Sardar Sarovar Dam-Hit Villagers Protest in Delhi Against Rising Levels of Narmada, Rehabilitation
The agitation was led by Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) volunteers. The protesters demanded that the Narmada Control Authority refuse permission to fill dam at its full reservoir level at 139m.
Protesters at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Wednesday. (News18)
Bhopal: Hundreds of people — mostly farmers, fishermen and workers — affected by the Sardar Sarovar Dam staged a protest in national capital demanding that the Narmada Control Authority (NCA) refuse permission to fill dam at its full reservoir level at 139m.
The agitation at the Jantar Mantar was led by Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) volunteers. “We are not begging for compensation. We are demanding our rights and entitlements which the government is supposed to provide as decided by the Narmada Water Dispute Tribunal and reiterated by the Supreme Court. Various policies of the state government have also confirmed the same,” said Devram Kanera, a senior activist.
Annie Raja of the National Federation of Indian Women said the present regime was looting the state’s natural resources and handing it over to corporations for profit and sacrificing the rights of people in the name of development.
Bhupender Rawat, a farmer leader and convener of Jan Sangharsh Vahini, said the farm land of the Narmada valley was being flooded for irrigation activities in Gujarat. However, even that was not happening now and water was being given away to industries and factories. “How many more farmers would have to sacrifice their lands and fields for corporate greed?” he said.
Later in the day, a delegation, led by Vimal Bhai of Matu Jan Sangathan met the secretary of Jal Shakti Ministry, UP Singh, who is also the Secretary of the Narmada Control Authority that was supposed to hold a meeting on Wednesday.
Vimal and team discussed with Singh about the Sardar Sarovar Dam being filled to its full reservoir level. They also demanded proper rehabilitation of 32,000 families from 72 villages as rising water levels were threatening their lives and livelihood. Until that happened, gates of the dam should be lowered so that water recedes from the villages, they said.
“The secretary didn’t have a word of assurance for the delegation. He kept repeating the same official line that R&R (resettlement and rehabilitation) is complete as per NCA. We urged him to ask the government of Madhya Pradesh and check our claims because even today, 8,000 cases are pending with the grievance redressal authority,” the NBA said in a statement. The activists pledged to continue their struggle and remain firm in holding their ground and vowed not to move from their villages.
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