Monday, August 07, 2006

Eminent persons support NBA

Statement by Eminent Persons on the situation in Narmada Valley

-Released to Press on 07-08-2006

We, the undersigned, are extremely concerned over the increasing violation of human rights in the Narmada valley, due to the construction of Sardar Sarovar dam. We learn from media reports that the dam is currently overflowing and has caused heavy damages to houses, schools and crops in the adivasi areas.
We are saddened to note that the dam officials misguided the Supreme Court and the Prime Minister on the status of rehabilitation to get the dam going. We request the concerned authorities to hold these officials accountable for such gross callousness.
We demand that the Centre and state governments should immediately provide humanitarian assistance to the people who are affected by the submergence. Further, we demand that a group of Central Ministers should visit the Sardar Sarovar affected areas to access the damage during the monsoon.
Narmada Bachao Andolan, the non-violent people's movement, is entering into another phase of Satyagraha. We extend our support to the struggle and request fellow citizens to do the same
Signed By:

V. Mohini Giri (Former Chairperson, National Commission for Women)
Yogendra Yadav, (Political Analyst, CSDS-Delhi)
Kuldip Nayar (Columnist and Human Rights Defender)
Ramaswamy R. Iyer, (Former Secretary, Water Resource Ministry)
L.C. Jain (Former member, Planning Commission)
Swami Agnivesh (Social activist)
Prashant Bhushan, (Lawyer, Supreme Court of India)
Manoranjan Mohanty (Professor and former HoD, Delhi University)
Praful Bidwai (Columnist)
Anand Patwardhan, (Independent Film-maker, Mumbai)
Indu Praksah Singh, (ActionAid India)
Achin Vanaik (Scientist and writer on nuclear issues)
Pamela Philipose (Journalist)
Anil Choudhury (Director, PEACE)
Qamar Agha (Prof, Jamia Milia Islamia University)
Nandini Sundar (Social Scientist and reader, Delhi University)
Kamal Mitra Chenoy (Professor, JNU)
Ali Javed (Progressive Writers’ Association)
Alok Rai (Delhi University)
Kamla Bhaasin (Eminent South Asia Peace Activists)
Shabnam Hashmi (Social activist, ANHAD)
Thomas Kocherry (World Forum of Fisher Peoples)
Apoorvanand (Delhi University)
Jai Sen (Social Activist, CACIM)
Kavita Krishnan (All India Student’s Association)
Lalit Surjan (Chief Editor, DESHBANDHU GROUP)
Meena Menon Columnist (Focus on Global South India)
Naresh Gulati, RK Saxena, Sarla Saxena (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace)

Delhi contact:
Narmada Bachao Andolan C/o F-10/12 Malviya Nagar, New Delhi
(Ph: 26680883/ 26680914)

Appeal for support - DF Renovation

Dear Friends/Comrades, 1st August 2006

Greetings from Delhi Forum!

This is a letter to Delhi Forum’s friends, well-wishers and other comrades, from the Working Committee and the team at Delhi Forum. While there are many things to do, many programmes/campaigns to carry forward and many targets to look ahead to, in the long association of Delhi Forum with peoples’ movements in the country, this letter does not come for yet another support endeavour. This comes with a difference, to seek support for DF itself!

Delhi Forum has been functional since the late 70’s, working from different bases in Delhi. As you may know, DF has a permanent office structure since the early 90’s and has been functional from the present premise at F-10/12, (Basement and Ground Floor) Malviya Nagar since then. It has had more than 10 coordinators during the past 3 decades and many more research fellows, campaign/programme associates, administrative staff and so on. The governance structures of DF also evolved much since its inception. However, even now, the essential nature and complexion of DF remains the same. DF continues to exist - to support, strengthen and fight for peoples’ issues and mass movements in the country.

However, in the efforts to churn out successful national campaigns, evolve movement oriented programmes and promote people-centred politics, it appears that DF forgot the basics of one’s own survival; a good working / living environment being the worst affected. Anyone who has visited the DF premises during the last some years can vouch for this sad reality. Constant struggle with resources and ever-busy schedules made the task of upkeeping of premises secondary.

We want to draw your attention to our immediate action plan and request your support.

DF premises include:
Basement Office – Big Hall (partitioned), one bathroom/toilet, small kitchen space and a furnished cabin
Ground Floor House – Drawing/dining hall, Three bedrooms, two bathrooms/toilets and kitchen

We requested couple of architects and engineers to come and inspect the DF premises in the last week of June and early July. As per the assessment we need to do the following:
A complete overhauling of both premises in the months of August/September (including seepage protection, painting, complete re-wiring, plumbing works, electrical repairs, carpentry works)
Re-design the interior space, making provision for better ventilation and spacing. This will also include modification and better space and furniture utilisation
Completely repair and renovate the first floor kitchen (after the fire occurred, they are in a real bad situation) and one of the bathrooms
Tear off the existing coat and re-paint the interior and exterior of both floors
Build useful infrastructure required for more effective functioning in the basement space
Convert the Ground Floor House to a meeting place cum activist guest house for movement activists visiting from outside Delhi. This will include a dormitory space in the last room, so that upto 10 people can be accommodated in that room

We now have a totally reworked plan and a comprehensive estimate. We can make this available in case you want to have a detailed look at the same. The total as per the baseline estimate is Rupees Five Lakhs and sixty thousand (Rs. 5,60,000/-) .

As per the new plan, we will have good working space for upto 15 people, including volunteers or movement activists and also a handy meeting space, which could also be used as a reading place. We plan to have an exclusive space for infrastructure things like photocopier, fax machine, scanner, etc to make sure these machines are not exposed. The plan also intends to convert the present store room to a library and documentation room.

We seek your help with financial resources. We are in the process of raising the bigger chunk of this amount from one or two supportive organisations. Zindabad Trust has already sanctioned a good amount towards this. However, we feel it is important to approach all Delhi Forum’s partners and constituent groups with this request as DF has always been a shared space, equally owned by all.

We also wish to offer the Guest House or meeting space as a token of our gratitude for the support that you offer. Your support becomes crucial also as we do not intend to approach any funding organisation with this request.

We are hoping to raise 30-40% of the resources required for the building renovation from all of you, the movements, groups and individuals, who have been the fellow travellers of DF. We hope you will help us in this endeavour. We strongly believe that better premises for DF would lead to more effective activism around the issues and movements we are involved with.

We request you to help us with an amount you feel will be your fair contribution to this effort! Kindly send your Cheque/DD in the name of ‘Programme for Social Action’, payable at New Delhi.

Looking forward to a positive response from you.


Vijayan MJ
Delhi Forum

DF Team

Working Team:

DF is a small team of 3 permanent staff, one coordinator, one administrator cum finance manager and the third is documentation cum office assistant. DF employs one or two programme staff for support activities based on programmes undertaken periodically. There are several volunteers associated with DF, whose basic costs like traveling and communication costs for the work relating to different movements are covered by DF. It is this overall team that makes DF a success in terms of its output to the causes and issues it is involved with.

Governance Structure:

DF is essentially governed by the Working Committee of DF. The WC is selected by its fellowship and is representative of the social movements and struggles that it associates with.

The current Working Committee is headed by its Chairperson, J John, Executive Director of Centre for Education and Communication (CEC), a labour resource centre, and also the Editor of Labour File. Other members are Xavier Dias (Coordinator, BIRSA – MMC, Jharkhand), Dr. Prakash Louis (Director, Bihar Social Institute), Shripad Dharmadhikari (Director, Manthan Adhyayan Kendra, Badwani, Madhya Pradesh), Philip George (Director, Partners in Justice Concern, Bangalore), Dr. Bela Bhatia (Social Scientist, CSDS, Delhi), Indu Netam (Adivasi activist and leader from Chhattisgarh), Manju Gardia (Director, Programme for Social Action) and Sr. Gemma Mendes of Chotonagpur Adivasi Sewa Samity, Hazaribagh, Jharkhand). Fr. Thomas Kocherry of World Forum of Fisher People and Mr. Joy Joseph, as office bearers of Programme for Social Action (PSA), are members of DF WC. Present DF Coordinator, Vijayan MJ is also a member of the WC and acts as the representative of the working team in the governing bodies.

History and activities - DF

History of DF

Delhi Forum (DF) has a history of more than two decades and represents the voice of dissent and hope in India, a voice of the social action groups and autonomous peoples’ organizations at the National Capital of Delhi. DF, since its inception in the late seventies, has been a support structure for social action groups and peoples’ movements from all over India. DF has been an active party to the quest of various struggles of the deprived sections for justice and participation in the decision-making process by providing them opportunities and forum in the power centres and capital of the country. It should be mentioned here that Delhi Forum began as ‘Forum of Christian Concerns for People’s Struggles’ but later changed its visible identity to a larger secular one, conceiving the present name.

Active against state oppression of democratic dissent, since the dark days of Indian Emergency period, DF believes in immediate and relevant responses to several ongoing issues, concerns and needs like the struggle of fisher people, the struggles of adivasis and dalits against displacement, violation of human rights, the rights of dalits and tribal/indigenous people, etc. The interventions include documentation and publication, research & study, lobbying & advocacy, organizing seminars on topical issues, linking up with various grassroots organizations and peoples’ struggles in various regions of the country. The program focus of DF has over the last three decades evolved with the process of interaction with various groups and individuals, committed and involved in the fashioning of an alternate politics.

Delhi Forum and its activities

Delhi Forum (DF) represents the voice of the social action groups and autonomous peoples’ organizations and movements at the National Capital of Delhi. It is the movements and groups who define the support that they want from DF ranging from logistics, networking, advocacy and media publicity, legal aid capacity building etc. It includes support in the areas of representation/lobbying, judicial assistance, media support, liaison, channel of communication, documentation. It also works as a research and support agency assisting the movements and action groups in the above mentioned activities.

Affirming local initiatives, the DF facilitates the conceptual formation of perceiving issues from a political perspective and bringing them under a national focus by networking with social groups from different parts of the country. Delhi Forum has been working with a wide spectrum of people’s organisations, community and social action groups for more than two decades. They are supported in legal aspects, given a platform in Delhi, assisted to organize rallies and create documents of the interventions and atrocities, supported through raising issues in the national media, Parliament and legislatures, bringing them within a wider regional, national and international network.

DF renders technical support in terms of logistics, use of office space and communication facilities, booking for travel and accommodation, permissions and arrangements for meetings and dharnas, press releases and other press campaigns, organizing delegations and submissions to National Human Rights Commission, NCW and SC/ST Commission and various Ministries, printing and distribution of posters and leaflets and legal aid. Such assistance makes it possible for the groups to reach the State and Central Government bodies effectively and also get recognized as pressure groups leading to create voice of dissent at larger level. Indirectly it helps in getting support and recognition for the social movements. DF also provides a free guesthouse facility for grassroot activists coming from all parts of India, who otherwise find it difficult to organize their stay in this expensive city.

DF publishes ‘Update Collective’, which relates current and emerging issues to respective social movements giving them a voice regionally and nationally. DF also takes up small research studies, often on request from various groups, which helps in understanding various issues and people’s struggles and disseminate a critical analysis of the role of the state, its policies and the path of development. This helps in wider networking of common interest groups and information dissemination at wider scale, which the groups at rural level find difficult to receive otherwise.

Delhi Forum’s objectives are:

  • To represent the concerns of the social action groups and peoples’ movements in the National Capital of India;
  • To make the Government and the State aware of the peoples’ concerns, their social, political, economic, civil and cultural rights, especially that of the most vulnerable and marginalized – the tribals, dalits, women and minorities;
  • To create a political space for the social action groups and autonomous peoples movements and enhance their capacities towards building up and strengthening of civil and political institutions and strengthen democracy.

Important DF support activities:

i. Sending Press Releases, organizing Press Conferences, providing materials to journalists, requesting particular journalists to meet representatives of groups in Delhi and writing features and articles.
ii. Providing logistic support such as accommodation, use of office facilities, travel arrangements, facilitating permission from police and civic agencies for demonstrations, dharna, and provision of civic amenities.
iii. Seeking and finalising appointments with the Prime Minister, President, representatives of political parties, Members of Parliament, concerned Ministries and State Corporations and also corporates.
iv. Sending various information and documents to concerned officials of the Ministries and the Ministers concerned.
v. Organising and co-ordinating holding of demonstrations and dharnas in Delhi and organisation of Public Hearing.
vi. Retrieving documents from libraries and archives to be sent to particular organizations on request.
vii. Distribution and circulation of posters, printed materials, CDs and film cassettes.
viii. Providing legal aid and arranging meeting with lawyers.
ix. Providing with mailing lists and contact details of various organizations and individuals.
x. Sending copies of particular government and agency reports, documents and Acts on request.
xi. Documentation support.
xii. E-mail action alerts and appeals to various national and international networks and organizations.
xiii. Organising delegations and submission of petitions to NHRC, SC-ST Commission and NCW.
xiv. Organising citizens appeal from eminent persons to Prime Minister, President, concerned Ministers and Chief Ministers of Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and West Bengal.
xv. Organising Support Group Meetings.
xvi. Facilitating market access initiatives for artisanal communities.

It is imperative, therefore, that DF works as a support system based in the National Capital city of Delhi and facilitates the people’s movements, struggling communities and smaller groups to voice their concerns, raise their issues and achieve their objectives. On the other hand, Delhi Forum’s achievement will be to fulfill the task that the groups and movements have entrusted it with. Delhi Forum’s solidarity and timely support actions go a long way to this end.

DF Working Team

Delhi Forum partners/organisations

Given below is a list of groups and people’s movements, whom Delhi Forum has been associated with. Most of them have been fighting against anti-people policies of the Indian state and struggling for a people-centric developmental paradigm:

National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM)
Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA)
National Fishworker’s Forum (NFF)
Umbergaon Sangharsh Samiti (a member of NFF)
Koel Karo Jan Sanghatan
National Forum of Forest People and Forest Workers (NFFPFW)
mines, minerals and Peoples (mm&P)
Adivasi Mukti Sanghathan (AMS)
Kashtakari Sanghthan (KS)
Mazdoor Kisan Sangharsh Samiti (MKSS)
Kerala Adivasi Gothra Maha Sabha (AGMS)
Jharkhandis Organisation Against Radiation (JOAR)
Chattisgarh Mukti Morcha (CMM)
South India Handloom Weavers’ Organising Committee (SIHWOC)
Nagarnar Jan Sangathan
Singrauli Peoples’ Movement against thermal project
MATU, a peoples’ movement against Tehri Dam Displacement
Bargi Dam Visthapit Samiti
Gram Sangharsh Samiti (Bhatti Mines Anti Eviction movement)
Stop Eviction Campaign, Delhi
Campaign for Survival and Dignity (CSD)
Orissa Mahila Manch (Orissa)
Jan Sangharsh Morcha (M P)
Manthan (M P)
Rajmahal Bachao Andolan (Jharkhand)
JESA (Jharkhand)
BIRSA-Mines Monitoring Centre(Jharkhand) – Bindrai Institute for Research Study and Action
Jharkhand Mines Area Co-ordination Committee
Himalayan Forest Village Workers Union (West Bengal)
Save the Forest Movement (Jangal Bachao Andolan, Jharkhand)
Jambudwip Dry Fishermen Association (West Bengal)
Co-operative of Small Scale Artisanal Miners (West Bengal)
ICML Workers Union (West Bengal)
Dalit Study Circle (Chhattisgarh)
HUMUS (Kerala)
Charkha (Delhi)
PRASAR (Delhi)
Nespon (West Bengal)
Citizen’s Concern for Dams and Development (CCDD, North East)
Core Manipur
Riverbasin Friends (Assam)
Orissa Jan Sangharsh Morcha
Kerala Farmer’s Forum
Sneha Niketan (Kerala)
Lokmanch (Delhi)
Orissa Adivasi Manch (OAM, Orissa)
Sarsathali Project Affected People’s Association, SPAPA (West Bengal)
Mines Labour Protection Campaign (Rajasthan)
OMAPAN (Orissa)
Jharkhand Krantikari Mazdoor Union (Jharkhand)
Jharkhandi Organisation for Human Rights, JOHAR (Jharkhand)
Arunachal Citizens’ Rights (ACR)
People’s Movement in Subansiri Valley, PMSV (Assam)
Subansiri Sangrakshak Naari Sontha, SNSS (Assam)
Naga Peoples Movement for Human Rights, NPMHR

About DF blog

Friends and comrades,

Delhi Forum is an activist organisation that has been functional from different physical spaces in Delhi for the last three decades. It has been operational since 1978, though its activities started during the dark days of Indian emergency! We now have a permanent office space, given to us by Programme for Social Action - DF's parental body. Our address and contact details are given below.

Delhi Forum is less of an organisation and more of an activist perspective, dream and actually a conceptual identity! We are not a registered organisation, though we do receive support through different fraternal sources for our day-today survival!

There are a number of people's movements and organisations we are associated with. Kindly check the 'list of partners/organisations' under the posting with that title!

We wish to post regularly different updates (our hardcopy newsletter) of DF and other information/news we receive on different issues and movement in this blog!

On behalf of Working team
Vijayan MJ

Delhi Forum
F-10/12 (Basement and GF), Malviya Nagar, New Delhi - 110017
Phones: 91-11-26680883/26680914 Telefax: 26687724
Emails: /