Medha Patkar leads anti-dam, anti-liquor rally in MP
About 800 people participated in an anti-dam, anti-liquor rally which Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) leader Medha Patkar led in Barwani on Friday.
Held under the aegis National Alliance of People’s Movement of which NBA is a part, the rally included farmers, fishermen, labourers from tribal predominant Barwani and Dhar districts. A handful of NBA supporters came from other parts of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat.
The rally aimed to revive the fading influence of NBA and that of Medha Patkar who had a brief stint with Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). It also comes at a time when NBA activists sitting on strike for past 48 days to protest against the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) policy failed to draw public and media attention.
“NBA rallies are getting less public attention. It is no longer a public draw it used to be 12 years ago. Even her (Medha’s) small rallies had no less than 5,000 people then,” a cloth show room owner at MG Road said.
People watched the rally from their shops as rallyists raised slogans against the SSP rehabilitation policy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
“SSP ne kya kiya, sabka satyanash kiya/ Punarvas neeti dhoka hai/sharab ka vyapar, chod de sarkar (SSP ruined all of us, rehabilitation policy is a sham, govt should quit liquor business),” tribals raised slogans as they walked five km from Barwani to Rajghat.
So, is Medha Patkar aiming to revive her flagging influence?
“We are not politicians. For us, people matter. Land acquisition, rehabilitation acts and rules are weak. Liquor addiction ruins women more than men. That is why we have taken us these issues,” Patkar told Hindustan Times.
She said the government has relocated 20,000 out of 45,000 SSP project-hit families.
“They have not been rehabilitated fully. The dam construction is complete up to 139 metres, but rehabilitation is not complete for areas coming under submergence at 122 metres of dam height,” Patkar said.
“People are fighting against injustice, inequality and we are supporting them. We are equally concerned over growing communalism in the country. Proper development is also our issue,” she added.