About 200 people from the Sardar Sarovar dam affected areas started a foot march from Khalghat in Barwani district to protest increase in height of the dam, allegedly without completing rehabilitation process.
The protest is led by the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) with support of activists and organisations from different parts of country. The foot march would conclude at Rajghat in Barwani, about 85km from Khalghat, on August 12 in the form of an indefinite sit-in.
NBA has said that the process of increasing height of the Sardar Sarovar Dam from 122 metres to 138.68 metres is continuing and due to this 245 villages would face total submergence as backwaters of the dam would spread up to 214 kilometer jeopardizing the life of thousands of families in this belt.
On the first day, the protestors covered villages like Pipalda Gadi, Sala, Nimbola, Khujawa and Dharampuri town in Dharampuri tehsil.
NBA activist Meera (uses only first name) told HT that villages in Dharampuri tehsil have been removed from the list of villages that would be submerged by the SSP, although evidences suggest that all these villages would come under submergence after the height of the dam is increased.
“These issues were discussed during street corner meetings at the various villages held on first day of the foot march,” she said.
She added that the Gujarat disaster preparedness plan for this monsoon shows that the water at Khalghat would reach up to 149.84 metres (above sea level) in case of heavy rainfall.
In contrast, the Narmada Valley Development Authority (NVDA) has claimed that the water level at Khalghat would not go beyond 144.92 metres at any cost. “This discrepancy means that lives and lands of thousands of villagers in the area is at stake,” Meera said.
The participants of foot march also remembered Hiroshima disaster (August 6 is Hiroshima Day) and said that they would not any disaster happen in the submergence area of SSP.
Medha Patkar of NBA, anti-mining activist Kailash Meena from Rajasthan, Chinmay Mishra of Sarvodaya Press, Indore, Yashwant Bapu of Maharashtra who exposed corruption in sugar factories, members of NGO Programme for Social Action, Delhi and Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan, Mumbai participated in the foot march.
Read: NBA to launch protest over dam height