Modi’s birthday celebration rings death knell for Narmada Valley residents: Medha Patkar

Prime Minister Narendra Modi plans to gift the dam to nation on September 17 whereas rehabilitation of the residents is not yet complete and many families are still residing in the Valley

Photo courtesy: Narmada Bachao Andolan
Photo courtesy: Narmada Bachao Andolan

Ashutosh Sharma

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s birthday celebration is sounding the death knell for thousands in the Narmada Valley, according to Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) leader Medha Patkar.

Medha took to Facebook on Friday and wrote: “As the water from the Sardar Sarovar Dam have reached a height of 128.50 meters, 25 houses located on the lower levels of Nisarpur’s Imli Bazzar and Masjid Chowk in the Narmada Valley are on the verge of submergence.”

Sharing pictures and a video, she further said in her Facebook blog: “This is done in preparation for Narendra Modi’s birthday celebration on September 17, when he would dedicate the dam with a full capacity as his gift to the nation.”

“The rehabilitation of those who would be submerged has not be completed as yet nor have the people been able to construct their new houses,” she added.

Accusing the Central government and Madhya Pradesh government of “murdering Narmada Valley”, she also shared pictures of Rajghat, where Mahatma Gandhi, Kasturba Gandhi and Mahadev Desai's Samadhi was set up in 1965, submerged by Sardar Sarovar Dam. “Hundreds of families who haven't get their compensation and rehabilitation are still residing here,” she said, adding that all this is happening to celebrate Narendra Modi's birthday on September 17, when he will gift the dam to the nation at the cost of more than 40,000 families affected by Sardar Sarovar Dam.

On Thursday, in a separate post she alleged that the collector and police administration of Dhar had been pressuring families residing in different hamlets, asking them to vacate the villages in Chikhalda.

The families, according to her, have not signed the vachan patra and have not accepted nor received the grant for temporary rehabilitation.

“The government has no authority to evict people without providing them rehabilitation benefits as per the law (tribunal), state policy and Supreme Court judgments,” she maintained. “A lot of families in Chikhalda who are yet to get a house plot where they can build a house,” she claimed, alleging that Nanakbedi rehabilitation site of Chikhalda doesn’t have civic amenities.

“The shifting of schools has led to immense trouble to the children of poor families who cannot reach the school which is about 6-7 km away. Large percentage of children are compelled to leave the school. There are more than thousand affected families in chikhalda with 37 religious sites including temples and mosques,” she further said in the post, adding that “some of the temples being of chalcolithic age.”

“How can people leave their houses amidst monsoon and without just rehabilitation?” she wondered, alleging, “the filling of reservoir is only to fulfill the need for watery decoration for the PM's program at the dam site on September 17.”

In an impassioned appeal to the citizens, NBA shared the contact details of authorities and officials besides President of India, on its Facebook Page and stated: “This cannot be more shameless act by the elected Government of any democratic country. We appeal to the citizens of this country to stand with people of Narmada valley and call our elected representatives and ask them to immediately stop filling Sardar Sarovar dam till the rehabilitation is complete as per the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal Award, state policy and many court judgments. Please call to the following contact numbers, email them and held them accountable for safeguarding the constitutional right of life and livelihood.”

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Published: 15 Sep 2017, 6:06 PM