Bhopal: The Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) on Thursday called off its dharna in Bhopal, where hundreds of those affected by the construction of the Sardar Sarovar Dam were agitating, after the state government accepted several of their demands.
Activist Medha Patkar, who has led the fight for over 30 years, had on Saturday reached Bhopal with around 1,500 persons from the Narmada backwaters. The villagers alleged insufficient compensation and rehabilitation, and claimed that the dam was filled to its full reservoir level of 138.68 meters leaving them submerged.
The protesters were camping outside Narmada Bhavan, the headquarters of Narmada Valley Development Corporation for the last five days. On Thursday, the NBA founder Medha Patkar and others had a meeting with Narmada Valley Development minister Surendra Singh Baghel.
After the deliberations, the protesters called off their dharna saying the state government has accepted many of their demands and has promised to consider others.
Baghel in a communique said that the state government has decided to offer relief, including sanction of Rs 5.80 lakh to all living under tin sheds in the affected areas, review of previous government decisions on oustees, formation of village committees in affected region and monthly meetings. The government further agreed to immediate payments to boatmen ferrying oustees in affected areas, compensation due to submergence be considered a natural calamity, early disbursement of compensation among others.
NBA, in a statement, said that disbursement of relief would start for submergence affected persons in the next 15 days under RBC rules, boat services will resume with arrangement of immediate payments, fodder arrangements would be made, amenities would be completed at rehabilitation sites and the applications of eligible oustees would be disposed by November 30.
The administration, however, declined to continue food arrangements for those living in tin sheds. The farmers and young volunteers have decided to create a food fund for the same. Other matters have been kept on hold for further discussions.
National president of Narmada Yuva Sena, which took part in the protests, said that the minister has promised the formation of a state-level committee comprising all government departments concerned and the social workers, for which the decision to the effect will be taken in the next Cabinet meeting.
Once the committee is formed, there would be better co-ordination in relief and rehabilitation measures and it would also help rein corruption, claimed Agarwal.