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Madhya Pradesh govt assures anti-dam protesters

Sep 08, 2012 09:21 PM IST India India

Bhopal: In a minor victory for Khandwa and Harda protesters, 15 days after the rising waters from Omkareshwar and Indira Sagar dams threatened to displace them, a two-member ministerial team from the Madhya Pradesh government has assured them of action.

The protest started after the government unilaterally decided to raise the water level in the Omkareshwar and Indira Sagar dams - a decision that would inundated the fields and homes of the villagers.

For two weeks, the protesters have had a simple demand - if their land is submerged, they want to be compensated with land elsewhere.

The Madhya Pradesh government has agreed to look into the locals' demands.

"We are a sensitive government. Our Chief Minister is also a very sensitive person. It can not be said that we woke up after 15 days. Negotiations were on but they did not fructify but we will visit the spot and take a solid decision," said MP Industry Minister Kailash Vijayvargiya.

The locals want the government to give them land in place of the land that they will lose. In fact a Supreme Court appointed Greivance Redressal Authority had ruled in their favour. They say no decision to raise the water should be taken until six months after they are properly rehabilitated.

"We are sitting in the water. We are ready to die. We will first look at the solid decision that they have promised to take and than decide on the future course of action," said Narmada Bachao Andolan activist Alok Aggarwal.

The protestors, sitting in neck deep water in Khandwa and Harda, have pledged to carry on with their Jal Satyagrah till such time when the government through its actions on the ground makes them believe that it is serious about their rehabilitation. Just simple assurances are not likely to have any kind of impact on them.