, Mrs. Triveni, Mrs. Kalavathi, Mr. Basheerbhai, all residents of affected slums, Mohd. Ashfaq, president, Moosanagar Welfare Association, spoke, expressing their resolve to stay put on the Musi bank and oppose the Government efforts to displace them.

Earlier, representatives of the Musi Bachao Andolan demanded scrapping of the Nandanavanam Project.

In a joint statement, the Shamshabad International Airport Land Losers' Welfare Association and the Hyderabad LRTS Badhitula Sangham wanted an environmental and rehabilitation public hearing before proceeding with the airport project as well as the LRTS.

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