MP: Satyagraha launched over dam height
Hundreds of people affected by Sardar Sarovar Dam project in Narmada valley started an indefinite satyagraha (sit-in protest) on Wednesday at Rajghat of Barwani district to protest increase in height of the dam, allegedly without adequate rehabilitation of people in the submergence area.bhopal Updated: Aug 13, 2015 18:38 IST
Hundreds of people affected by Sardar Sarovar Dam project in Narmada valley started an indefinite satyagraha (sit-in protest) on Wednesday at Rajghat of Barwani district to protest increase in height of the dam, allegedly without adequate rehabilitation of people in the submergence area.
The sit-in, held to attract attention of authorities concerned, would continue till the issues are resolved, protesters said.
The indefinite satyagraha comes at the end of a six-day long ‘right to life’ foot march along an 85-km route from Khalghat on the banks of Narmada held under aegis of the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA).
Protesters started a march from Shaheed Chowk in Barwani and reached Rajghat on Narmada banks on the outskirts of the town in the afternoon to start the satyagraha.
Before starting, hundreds of protesters took oath on the banks of the river Narmada shouting slogans of ‘ladenge, jeetenge’, and pledged to sacrifice their lives to protect Narmada valley and their right to life.
Led by NBA leader Medha Patkar, Ramesh Kode of Mumbai-based Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan, along with senior MP Bhaktacharan Das, Samajwadi leader Sunilam, Kailash Meena, Yeshwant Bapu, SR Suniti of National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) and photo-artist Sandesh Vyas are participating in the protest, Mukesh of NBA said.
The NBA has said that the process of increasing the 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.
Addressing the gathering, Medha Patkar alleged that the state government has been manipulating innocent villagers in the name of community resettlement and by awarding meager compensation to them.
Satish Bhingare, former secretary of water resource department of Government of Maharashtra said, “Governments should know the limits up to which they can contain the natural flow of a river.” Because if anything goes wrong in the project, the consequences can attract international criticism and dishonor, he added.
Earlier, the protesters conducted a foot march, passing through 25 villages of Dharampuri, Manavar and Barwani Tehsils from August 6 to 11. NBA said that during the march, it emerged that rehabilitation was incomplete almost in all parts of submergence area; cultivable land was denied to farmers, livelihood sources to landless labourers and fishing rights to the fisherman.
There is corruption in cash disbursements, deplorable civic amenities at the resettlement sites, unlawful submergence without provision of resettlement and rehabilitation (R&R) and fraudulent change in the backwater levels, stripping 16,000 families of the R&R benefits in almost all parts of the submergence area.